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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2015-05

NB US131 Closed

 

A reminder that northbound U.S. 131 will once again be closed for construction starting at 9:00am on Monday June 1st.

 

Just like two weeks ago, traffic will be detoured off of the freeway at exit 131 (8 Mile Road), continuing east on 8 Mile Road to Northland Drive, then north on Northland Drive to Perry Street in Big Rapids, then west on Perry Street back to the freeway.

 

The freeway is scheduled to reopen by 9:00am on Wednesday, June 3rd.

 

 

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New traffic law enforcement campaign

 

A new "Michigan Summer of Safety" campaign is being launched to provide state and local police options on when to conduct federally-funded seat belt and impaired driving enforcement through Labor Day. Melody Kindraka, of the State Office of Highway Safety Planning, says how the enforcement is conducted will be based on traffic crash research.

“According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 40 percent of the fatalities and serious injuries in 2014 occurred in May, June, July, and August.”

The campaign will be in addition to regular "Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over" and "Click It Or Ticket" holiday enforcement over the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

 

 

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Indian casino money for roads?

 

A Michigan House Committee is considering a move to take more than $130M out of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help fund roads. Representative Lee Chatfield says spending money on roads is good for the state's economy.

“We're taking money currently spent in the Michigan budget, that's used for economic development, and still spending it on economic development by maintaining our roads.”

 

Part of the proposal would take money from Indian casinos. The MEDC questions if doing that would be legal, noting the money is part of an agreement with a Native American tribe.
 

 

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Wife of convicted sex offender accused of retaliating against witness

 

An Isabella County woman is being accused of stalking a victim involved in her husband's sex crimes case.

 

Angela Markovich is being charged with stalking a minor and retaliating against a witness in her husband's trial.

 

Angela's husband, Jim Markovich, was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls who were in day care at his and his wife’s Lake Isabella home in 2006 and 2007.

 

 

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New phone scam in Mecosta County

 

Mecosta County Emergency Management is reporting a new phone scam in the area.

 

According to Mecosta County Law Enforcement agencies, people are receiving calls from a person with a heavy foreign accent stating they are with the Mecosta County Sheriff's Department or the Big Rapids Police Department.

 

Officials say the person is trying to get personal information and that caller ID comes up as those agencies.

 

People receiving such a call are urged not to give out any information.

 

 

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Shooting victim identified

 

Police have identified a man who was shot to death in Grand Rapids Thursday morning.

 

Officers say 20-year-old Jalen Braswell-Thompson of Grand Rapids was found shot in the chest and unresponsive along a street on the city's southeast side. He died in a local hospital.

 

Investigators say no arrests have been made but the case is being treated as a possible homicide.

 

 

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Governor says political leaders can't afford to keep blaming one another

 

Speaking at the Detroit Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, Governor Rick Snyder says he doesn't play the blame game and encourages other public officials to do the same.

“I'm proud to say I haven't fought or blamed a single person since I've been governor of the state, I'm not going to do it when I'm governor of the state because you didn't hire me to waste time on negative actions. You hired me to make your life better and solve your problems.”

Snyder says you cannot maintain being a great country if your leaders continue to fight and blame one another.

 

 

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Hi-tech coming to more SOS offices

 

Eight more of the busiest Secretary of State offices in Michigan will soon use the new MI-TIME Line service allowing you to make office appointments and hold a place in line using your phone or computer.

 

The branches are expected to roll out the system by late summer. They include Jackson County, West Wayne County, North Oakland County, Southeast Macomb County, Southwest Macomb County, Kalamazoo County, Northeast Kent County and Southwest Kent County.

 

Officials say almost 1.5 million customers have used the MI-TIME Line system in the 10 branches where it is currently available since it was launched in January of 2014.

 

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Dingell says Michigan voters want uncomplicated resolution to road funding

 

U-S Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is trying to light a fire under state lawmakers attending the 35th annual Mackinac Policy Conference on the state’s road funding problems.

“We just saw how the Michigan voter feels with the ballot proposal that was too complicated and they sent a message to everybody. They want straight, skinny.”

She also told those attending a discussion on public transportation that the potholes everyone drives over aren’t Democratic potholes or Republican potholes – they’re everyone’s potholes.

 

 

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Road fatalities down over holiday weekend

 

Michigan State Police say preliminary reports indicate that eight people lost their lives in six separate traffic crashes during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. That compares to the 19 crashes that killed 20 people during the holiday weekend last year.

 

According to the reports, two of the victims were not wearing their seat belts in two separate crashes, one of which involved alcohol. One fatality occurred with an off road vehicle where alcohol use was a known factor and no helmet was worn.

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Congressional delegation comes to Big Rapids

 

Two U.S. Congressmen from western Michigan say they are fighting for jobs in Washington. As part of that effort, Representative John Moolenaar (R-4th District) and Representative Bill Huizenga (R-2nd District) paid a visit to the Wolverine Worldwide manufacturing facility in Big Rapids on Thursday where they met with President and CEO Blake Krueger and toured the facility.

 

Wolverine Worldwide is global marketer of branded footwear, apparel, and accessories including Hush Puppies, Keds, Stride-Rite Children's footwear, Wolverine, and Harley-Davison footwear. Of particular interest to Moolenaar and Huizenga, however, was the Bates brand of military footwear manufactured in Big Rapids. Huizenga believes that as part of the effort to keep and expand manufacturing jobs in Big Rapids, it's important to meet with the people that make one of the key products used by America's military.

 

I think it's important to just come and see them, kind of look them in the eye, see what they're doing, the products that they're making and really the value that they are bringing to our men and women in uniform,” he says.

 

Moolenaar notes that he has children in the U.S. military that wear the boots made by Bates. And, he says, he's working with Huizenga to safeguard the jobs at Wolverine Worldwide.

 

One of the concerns is a new regulation from the Small Business Administration that would change the classification so that it would put work being done here at a competitive disadvantage.”

 

Huizenga says they're working to fight that.

 

Specifically we've been putting some, what's called, limiting language into the appropriations bills and basically saying, 'Hey look SBA, you cannot do this!'”

 

Both men say equipment used by the U.S. military, in this case the boots manufactured by Bates, should be made in America, and U.S. armed forces should not be dependent on foreign manufacturers for their gear. Moolenaar says it's good for the men and women in uniform and for civilians as well.

 

These are great jobs, they provide for families, for healthcare, for employment opportunities. Manufacturing is so important to Michigan, and to the United States, and it's a great example of how something that we make here in Michigan is used all over the world.”

 

Wolverine Worldwide President and CEO Blake Krueger says he was honored by the Congressmen's visit and was glad the two men were able to meet one-on-one with a number of the workers at Wolverine Worldwide. And, he notes, Big Rapids isn't even in Congressman Bill Huizenga's district, but...

 

He has stepped up in the past to be of great service to the Bates brand, to the 500 manufacturing jobs in this facility, and to take a common sense approach in Washington D.C. And, you know, Bill's been a real friend of the people and a real friend to this facility for sure.”

 

 

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Ferris State U. receives another big donation

 

After receiving the biggest donation in school history, Ferris State University has received another huge gift from its alumni. 

 

School officials say $1.5-million dollars was donated by Alumnus Jeff and Annette Rowe. The money will be used on renovations for the Hagerman College of Pharmacy on its Big Rapids campus as well as scholarships.  

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High school sexual assault case settled

 

A Grand Rapids area school district has agreed to a settlement rather than go to trial on a federal lawsuit filed by a former student who claimed she was sexually assaulted on campus.

 

According to court documents, the 15-year-old sophomore at a Forest Hills Central High School said she was sexually assaulted in a band practice room by a star basketball player in 2010. She decided to take legal action after she said the school district did not protect her from harassment after she filed a complaint.
 

A federal judge ruled in March that the school district had failed to train staff on how to investigate and respond to claims of sexual assault.


Both sides are ready to sign settlement papers by June 9th. The terms of the agreement were not released.

 

 

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Ford issues new recalls

 


Ford is recalling several different vehicle models over issues with power steering that have been responsible for at least four accidents, but no injuries.

 

The recall covers approximately 423,000 vehicles - including 2011-2013 Ford Taurus and Flex vehicles, Lincoln MKS and MKT vehicles; 2011-2012 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles; and 2011 Mercury Milans. Dealers will either update software for the power steering control module or replace the steering gear.

 

Separately, Ford is also recalling nearly 20-thousand 2015 Mustangs with 2.3-Liter engines, due to high underbody temperatures that could degrade the fuel tank and parking brake cable seals. Dealers will replace a heat shield and add insulation.

 

 

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Southwest Michigan woman sentenced in agribusiness fraud scheme

 

A southwest Michigan woman is headed to prison for 20 months for bankruptcy fraud. The U.S. Justice Department says Melissa Stamp of Decatur was sentenced Wednesday and will also serve 20 months of probation and pay over $184,000 in restitution.

 

Her guilty plea was the result of hiding money in connection with her husband filing personal bankruptcy in 2012 as their two agribusinesses, Stamp Farms and Northstar Grain, defaulted on $60 million in loans from Wells Fargo Bank.

