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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 local orchestra is among the list of grant recipients from a statewide arts organization. Grants to the community arts groups in support of the New Leaders Retention and Engagement program were approved at Friday’s Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs meeting, held at the Flint Institute of Music. Among the awardees was the Fenton Community Orchestra, which received $14,000. Founded in 2010 by three Fenton residents who wanted the opportunity to play in a multi-generational orchestra, the FCO has grown to more than 80 members from Fenton, Byron, Hartland, Linden, Holly, Flint, Davison, Swartz Creek, Davisburg, Grand Blanc, Durand, Howell and Clarkston. A previous grant allowed the orchestra to hire an Executive Director in 2015, enabling them to hold additional concerts and reach new musicians. The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is an agency within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership dedicated to job creation in Michigan.(JK)

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    Money raised at a themed charity ball this past weekend will help bring new operating rooms, advanced technology and more surgical procedures to Livingston County. St. Joseph Mercy Livingston’s Sock Hop Soiree was held Saturday at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Genoa Township. Using a festive 1950s’ theme, guests were encouraged to dress accordingly with plenty of leather jackets, poodle skirts and rolled up jeans making an appearance. Funds raised at the sold-out event will benefit the enhancement of surgical services at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell and the St. Joe Mercy Brighton Health Center. Those services include construction of new operating rooms, the purchase of advanced technology, and the expansion of inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures being offered. John O’Malley is President of the St. Joseph Livingston Hospital and Brighton Health Center and says the surgical service upgrades are part of a $41.1(m) million investment into St. Joe’s Livingston and Brighton facilities. Together, St. Joe's Livingston and Brighton perform over 4,600 surgical procedures each year, many of which are being performed on a recently acquired da Vinci® Si robotic surgery system. That number is expected to increase to 5,500 over the next several years. (JK)

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    Brighton city officials say the Mill Pond shoreline on the east side of city hall and the Imagination Station Playground has seriously deteriorated over the years, and that has caused erosion and the arrival of invasive plant species. As a result, the city will hire a contractor to stabilize the shoreline. City DPW director Marcel Goch tells WHMI the current sea wall in front of city hall has failed and needs to be replaced. Goch says the city will put the project out for bid in the near future. He says the intent is to do the project yet this spring, but due to a late arrival of spring weather it may have to be moved back to the fall. The city was awarded a DEQ permit last year for a natural shoreline restoration that would involve replacement of the existing sea wall using coir logs and native shoreline flowers to stabilize the shoreline. The city is now preparing a request for proposals, and after they are reviewed, the item will go back to council for approval of the contractor who will do the work. Council was told that the benefits of the Mill Pond shoreline restoration work are that it halts erosion, provides a more visually appealing shoreline, helps create a barrier to waterfowl such as geese and ducks, reduces staff maintenance and provides natural habitat for a variety of species. (TT)

