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WHMI 93.5 FM Radio Station for Livingston County Michigan with News, Traffic, and Weather Service for Howell and Brighton

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    A Genesee County man was killed in a two-car crash Sunday afternoon in Tyrone Township. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office says that deputies were dispatched at about 3:30 Sunday afternoon to the intersection of Bennett Lake Road and Linden Road on the report of an injury accident. A preliminary investigation indicates that an 82-year-old Clio man was driving a 2015 Ford Edge southbound on Linden Road when he failed to yield at the intersection and was hit by a 2017 Chevy Equinox traveling westbound on Bennett Lake Road. The Clio man died later at a nearby hospital, while his 70-year-old female passenger, also from Clio, was hospitalized in critical condition. The driver of the Equinox, a 29-year-old Gregory woman, was also hospitalized and last listed in stable condition. The roadway remained closed for about two hours during the investigation. Authorities say alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Bureau. Deputies were assisted at the scene by MMR of Genesee County, Livingston County EMS and the Fenton Township Fire Department. The crash took place as another fatal accident was being dealt with in Green Oak Township involving a semi that smashed into six vehicles on southbound US-23, south of Lee Road, killing two drivers and critically injuring a female passenger in one of the vehicles. The truck driver in that incident is jailed and awaiting possible charges. (JK)

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    A fatal crash involving a semi-tractor trailer forced the closure of southbound US-23 for seven hours Sunday. Green Oak Township Police say two men were killed and a woman was hospitalized in critical condition after the driver of a semitrailer failed to stop as he approached other vehicles on southbound US-23, south of Lee Road, striking six others. The crash happened just before 1pm. One of the vehicles, a 1997 Ford Escort, was completely destroyed in the crash after the truck, which was registered out of Snover in Sanilac County, rolled over on top of it. The driver of the Escort, 51-year-old Robin Brown of Milford, was pronounced dead at the scene, while his 25-year-old passenger, Sara Miller,also from Milford, was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital after being removed from the wreckage by members of the Green Oak Township Fire Department. She was still in critical condition as of this afternoon. Meanwhile, a 52-year-old Davison man, Roby Steele, who was driving a 2016 Chevy Sonic that was also hit by the semi, was pronounced dead at the scene after being removed from his vehicle. Police say while the 62-year-old truck driver wasn't hurt, he was taken to the Livingston County Jail and lodged for committing a moving violation causing the death of another person. He remains unnamed while charges are pending. The southbound lanes remained closed until just after 8pm. The crash remains under investigation by the Green Oak Township Police Department and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office’s accident reconstruction team. (JK)

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    A request for special considerations was before the Howell City Council recently on behalf of the Howell Area Fire Authority related to fees charged by the city. The Main Fire Station on Grand River lacks space and storage, thus plans are being developed for an expansion and state-of-the art training facility. A new training and office addition is being proposed and the Authority requested that only true costs be charged during the planning and building phases of the project, as opposed to the typical project fees. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI the Authority is evaluating expanding station one on Grand River to accommodate additional training and storage as current facilities are all under-sized. He says because the building is located inside of the City, it’s subject to various reviews including building and site plans. The Authority is in the process of developing site plans. There was some confusion on different fees the city charges for various building projects and what could potentially be waived. Council was advised by the City Attorney that based on current ordinance, which was updated last year, the move could potentially be precedent setting. He advised against any waivers and suggested that Council revisit ordinance if it was something members wanted to pursue. Council held a somewhat lengthy discussion on different fees the City charges and voiced support for the Authority but ultimately reached consensus that it would not grant the waiver. However, members appeared open to revisiting the ordinance and asked staff to bring back more information on how the fee structure works for future evaluation. (JM)