 

Stamp gave $75,000 to her brother, $90,000 to her father, and hid $50,000 in a safe in her house without any of the money being declared in bankruptcy court.

 

Federal officials say anyone holding grain, crops, cash, farm equipment or other assets related to the Stamp Farms or Michael Stamp bankruptcy case to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids.

 

 

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Two women injured following car accident in Mecosta Co.

Two women were taken to the hospital for their injuries sustained in a car accident in Mecosta Co. 

 

Police say it happened on Northland Drive at 12 Mile Rd, that's where an 82-year old woman from Big Rapids turned in front of a 43-year old Stanwood woman. Both sought medical attention for non-life threatening injuries. 

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State Police shut down medical marijuana dispensaries

 

Michigan State Police are shutting down eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Otsego County. Authorities say 16 search warrants were executed at sites which were violating Michigan's Medical Marijuana Statute.

 

Marijuana plants, products and other evidence were taken from the homes and businesses. Medical marijuana caregivers in the area say police don't realize who they are hurting by taking the drug away from those who need it.

 

Police say no arrests have been made.

 

 

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Baldwin prison a step closer to re-opening

 

A vote by the Michigan Senate has paved the way for a private prison in Baldwin to reopen and house Vermont’s worst inmates.

 

A measure passed the Senate 23-14 and now awaits the governor’s signature. State Senator Goeff Hansen doesn’t see an issue with the North Lake Correctional facility being run by a private company.

“It authorize(s) the staff of this facility to perform the duties and responsibilities to the same extent as DOC personnel in a state correctional facility,” he says.

Opponents express concern with prisoners being treated as a commodity in a for profit enterprise.

 

 

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Mecosta County Sheriffs Dept. warns of phone scam

The Mecosta County Sheriff's has become aware that a phone scam is circulating the Mecosta County area.  The caller is claiming to be a representative of the Sheriff's office and advising residents that they owe taxes and will be arrested and/or a warrant for their arrest will be filed if they fail to pay. 
 
The Sheriff's Office is advising that this a scam and not a call from the Sheriff's Office.  If you receive a call similar to this, do not to give the caller any information and hang up. 

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Poll shows Michigan residents favor prevailing wage law

 

A new survey shows a majority of Michigan voters are opposed to ending the state’s prevailing wage law.
The poll conducted by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA for Michigan Prevails, a coalition of business and labor organizations, shows fewer than a third of state voters support ending prevailing wage laws.


49% of those surveyed say the prevailing wage law should be kept as it is, 29% say it should be repealed and eliminated while 22 percent were undecided or refused to answer.


The telephone poll of 400 likely voters was conducted May 19 and 20.
 

 

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Ex-boyfriend accused of murder in death of 18-month-old

 

A Jackson man is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend's 18-month-old son. 27-year-old Scott Jurewicz was arraigned Tuesday on charges of first-degree child abuse and felony murder in connection with the death of Brenden Hartranft.


The toddler died in the hospital on March 17 from head and neck injuries suffered three days earlier. Jurewicz was dating the boy's mother at the time.


He's being held without bond pending a preliminary examination on June 11. The charges carry a maximum of life in prison.


Jurewicz had pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor stalking charge earlier this month for violating a personal protection order taken out against him by the child's mother.
 

 

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Gas prices continue to climb

 

Another rise in gas prices. AAA Michigan spokesperson Susan Hiltz with this week’s statewide average…

“We're looking at about $2.72 a gallon, and that's up about ten cents over last week, but it's $1.11 less than this same time last year.”

Hiltz also says costs across the U-S have gone up due to some rallying in the worldwide crude oil market.

 

 

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School bus sideswiped by semi truck

 

No injuries were reported after a semi hit a school bus in Missaukee County. Police are searching for the semi after the driver side swiped the Gaylord school bus and drove away late Tuesday.

 

The Missaukee County Sheriff's Department says 11 people were on the bus, including members of a girls soccer team.

 

The incident happened on M-55 at M-66. Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident or has information on a green semi with a white trailer to call the Missaukee County Sheriff's Department.

 

 

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Synthetic drug blamed for man's death

 

A Marion man is dead after taking a synthetic drug. Police say the man was partying in Osceola County over the weekend when he took the drug.

 

He then took off his clothes and broke through a glass door at a neighbor's home. Troopers say he then returned to the original house and jumped off a second story stairway to his death.

 

An investigation is continuing.

 

 

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Mecosta Co. Deputies get new 800MHz radio's

Deputies in Mecosta County along with EMS will be outfitted with new 800MHz radio's next week.

 

Sheriff Todd Purcell says with the old system, radio fequencies were condenced which caused communication problems for his office and other local law enforcement agencies. Mecosta Co. is partnering with Michigan State Police and the state of Michigan to get on their radio frequency band which Purcell says will provide better communication for emergency responders accross the state and eliminate communication breakdowns his department has experienced.  

 

Mecosta Co. Commissioners approved the $240,805 puchase of 19 800MHz radios for Depuities and EMS during their meeting on Feb. 19th.   

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New York man pulled from SUV after rollover accident in Montcalm Co.

A 19-year old New York man was sent to the hospital after a rollover accident in Montcalm Co.

 

Deputies say 19-year old Jacob Cameron of New York lost control of his Chevy Blazer. Upon approaching the intersection from South Berridge Road and crossing M57, Camron attempted to stop, lost control, and the Blazer rolled onto its roof on the north side of the road. The 19-year old driver was pinned in the vehicle and had to be extricated by Greenville Department of Public Safety.

 

He was taken to United Memorial Hospital for possible injuries. Alcohol was not a factor in this crash.

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Montcalm Co. Police investigate alleged drunk driving accident

Police in Montcalm Co. are investigating an alleged drunk driving accident on Memorial Day that sent one man to the hospital. Deputies say received several reports of a car crash near the 8400 block of Garbow Road.

 

Upon arrival, the responding Deputy found a Tan Toyota Corolla that had hit a large tree. The vehicle was also on fire. The driver of the vehicle, a 46-year old man from Howard City, was found lying in the grass near the burning vehicle and appeared to be unconscious. The Deputy and a bystander were able to drag driver to a safe location as the vehicle became further engulfed in flames. The Deputy was later informed that two other bystanders had removed the man from the vehicle prior to it catching on fire.

 

The 46-year old driver was taken to Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment of injuries sustained from the crash. He was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the incident. Alcohol is believed to be a factor and the accident remains under investigation.

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More death claims approved

 

The General Motors Ignition Switch Compensation Fund is approving three more death claims. The latest approvals bring the total number of death claims to 107.

 

Fund officials say injury claims that have been approved now total 199. The fund received 4,342 claims by the January 31 deadline.

 

The fund was established after it was discovered General Motors delayed the recall of over two-million vehicles for the faulty switch.

 

 

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Road funding issue to be tackled on Mackinac Island

 

Michigan’s business, political and philanthropic leaders are descending on Mackinac Island beginning Tuesday for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference. Chamber Director of Communications Jim Martinez says road funding will undoubtedly be a hot topic.

“We do have a Friday morning session dedicated to this road issue and how we're going to get Michigan's roads funded properly.”

Featured speakers at the conference include Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” The conference runs Tuesday through Friday.

 

 

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Teen flees following rollover accident

 

A sixteen year old boy is missing following a car accident in Charlevoix County.

 

Police say Jesse Bacon ran away after he rolled his car at the intersection of Boyne City East Jordan Road and Marvon Road.

 

Deputies say Bacon is a white male, about 5'8", 160 pounds with darker skin, black shoulder length hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black and white shirt.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call police.

 

 

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Home invasion suspects at large in Wexford County

 

Michigan State Police say two armed men are at large following a home invasion in Wexford County.

 

Authorities say the pair entered a home near South 25 Road and M-55 Monday evening and demanded money from the occupants.

 

Deputies say they are looking for two men wearing hooded sweatshirts.

 

 

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Big Rapids is in for a big cleanup

 

The Big Rapids Downtown Business Association is organizing a big cleanup of the downtown area. The main focus of the cleanup efforts are the vacant storefronts on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Big Rapids which, Downtown Business Association Executive Director Kelly Quinn says, need to be made presentable.

 

We are trying to make Big Rapids shiny again. We're trying to clean it up a little bit before we bring in our summer events.”

 

But there's more to the project than simply making Downtown Big Rapids look good. Quinn believes it will also boost economic growth in the area.

 

So, (we) want to bring some new businesses in and fill those storefronts up, so getting things cleaned up, I think, is the first step toward that end,” she says.

 

It's an ambitious project utilizing volunteers from Ferris State University and the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. Quinn notes the volunteers will be doing a lot more than just sweeping sidewalks.

 

We're going to clean windows and sweep sidewalks and get the whole Michigan Avenue strip clean, front and back. We could do some touch-up paint, we could do some trim. We have a lot of volunteers on hand that are willing to help the community and give back in that regard.”

 

And, Quinn says, they're making it easy for businesses who want to utilize their services. Best of all, though, is all of the cleanup efforts are free.

