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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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    With Earth Day and Arbor Day coming up next week, local rotary clubs are doing their part to make the planet a little more green. Every year the President of Rotary International sets a new goal and project for members around the globe. This year, the challenge is to plant 1.2 million trees, one for each member of the organization. Fowlerville Rotary member Dan Mayhew said their branch is planting 30 trees. When they are able, the trees will be found in the cemetery, Community Park, and Centennial Park. Mayhew said they have been working with the Village officials and are going to plant a mix of maple trees, pear trees, and Newport Plum trees. The weather this spring hasn’t provided favorable conditions for planting, but Fowlerville Rotary members are still optimistic towards having the trees in the ground by Arbor Day on April 27th. Mayhew, who helps run a family nursery and tree farm in Fowlerville, said it would be great if everyone on the planet took time to plant a tree this season. The important things to consider, he said, are where is the tree going to go, what type of soil do you have, and what kind of tree is best for that spot. The biggest issue with tree planting in Livingston County is clay. Mayhew said most tree farms and nurseries know about this and are happy to educate. There is also an extension office for the Michigan Department of Agriculture in Howell that can help take soil samples and tell homeowners what their soil does or doesn’t need. (MK)

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    The Howell City Council met recently and discussed a proposal from a local developer to purchase the Depot Parking lot downtown that could be used for student housing. Discussions are very preliminary between staff and Rescue LLC, which has expressed interest in purchasing two city parcels along with vacation of an existing right-of-way to construct a downtown development at the corner of North Michigan and West Clinton Street, the vacant area behind the gas station. The developer wants to construct a multi-story, mixed use project geared toward Cleary University students. The developer is conceptually looking at a partnership with Cleary University to provide senior housing for third and fourth year students as well as graduate students. The developer would own the project, Cleary would be the tenant. Most all council members voiced parking concerns and the stress that would be created on other lots by eliminating the current overflow lot. Councilman Dan Mulvahill commented he was really struggling with the concept and feels there is a better use for the site. Parking topped his concern list but also the way the project was brought to the city, in that it was not put together well. Councilwoman Jan Lobur said she would like to see something nice on that site but isn’t sure student housing would be best. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI there are multiple layers and a lot of work needs to go into this and council has been having a lot of good discussions and ideas but also expressed concerns. Charles says council wants to see something constructed in a way that it’s complimentary to downtown, but also fit in as a zero lot line development if the rest of the block redevelops. He says parking capacity is another concern, since they currently use it as an overflow parking area. Council expressed if this does move forward, then the question of parking capacity be addressed during the whole process. Given all of the complexities, Charles says the project would more than likely be a planned unit development or PUD which requires planning commission and city council approval. It has been noted in conversations that at this point, rents for commercial and residential space in downtown don’t support a market-based approach yet. Charles says they’re looking at what keystone projects can be done in partnership with outside organizations to be able to produce a quality product for downtown that enhances the experience. Council ultimately directed staff to continue conversations regarding the potential project and development agreement. Picture: Google Street View (JM)

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    Alcohol has now been determined to be a factor in the crash caused by a wrong-way driver on US-23 that killed two people. Michigan State Police from the Brighton Post responded to the crash on US-23 southbound near Six Mile Road the afternoon of April 8th. In total, four cars were involved in the crash and four people were hospitalized. Investigation indicated that a Chevy Bolt driven by 74-year-old Edwin Brown of Chelsea was heading northbound in the southbound lanes of US-23 when he struck a Ford Fusion with three occupants, killing two passengers. State Police are seeking two counts of operating under the influence causing death against Brown, although he could face additional charges. Assistant Post Commander Lt. Mario Gonzales told WHMI they submitted the warrant request to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s office Thursday. Killed in the crash were two Ohio women; 51-year-old Debbie Pinson and 56-year-old Cathy Kretzschmer. Police said Pinson was the girlfriend of the 53-year-old male driver of the Fusion, who was hospitalized following the crash. Kretzschmer was his sister. Two Ann Arbor residents in a Chevy Silverado that was struck were also hospitalized and treated for injuries. All have since been released. Brown, the identified wrong-way driver, remains hospitalized at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. He was originally listed in serious condition but was last listed as stable. Photo: ClickOnDetroit.com (JM)