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    Green Oak Township is re-entering into a multi-year project with Northfield Township for improvements on Whitmore Lake. The project will provide for a chemical treatment to non-native invasive weeds, which is most notably, Eurasian Milfoil. This is the third time the two townships will initiate the 5 year plan that will help enhance recreational opportunities as well protect property values. Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles said it was important for the communities around Whitmore Lake to stay on top of the cleanup process. He commented on how lake management of invasive weeds seemed like a never ending battle. He expressed the difficulties of eradicating weeds completely, especially if they begin to mutate to fight the treatment. The supervisor said that it was difficult to keep the invasive weeds out, naming waterfowl and public boat launches as the main culprits. The project will be performed by the Washtenaw County Department of Public Works and paid for through a special assessment district comprised of property owners who have parcels on the water, lake access, and marinas. Two required public hearings will now be scheduled for the creation of the SAD with treatments to begin following.(MK)

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    Veterans in need of medical care can receive help at an event in Howell on Wednesday. The outreach event, hosted by the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency or OLHSA, is focused on ensuring veterans are receiving proper care, while also working toward a goal to end veteran homelessness in the area. On Wednesday, any veteran who is in need of medical care and is not currently receiving Veterans Administration Medical Center benefits is encouraged to attend the event at OLHSA’s facility on east Grand River in Howell from 9am to 4pm. There, attendees can register with the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System and meet with someone to complete an application for those benefits. OLHSA is also asking that if anyone is aware of a veteran who is displaced or residing somewhere not meant for habitation, that they contact the office prior to the event so representatives can attempt to establish contact. Anyone with questions is asked to call 517-546-8500.

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    With the final settlement of a Livingston County judge’s divorce, new questions have been raised about the extent of her marital infidelity and if it could ultimately lead to a new trial for the man convicted in a 2008 murder. Howell Attorney Tom Kizer represented Donald Root, the now ex-husband of 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. Their divorce was finalized last Thursday but not before it revealed a lengthy affair with Michigan State Police First Detective Lieutenant Sean Furlong, who was the lead detective and prosecution witness in the 2013 double homicide trial of Jerome Kowalski, who was convicted of killing his brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home. In fact, the state’s appellate defender’s office has filed a motion to set aside Kowalski’s conviction based on those revelations, with a May 2nd hearing scheduled on a request for Brennan to disqualify herself in the case. But Kizer says there are numerous issues of serious judicial misconduct based on sworn testimony and he questions her fitness to serve on the bench. Among them are failing to recuse herself in a timely manner from hearing her own divorce petition, lying under oath about the extent of her contact with Furlong during the trial, improperly disrupting depositions during the divorce process and using her office to discredit and intimidate co-workers who testified in the divorce proceedings. He also cites her admission that while she was having an affair with Detective Furlong, she was also in a sexual relationship with Allan Filip, the current chief of staff for Congressman Mike Bishop and the former head of the Livingston County Republican Party. Kizer questions whether public funds were expended, either directly or indirectly, by Fillip in his affair with Brennan, who testified to visiting him at his apartment in Washington D.C. Bishop’s spokesperson, Kelli Ford, soundly rejected any notion of taxpayer funds being involved and referred further comment to Fillip. He then provided the following statement. “My wife and l have been working through our issues for months and we are moving on with our life together. I have no further comment as this is a personal matter between me and my family.” Kizer confirms that the Judicial Tenure Commission is investigating all of the accusations against Brennan and hopes it will result in her removal as a judge. (JM/JK)