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    Four robotics teams from Livingston County are advancing to the world championships this week, being held in Detroit for the first time. FIRST Robotics is an international high school robotics competition that gives students real-world engineering experience. This year’s theme was “Power Up” with teams competing on a playing field simulating a classic 1980s video game, with the robots collecting power cubes, which are then deposited on various scales over the course of a two-and-a-half minute match. Robotics teams from Howell, Brighton and Hartland have qualified for the championships. And while the Fowlerville Area Scientific Technicians, Team #7056, won’t be among them, the team had an outstanding rookie season, winning the All-Star Rookie Award and qualifying for the state championship earlier this month in Saginaw. Brayden Brockway is the team captain and lead mechanic. He says the program is not only beneficial for building relationships but discovering career goals. The Howell S.C.O.T.S Bots #4776 won the FIRST Robotics Regional Chairman’s Award at the state finals. The award honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Ashlin Niemiec led that effort for Howell and says it is a very prestigious award even though it isn’t explicitly about robotics, but instead a measure of a team’s impact on fellow students and in the community. The Hartland Electro Eagles #3536 made it to semi-finals in the Dow Division at the state championship. Kyle Albrecht says they had a good showing overall, although qualifications didn’t go that great due to adverse conditions of the robot and general wear and tear. But with FIRST they learn how to work through problems and make the best with what they have, a lesson that has applications in all aspects of life. Livingston County has a vibrant robotics culture and the number of local teams headed to the world championships demonstrates their talent. While it’s a competition, teamwork is a big part of the program, which was evident in the state championships earlier this month in Saginaw. Brighton’s TechnoDogs #3707 won the DTE Division to advance to the finals. Alex Hogge did a lot of programming work this past year but has had multiple roles with the team. He noted how helpful other teams can be, even potential competitors, noting how team #4362, the Charyl Stockwell Prep Academy’s GEMS, helped them when a teammates drive train failed, lending them a spare that allowed them to continue playing, even though the two Brighton teams were on opposing alliances. Even though the CSPA GEMS lost in a tie breaker to the alliance featuring Brighton’s TechnoDogs, they too are going to the world championship. Owen Poloski is the team’s lead mechanic and driver on the field and said it was no problem helping out the fellow Brighton team as it is all part of the "gracious professionalism" that FIRST embodies. Representatives for all of Livingston County’s robotics teams were guests on Sunday’s Viewpoint program, which you can hear through a link below. The world championships take place April 25th through the 28th at Cobo Hall, with opening and closing festivities at Ford Field. Top Picture: Courtsy of FIRST in Michigan Middle Picture: Brighton TechnoDogs #3707 competing at state finals in Saginaw. Bottom Picture: (left to right) Owen Poloski, Kyle Albrecht, Brayden Brockway, Ashlin Niemiec, Jon King, Alex Hogge, David DeLisle and Nathan Gould. (JM/JK)

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    A proposal to make voting more accessible, secure and fair will be the featured topic at the next meeting of the Livingston County Democratic Party. A group is pushing a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would make sure every eligible person can vote and every vote will count. Jessica Ayoub, public engagement specialist with Promote the Vote, will discuss the proposal and the drive to collect a minimum of 315,654 signatures to get the amendment on the November ballot. The proposed amendment would protect the right to vote a secret ballot, provide the option to vote straight party, provide for automatic voter registration, allow no-reason absentee voting and require election audits. Petitions will be available for signing. Also speaking will be two candidates for Democratic nominations for the Michigan State University board of trustees – Matt Clayson and Andy Spencer. The meeting starts at 7pm Thursday, April 26th and will be held at the RE/Max Platinum Auditorium at 6870 Grand River between Brighton and Howell. Attendees are advised to park in the back, use the rear entrance, and take the stairs or elevator down to the auditorium. The party’s regular business meeting will follow. (JM)

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    Leading manufacturing executives from Livingston County and beyond were in Howell today for a panel discussion hosted by PepsiCo, which operates a plant employing 400 in Howell. The "Business Influencers Roundtable" discussion was led by 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including Social Security, unemployment and Medicare. Bishop also serves on the committee's oversight and human resources subcommittees. After the forum, Bishop told WHMI he was encouraged by the input he received from the local business community and will take the information he amassed back with him to Washington. The congressman added that roundtable events such as the one in Howell are vitally important in order for him to get his message across to Congress about the positive effects of tax reform. The officials present at the roundtable discussion praised Bishop for his efforts are championing tax reform, saying Michigan is now heading in the right direction. (TT)