 

On May 30th at 10:00am is when we're going to start doing it and we've asked that all of the businesses that want to participate to just put a broom out by their front entrance and four bottles of water.”

 

Quinn says the project is the start of a longer term effort by the BRDBA to bring in musicians and other activities with the aim of bringing Big Rapids alive again. She says if anyone would like to volunteer or if they have a business that is in need of some attention to contact her by calling 231-287-4670 or email at downtownbigrapids@gmail.com.

 

 

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DHHS warns against insect born diseases

 

The Michigan Department of Heath and Human Services is urging residents to "Fight The Bite" this holiday weekend, and throughout the summer, from mosquitoes and ticks.

 

The campaign is aimed at protecting people from West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis from mosquito bites, and Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever from ticks. Spokesperson Jennifer Smith says simple precautions can protect against a serious illness or even death.

“Use repellant that contain EPA labeled product, like DEET. Avoid areas that you know mosquitoes might (be), that would be wetlands or still water, and especially during those hours from dusk to dawn.”

Smith also urges people to do body checks periodically for ticks. She says people can greatly remove the risk of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever if ticks are found and removed within 24 hours.

 

 

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Robbers hit seasonal home at Higgins Lake

 

Five people are in custody following a break-in in Roscommon County. Police say a neighbor on the west side of Higgins Lake reported hearing the break-in at a seasonal home.

 

Officers investigated the scene and saw the group run into the woods. All five, who were from the Clarkston area, were found and confessed to the robbery. Police say they recovered all of the stolen property.

 

 

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Initiative on new Wexford County jail fails to get enough signatures

 

A concerned citizens group wanted to put the planned Wexford County jail project in Cadillac to a vote, but that effort has failed.

 

Wexford County Clerk Elaine Richardson says the group, know as Citizens for the Safety of Wexford County Children, did not submit a sufficient number of valid signatures to put the project on the ballot.

 

The referendum effort was sparked by the decision to build the new jail near the Northview Seventh-day Adventist School.

 

 

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Southbound US 131 closed starting Tuesday

 

A reminder that southbound US-131 will be closed starting Tuesday, May 26 at 9:00am, reopening by 9:00am on Friday, May 29th.

 

Traffic will be detoured off of the freeway at exit 139 (Perry Street), continuing east on Perry Street to Northland Drive, then south on Northland Drive to 8 Mile Road, then west on 8 Mile Road back to the freeway.

 

 

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A Memorial day message from a Marine Sergeant

 

A Marine Sergeant has a message for his fellow soldiers who may be struggling with injuries – internal and external – on this Memorial Day. Sergeant David Denhardt says when he came home wounded from Afghanistan, it wasn't easy.

 

“PTSD, the anxiety, severe migraines, the physical and mental toll it took on me, getting around doing anything is such a toll to go through. But I have a daughter who is seven and what do I teach her, what do I teach her if I give up?”

 

Denhardt is a former Marine who rejoined the military at age 38. The Army National Guard made him an infantryman and sent him to Afghanistan. While he was there, Denhardt’s base was hit by a rocket attack and he suffered severe head injuries that led to seizures, headaches and dizziness.

 

Denhardt has this advice for other veterans with similar problems.

 

“Adapt and overcome. Accept the challenge and soldier on.”

 

 

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Woman strikes tree, sent to the hospital

A woman was taken to the hospital after striking a tree in Mecosta co.

 

The accident occurred on 160th Ave near Sumac Dr in Grant Twp.  the driver failed to negotiate a curve, loss control of the vehicle, and struck a tree. She was taken to Big Rapids Spectrum Health Hospital. 

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More travelers hitting the road this weekend

 

While the official Memorial Day weekend has already begun, most Michiganders set out Friday to holiday destinations.

 

Susan Hiltz of Triple-A Michigan says there are two major factors for their projections that most people will go by car this weekend and that Memorial Day travel will be the highest for the holiday in eight years.

“Gas prices are down compared to last year and the economy is up, so that's definitely helping drive some of the travel that's happening in Michigan. We've got over 1.1 million Michiganders that are projected to be traveling. The majority of those will be driving.”

Triple-A also estimates that 60-thousand people will travel by air. The remaining travelers will go by train, bus or ship. The Memorial Day holiday travel period runs through midnight on Monday.

 

 

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Ignition interlocks keeping drunk drivers off the road

 

The Michigan Supreme Court says mandating that repeat drunken drivers use an ignition interlock system in their cars has proven successful in reducing their chance of committing another drunk driving offense.
 

Judge Harvey Hoffman of the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals, says those that used the system were almost half as likely to commit another drunk driving offense after they completed probation than those who didn't use the device.

“For the people in the ignition interlock group at the sobriety court, 2.8 percent new drunk driving cases compared to 5.5 percent for the people who were on traditional probation.”

The study examined drunken driving cases in Michigan from 2011-2014.

 

 

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New Wexford County Jail project advances

 

The proposed Wexford County jail has a new project manager.

 

The Cadillac Board of Commissioners decided last year on new site near Division and Crosby for the 12.5-million dollar facility and now they've hired Lisa Volger to manage the project.

 

Volger was one of two candidates, the other being Gary Bottomley of Cadillac.

 

 

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Gas prices up prior to holiday weekend

 

The average price of gasoline in Michigan as we head into the holiday weekend is on the way up...now at about $2.75 a gallon.

 

The price actually began to rise earlier this week but that's not a surprise to Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com. He says refinery issues for Exxon Mobil in Illinois also may have bumped the price.

 

DeHaan says prices are still about a dollar a gallon lower than Memorial Day last year and it appears summer prices are potentially looking very good for road trippers in Michigan.

 

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GEO Group announces second contract to house inmates at its Lake Co. prison

The GEO Group which owns the North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin has announced a new contrat with the state of Washington to house inmates. 

 

George C. Zoley, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of GEO, said: “We appreciate the trust placed in our Company by the State of Washington with the signing of this important contract for the provision of correctional management services and industry-leading, evidence-based offender rehabilitation programs at our North Lake Correctional Facility. We look forward to developing a successful public-private partnership with the Washington Department of Corrections.”

 

On Tuesday, the company also struck at a two-year $30 million dollar deal with the state of Vermont to house up to 675 inmates.

 

Paul Griffith, Executive Director with Michigan Works! West-Central says it's reasonable to assume that the total number of employees to service both contracts could reach 400 or greater, based on the number of jobs for the Vermont contract.

 

This new deal calls for the housing of up to 1,000 which intends to begin Oct. 1.  The five-year contract will generate $24 million dollars in annualized revenues.  

 

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Police Sergeant fired in drunk driving case

 

A sergeant with the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department is out of a job. The unnamed sergeant was fired because he supposedly let an inmate go early.

 

The inmate, Ottowa County corrections deputy Dennis Smith, was being held for drunk driving. The sergeant let Smith post bond and leave jail in less than two hours--less time than it would have taken for his blood alcohol content to have dropped below the legal limit.

 

Police say Smith was driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.17 or higher, making him to be eligible to be charged under Michigan's super drunk law.

 

 

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Driver may be charged in death of five-year-old

 

There could be charges leveled against the driver of a pickup truck that ran a stop sign and slammed into two vehicles on a rural road in Barry County last weekend killing a five-year old boy.

 

The sheriff's office has identified the boy as Caleb Duley. His mother and three-month old brother were injured in the accident early Saturday afternoon. They are both in a Grand Rapids hospital where the infant is reportedly in critical condition on life support.

 

The pickup driver and six other people in the two vehicles were not injured. The crash remains under investigation.
 

 

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Local wage law closer to reality

 

A bill stripping local governments of the power to create local wage, leave and benefit laws cleared the Michigan House Wednesday. Senate Democratic Leader Tim Greimel opposes the measure. He says the bill is an example of not having your priorities straight.

“People should be put before profits, communities should be put before corporations, and ideals should be put before ideology. This bill literally stands those principles on their heads.”

But supporters say the legislation erases the potential for a patchwork of regulations that make conducting business in the state difficult.

 

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Police investigating bomb threat Wednesday at Reed City McDonald's

It was a scary few hours in Reed City as a bomb threat prompted the evacuation of employees and customers at the local McDonalds restaurant.

 

Police say the threat was received around 4pm Wednesday. Bomb sniffing dogs and police investigated the scene while traffic was rerouted until police determined there was no threat an hour later.

 

An investigation into the person who called in the threat continues.

 

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Motorists get holiday break from road construction

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation will make travel easier for motorists this Memorial Day holiday by removing lane restrictions on nearly two-thirds of its road projects to ease traffic delays for holiday travelers.
 

AAA Michigan estimates 1.1 million motorists will be using Michigan roads and bridges during the annual kick-off to summer- the most since 2007.
 

Beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and continuing until 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, 101 of 148 projects statewide will have lane restrictions removed.
 

M-DOT officials say while construction zones may be closed for the weekend, the equipment and temporary traffic configurations, like minor shifts, may remain in place, requiring you to adjust your speed and pay attention.
 