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    Brighton area residents will have the opportunity to dispose of their expired, unwanted or unused prescription drugs, or unused vitamins, this weekend at Drug Take Back Day, which locally will be hosted by the Brighton Police Dept. A Drug Enforcement Agency officer will be present to accept the medicine. Brighton Police Chief Rob Bradford tells WHMI why many police departments across the country have established the program in recent years. Bradford says that if an addict or a person in remission has drugs in the home, a family member can return the drugs — no questions asked. Only pills or patches can be brought in, and liquids, syringes or “sharps” will not be accepted. Bradford says that old or unused drugs should never be put in the trash or flushed down the toilet because they eventually get into lakes and rivers, with potentially harmful results. According to the website “Take Back Your Meds”, medicines that are “flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain can end up polluting the water, impacting aquatic species and contaminating food and water supplies." In addition, most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems.” Drugs also should not be placed in the trash. Landfills handle standard household waste well, but drugs are a hazardous chemical that can be toxic for people and wildlife, even in small doses. Drug Take Back Day will be held this Saturday, April 29th, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Brighton City Police station, 440 S. Third St. Bradford says people do not have to be a resident of the city of Brighton in order to drop off drugs. This is the third year that the Brighton PD has participated in the national program. Nationally, the program is in its 13th year, and last October alone, some 366 tons of prescription medications were turned in to the DEA and various law enforcement agencies. For more information on the “Take Back” event, go to the DEA Diversion website through the link below (TT)

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    A member of the public alleges that the Brighton Board of Education is breaking the law by having a rule that says citizens can’t address an individual board member during the public comments portion of meetings. Sue Ellen Ikens of Brighton alleges that the rule violates the Open Meetings Act of 1978. Ikens began her comments by citing the names of two board members – John Conely and Bill Trombley - and was quickly told by Board President Andy Burchfield that she must address the board as a whole and not make her comments to individual members. Ikens then proceeded to read from Opinion #5332 of the Open Meetings Act. It states that a public body such as a school board can adopt a rule prohibiting a personal attack on a member only if the personal attack is unrelated to the manner in which the member performs his or her duties. After the meeting, Superintendent Greg Gray told WHMI that the prohibition may be a rule - or just a practice. However, he said he would check into the legality of it by contacting the Michigan Association of School Boards. Gray indicated he would report back to the board about what MASB attorneys say regarding the portion of the Open Meetings Act pertaining to addressing individual board members. (TT)

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    Prompted by the return of vaccine-preventable diseases in Michigan, the Livingston County Health Department is encouraging parents to vaccinate their children. According to the 2015 National Immunization Survey, Michigan’s childhood immunization rate ranks the 43rd lowest in the country for children ages 19 to 35 months. Data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry shows that only 54 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months and 29 percent of teens 13 to 18 years old are up to date on all recommended immunizations. The health department says some parents are choosing not to vaccinate based on misinformation, which they feel contributes to the return of vaccine-preventable diseases in the area and across the state. In 2016, Michigan experienced a large number of chickenpox outbreaks in group settings like schools and child care centers, and there were nearly 400 cases of whooping cough in the state. The health department says these diseases can have devastating consequences, and that babies need to receive the recommended immunizations by age two, and then follow a vaccination schedule. The LCHD is also recommending a new resource, www.iVaccinate.org , to help parents make informed decisions.

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    The Hamburg Township Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in an incident last week on the Lakelands Trail. The indecent exposure complaint was reported on Thursday, April 20th by a staff member with the Pinckney Community Schools who related that two 14-year old female students said they were walking on the trail near Girard Street, between Kress Road & Pettys Road, on Tuesday the 18th at approximately 5pm when they walked by man sitting on a bench. As they passed him they observed that he had his shorts pulled down and was touching himself. As the girls continued walking, they said the man left the area on a mountain bike. A short time later, both girls said they came across the same man on the trail behind the Chilson Commons Shopping Center and that, once again, he was exposed and fondling himself. When they walked into the shopping center parking lot, the suspect began to follow them, but then left the area on his bicycle as they entered a store. He’s described as a white male in his late 20’s, standing about 5’8” with a thin build and short dark hair. He was wearing a black t-shirt with white writing on the front and baggy black and purple shorts. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to please contact Officer Kim Leeds at (810) 222–1186. Anyone who observes suspicious activity on the Lakelands Trail is asked to please immediately call 9-1-1. (JK)