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    A local veteran has been recognized for his devotion to helping children in Livingston County. Gus Ventrone was recently named the recipient of LACASA’s 2018 Champion for Children award in honor of his kindness to and support of the children and staff of Navigator Upper Elementary School in Pinckney, as well as his support of families in the Pinckney and Livingston County communities. Ventrone was presented with the award at the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council’s “Champion Awards Luncheon”, held at the Howell Opera House earlier this month. The Champion for Children award is a joint effort between the CAP Council and the Great Start Collaborative of Livingston County to recognize outstanding individuals who devote significant time and energy to helping children in Livingston County. Ventrone, a Vietnam veteran, works at Navigator Upper Elementary School as one of the lunchroom supervisors. He has led fundraisers to support needy families and to replenish a community food pantry program. Ventrone’s nomination letter for the award is said to have stood out to the selection committee partly due to the fact that five teachers and 65 students contributed supportive and appreciative comments to the nomination. One teacher stated that Ventrone is “a positive life force for the building,” and that he “takes extra special care of each and every student and teacher with his infectious enthusiasm, generosity, and never ending kindness.” Thank you notes from students to Ventrone include comments like “You are very kind, hand out candy, and make me smile,” “You are nice and like high fives,” and “You know how to solve problems.” As one selection committee member said, being able to connect with children in a positive way IS prevention. “Mr. Ventrone shows up every school day to provide not only popcorn and candy, but also smiles, high-fives, problem solving, encouragement, and support through the simple acts of sitting with and listening to children.” Photo credit: LACASA website. From left- LACASA President & CEO Bobette Schrandt; CAP Council Coordinator Holly Naylor; Champion Award Recipient Gus Ventrone; Great Start Collaborative Coordinator Robin Schutz.

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    A Hamburg Township resident has announced her candidacy for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Democrat Kristina Drake says she is running for the District 8 seat on the board a second time because she still believes it deserves a more active and progressive representation on the county board. District 8 includes most of Hamburg Township and the western edge of Green Oak Township. The seat is held by Republican incumbent Dennis Dolan. Drake feels that the county board has not kept pace in the areas of technology, addiction programs, corrections, and environmental protections and points out that, “Only in the last couple years have we had the technology to accept credit cards at the Clerk’s office.” Drake, who unsuccessfully sought the seat in 2016, cites as one of her accomplishments helping to bring the popular rideshare program Lyft to Livingston County as an option for those needing a ride home late at night as well as a solution to increased DUI arrests. Drake says the current board of commissioners has focused too much on touting the county as having the lowest tax rate while letting infrastructure needs such as roads deteriorate to the point that homeowners in Hamburg Township agreed to a special assessment to fix a road in “terrible disrepair.” In addition, she feels that opioid epidemic was essentially ignored until, “families, teachers, and peers who were proactive amidst their grief…struggled to create a plan of action.” Drake says she has lived in Hamburg Township for nearly 20 years. The mother of two has an associates’ degree in corrections and has earned the Correctional Officer Certification from the State of Michigan. She is currently attending Eastern Michigan University studying criminal justice and political science. (JK)

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    The Brighton Board of Education Monday night discussed the possibility of going to the voters with a bond issue proposal this November. Superintendent Greg Gray says the board will have to decide by mid-May whether to go to the voters with the bond request. Otherwise, it would be too late for district attorneys to craft the ballot language and dispose of other legal requirements. Gray says the reason the bond issue needs to be considered seriously is that there are many pressing needs in the district, particularly in the way of facilities and infrastructure – matters the district was aware of back in 2012. Voters that year approved an $89 million bond issue, but many of the needs had to be removed from the request to give it a better chance of passing. It’s estimated the bond issue amount would be between $35 and $45 million. According to Gray, a bond issue would be a better way to go than a sinking fund proposal because the revenues generated would be available immediately. He adds that the bond issue would not result in any tax increase and would be handled by the existing 7.19-mill cap. The bond issue would also likely include language to establish a STEAM Center – STEAM denoting Science, Technology Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. STEAM teaches students to use engineering and technology to tackle real-world problems while building on their mathematics and science knowledge. Whether the board decides to go to the voters with the proposal, and, if so, the amount of the bond, could be decided at the next meeting on May 14. (TT)

