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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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    Four streets in the City of Howell will see improvements during the upcoming construction season. The Howell City Council earlier approved design and engineering for the 2018 Road Program. Work will involve various water main and sanitary sewer improvements, along with asphalt repair and replacement. Some of the streets are in worse shape than others and will involve more extensive work. The total cost of the project including engineering is estimated around $1.3 (m) million. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI the intent is to have the design work done and go out to bid mid-summer so sometime after July, they could begin construction. Work will involve the reconstruction of South National Street, resurfacing North Chestnut between Grand River and Clinton Street, Warbler Way and East Brooks Street. That involves a four to five block stretch, which Charles says has some major underground utility work that needs to be addressed. Park Street was initially included in recommendations for this season, which is in need of surface and utility. However, it was determined the neighborhood would be best served if programmed with the Clinton Street reconstruction project scheduled for 2021. (JM)

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    The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the ruling of a lower court in a case involving the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the owner of a waste hauling business. The MDEQ initiated action against Patrick Conely on behalf of Superior Sanitation in July 2012, alleging several violations under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act and public nuisance. The lawsuit maintained he engaged in illegal, unpermitted and unlicensed operations at multiple locations in Livingston County during the last 25 years through his operation of Superior Sanitation. After two and a half years of litigation, the trial court granted partial summary disposition in favor of the DEQ in a series of orders that required Conely to cease all unpermitted waste operations, apply for and obtain permits, implement several response activities and pay the DEQ’s incurred response activity costs and attorney fees. Follow up inspections were conducted at waste sites and revealed that Conely continue to engage in active operations, which amounted to new and previous violations. The DEQ alleged Conely failed to comply with any of the trial court’s orders and initiated civil contempt proceedings in 2016. A hearing was later held and Conely was ordered to complete various actions by January 9th, 2017. Additionally, the court ordered him held in civil contempt, fined $500 per day up to the maximum of $7,500, until he complied with the courts orders and receive 30 days in jail in the event of non-compliance. He failed to comply, violating the order of contempt. The court denied a motion from Conely for reconsideration. After a hearing to determine fines, fees and damages, the court entered a final judgment awarding the MDEQ $3.6 (m) million toward incurred response activity costs, various civil fines and attorney fees. Conely appealed but challenged only the propriety of civil contempt proceedings. He argued his right to due process was violated because he did not have adequate time to prepare a defense before the hearing was held. The appeals court panel disagreed, saying the argument he didn’t have enough time “is belied by the fact he spent most of his time preparing for his in-depth notice of removal.” The panel stated Conely had almost two weeks to prepare before the hearing and it appears that rather than defend against the contempt proceedings in circuit court, the defendant elected to pursue what he should have reasonably known to be a frivolous removal to federal district court. The panel rejected further arguments in the appeal, including that it was an error for a visiting judge to preside over the show cause hearing. (JM)

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    Hartland Township and Livingston County must approve permits for Spicer Orchards for not only future improvements to buildings on-site, but for past projects as well. Repair and expansion work has twice been carried out at Spicer’s without the required building or land use permits, and without the township or county’s approval. In December, the township’s Planning Department was informed Spicer’s owners had made improvements to the kitchen located in their farm market building sans permit or approval. A wine-storage building was also constructed in 2014 under what officials believe was an expired land use permit. Officials found that while the majority of that building was being used to store tanks and grapes, part of it had been converted into a wine tasting room. Township Planner Troy Langer says the wine tasting room was not approved as part of the previously-issued land use permit. He tells WHMI though retroactive, Spicer’s still needs a special land use permit for the wine tasting room. On Thursday, the township’s Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of Spicer’s permit application, which next requires approval from the Board of Trustees. If approved, Spicer’s can then pursue a land use permit with the county in order to continue the improvements being made to the farm market kitchen. Spicer’s celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, which Langer says is of note as the establishment received its first permit from the township in 1979. Langer says there have been a number of permits Spicer’s has applied and been granted approval for since, which may have contributed to some of the confusion. (DK) Facebook photo.

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    An upcoming educational event aims to help prevent senior citizens from falling victim to scams. A senior scam presentation is planned this Tuesday, May 15th at the United Brethren Church located at 9300 West Grand River in Fowlerville. The presentation will focus on local and national scams/frauds targeting senior citizens and what to look for so you or a loved one doesn't fall victim to fraud. The presentation will start at 6:30pm and continue until 8:00pm. Light refreshments will be available and there will be a question and answer session after the presentation. Organizers say all are welcome to attend. Those with questions can contact the Fowlerville Police Department at 517-223-8711. (JK)