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    At its meeting Monday night, the Brighton Board of Education adopted a resolution establishing the Early Middle College program in the Brighton Area Schools. It is hoped that the program will begin in the fall of this year. The Livingston Educational Service Agency has submitted an application to the Michigan Department of Education to create a countywide Career and Technical Education Early College program. Early Middle College establishes a “super senior year” – or fifth year of high school. Superintendent Greg Gray says the purpose of the program is to give students a head start, either in college or in a technical program. He tells WHMI the goal at Brighton is to enable students to earn an associates degree while still in high school. Students who complete the program may also earn the Michigan Early-Middle College Association technical certification, or, at the same time, up to 60 transferable college credits. Gray says in order to be eligible for the program, students must agree to a 5th year of high school and sign up by the end of their junior year. Early Middle College high schools can begin as early as 9th or 10th grade. Students attend for five years and follow a specific, five-year program of instruction. The Howell Public Schools Board of Education also has passed a resolution supporting an application to begin the program. (TT)

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    A 5K in downtown Fowlerville next week will raise money to support services offered at a local mental illness recovery center. Genesis House, an affiliate of Livingston County Community Mental Health, is holding its first “All Minds Matter” 5K run/walk. The race kicks off at 10am on Saturday, May 6th. Genesis House Program Coordinator Mike Leahy says the event’s theme is supporting those who struggle with mental illness by seeing them for their abilities instead of their disabilities. Leahy says another goal is to spread awareness about mental health resources available in Livingston County. Genesis House serves individuals recovering from mental illness by helping them build independence and integrate into the community. The clubhouse is a volunteer center and as those in recovery work alongside fellow volunteers, they gain skills that eventually lead them toward transitional employment programs and eventually independent employment. Leahy says statistics show just how pervasive mental illness is, but there are so many avenues for help that anyone battling a mental illness “…can really live a life in the community just like everyone else.” That was proven true by Genesis House member Michelle Kozak who was diagnosed with depression when she was 14. Kozak says she couldn’t hold down a job and was at the lowest point in her life when she discovered the community center. Through Genesis House, she says she gained independence and self-worth, and moved into transitional employment. She now works independently and says she has continued to stay involved with the program. Kozak says when she's not working, she's at Genesis House because she's likes that she can be herself there and has made great friends. Kozak says there, “…people look to me as a leader and I’ve never had that before.” Community members interested in participating in the 5K and supporting the cause can still pre-register online. You’ll find that information at the link below. (DK)

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    A weekend service at a local church marked 100 days of prayers for 100 Michigan State Police troopers. In commemoration of the Michigan State Police’s 100 year anniversary, the Howell First United Methodist Church on Bower Road prayed for 100 troopers for 100 days. On Sunday, the 100th day of prayer was complete with a service honoring the troopers. Reverend George Lewis attended a training session on “Security in places of worship” at the Michigan State Police training academy last January, at which time he learned of the 100 year anniversary. Reverend Lewis has connections to MSP through members at his congregation, thus he decided to have his parishioners pray for 100 troopers for 100 days and they choose troopers from the Brighton, Lapeer and West Branch posts. The Brighton Post because Howell is the area they serve. The Lapeer Post because a member of his church has a son, Tpr. Brandon Rutt assigned there. And the West Branch Post because another member, retired Trooper D.J. Debottis, has a daughter, Tpr. Kourtney Debottis assigned there. Rev. Lewis handed out troopers names on cards to his parishioners so they could pray for specific troopers. Lt. Mario Gonzales serves as the Brighton Assistant Post Commander and was invited to speak during Sunday’s service. He and others were said to be extremely grateful for the act of kindness shown to the troopers. The service concluded with congregation being asked to continue to pray for not only the troopers but for all first responders that keep local communities safe. (JM)