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    Expanded testing is being conducted to determine if potential vapor intrusion from a contaminated site has spread. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been monitoring a chlorinated groundwater contamination plume emanating from property located at 525 North Fifth Street in Brighton. Elevated levels of Trichloroethylene, or TCE were identified years ago in the groundwater. The potentially impacted properties are in a defined area on the west side of Brighton, where the city and Genoa Township meet, somewhat between the old Lindbom Elementary School and Brighton High School, which is not impacted. There are now new state screening standards for vapor intrusion, which occurs when vapors from volatile chemicals in contaminated soil or ground water migrate through subsurface soils and/or preferential pathways to impact the indoor air quality of any overlying buildings or homes. To date, over 40 homes have been looked at. DEQ Representative Rebecca Taylor says five of the initial 15 homes were found to have indoor air issues and mitigation or radon systems have been installed successfully and test results showed no trace of the chemical. She says it’s an ongoing investigation that involves a lot of work, as five to eight homes are tested each week. Testing is being conducted in the footprint of a large plume. Taylor says it’s mainly a 100-200 feet buffer zone to the west, which had some contamination issues in the 1990’s. The area is roughly from Dillon to State Street to Brighton Road and Taylor anticipates the testing will stretch into May. Taylor tells WHMI people get the impression this is a huge problem but it’s not something affecting the whole town, really just a restricted area of homes sitting on top of the groundwater plume. Although the DEQ has been conducting aggressive testing, Taylor noted that radon is actually more potent than TCE and many homes have never been tested for it. The solution for TCE is basically the same as a radon system and she encourages anyone with health concerns or living in a radon area to test for it. Meanwhile, a second investigation of potentially toxic air in homes is reportedly underway in another neighborhood near Whitmore Lake Road, northwest of Lee Road in Green Oak Township. That’s allegedly coming from the former Haigh Manufacturing property, where AIRman Products is located. More information on vapor intrusion is attached. (JM)

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    The DI Dabbers, a team of seven 4th and 5th graders from Hornung Elementary and Maltby Intermediate, placed first at the Michigan Destination Imagination State Tournament earlier this month at Michigan State University. The team, participating for the first time in the Destination Imagination program, competed against 15 other teams from around Michigan. By placing first, they earned the opportunity to compete for Team Michigan at the 2018 Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee May 23rd through the 26th. As part of this year’s challenge, the team was required to create a play about their service project, in which they held a drive to collect items for the homeless. They created backpacks and distributed them to homeless shelters in Ann Arbor this winter. They also competed in an instant challenge, and team officials say they did so well it earned them an overall 1st place rating. Alison Smith is one of the team’s managers and said the surprise of hearing over the Breslin Center loudspeakers that a brand new Destination Imagination program from Brighton Area Schools would go to the global competition was indescribable. Smith described the “sheer joy” on the kid’s faces as they ran down to accept the award and that everyone is proud to represent Brighton. She also predicted that the Destination Imagination program would grow exponentially in Brighton. However, the team will need help funding their trip to Knoxville and will be holding several dine-in fundraisers at various eateries in the area. The first is a Buffalo Wild Wings Night in Green Oak Township next Monday, April 30th. 20% of proceeds will be donated to the team if you mention it to the server. The second dine-out event is at Panera Bread on Grand River in Brighton on the evening of Friday, May 11 from 4-8:00. Panera is another event where 20% of proceeds will be donated. Finally, the team has secured Sunday evening 4-8pm, May 20, at Chipotle on Grand River in Brighton. For the final event, 50% of proceeds are donated to Destination Imagination. Alternatively, people can donate or sponsor the team directly via their GoFundMe page. The link is below. The students on the team are: Katelyn Bond, McKenzie Foltyn, Frankie Foltyn, Colter Kashian, Pierce Pettengill, Bella Pipesh, and Drew Smith. The team managers are TJ and Alison Smith. (JK)