State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle says drivers should buckle up, eliminate all distractions, and use caution, especially when traveling through work zones.
 

Up-to-date construction and traffic information is available on the M-DOT Mi Drive website and app: michigan.gov/drive.

 

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Accident sends Big Rapids woman to the hospital

 

A Big Rapids woman is hospitalized following a two car accident on Wednesday.

 

Police say Susan Johnson was attempting to make a left hand turn onto 13 Mile Road off of Northland Drive when she was rear ended by Robert Huckleberry of Lakeview.

 

Johnson was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and Huckleberry was not injured.

 

 

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Lawsuit filed against cancer charities

 

Michigan has joined a federal lawsuit against four phony cancer charities and their operators who allegedly scammed more than $187 million from consumers throughout the country.
 

The joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the other 49 states and the District of Columbia alleges that Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society spent more money on salaries than on the goods and services they provided to cancer patients.
 

The charities, all led by James Reynolds Senior, allegedly solicited donations via phone and mail and used the money for gym memberships, college tuition, dating website subscriptions and more.


Michigan and 35 other states also charged the bogus groups with making false and misleading filings with state charities regulators. In addition, the FTC and 36 states charged the charities with providing their professional fundraisers with deceptive fundraising materials and thus the means and instruments of deception.
 

 

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More meth labs

 

Another meth lab is out of commission following an arrest in Cedar Creek Township. Police say they arrested a woman in a wooded area who was allegedly in possession of a one-pot meth lab.

 

An investigation led authorities to a residence on East 18 and a half Road where they discovered additional chemicals and other evidence of meth making, and they arrested a man on unrelated charges.

 

An investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected.

 

 

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Re-opening of Baldwin prison not a done deal

 

Organized labor and legislative Democrats are fighting Republicans on their efforts to re-open the privatized prison up North. The tiny community of Baldwin is in Lake County, one of the poorest in the state and local officials argue 300 jobs will be created if the Legislature gives the GEO corporation the green light to re-open the mothballed prison which would take inmates from other states. Senator Steve Beida says it's a bad idea.

 

If I were another state and I was sending people away, I'd send the worst of the worst over to us and I'm not sure if that's a really good thing, if it's safe for our citizens, I'm not sure if it's something we want to build our economy on.”


The state Senate is working on a bill that cleared the House recently. Labor unions claim GEO has a lousy track record of running private prisons and Democrats say the most hardened criminals will end up in Michigan. But Republicans dismiss the claims.


The governor, who issued some prison reform recommendations this week, reports he has not studied the Baldwin prison issue.

 

 

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Murder trial moved to Kent Co

 

The trial for a 52-year old woman charged in the murder of a Grand Rapids businesswoman more than seven years ago is being moved. Robin Root was arrested in Ottawa County last month but she will be charged with murder in Kent County.

 

60-year old Grand Rapids businesswoman Janna Kelly went missing in December 2007. Her body was found in March of 2008 in Grand Haven Township.

 

Root told detectives that she and Kelly got into an argument over her rent money. There was pushing and Kelly fell, striking her head. Root said she hid the body in the trunk of Kelly's car and drove to Ottawa County where she dumped it in a blueberry field.

 

 

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Synthetic marijuana vapor product showing up in western Michigan

 

A new form of synthetic marijuana is making its way into the area. Police say a 19-year-old Mason County student is hospitalized in critical condition after inhaling synthetic cannabis. The man's e-cigarette vapor juice, a product called Darth Vapor, tested positive for synthetic cannabis. Officials are awaiting test results on a sterile container of vapor juice to try determining whether the man added something to the product.

 

School officials at Journey High School in Scottville called 911 on Monday when the student had a seizure. Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole says it's the fourth time since March that they've seen an overdose on the vapor. The vapor isn't regulated by the state making it difficult to prevent more overdoses.

 

 

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Geo Group strikes a deal with Vermont DOC to house inmates at Lake Co. prison

The Vermont Dept. of Corrections agreed to a deal with the Geo Group, the company that owns the North Lake Correctional Facility to house inmates. 

 

The two-year deal announced Tuesday by the Vermont D.O.C is worth a little over $30-million dollars. Under the agreement, the North Lake Correctional Facility will be able to house up to 675 inmates. 

 

Prisoners could be transfered as early as "the second quarter of 2015" according to the D.O.C of Vermont. 

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Michigan's road saga continues

 

Governor Rick Snyder is not ready to offer his own plan for fixing the roads in Michigan opting instead to see what the legislature has to offer first.

 

I've been leading for quite a few years on this, and I'm going to continue to lead, but at the same time I want to make sure my partners have an opportunity to come out with their own views on this issue,” he says.


House GOP Speaker Kevin Cotter made his views known last week with a four year plan to pump more than $1 billion into the roads, using in part economic growth. The governor wants to revisit car registration fee increases and a boost on the wholesale gas tax.

 

 

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Click It or Ticket in force for Memorial Day Holiday

 

State and local police in all 83 counties of Michigan will be on the alert for those who fail to "buckle up" during the Memorial Day Holiday period, as part of the "Click It Or Ticket" seat belt enforcement campaign through May 31st.

 

Melody Kindraka, of the State Office of Highway Safety Planning says it includes identified seat belt enforcement zones.

“Having the large sign at the beginning of the zone with a spotter that will be near the sign and if they see a motorist who goes by who may not be buckled up, they'll radio ahead to other law enforcement officers.”

 

During last year's Click It or Ticket enforcement, nearly 8-thousand seat belt and car seat citations were issued. Twenty people were killed in traffic crashes during the 2014 Memorial Day holiday.

 

 

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Smokers and drinkers pay more taxes than businesses in Michigan

 

A Detroit News analysis of tax data shows smokers and drinkers paid more taxes last year than Michigan companies paid in net business income taxes.

 

Revenue from so-called sin taxes on tobacco, beer, wine and liquor totaled more than 290 million dollars in the 2014 fiscal year, more than twice the income taxes paid by Michigan businesses after receiving over 700-million dollars in refunds from tax credits.

 

Taxes from the Michigan Business Tax and Corporate Income Tax are projected to total 244 million dollars this year, while beer, liquor, wine and tobacco taxes will total about 280 million.
 

 

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Sweetheart Swindler heading to prison

 

Michigan's Sweetheart Swindler is headed to prison. Jeffrey Lucas of Egelston Township pleaded guilty Friday in Muskegon County Circuit Court to two felony counts of larceny by false pretenses and being a habitual offender.

 

The 34-year old Lucas was accused of meeting women through online dating sites, romancing them, and then talking them out of thousands of dollars. Lucas faces up to life in prison. No sentencing date has been set.

 

 

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Man found dead in Sand Lake home

 

A man is dead and a woman seriously injured following a shooting in Newaygo County. Michigan State Police say they found the victims at a residence on East 128th street in Sand Lake last week.

 

45-year-old Martin Duram was found deceased and 46-year-old Glenna Duram was found injured, but breathing. Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to contact the Michigan State Police Hart Post at 231-873-2171.

 

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Clare County brothers involved in shooting

 

One of two brothers is in jail following a shooting in Clare County. The Clare County Sheriffs Department says the two men from Harrison were having an argument when the older brother fired a shotgun at his younger sibling.

 

The victim was taken to the hospital where his condition is unknown. The shooter was arrested and is being held in the Clare County Jail.

 

 

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Cadillac man arrested on a host of CSC charges

A 30-year old Wexford Co. man is behind bars after he being arrested on a host of felony charges.

 

Rickie Lee Johns of Cadillac is accused of sexually abusing a child under the age of 14 at a home in Selma Township from 2011 to 2014. Johns was arraigned on nine felony charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of second degree CSC, one count of child sexually abusive activity, one count of prostitution and engaging the services of a minor. His bond was set at $50,000.

 

The case is currently ongoing.  

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State's job growth better than other Great Lake states

 

A new report shows Michigan has seen job growth of nearly 11 percent since the end of the Great Recession, better than the job growth of the other Great Lakes states.

 

The study from the Pew Charitable Trust says because the state struggled the hardest during the recession, the state's growth was among the most impressive.

 

Since the recession, Michigan has seen total job growth of nearly 418,000 jobs since the state's lowest point in March 2010.

 

 

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Michigan's population dropping

 

Michigan's struggle to maintain its population is not just about finding ways for people to move here or stay here. It's also about fertility. State Demographer Eric Guthrie says Michigan's total fertility rate, or TFR, has not been high enough to keep a steady population.

“For a population to increase, we would need would need to see a TFR of greater than two. Given that, migration is going to be of vital importance to Michigan as we move into the future.”

 

TFR is the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime. Guthrie notes other states also have a TFR below two.

 

 

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FSU College of Ed improves

 

Ferris State University's College of Education is showing improvement according to an annual report to the State Board of Education.

 

The state's Professional Accountability unit says FSU along with Baker College improved to satisfactory from at-risk.

 

Rochester College improved to at-risk from low performing while Concordia and U of M Flint fell to low performing.

 

 

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Bank employee arrested on identity theft and embezzlement charges in Montcalm Co.