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    Sentencing has been handed down to a man who led a police chase from Pinckney to Ann Arbor. 25-year-old Justin Todd Thomas of Ypsilanti was sentenced by Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Hatty Thursday to 90 days in jail with a credit of three days served and three years of probation. Thomas admitted to fleeing and eluding police and driving on a suspended license charges, which stem from the August 6th incident that began when Pinckney police attempted to pull Thomas over for a traffic violation. Thomas reportedly refused to identify himself to the officer and then fled from the stop. The Pinckney officer pursued Thomas south through the village to Dexter-Pinckney Road, eastbound on North Territorial Road and then onto southbound US-23. That’s where a Michigan State Police trooper joined the pursuit. The chase continued on US-23 to Main Street in Ann Arbor, where Thomas eventually stopped at a parking lot and surrendered. No one was injured, nor were there any crashes that resulted during the 20-mile chase. (DK)

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    A local innovator whose invention won a “pitch” contest will continue to compete with his product. The Pitch Livingston contest, held in September, offered local entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their product and win a cash prize. Tom Kinczkowski of Brighton was the winner, with his Just Duckin’ Hunting Chairs. Kinczkowski says his chairs allow duck hunters to sit more comfortably for longer periods of time. He received $5,000, which he used for advertisement in multiple magazines and to improve the chairs to hopefully get them into stores around Michigan and eventually, the U.S. He feels winning the competition has helped him pursue his product’s potential, thanking Pitch Livingston for helping him move forward. He also thanked his wife for her continued support. Kinczkowski has continued to compete since Pitch Livingston, recently taking 6th place among 156 applicants in the Green Light Michigan contest. He then entered into a third competition called 5x5 Night, which is held on a monthly basis and is currently touring West Michigan. Kinczkowski didn’t make it as a finalist in 5x5’s April event, but plans to enter into their May contest for a shot at the top five this time around. The top 20 and top five inventors are chosen partly through online voting. Kinczkowski is asking community members to vote for him, which can be done beginning April 24th. Voting closes May 22nd. Competition and voting details can be found at the link below. More information about Just Duckin' Hunting Chairs is available at justduckin.com. (DK)

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    All Carson’s stores, including the Howell location, will close after two liquidation firms won an auction for the assets of the bankrupt parent company, The Bon Ton Stores, Inc. The move followed news that the retailer failed to find a bidder willing to continue operating the business. A bankruptcy court approved the sale and liquidation details after a hearing Wednesday. On Thursday, the company announced that going out of business sales would begin immediately at all 212 stores and e-commerce stores they operate. The liquidation sales are expected to run 10 to 12 weeks. The Howell location, which was formerly an Elder Beerman store, is one of 17 locations that The Bon Ton Stores, Inc. operates in Michigan, which includes the Elder Beerman brand. The chain's debt is in excess of a billion dollars, which is almost half of its 2017 sales of $2.2 billion. It also missed an interest payment of $14 million in January following a lackluster holiday season in which the chain saw a 2.9 percent same-store sales decline over 2016. (JK)

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    A psychological exam has been ordered for a local teen charged in connection with a shooting threat at South Lyon High School. Oakland County Circuit Judge Phyllis McMillen ordered that a forensic psychologist be appointed to evaluate 18-year-old Ryan DeBruyne of Green Oak Township. He’s charged with making a false report or threat of terrorism after allegedly sending a friend a Snapchat message on February 16th, asking if he would like to re-enact the Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead. DeBruyne and the friend both attend South Lyon High School. The friend allegedly responded “no” and reported the message to authorities the next day. Police interviewed DeBruyne and his family, and no firearms were found in DeBruyne’s possession or under his control following a search of the family’s home and vehicles. Friends, fellow students and their parents have voiced support for DeBruyne, saying he’s not a dangerous person. DeBruyne had been initially held on a $10 (m) million bond, but after a judge reduced it to $100,000 with a 10% cash surety, it was posted and he was released. However, he is required to wear a GPS tether and was ordered to have no contact with potential witnesses. DeBruyne was also initially forbidden to have any access to the internet, but the judge granted him limited and supervised access at the request of his attorney so he can complete school work. A pre-trial conference for DeBruyne was scheduled for May 17th. (JK)