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    Members of a county-led opioid abuse advisory committee recently weighed in on the status and focus of their efforts, as well as their position related to a federal lawsuit. The committee, comprised of Livingston County Commissioners Gary Childs, Kate Lawrence, and Doug Helzerman, met Monday and held an informal discussion with community members regarding regional aspects of the opioid epidemic. Among those in attendance were local residents, candidates running for various governmental positions, a nurse and a pharmacist. Each provided their perspective on the crisis, but several wanted to know whether Livingston County would be joining a number of Michigan counties and municipalities in a federal lawsuit filed against drug manufacturers and pharmacies. The lawsuit seeks damages related to opioid treatment, related deaths and law enforcement costs. Commissioner Lawrence says "there's not a lot of answers yet", as the committee is just now beginning its investigation into what the best avenue is to tackle the crisis and "looking for answers to specific questions." Lawrence says the committee was formed to explore what’s being done locally, how stakeholders can work together and whether the committee would make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on taking action to potentially join the suit. Resident Judith Minton was interested in whether the board had established metrics for their investigation and agreed identifying one specific mission is the hardest part. Committee Chairman Gary Childs voiced the idea that politics and preferences need to be removed, saying there's a need for collaboration between the various agencies and groups fighting the crisis. Childs says that could include other counties for the best outcome, instead of "everybody going after the same piece of the pie." Speaking to the lawsuit, Commissioner Helzerman says, "We need to be careful...if there is money to be gotten...the money will never come close to the cost to the county and individual lives." Former Howell Township Trustee Mike Tipton spoke to the committee, stating there is an "assumption that the county would be reluctant to do any funding," adding that while they may offer coordination and support, funds would be non-existent or a minimal contribution. While several community members in attendance voiced support for the county to join the lawsuit, Registered Nurse Kelly Wilkinson is currently against it. She says she could be swayed with solid reasoning, but responded to a pharmacist in attendance who feels the opioid problem may partially begin with doctors inappropriately prescribing drugs by being “pressured into it”. Wilkinson says there's a problem within the medical field as a whole and that action should begin with specific education for health professionals in teaching patients how to properly use prescribed opioids. Wilkinson says there’s also a lack of pain management alternatives available and a community stigma against addicts seeking recovery. A closed session was held at the end of the committee’s meeting to discuss legal opinions on whether the county would take part in the lawsuit; however an outcome or any part of the discussion was not shared afterward. (DK)

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    Staff and the Howell City Council listened to concerns and fielded questions from property owners during a packed meeting and lengthy public hearing Monday night in regard to a proposed public safety assessment. A formal presentation on the City’s financial situation and different state influences impacting the budget was delivered prior to a public hearing, which lasted roughly three hours. New revenue from the proposed assessment would fund police services, to offset current general fund dollars, which would then be reallocated primarily to fund infrastructure projects in the City. The presentation detailed cuts and efficiencies, but also issues at the state level that have caused “the perfect storm” such as the effects of Proposal A and the Headlee Amendment, as well as the reduction of state revenue sharing. Council had considered a Headlee Override, but had concerns that if failed to pass, there would be no other options to avoid deep cuts so the public safety assessment was pursued. While some in the audience felt un-informed, it was noted that Council has discussed the probability of some form of millage or assessment at length during meetings and during budget work sessions, but also in the City calendar. One resident, John Davis, chastised the crowd for never attending meetings, saying he is very proud of Howell as well as the community-minded police force. There was an option to potentially halt the district by distributing a petition with a required amount of signatures, but that was not mentioned in a City mailing and it would have been due last night. Many of those who spoke were not happy with that process, nor the timing of the mailing. Others spoke in preference of a public vote or reduced amount. Resident Nancy Brehm raised issues and objections with past road projects already completed and urged council to listen to constituency. She said they are all about support of essential services but have concerns. Others indicated they weren’t happy with the proposal but could absorb it and understood the reasons why. Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor told the audience maintaining roads is important but so is maintaining the current level of services. He said some roads are worse than others but if that’s not done, then the City faces completely rebuilding some, which is a huge investment. Manor said he doesn’t think they’ve misused or abused taxpayer money but have done very well with it, saying they’re just at about the end of where they can sustain operations of the city and continue to make investments. He stressed if they don’t invest in infrastructure, the bill in the future will be horrendous. Some alleged mismanagement and questioned investments made by the City but also past projects. Mayor Nick Proctor says he’s proud the City has an award winning finance department recognized by the state – adding if the City was grossly inadequate in managing the budget, then the telling factor would be the bond rating. He says the rating is AA-, which means the bond market trusts what the City is doing financially. Proctor noted Council has also reduced the rainy day fund from 20 to 25% to help delay getting to this point. Proctor pushed back on the claim of mismanaged finances, saying if they were, then the bond rating would be dismal. He says it’s a good rating and tells him the finance department and the decisions Council is making are spot on. After the public hearing, Council unanimously adopted a resolution to establish the assessment district, which includes all real property – residential, commercial and industrial. Council is considering the equivalent of three mills, which would equate to $861,590 in 2018/2019. However, the exact amount has not been determined and must be voted on by Council at the May 7th meeting, at which time another public hearing will take place. Detailed information about the proposed public safety assessment remains available on the City website. The link is provided. (JM)