A Montcalm Co. bank employee has been arrested on embezzlement and identity theft charges.

 

Deputies say over the course of several years, Sandra Kay Ebright of Elwell, drew up a number of loans in the names of existing customers without their knowledge. Ebright, who was the branch manager, then kept the proceeds for herself and attempted to make payments on the loans in an effort to keep them from being discovered.  

 

Ebright has been charged with one count of embezzlement and seventeen counts of identity theft and her employment was terminated after 31 years of service.

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Sheriff's Deputy shot

 

A Charlevoix County Sheriff's Deputy is hospitalized following a shooting near Boyne City over the weekend. Authorities say Cpl. Fred Hasty was processing a stolen pick-up from Boyne City when he spotted the suspect in a second vehicle.

 

After a short chase, the suspect was stopped but refused to get out of the vehicle. The suspect began shooting at officers, wounding Cpl. Hasty. Deputies returned fire and injured the suspect.

 

 

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Cadillac school board names new superintendent

 

The Cadillac school district has a new superintendent. Cadillac High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Brown accepted the position when it was offered to her by the school board Friday evening.

 

Brown has served as both the curriculum director and assistant high school principal for the past eight years and was one of two finalists for the position.

 

 

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Michigan FOIA exemptions being considered

 

Certain information dealing with Michigan's energy infrastructure would be exempt from the state's Freedom Of Information Act under a measure before a House committee. The bill exempts certain information that discloses critical energy infrastructure information from being available to the public.

 

Supporters say it will help avert terrorist attacks. Critics, such as Michigan Environment Council spokesperson James Clift, say the measure goes too far and will hide things important to local residents such as malfunctioning pipelines.

“We're worried that the bill, as written, is overly broad and will basically provide secrecy for some of the information.”

Testimony began Thursday before the Michigan House Oversight committee.

 

 

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Senator challenges lawmakers on prevailing wage law

 

The Michigan Senate has approved a package of bills repealing the state’s prevailing wage law. The law requires workers on government projects be paid union wages and benefits.

 

State Senator Morris Hood says that takes money away from families, and challenged lawmakers in the Senate to take a pay cut too if they vote to repeal the law.

“Don't do to somebody else what you won't do to yourselves. Let's see if it hurts your income, let's see if it hurts your household, and your fancy boats and your fancy cars and your fancy big old houses and stuff like that,” he told lawmakers.

The bills now move to the Michigan House.

 

 

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Lake County jury deadlocks in murder case

 

The jury in a Lake County murder appeal trial can't decide if the suspect is guilty.

 

The hung jury means the trial of Jerome Lewis, who was convicted and sent to prison for accessory after the fact to the murder of Andrew Smith, will be retried.

 

Smith's body was found on the side of a road near Baldwin in 2011.

 

 

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Mason County armed robbery suspects at large

 

Police in Mason County say two men broke into a home and threatened the owner with a gun. The armed break-in occurred Thursday morning on Hansen Road in Scottville.

 

Mason County Sheriff, Kim Cole says, "The homeowner arrived home and was confronted in his driveway by two black males, one was in possession of a handgun and pointed it at the victim." The two masked men then fled on foot into the woods near the house.

 

Deputies say there was forced entry to the home, several items were missing, and the homeowners dog had been shot.

 

 

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New road funding plan unveiled; Potvin optimistic

A week after Proposal 1 failed, State House Speaker Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant unveiled a new road funding plan he says will raise over a billion dollars without raising taxes. 

 

Cotter says he hopes to get both republicans and democrates on the same page and get something agreed on in the next two months. Republican State House Rep. Phil Potvin says he thinks that's feasible in the house because last year they created two road funding plans that were approved but then opposed in the State Senate.

 

Cotter's plan relies on $700 million in projected revenue growth from the General fund, which would be redirected to roads.  Another $117 million by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit. The rest would come from casino revenues and redirecting funds from enonomic development programs.   

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Father charged with concealing daughters death in White Cloud

 

The father of a four-month old White Cloud girl has been charged with concealing the death of his daughter.

 

Matthew Bradley was officially charged in a Newaygo County courtroom. Police found the body of Natallya Rich late Tuesday night in the basement of the White Cloud home her parents lived in after Rich' grandmother reported her missing earlier in the day.

 

The charge carries a five year prison term, if convicted.  He's being held on $100,000.  

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State's top execs average over $14M a year

 

Michigan's top CEOs make nearly 340 times more than the average worker.

 

According to the AFL-CIO’s annual Executive PayWatch report, Michigan S&P 500 CEOs made an average of almost $14,300,000 in 2014 compared to the average Michigan worker who earns just over $42,000 per year.

 

Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift says the report makes it pretty clear that corporate CEOs are doing better than ever, while Michigan’s working families are struggling to get by.

 

 

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Manton man faces new charges while heading to prison

 

A 33-year-old Manton man who is heading to prison on drug charges in Wexford County now faces new charges in Missaukee County.

 

Freddie Lee Watkins III was charged on Monday with accosting a minor for immoral purposes, delivering a controlled substance to a minor and using a computer to commit a crime.

 

The new charges are the result of an investigation of incidents that allegedly occurred in Missaukee County’s Caldwell Township late last year.

 

 

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House Speaker unveils road funding plan

 

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter is introducing a road funding plan that would generate more than a billion dollars without raising taxes. However, Cotter says a tax hike isn't out of the question.

 

I don't want to take anything off the table. This plan, I would be comfortable with, at least as a starting point. I am always going to be one that is more in favor of re-prioritization as opposed to new revenue, but I'm not going to take anything off the table.”

 

The plan relies heavily on $700 million in projected revenue growth from the General fund. The rest would come through the elimination of the Earn Income Tax Credit for low-income families, redirecting funds from economic development programs, and casino revenues.

 

Opponents of the plan say it relies on imaginary dollars and burdening Michigan's working poor.

 

 

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Investigation into baby's death in White Cloud continues

 

The investigation continues into the death of 4-month-old Nattalya Rich in White Cloud. The baby was found dead in the basement of the home of her parents, Matthew Bradley and Brittany Rich.

 

Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead says it's "too early to tell" whether foul play was involved or if any charges will be issued. Authorities say they're awaiting autopsy results to determine when and how the baby died.

 

The family is setting up a gofundme page to pay for Nattalya's funeral.

 

 

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Oceana teens plot to rape and kill 14 year old

 

Three Oceana County teens are facing multiple charges after allegedly planning to rape and kill a 14-year-old girl. Two of the boys, Hunter Ward and Branden Dennis, are being tried as adults.

 

The boys were arrested after a 14-year-old boy told the Oceana County Sheriff's department that the trio had sexually assaulted him. He also told authorities the same three boys were planning to kidnap a 14-year-old neighbor girl, rape her and then kill her. According to the victim, the boys also planned to kill the girl's parents if they interfered.

 

All three are being held in the Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Facility.

 

 

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Construction on US-131 in Mecosta Co. starts Monday

Construction season has begun on state highways. Commuters will have to take a different route when traveling on northbound US-131 in Mecosta Co.

 

MDOT officials say starting on May 18th, the northbound lanes of US-131 from exits 131-139 will be closed. The closure is part of eight total for that north and southbound section of road this Summer. Officals say the closures are needed to complete a bridge rehab project.

 

Those vehicles traveling in that area will be detoured to 8 mile road, then to Northland Drive and finally Perry Avenue in Big Rapids where you can get back on US-131.      

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Teen alcohol awareness efforts underway

 

Many students in Michigan are off to prom, graduation parties and other festivities in the coming weeks. But with those events can come the temptation of alcohol, which is why advocates are working to empower students to help change adult attitudes about underage drinking. 

Amy Johnston is a community prevention specialist working with the Pinckney Coalition. She says it's important for students and parents to know that the idea that everyone drinks at this age just isn't the case. "Seventy-six percent of high school students have not used alcohol in the past 30 days," she points out. "And 96 percent of middle school students have not used alcohol in the past 30 days."
Johnston says programs such as Project Sticker Shock, in which students team up with storeowners to put warning stickers on cases of beer about the dangers of providing alcohol to minors, are helping to dispel the notion that underage drinking is harmless.

Johnston says many students and parents alike underestimate the toll underage drinking takes on the entire state. "A lot of people have the attitude that, 'Oh, I did it, it's not that big of a deal,'" she states. "But we don't understand what it's really doing to those minds that aren't fully developed and the risk of addiction."

In 2013, Johnston says underage drinking cost the people of Michigan $1.3 billion, including medical care, lost work and pain and suffering. That translates to nearly $2,000 for every youth in the state, or $4.20 for every underage drink consumed. (Mona Shand) 

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Stanwood woman charged with fraud and forgery

A Stanwood woman has been accused of swindling over $40,000 from an ailing friend.

 

60-year old ​Mischelle Swartwood was arraigned in Mecosta County's 77Th District Court on felony fraud and forgery charges. She is being held in the Mecosta County Jail on a $75,000.00 bond pending further court action.​

 

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Should local government retain autonomy over workers rights?