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    A truck driver has been released from jail following his arrest for a fatal accident Sunday on US-23 in Livingston County. The 62-year-old Sanilac County man was driving the semitrailer that police say failed to stop for backed up traffic on southbound US-23, south of Lee Road, on Sunday afternoon. The resulting crash involved at least six other vehicles and left two men dead; 51-year-old Robin Brown of Milford and 52-year-old Roby Steele of Davison. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt confirmed that the driver was released pending further investigation of crash reconstruction data, including physical and digital evidence. Brown was driving a 1997 Escort that was crushed by the semitrailer as it rolled over. His 25-year-old passenger, Sara Miller, sustained critical injuries and was hospitalized at U of M in Ann Arbor. Steele, was driving a 2016 Chevrolet Sonic, and was also pronounced dead at the scene. The crash, which forced the closure of southbound US-23 for nearly seven hours, was one of two fatal crashes in Livingston County on Sunday. A two-vehicle crash in Tyrone Township killed an 82-year-old Clio man. (JK)

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    The public is being invited to weigh in on what they would like to see in a skatepark for the Milford community. The Milford Village Council met last week and approved the hiring of a professional design/build firm from California. Council approved a contract to bring in Spohn Ranch Skateparks to help an ad-hoc skatepark committee move the project forward. The new skatepark is being proposed adjacent to the Milford Civic Center, which is where a public input design meeting is set on May 4th at 6pm. The community is invited to weigh in on a future design, certain aspects of different elements in the park as well as the landscaping around it. Village Manager Christian Wuerth says they’ve had quite a bit of turnout at different meetings and locating a site has been an ongoing discussion. He says council eventually locked in on the proposed site at the recommendation of the skate committee, and parks and recreation commission. The ad-hoc skatepark committee is currently made up of community members, two council members and two members from the parks and rec commission. Wuerth says everyone is looking forward to getting into the design phase and starting to see how it will come together. He says they’ll work with the company on the next phases to create some concept designs and a fundraising group would then ramp up efforts in the community to get funds necessary for the construction of the skatepark. The project is still in the preliminary phases. Wuerth anticipates potentially going after some grants but says the project will really be dependent on fundraising after the design is in hand. The community group has set up a Facebook page titled “Project S Park”, which contains links to donations and more information. It’s attached below. (JM)

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    A plea has been entered by a local woman who is charged, along with her husband, in a drunken driving incident that involved their children. 36-year-old Siobhan Theresa Egnot pleaded guilty in 53rd District Court Monday to operating a vehicle while intoxicated with occupants less than 16. Siobhan Egnot was arrested on January 29th, after Hamburg Township Police received reports of a 2016 Ford Explorer that had gone off the road into the front yard of a home near Bass Ridge and Hooker Roads. She reportedly failed field sobriety tests and called her husband to come pick up their two young children who were passengers in her vehicle. However when 39-year-old Matthew David Egnot arrived, officers suspected he was intoxicated as well. Both husband and wife were arrested and lodged in the county jail. Matthew Egnot is facing one count each of operating with a BAC of .17 or more and operating while intoxicated. Siobhan Egnot will be sentenced by Judge Carol Sue Reader May 30th. Trial had been scheduled to commence for Matthew Egnot this week, but those dates were removed and a possible plea hearing has been scheduled for May 15th instead. (DK)

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    A resolution introduced by a local state representative to remove age limitations currently placed on judges is moving forward following approval from a House panel. Currently, the Michigan Constitution requires state justices and judges to retire after they turn 70. State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township’s resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to eliminate the mandatory retirement age. It was approved Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution was previously put forward in part as 53rd District Court Judge Carol Sue Reader is prevented from running again when her term expires in January 2019. According to current law, judges can serve past age 70 but cannot run for election after that age. Last year, Reader ran against fellow sitting Judge Suzanne Geddis but was defeated in the August Primary. Vaupel says the legislation is long overdue and it doesn’t make sense to force good, competent judges to stop serving because they’ve reached a certain arbitrary age. Vaupel said when the language was first added to the Michigan Constitution in 1955, the average life expectancy for Americans was just 70-years-old but it’s much higher today. He maintains the restriction is causing the loss of knowledge and experience exhibited by judges who have years of experience serving on the bench. Vaupel says there are already adequate measures in place to protect the public from judges who are unfit to preside, noting that the Judicial Tenure Commission investigates and recommends the removal of judges for cause. House Joint Resolution G now moves to the full House for consideration. If approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate, the measure would be placed on the ballot for voters to consider. (JM)