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    Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township is sponsoring House Bill 5810. It expands the criteria for individuals needing assisted outpatient treatment if they pose a significant threat of physical harm to themselves or others. The bill will be taken up on Wednesday in the House Health Policy Committee, where Vaupel serves as chairman. Vaupel says the if there is threat of harm or a person committing something very harmful, then HB 5810 would assist law enforcement in getting them help or to a hospital a little bit easier. He says it’s kind of a rewrite of the bill known as Kevin’s Law. Vaupel says it deals with people who are having mental health issues but are not be able to recognize they need help and getting them assisted outpatient treatment prior to a disaster happening. Vaupel has also been talking with law enforcement about some of the recent school violence incidents. He says they’ve indicated that they do identify people who are having issues in the community and if they could do something earlier, then they could perhaps head off some issues but HIPPA laws pose barriers and they have a hard time finding out if a person has been treated. Vaupel co-chaired the House C.A.R.E.S. or Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety Task Force in 2017, which assembled an in-depth report. He says more than 40 of the recommendations made by C.A.R.E.S. have found their way into legislation, which is intended to provide better approaches to substance abuse and the corrections system. (JM)

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    Training exercises will be conducted in Brighton tonight. The Brighton Area Fire Authority will be doing some training exercises including a mass casualty drill between 6 and 10pm tonight. The exercise will be taking place at the Early Child Care building at 850 Spencer Road, between Church and Main Street. Local officials advise it’s just a drill and there is no cause for alarm. (JM)

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    Authorities recovered a loaded gun from a portable bathroom during a soccer match over the weekend. A game was underway at the Merrill Soccer Field in Hamburg Township around 2pm last Saturday when the father of a soccer player discovered a loaded Glock 23 .40-caliber gun in a portable bathroom. The bathroom is located next to the children’s playground. Hamburg Township Police were contacted and an officer responded to take possession of the gun. The owner was identified as a 64-year-old Farmington man and he was contacted while at his grandson’s birthday party in South Lyon. A police report noted that when the man realized he left the gun on the bathroom shelf, he felt sick to his stomach and picked it up from police later that evening. Police Chief Richard Duffany tells WHMI the owner of the handgun is a valid CPL or concealed pistol license holder. The case has been forwarded to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says they received a copy of the police report and have asked for some additional information. He says once they have all the information, they’ll be reviewing applicable gun laws to determine if there is an appropriate factual basis and legal grounds for a criminal charge. (JM)

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    Assisting the families of area veterans to comfort their loved one while they are in the hospital is the goal behind a donation from a local veterans group. At their meeting last week, the membership of the Sons of the American Legion Post 141 in Howell unanimously supported a $5,000 donation to Fisher House of Michigan. The Ann Arbor location will be breaking ground this year on a 16 suite house located adjacent to the VA hospital. The Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost, while a loved one is receiving treatment. The homes are located near major military and VA medical centers nationwide and provide families a common kitchen, dining room and living room as well as laundry facilities. Matt Palmucci, of the Fisher House Michigan Foundation said the donation, “…could not have come at a more opportune time,” as their 2018 Memorial Day Match runs from May 1st – June 30th with all donations during that time matched up to $100,000 by the American Legion Post 46 of Ann Arbor. The Sons of the American Legion Post 141 is an auxiliary unit which provides support for Veterans and the local community. They host many fundraising events including Christmas Tree Sales, Pizza nights and the annual Wild Game Dinner. You can find more information about the group through the link below. Picture is a rendering of the proposed Fisher House and is courtesy of Sons of the American Legion Post 141. (JK)