 

Testimony is underway in Lansing on a measure that would prohibit local governments from imposing special local requirements on Employers regarding local worker benefits such as paid time off.

 

Business groups such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce applaud the bill, saying such ordinances create a patchwork of policies in Michigan, and work against economic development.

 

Opponents say a local community has the right to decide how their local private sector workers are treated. Todd Tennis of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers agrees.

“Local units should be able to set their own decision making about these issues, particularly, we feel, that that's true when it comes to what it does with its own dollars.”

In the meantime, the group "Equality Michigan" charges the bills will also void local human rights ordinances and other measures.

 

 

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Legislature taking different roads to tackle road funding problem

 

Lawmakers in the Michigan House will get a glimpse at House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s proposed plan to fund road repairs in the state. Cotter has scheduled a Wednesday afternoon news conference to unveil the plan.


He first hinted at a proposal he hopes can garner the backing of both Republicans and Democrats in the House a day after Proposal 1 was defeated at the polls. He’s optimistic lawmakers can reach an agreement on a road funding plan in the next two months.


Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate is taking a deliberate approach to finding a road repair funding solution. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof told reporters last week not to plan a vacation because lawmakers would be meeting through the summer to find a solution.

 

The Senate on Tuesday announced a summer schedule adding an additional 30-working days to the calendar. Lawmakers were set to meet just six days combined in July and August.

 

 

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Law requiring search warrant for electronic data in the works

 

The government would have to get a search warrant to look through your emails and text messages under a resolution introduced in the Michigan House.

 

If approved the resolution would place the question on the November, 2016 ballot. State Representative Jim Runestad is sponsoring the resolution and says other states are also looking at the issue.

 

 

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GM recalls more than one half million more vehicles

 

General Motors is recalling nearly 470,000 Chevy Malibu’s to fix cables that may be weakened. The cables link the front seat belts to the car.

 

GM is also recalling some 53,000 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon’s to fix seat frame hooks that weren’t installed properly when the trucks were assembled.

 

 

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UPDATE: Baby found dead in White Cloud

 

UPDATE:

Police are executing a search warrant at the White Cloud home where relatives say the body of missing 4-month-old Natallya Rich has been found. The house, where Natallya's parents, 27-year-old Matthew Bradley and 25-year-old Brittany Rich live, has been sealed off. Both are in police custody after being picked up at a Wendy's in Big Rapids last night. Brittany Rich is reportedly cooperating with police and Bradley is being held on an unrelated warrant.

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Relatives of missing 4-month-old Natallya Rich are saying police have found the baby's body in the basement of her family's home in White Cloud.

 

The baby's grandmother, Heidi Thill, contacted police early Tuesday after Natallya was not returned home. Natallya's father, 27-year-old Matthew Bradley said he took her to a babysitter last Saturday.

 

Police located Bradley and Natallya's mother, 25-year-old Brittany Rich at a Wendy's in Big Rapids last night and took the couple in for questioning.

 

White Cloud Police are expected to issue a statement sometime this morning. We will have more details on the story as soon as they are available.

 

 

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Police search for missing baby in Newaygo Co.

Police in White Cloud are searching for a missing four-month old baby. 

 

Authorities say Natallya Rich went missing on Saturday  when her father dropped her off at a babysitter's house. 

 

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Natallya please contact White Cloud Police at 231-689-1969

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Elementary school student wants Michigan to have a state bug

 

A third grader at an Upper Peninsula elementary school wants Michigan to have a state insect – and he wants it to be the ladybug.

 

Connor Royer began a petition drive first in his classroom, then throughout Lemmer Elementary in Escanaba and finally online to collect enough signatures to convince State Representative Ed McBroom to introduce a bill naming the ladybug Michigan’s state insect.

 

Connor’s teacher, Jeffrey Wright, says it’s been a learning experience for his students…

“We can't just say, 'Oh, let's make the ladybug the state insect,' and then it happens the next day. And, as Connor's finding out, it's kind of a long process that started in September, and now it's May.”

McBroom’s bill has not yet gone through a House committee.

 

 

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More GM death claims

 

The General Motors Ignition Compensation Fund has approved three more death claims.
 

The fund has approved a total of 100 death claims and 172 injury claims so far. Officials with the GM fund say there are still 626 applications pending out of the 43-hundred-42 claims submitted.
 

The problem stems from approximately two-and-a-half-million cars built between 2003 and 2007 where the ignition switch could turn off, causing a loss of electrical power.

 

So far, dealers have reportedly replaced nearly 75-percent of the faulty switches.
 

 

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Students defaulting on school loans may get help from the federal government

 

Michigan's junior US Senator is introducing legislation he says will help private student loan borrowers rehabilitate defaulted loans. U.S. Senator Gary Peters says the bill would let a person who has defaulted on a private loan have the default notice removed from their credit report, if they can make nine straight payments on time.

“Traditionally, defaults happen very early. When students then get on their feet or new graduates get on their feet and start making those payments, they still have the credit default report that hangs over their head.”

The idea is to help those former students who may have missed payments early to have their record cleaned up. The ability to delete the default record already exists with government-backed loans. The bill, to be introduced soon, is titled "The Federal Adjustment in Reporting (FAIR) Student Credit Act."

 

 

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Kalkaska B and E suspect sentenced

 

One of two men charged with a number of break-ins in Antrim and Kalkaska counties is heading to prison.

 

Justin Thornburg was sentenced on Monday for up to 15 years.

 

Thornburg and Terry Barkovich were accused of breaking into 25 homes along Torch and Manistee Lakes, and stealing around $45,000 worth of property.

 

 

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State Senator in trouble with the law

 

Michigan State Senator Virgil Smith is under arrest on allegations of aggravated assault and malicious destruction of property in connection with shots fired at the car owned by his ex-wife.

 

Authorities say the incident happened Sunday outside of Smith's home after his ex-wife stormed into his house and assaulted his girlfriend.

 

Smith told police he did "the most stupid thing in his life," by opening fire on his ex-wife's automobile. No one was injured in the shooting.

 

 

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Two dead in Gratiot County

 

Michigan State Police say two people are dead following a head on crash in Gratiot County. A driver eastbound on M-46 Monday afternoon crossed over the center line and hit an oncoming SUV.

 

The driver of the car and a passenger in the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the SUV was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

 

Police say heavy rain may have contributed to the crash.

 

 

 

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Graduated State income tax?

 

A recent poll shows clear bipartisan support for changing Michigan's income tax from a flat rate to a graduated rate. Currently Michigan is among just a handful of states with a flat income tax rate. State Representative Jim Townsend of Royal Oak is proposing a constitutional amendment that would convert Michigan to "progressive" rate.

“Polling data says that 66 percent of Michigan voters would vote to support a graduated income tax. Only 25 percent voted no.”

It's an idea that has been supported by Democrats but opposed by Republicans. Townsend says a progressive tax provides more fairness. Supporters of Michigan's current flat rate disagree.

 

And there's no evidence there are the votes in the legislature to send such a proposal to the statewide ballot. Townsend admits that a petition drive would be needed to do that, but he adds that no effort to start one is underway.
 

 

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State road repair funding back to square one

 

Lawmakers are back in Lansing on Tuesday, and while their focus has been on finishing the state budget, the issue of road funding is being taken up again. The debate has reverted back to where it was one year ago, with a dispute over whether or not there should be a tax increase to generate the funds.

 

Some say rejection of Proposal 1 was because it was a tax increase. Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association spokesperson Mike Nystrom disagrees.

“But in the end, I don't think that that's what killed it. People just felt that this was too complex.”

But Senator Pat Colbeck of Canton says the legislature can find the revenue in the existing budget and not cut essential items like schools, police or fire.

 

 

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Anti-gay ads coming to West Michigan

 

A group opposed to gay marriage is using billboards to deliver a blunt message.

 

Mark Gurley with The Oak Initiative says his organization isn't out to offend anyone, but stand up for its members' beliefs of protecting religious freedoms.

 

The electronic signs read "homosexuality is a behavior, not a civil right."

 

Space has been purchased in the Detroit area, with upcoming buys in Flint, Lansing, and Grand Rapids.

 

 

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Battle Creek man dies confronting police

 

Michigan State Police are investigating the death of a 19-year-old man who supposedly wanted to commit “suicide by police.”

 

Battle Creek Police say a family member called police Sunday morning saying the man had taken a relative’s gun and that he “wanted to die.”

 

Chief Jim Blocker says the man ignored “loud and clear” warnings from the officers before pulling a gun from his waistband. Police told the man to drop his gun, but he refused and shots were fired from both sides.

 

 

 

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Ferris State approves tuition increases for the 2015-2016 school year

Ferris State University Board of Trustees approved tuition hikes for its students.

 

The 2.65% average increase includes an increase of 2.41%, for freshman and sophomores which translate to $252 more per semester than last year. While junior and senior students will pay 2.89% more, which translates to $308 more per semester than the previous year according to the university.

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Brothers convicted of murdering woman 25 years ago in Newaygo Co.