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    The Brighton Police Dept. will have its first “Coffee With A Cop” event of 2018 next week at Starbucks in Brighton. According to Police Chief Rob Bradford, residents are invited to come and talk about anything that’s on their mind, but particularly if they have any questions about the city police dept., traffic rules and regulations, enforcement of the law, and other issues. Bradford says it’s also an opportunity for the public to get to know the dedicated, trained officers who patrol their community and keep the peace. The Brighton City Police held several Coffee With A Cop events last year and they were termed a success, although attendance varied from well-attended to sparsely attended. Bradford says whether a particular event was well-attended depended greatly on whether there were other events taking place in the community at the same time. Coffee With A Cop will take place on Tuesday, April 24th, from 9-11 a.m. at Starbuck’s, at the corner of West Grand River and Best Buy Drive in Brighton. (TT)

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    National Infertility Week starts Sunday and a local author and expert is hoping to use it as an awareness opportunity and encourage couples struggling to conceive not to give up hope. Brighton’s Sue Johnston is the co-author of “Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope” which detailed her and several other people’s struggle with infertility. Johnston says some people think fertility is a choice, but often cancer or other health-related issues can cause it. She said there is no easy solution for resolving it, and there is often a lot of complication and heartbreak along the way. Johnston says one great resource for those seeking help is the website for the National Infertility Association; that link is below. You can also find more information about Johnston on her website, TheInfertilityAdvocate.com (JK)

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    Construction is getting underway at the Whitmore Lake boating access site. The boat launch will temporarily close for site improvements beginning next week. Site enhancements will include improved ramp accessibility, as a result of paving a small portion of Northshore Drive, as well as enhanced maneuverability of the existing double-lane ramp due to enlarging the launch lanes. The project also will include the redesign of the site access road to include a boat tie-down lane, a new entrance booth and parking for law enforcement. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources advises that when the project starts, the ramp and parking lot will close for grading for an estimated 2-3 weeks, and re-open after grading is completed. The boat launch will then close again for final paving in June. The access site road will be closed for the duration of construction. Officials say boaters who want to access the site when open for use should enter from Northshore Drive. Work should be completed by the end of June. Additional information regarding the closure is available through the link provided. (JM)

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    Fire hydrant flushing in the city of Brighton, which was to have taken place this week, has been moved back due to the late arrival of warm weather. According to city Utilities Director Tim Krugh, the hydrant flushing is now scheduled for Tue., May 8th through Friday, May 11th. The hours of the flushing will be from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In addition, there will be hydrant flushing on Tuesday, May 7th from 12 midnight to 6:30 a.m. There may be discoloration of the water on the flushing days and the day following, and residents may also notice a decrease in pressure. People are also asked to avoid laundering white or light-colored items during the flushing period. And residents are asked to run their water for 10 minutes after each flushing if they notice any rust or discoloration and repeat the process an hour later if necessary. If problems persist, residents may call Utilities Director Tim Krugh at 810-227-9479.