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    Land for a new police station that will also allow for renovations to the existing fire station in Green Oak Township has been approved for purchase by the Board of Trustees. 13.02 acres of land near Whitmore Lake Road and Silver Lake Road near where the fire station currently stands will be purchased from the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Authority for $142,500. The board made the motion after discussing it in a closed executive session during their regular meeting last week. Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles said that he, the clerk, and department heads have been working since 2004 to secure land that will allow the two stations to be closer to each other. St. Charles is confident that they can build a new police station and make improvements to the fire station with existing funds. He said they are not planning and do not anticipate having to go to the public for more money for the projects. The supervisor said it will be nice to get the police out of the pole barn they are currently in, and be able to give the fire fighters drive-through bays for the trucks. The location will also allow them both to hook up to the Livingston Community Water Authority and use a common septic field. The 13 acres also opens up the possibilities for future land and road improvements. St. Charles said they’ve even been looking in to adding a community center near the stations, but that would come after current planned improvements are completed. (MK)

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    Administrators at Howell High School have given student drivers the green light for displaying flags on their vehicles as long as they are properly secured. Over the past few weeks, Principal Jason Schrok became concerned about vehicles with large flags hanging off causing vision obstruction (pictured). Some of the flags were attached merely by zip ties or broomsticks and tape. Assessing it as a safety concern, Schrock asked students to remove the flags. Some in the community believed it to be a ban. Superintendent Erin MacGregor, when asked Tuesday night, said he was not aware of any flag ban, and that the issue was with student safety in the parking lot, which is their primary concern. MacGregor said the school has since contacted local police on what the law allows. He said it was unfortunate how it got played out on social media over the past couple weeks, but after consulting with local law enforcement, they feel confident in saying students can fly the flag, but they have to do it in a way that doesn’t obstruct the vision of themselves or other cars. MacGregor said that there are 800 student drivers coming into Howell High School each day and that neither he or the principal were going to compromise safety. He stated that they used the procedures they have in place to address the situation, and now they are good for moving forward. Schrock recently released a letter to parents and student drivers at Howell High School explaining the situation. A copy of that letter can be found below. (MK)

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    A luncheon on Friday will highlight investments made in Livingston County. The 2017 Livingston Regional Investment Awards Ceremony is an event designed to celebrate recent investment in Livingston County. The luncheon is open to the public and geared toward anyone interested in economic investment and job creation in Livingston County. Pamela McConeghy, President & CEO of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce says “Once again, Livingston County rode a new wave of large investments, and we are honored and privileged to celebrate this growth and investment”. Award recipients and panelists include Adam Merkel, chef/owner of Adam Merkel Restaurants-Cello Italian Restaurant, Diamonds Steak and Seafood and the Silver Pig, Frances Brougham, owner of Buon Gusto Bistro, Joe Parker, CEO of C&B Machinery, Greg Sibley, president of Eberspaecher North America, Rick Todd, superintendent of Pinckney Schools/Pinckney Cyber Training Institute, Robert Bretz, president of Tribar Manufacturing, Michael Perry, chief operating officer/minority owner of Wellbridge of Pinckney, John O’Malley, president, St. Joseph Mercy Health Systems-Livingston and Jack Rick, MDOT, Jim Daavettila, TSC Construction and Patrick Michel, supervisor, Charter Township of Brighton I-96/US-23 Interchange Project. The event will begin with lunch, followed by the awards ceremony and panel discussion with the award recipients. Local legislators will assist in presenting the awards. The event will run from 11:30am to 1:30pm on Friday at Cleary University’s Johnson Center in Genoa Township. It’s part of the chamber’s ongoing Economic Development Power Lunch Series and the cost to attend is $30 per person. Attendees should register online at brightoncoc.org or may contact the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce at 810.227.5086 for further information. (JM)

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