Two Newaygo County brothers have been found guilty murdering an 18-year old woman 25-years ago.

 

In separate jury delibarations, the first jury found Matthew Jones guilty of first degree murder of Shannon Siders, the second convicted Paul Jones of second degree murder. Siders disappeared in July of 1989 after a night of partying, three months later, a hunter discovered her body in the Manistee National Forest. The Jones brothers were questioned at the time about her disappearance but no charges were ever filed.

 

The case was reopened in 2012, when investigators received testimony from a witness who was only 14 at the time. She told authorities another older teenager warned her to keep quiet. Sentencing for the Jones brothers is set for June 16th.  

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Wrongfully convicted may get compensation from state

 

State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require that the state compensate the wrongfully convicted.


Senator Steve Bieda and Representative Stephanie Chang, announced legislation Thursday that would create the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act.


Bieda says the state currently offers nothing to exonerees, but under his bill the state would offer $60,000 for each year a person was wrongfully imprisoned.


Chang says the measure will help wrongly convicted individuals re-establish their lives.


Thirty states and the federal government already offer compensation to those who have been exonerated.

 

 

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Man caught with pot in Cadillac school zone

 

A Cadillac man is under arrest for having marijuana in a school zone.

 

Authorities say Matthew Weese was taken into custody after police responded to a harassment call at Bieners Pizza, across the street from the high school.

 

Police say Weese was carrying small bags of pot in a backpack.

 

 

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Fixing roads not a priority for some lawmakers

 

The Michigan Senate isn't rushing into finding a long-term funding fix for the state's roads.
 

Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says lawmakers have other priorities to tend to first -- like the state budget. Meekhof isn't ruling out a tax increase as a possible solution and also expects lawmakers to spend time in Lansing over the summer working on the issue.
 

His pace is in stark contrast to House Speaker Kevin Cotter's, who expects to announce a plan within just a few days.
 

 

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Mecosta Co. Commissioners extend contract of Administrator Paul Bullock

The Mecosta County Board of Commission gave Administrator Paul Bullock a three year contract extension. The move was made during the commission meeting Thursday. The extension starts July 31st.

 

Bullock has been employed with Mecosta Co. since 1987 and has been its Administrator since 1996. 

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State Rep. from Newaygo pushes forward on trying to reopen Baldwin prison

The worst of the worst inmates could be housed a private prison in Lake County under a bill awaiting a vote in the Michigan House.

 

The proposal, sponsored by State Representative Jon Bumstead, would reopen the prison in Baldwin and allow the company running it to take in prisoners from other states. The Newaygo Republican says opening the prison could create as many as 150 jobs out of the gate in an area of the state that routinely has an unemployment rate pushing 20-percent.

The last time inmates were held there was in 2011.  

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Police investigating a string of break-ins around Osceola Co.

Police are investigating multiple break ins around Osceola County over the past two weeks.

 

Deputies say it started when the Rose Golf Course in Leroy was broken into, then the Tustin Trails Golf Course, Mineral Springs Bar in Tustin and Duddles Tree Farm in Reed City.

 

Police are asking anyone with information about the break-ins to come forward.

 

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Police find meth dump site in Osceola Co.

A meth dump site was found in Osceola County. Deputies say the “one-pot” meth lab was discovered in Hersey Township. The Traverse Narcotics Team was called to the scene to investigate and to clean up the area.

 

Law enforcement continues to investigate who dumped the lab.  

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Mecosta Co. voters approve local school bond and millage proposals

Even though Proposal 1 was overwhelmingly struck down by voters Tuesday, local school districts in Mecosta County received some good news.

 

Voters approved Big Rapids Public Schools proposed millage renewal. The renewal will allow the district to levy 18 mills on all property except for principle residences. Meanwhile,  voters in the Chippewa Hills School District approved a bond issue that would allow the district to borrow up to $23.5 million dollars to fund certain projects which include building and furnishing a new elementary school, the purchase of new buses or developing a new school playground.  

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Voters want lawmakers to get back to work on roads

 

Now that voters have said "no" to increasing the state sales tax to raise more funding for roads, Michigan residents want lawmakers to head right back to drawing board, according to a new poll.

 

The survey by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA shows 87-percent say Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers should get back to work on a new plan immediately.

 

The poll also found 85-percent want the governor to call legislators back in session during the summer to fix the roads.

 

 

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Prop 1 defeated

 

Michigan voters delivered a resounding “no” to Governor Snyder's plan for fixing the state's roads and bridges. Nearly 80 percent of voters gave a thumbs down to Prop 1 at the ballot box and now, Snyder says he will keep after the issue, but finding a new plan to fund Michigan's roads will be challenging.

 

There are challenges to it, to get it through a legislature of any fashion, and, secondly, we most likely lost this construction season.”

 

So it's back to the drawing board for Michigan legislators.

 

 

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Illinois man arraigned on charges from crimes committed in Mecosta Co. 35 years ago

Nearly four years after the complaint against him was filed and over 35 years after the crime, a 67-year old Illinois man was arraigned in Mecosta County on two felony charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim under 13 years of age.

 

Detective Casey Nemeth says after three years of processing court documents and Governor's Warrants, James Lamson was extradited from Illinois where he was in custody for a CSC charge from a 1985 incident. Lamson is accused of sexually assaulting three of his cousins, all under the age of 13 at the time, in a 1978 visit to Big Rapids Township.  In 2011, the cousins reported the crime to the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office after seeing the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case on Television, feeling a moral responsibility to report the crime.

 

Lamson remains in custody at the Mecosta County Jail on three million dollars bond.  His next court date is a show cause hearing on May 12th and a Preliminary exam on May 19th.

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Lansing man accused of sexually assaulting a child in Mason Co.

Police in Mason County arrested a Lansing man they say sexually assaulted a child under the age of 13.

 

State Police say 62-year old David James Anderson was arrested on two separate felony charges of second degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges stem from an investigation that started on November of 2014.

 

Anderson a lawyer in the Lansing area is accused of being sexually involved with a minor under the age of 13 during a hunting trip in Sherman Township. His bond was set at $15,000.   

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Meth lab dump site found in Osceola County

 

Another meth lab dump site has been found, this one in Osceola County. Police say chemicals commonly used for one pot meth production were found in Highland Township.

 

The items were removed and disposed of. An investigation into who dumped the materials is ongoing.

 

Officials warn that manufacturing methamphetamine is extremely dangerous and components used to make meth are harmful and can produce deadly fumes. The Traverse Narcotics Team reminds people that as weather conditions improve, more meth dump sites may be found. They ask individuals to note the location of any suspected dump site and to contact local law enforcement.

 

 

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Witness catches B and E suspect in Cadillac

 

A 46-year-old man is in custody following a breaking and entering in Cadillac. Police say the man was arrested for allegedly breaking into the Mid Town Market around 2 am on Monday.

 

A witness called police saying he saw the suspect enter the building through a broken glass door. The caller and a friend held the suspect until officers arrived.

 

 

 

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UPDATE East Lansing says yes to pot

 

Voters in East Lansing have approved lessening local marijuana ordinances.

 

A charter amendment to repeal the city of East Lansing's current marijuana ordinances will now be in effect making the use, possession and transfer of up to 1 ounce of marijuana legal for people 21 years or older on private property.

 

 

Earlier Story

 

The mayor of East Lansing says he is voting "yes" on decriminalizing marijuana in his city today and he says if it passes, the local police will continue to back off the issue.

 

Mayor Nathan Triplett, who supports decriminalizing pot, says if voters approve the proposal it won't greatly affect the behavior of the city's police because they already treat adult marijuana use as a low enforcement priority.

 

 

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Fate of Proposal 1 and other issues to be decided

 

Gov. Rick Snyder wrapped up an 11th hour bus tour urging voters to approve a tax increase on today's ballot that would generate $1.2 billion a year for roads. Snyder responded to critics of the plan by saying people who take the time to read the proposal are more likely to vote yes. He admits that part of his task in the campaign has been to fend off anger over the decision by the legislature to send the ballot proposal to voters, noting "people were upset that they had to go to the ballot rather than just being told it got done."


And, while Proposal 1 is the only statewide question on the ballot in Michigan today, some local school districts are asking voters for millage increases. And there is some concern about the plight of those proposals, given that Proposal 1 is a tax increase and that could strengthen the anti-tax turnout today. Kathy Hayes of the Michigan Association of School Boards agrees that its possible the millage proposals could be threated by Prop 1, adding it's one of those things that "unfortunately happens at the same time and voters will just have to decide what's important to them."

 

 

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Local school districts hoping for good voter turnout

When residents in Mecosta Co. head to the polls Tuesday, many of them will be focused on voting yes or no on Proposal 1 but there are a few local school proposals on the ballot as well.

 

Big Rapids Public Schools are asking residents to renew their millage proposal which will allow the district to continue to levy 18 mills on all property, except principle residences. Meanwhile, the Chippewa Hills Schoiol District is proposing a bond that would allow them to borrow up to $23.5 million dollars for certain projects including building and furnishing a new elementary school, pruchasing new buses and developing a new playground.