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    Michigan State Police at the Brighton Post will continue to carry out enhanced alcohol enforcements in Brighton Township. The township contracts with Michigan State Police at the Brighton Post twice a year to provide enhanced alcohol enforcement services, with past contracts being done in six-month intervals to coincide with the difference in fiscal years between the township and state. The enhanced enforcement is provided randomly, on targeted holidays and some weekends, to keep the township among the lowest municipalities in terms of traffic accidents caused by alcohol consumption. The program also aims to reduce drinking and driving as well as the sale of alcohol to minors. The township’s Board of Trustees recently met and unanimously approved a contract with MSP for the supplemental enforcement that would cover the period of April 1st through September 30th of this year. The contract for the added service was approved at a cost not-to-exceed $6,000. (DK)

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    Although the recent snowy weather would seem appropriate, the Brighton City Police Department is taking part in a different kind of chill. Officers will be dispensing well-deserved Slurpee justice to good kids around the Brighton community this summer. For the 23rd year, 7-Eleven is working with local police departments to distribute free Slurpee drink coupons to children and youth through its popular Operation Chill community-service program. Brighton Police Chief Rob Bradford says the coupons are a great way for officers patrolling the community to break the ice and create dialogue with kids. During 2018, 7-Eleven will issue up to 1.4 million Slurpee coupons to almost 1,000 law enforcement agencies. Over 1,000 of those will be distributed in Brighton, mostly during the summer months and back-to-school season. (JM)

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    A local lawmaker is among individuals and organizations said to have gone above and beyond to improve the health and safety of Michiganders. As part of National Public Health Week, 16 individuals and organizations were presented with 2018 Hometown Health Hero and Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion awards for their contributions to protecting and improving the health of Michigan residents. This year’s awards focused on various areas of public health including behavioral health, communicable diseases, environmental health, injury and violence prevention and ensuring health equity. Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township was among those being honored. As chairman of the House Health Policy Committee, the state says Vaupel has scheduled hearings to dive deep into health policy issues, championed the safe surrender of newborns and supported training in opioid overdoses for medical first responders and paramedics. The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership held an event at the state Capitol Wednesday morning to honor those who are helping the state achieve its “Healthiest Nation 2030” goal. (JM)

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    Brighton Township will once again provide financial assistance to the Hartland Senior Center to help support its various services. The township’s Board of Trustees met Monday and voted to contribute $4,000 for the second consecutive year. The Senior Center offers activities, local transportation, recreational and educational programs to “promote happy, healthy and independent living for adults 50 and over”. Highlighting the importance of the partnership, Township Manager Brian Vick says officials feel the Senior Center is a vital resource for its residents that serves and advances a public purpose. Senior Center Director Kim Ladd proposed an increased contribution at $4,400 in the original agreement with the township. Vick says the township may have entertained that idea if officials were still working on the 2018/2019 fiscal year budget; however it had already been approved to include the $4,000 rate prior to Ladd’s request. Vick encouraged her to submit the request earlier the next time around so officials can discuss incorporating it into the planning process. In addition to Brighton Township, the Senior Center also receives funding from Hartland, Deerfield, Oceola and Tyrone Township. Last year, the Senior Center received a total of $38,000 from the five townships to serve 921 members combined. An annual report shows in 2017, 122 Brighton Township residents were Senior Center members. That accounts for 14% of its membership, which is the second highest among the funding partners. Ladd says the Senior Center’s goal for 2018 is to continue increasing program offerings and create more educational opportunities for members. (DK) Photo credit: Hartland Senior Center website

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    A dog being held as evidence in an alleged animal cruelty case that belongs to an elderly woman is being returned. 70-year-old Sharen Anne Kizer and 65-year-old Valerie Jay Cunnings, both of Howell, are facing charges of abandoning/cruelty to animals. The charges stem from violations found at Last Chance Rescue in Howell Township, where Kizer was the director and Cunnings was an employee. Livingston County Animal Control had received complaints about the facility’s conditions and care of animals. In December, Animal Control officers found violations that prompted them to seize about 120 animals. Animal Control Director Aimee Orn previously told WHMI when on scene, there were great concerns for the safety and well-being of the animals and they were not comfortable leaving them there. Among the animals seized was a dog named Teddy that belongs to Sharen Kizer’s 96-year-old mother, Phyllis Main. Kizer is being represented by Steven Lacommare in her criminal suit. Her former husband, Attorney Tom Kizer, filed a complaint and lawsuit on behalf of Main in Livingston County Circuit Court against Livingston County Animal Control and Livingston County seeking an injunction. Kizer alleged Animal Control refused to return the dog or referred to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid return. Kizer says Main is elderly, widowed and missing her pet, which she rescued after her previous dog died. Kizer says the dog is licensed to Main but her daughter had been caring for the dog for a few hours on the day of the raid when Main was away from home. Kizer tells WHMI Circuit Court Judge David Reader recently ordered the pet to be returned to Main. He says Animal Control can contest the transfer by the judge on May 10th if they choose and he will be interested in their response. (JM)