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    A road closure will impact traffic in Lyon Township this weekend and next. The Road Commission for Oakland County has issued a permit allowing Lyon Township to close Johns Road between 10 Mile and 11 Mile Roads to through traffic this Saturday, April 28th and again next Saturday May 5th for water main installation. Each closure will be for one day. Officials advise the detour for through traffic during the closures will be 10 Mile Road to Napier Road to 11 Mile Road, back to Johns Road and vice versa. The water main installation will be completed for the township by a Wixom-based excavating company. Work is scheduled to be finished on May 5th. (JM)

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    The Superintendent of Howell Public Schools delivered his yearly State of the District address to educators, community leaders, and the public Tuesday night. Three Fires Elementary was the site Tuesday night, for this, the third of Superintendent Erin MacGregor’s addresses since taking over as head of the school district. His goal was to present a 30-thousand foot view of how things are going within Howell schools. MacGregor said he was proud of the way the district has taken to the Adaptive Plan they’ve created. He recognized the need, and successes of building systems that support the kids, while being fluid enough to be able to make changes as necessary. MacGregor said it’s more important than ever to prepare students with a wide range of tools to succeed. He said he saw a study that showed that students who are currently enrolled in elementary school will graduate and enter jobs, and that 65% of those jobs they’ll enter into don’t exist as of today. He said that for them to claim to know what they are preparing students for with specific jobs is not being authentic with them. MacGregor said his focus is finding how to provide students with a skill set to walk into any situation over potentially many jobs in their life and say, “…because I’m adaptive, because I can solve problems and think critically on things, because of what Howell schools did for me, I can be successful in whatever situation I’m in.” Some positives within the district are the expansion of the early college programs, commendable GPAs from student-athletes and burgeoning robotics and performance arts programming. Money gained by the Technology Bond passed almost 3 years ago has been spent on upgrading internet infrastructure and classrooms. Reading growth is trending upwards, as is the number of graduates enrolling in in college. Looking forward, the superintendent said he was excited for a new fall programs. One is a book bus that will be travelling the district this summer, loaded with books to help those who might have a hard time getting to a library or gaining access to reading materials during the summer. Another is the Little Highlanders Learning Center that will offer a higher quality preschool education, launching this fall. Also starting in fall is the Innovation Academy, which is looking to help high school students who have had struggles and provide them an environment within which they can succeed. The district is in good shape financially with an unassigned fund balance of 11.1%. MacGregor said the state requires that number to be at least 5% to not be put on a watch list, and so Howell Public Schools is in good shape. While enrollment is down in Howell and across similar districts in the county and in size, the superintendent said kids entering kindergarten has been increasing since 2015. MacGregor said that while the state of the district is strong, they are always looking for areas to improve in. He pointed at 25% of students affected by poverty, and the 10% of kids who’ve been absent 10% of the year or more as two such areas. (MK)

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    The Michigan Economic Development Corporation next month will recognize the Village of Pinckney for becoming certified under a statewide program. A ceremony will be held at the village offices on South Howell Street in Pinckney on Monday, May 14th, at 7pm. Community members are invited to attend and celebrate the village’s journey in the Redevelopment Ready Communities program. RRC is a MEDC program that aims to revitalize communities by attracting and retaining businesses, entrepreneurs and talent. Clerk Amy Salowitz says village officials saw the program as an opportunity to become more competitive in development and redevelopment, specifically by tackling areas in the municipality that were affected by the recession. The village began to pursue RRC certification when the program was launched in 2014, but was denied acceptance as only 10 communities were taken the first year. Because they applied, village officials were able to utilize the RRC curriculum and participated in training and self-assessment. When they reapplied in 2016, an initial review found they were already close to completion. Officials completed and submitted the final paperwork for the certification early this year, making the Village of Pinckney the 19th and smallest community in the statewide program to become certified. At the May event, Salowitz says MEDC officials will share some of the village’s best practices and how they can maintain their certification. Salowitz tells WHMI achieving certification has helped them streamline processes and view them from a different perspective by removing personal opinions, adding the journey, as a whole, has been “very educational”. (DK)

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