 

For proposal language click here.  

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Three injured including police officer after car accident in Montcalm Co.

Three people, including a Montcalm County Sheriff’s deputy, were treated for minor injuries Saturday afternoon after a 2 car crash on M-66 near Colby Road.

 

Central Dispatch received a report of a two-car injury crash at the intersection of M-66 and Sidney Roads. A sheriff’s deputy was responding to the accident and traveling southbound on M-66 pulled into the northbound lane to move around traffic that was slowing or stopping when another southbound vehicle made a left turn into the path of the patrol vehicle. The two vehicles collided and went off the east side of the roadway before coming to rest. The driver of the second vehicle had been attempting to turn into a private driveway.

 

Both occupants of this car, a 19-year old Sheridan man and a 17-year old Sheridan woman, were taken to Sheridan Community Hospital where they were treated and released. The 28 year old Deputy was also treated and released. Alcohol was not a factor and seat belts were used in both vehicles. No citations have been issued and the accident remains under investigation.

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Police looking for public help in recent Big Rapids Twp. home break-in

Police in Mecosta County are looking for help to identify the suspect or suspects who broke into a home in Big Rapids Township.

 

Deputies say it happened on April 22nd at a residence on 13 Mile Road and 190th Avenue.  The break-in occurred during the day.  Forced entry was made into the house and firearms and other personal property including jewelry was stolen.

 

Anyone with any information is asked to contacted the Sheriff's office at 231-592-0150.  

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Fee for adopting children in Michigan could be eliminated

 

A bill eliminating a fee potential adoptive parents must pay in Michigan has cleared a House committee. Currently, those who want to adopt children in the state must pay a 100-dollar fee to get on a statewide list and then pay a 50-dollar renewal fee to stay on it.

 

Representative Jim Runsted, who sponsored the bill, says the fee is enough to keep some parents from applying to adopt foster children.

 

It's an on-going battle, always trying to find enough parents for the children that are out there. There's just so many children looking for a forever-family and there's just not enough adoptive parents out there.”

 

The bill is awaiting a vote before the full Michigan House.

 

 

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Legislators try for second e-cigarette ban

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for the first time in the history of its National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use is higher than all forms of tobacco. CDC Director Tom Frieden says the increased popularity of the product is working against other progress made in the fight against cigarette smoking.


The C-D-C estimates that last year there were 2.4 million e-cigarette youth users and an estimated 1.6 million youths used hookahs or water pipes. Those numbers tripled since 2011.

 

In Lansing, there's a new proposal to ban the sale to minors. Governor Snyder vetoed an earlier bill that prohibited e-cigarette sales to minors saying it wasn't tough enough. He wants e-cigarettes regulated and taxed the same as tobacco. David Sutton of Altria, a division of Phillip Morris which makes e-cigarettes, says that goes too far.

 

E-vapor products are products that do not contain tobacco, for a start. Number two, they don't burn like cigarettes do.”

 

Critics of e-cigarettes note however that they do contain nicotine.

 

 

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Former Isabella County Sheriff's Deputy behind bars

 

A former Isabella County Sheriff's Deputy is behind bars on an eight count felony warrant. Kevin Eugene Dush was arrested following an investigation based on reports of alleged criminal activity by a law enforcement officer. The matter was immediately reported to the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department for review. The Dush resigned from the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department before being questioned regarding the allegations. Upon review, it was determined that the complaint appeared to have merit, and it was turned over to the Michigan State Police Mount Pleasant Post for investigation. Detectives from the Mount Pleasant and Lakeview Posts cooperated to investigate the alleged activity.

 

During the course of the investigation it was discovered the allegations included incidents of sexual assault. Additional individuals came forward identifying themselves as victims. At the conclusion of the investigation a report was submitted for review by a special prosecutor. Clare County Prosecuting Attorney, Michelle Ambrozaitis, was designated as the special prosecutor.

 

On May 1, 2015 Prosecutor Ambrozaitis authorized an 8 count felony warrant for the suspect, Kevin Eugene Dush. The charges included 3 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree, 1 count of Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree, 1 count of Extortion, 1 count of Attempted Bribery, 1 count of Misconduct In Office and 1 count of Felony Firearm.

 

The warrant was issued by the Isabella County Trial Court. The suspect was arrested on May 1st at approximately 11:30 a.m. at his residence. He has been lodged in the Clare County Jail.

 

 

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Suspect at large following police chase in Clare County

 

State Police are searching for a suspect involved in a police chase in Clare County. On Friday, troopers from the Michigan State Police Mount Pleasant Post responded to a tip that a man suspected in local criminal activity was at a store near Lake George. The responding Trooper observed the suspect leaving the area in an extended cab Ram 3500 with duels. The Trooper visually confirmed the driver as the suspect and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The driver attempted to flee from the Trooper, and subsequently drove to US-10 where he entered the roadway driving East-bound in the West-bound lane. During the course of the incident the truck was confirmed as a stolen vehicle from another county.

 

The Trooper attempted to make contact with the three occupants of the vehicle after it crossed over into the proper lane of travel and came to a stop. Two female passengers and the male suspect immediately fled on foot from the truck. The trooper apprehended both females. One female was lodged in the Clare County jail for 1 count of Resisting and Obstructing and 3 outstanding warrants.

 

The suspect fled into a wooded area and the Trooper was assisted by other Troopers the Mount Pleasant Post K-9 Trooper, the Clare Police Department and multiple members of the Clare County Sheriff’s Department.

 

While searching for the suspect Troopers received a tip regarding a man jumping into a swampy area as patrol vehicles approached. Troopers responded, and the MSP K-9 immediately indicated on a grassy area in the swamp. A man was found hiding in the water. The man was not related with this incident. However, he was immediately recognized as a 49 year old Farwell man wanted for 4 warrants including Probation Violation, Burglary, Child Support and Contempt of Court. He was immediately arrested and lodged in the Clare County Jail.

 

The suspect driver in this incident was identified as Michael Andrew Rotunno. He was last seen in the Farwell area wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans. He is a white male approximately 5’7” tall weighing approximately 135 pounds. Anyone knowing of his whereabouts or seeing him is encouraged to call 911. He was last seen in the southern Clare County/Northern Isabella County area near Farwell.

 

 

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UPDATE: Down to the wire for Prop 1

 

Both sides of the Prop 1 debate are ramping up their efforts this weekend. Governor Rick Snyder is making a final pitch for increasing the sales tax to repair roads and bridges. He says he knows people still have questions about the proposal.

 

There are good solid answers to all of them and that's why I feel good, and that's why I've been a big supporter of a 'yes' vote on this is because there are good answers. Let's get this done,” he says.

 

However, Paul Mitchell, who heads up a group opposed to Prop 1, says he’s not surprised a recent poll shows 61-percent of likely voters will vote 'no.'

 

We're as confident as you can be without being silly that Proposal 1 will fail and that the message will go back to the leadership that will go back to work.”

 

Polls open at 7 am this Tuesday.

 

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Body cameras for all Michigan cops?

 

A bill introduced in the Michigan Senate would put body cameras on all police officers in Michigan. The measure would create a pilot program in Wayne County with a grant covering the cost of the cameras. Senator Coleman Young II is sponsoring the bill.

 

Data storage would be handled by the state because that's really where the costs are in this program particularly, not so much in the cameras themselves, but it's data storage.”

 

Young also wants to do away with internal investigations when an officer is involved in a shooting having another police department conduct the investigation instead.

 

 

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Two busted for drugs in Cadillac

 

Two Cadillac residents are under arrest on charges of conspiracy to deliver heroin.

 

Police say Jesse Miller and Robert Salazar were taken into custody following a year-long investigation.

 

Miller and Salazar were implicated in drug trafficking by Clark Slagle of Cadillac and Rashod Cross of Grand Rapids who were arrested on drug charges last year.

 

 

 

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Automaker recalls over one half million vehicles

 

Ford Motor Company is issuing four separate recalls affecting nearly 600-thousand vehicles.

 

The first covers over 22-thousand 2015 Lincoln MKZ models for a park lamp problem. The lamp may be brighter than permitted by regulations.

 

Around 100 2015 Ford F-150 pickups have an underbody heat shield problem, while certain Ford Focus, Edge, Escape and Transit Connect vehicles built in 2014 and 2015 could have a fuel pump issue.

 

The final recall affects 520-thousand Ford Fusion, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKZ sedans that could have steering problems.

 

Owners will be notified of the problems and the steps necessary for repairs to be completed.

 

 

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Legislature tries to sort out medical pot issues

 

Testimony is under way in Lansing on proposals to allow medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as edible forms of medical marijuana. Representative Mike Calton says dispensaries are essential for those who don't have easy access to the drug.

 

My bill, along with Representative Lyons bill, seeks to tackle some of the larger issues that have been raised – that of non-smokable forms of marijuana, it's safe an consistent access for patients.”

 

Among those testifying was a woman who uses medical marijuana oil to control her young son's behavioral problems. She says she feared she would have to put her child in a home until medical marijuana improved his condition.

 

 

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