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    Historical Society President Jim Vichich told the Brighton City Council at its meeting Thursday night that the organization will be having a vintage jewelry show on Saturday, April 28th, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Vichich told council members that 100% of the proceeds will be used toward restoration of the Old Village Cemetery – a project that has been ongoing for several years. Vichich told Council that they will have for sale both fine and costume jewelry such as bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pins, and men’s jewelry items – all at bargain basement prices. Vichich said the jewelry show is especially timely, considering that spring prom and graduation time are just around the corner. Vichich says the society is now accepting donations of jewelry items and adds to just go to their Facebook page for more information.(TT)

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    Habitat for Humanity will be holding a gala event this weekend to help the nonprofit grow in Livingston County. The Home is the Key is one of the bigger events Habitat for Humanity hosts. The organization helps build affordable housing in Livingston County, and says 100% of the donations from Saturday’s event at Cleary University will go towards their building fund. The evening will include a cocktail hour, dinner, entertainment by “THREE MEN and a TENOR”, and a live and silent auction. The emcee and auctioneer for the evening will be Chris Swanson, an author, motivational speaker and Iron Man triathlete. The deadline to purchase tickets for Saturday’s Home is the Key Gala is 11:59pm Tuesday. They are $50 each and they can be purchased through the link below. (EO/JK)

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    Students from Pinckney are performing a fundraiser concert for a student scholarship. The Huron River Revivalists are an after-school group from Pinckney Community High School that specializes in playing music from Celtic, Canadian, and American Bluegrass traditions. Founded in 2015 by violinist Pinckney High School Senior Grace Reynolds, the ensemble consisting of string, wind, and occasionally percussion instruments has played many venues around the community. On Saturday May 5th the Revivalists are holding a concert at the White Steeple Stage at Community Congregational Church, in Pinckney to help raise funds for student scholarships. The scholarships, which are not tied to the pursuit of music degrees, are managed through the school district and distributed to members who have been in the club for two years and have participated in a certain number of performances. The May 5th show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10, with 12-and-under and 85-and-older getting in free. Additional donations will also be accepted. For more information on the group, or to hire them for an event, contact Deb Reynolds at (989) 944-2626 or email dreynolds@pinckneypirates.org (JK)

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    The Brighton City Council recently approved a proposal by Tetra Tech to provide design and engineering services for the complete reconstruction of Second Street. The projected cost of the project is $2.2 million to reconstruct the street and make other infrastructure improvements. The project is being done for several reasons. They include the deteriorating condition of the street, inadequate and aging sewer and water lines and at least one — and possibly two — major construction projects. Scheduled to be constructed this year are the Second Street Flats condominiums, with another potential project involving luxury apartments along the Mill Pond. Council last Thursday approved Tetra Tech’s proposal at $183,000, with 60% coming out of the city’s utility dept. budget. The Downtown Development Authority will pay for the bulk of the street reconstruction costs with the city’s general fund covering the remaining 40%. As part of the project, the existing 8-inch sanitary sewer line will be replaced with a 12-inch line and the existing 6-inch water main will be replaced with an 8-inch water main. Construction of new, 5-foot-wide sidewalks on each side of the street will also be part of the overall project. Bids will be taken on the construction portion of the project on May 3rd, with the bids going back to council for final action. (TT)

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