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    The Howell Area Historical Society is celebrating 50 years and is hoping the community will visit during upcoming exhibits and events. The Historical Society owns and operates the Howell Depot Museum on Wetmore Street, which it bought from the Ann Arbor Railroad in 1970. Volunteers repainted rooms inside the museum over the winter and did other work ahead of its busier season. The Society has been trying to rotate displays and exhibits more often. The current feature is the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, which Society President Rudy Rudolph says claimed far more lives than WWI and the old Howell sanatorium played a vital role in. The museum is open from spring through fall, but is also open on Sundays from 10am to 2pm during the Howell Farmers Market from May through October. Rudolph tells WHMI they’re working to make the public more aware of Howell’s rich history, as well as that of the Train Depot, which he considers a hidden gem that also played a vital part in two world wars. Rudolph says they have a large project they’re preparing to unveil as they’ve been restoring the 1888 Grand Trunk Western Caboose that sits outside next to the Depot. He says they’ve been working on that for several years and will unveil on June 23rd during this year’s Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. He says they would love people to come by and see the train on the tracks, just like in the olden days. The museum will also be open during the Howell Melonfest in August for the popular steam train rides. Rudolph says Melonfest is their biggest event of the year when people can ride the 1225 Steam Locomotive from the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso. The Howell Area Historical Society will be hosting a small yard sale during the Downtown Food Truck Rally on May 19th, which will take place in the parking lot right next to the Depot. The Depot is in need of a new furnace and funds raised will go toward that goal. Anyone with things to donate can do so between 5 and 7pm on Friday the 18th or before noon on Saturday the 19th. Rudolph says they’re a small but dedicated group and always looking for new members with an interest in local history. Anyone interested can email howellareahistroicalsociety.org or contact the museum at 517-548-6876. A link to the website is provided. (JM)

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    Lyon Township may soon establish regulations that would permit winemakers and distillers in the municipality. At a recent meeting, township officials introduced an ordinance that would amend the municipality’s wine-making and distiller regulations, permitting both in the township’s General Business District and the Core and Edge Sub-Areas of the New Hudson Zoning District. Under the amended regulations, small makers and distillers would be added as special land uses in the Residential-Agricultural and General Commercial Districts. Small winemakers are defined by the state as those that do not manufacture or bottle more than 50,000 gallons a year, while small distillers cannot manufacture more than 60,000 gallons of spirits annually. Officials say the goal of amending the ordinance is to promote economic growth, while also preventing development of winemakers and hard cider producers that are out of scale or out of character with the surrounding land use. In addition to permitting small winemakers, distillers and hard cider producers, the proposed changes would better define each sector and clarify regulations regarding the establishments. The township’s Planning Commission recently reviewed and approved proposed amendments to the ordinance that speak to parking, setbacks, impact on surrounding properties and other housekeeping issues. Having introduced the new ordinance, the Board of Trustees must next officially adopt it. (DK)

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    Applications are due this week from residents interested in serving on the Pinckney Community Schools Board of Education. In response to the resignation of Trustee Rob Guilloz, the board is considering applications to fill the vacancy. The candidate appointed to the position will serve a term from the date of appointment through November, 2018. Any qualified resident of the Pinckney Community Schools district interested in being considered for filling the vacancy should submit an application to Superintendent Rick Todd. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a Michigan resident and a registered voter in the district. Applications are available on the district website and must be received no later than 4pm this Friday, May 18th. The Board of Education is scheduled to interview finalists in open session at their regular meeting on Thursday, May 24th at 7pm, and anticipates appointing a candidate to the seat at that same night. The application must be received by the Superintendent via email to Rick Todd rtodd@pinckneypirates.org or via mail to the Board of Education office as follows: Superintendent of Schools Pinckney Community Schools 2130 East M-36, Pinckney, Michigan 48169

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    The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting their Lunch and Learn program in Howell this Wednesday. The event will recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month by focusing on managing work-related stress and reducing the risks of workplace violence. Michigan reportedly has 336,000 adults who are documented as living with mental health issues, with only 44% of people receiving some form of treatment among those that need it. The Lunch and Learn discussion will be led by Michael James, who is a doctor of psychology and an outpatient physician in Psychiatric/Behavioral Services at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. The event will run from 11:30am to 1pm Wednesday at the Howell Chamber building on East Washington Street. The cost is $20 and includes lunch and materials. Registration information is available at the link below. Photo courtesy of Howell Chamber of Commerce website.

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    Owners of a Marion Township gas station will have to wait a little longer than they expected for approval of a small expansion. The Pardiac Shell Station is on D-19 near Schafer Road. The long-time owners were before the Marion Township Board of Trustees, Thursday night, asking for special use permit approval for a 600 foot cooler in the back of the station. Since the time the station was built, ordinances in the township had changed, triggering their need to come in. The station is already a legally non-conforming use and some members of the board felt it might be bad practice to make it even more non-conforming. Officials, sensing future problems with the way it and the lot next to it are zoned, wondered if it would be better to combine the lots into one large parcel. The Pardiac Shell owners own both. Marion Township Supervisor Bob Hanvey thought this solution might be best for all parties. The Board believes it would help with parking and make the land easier to sell in the future should the owners ever wish to. The owners expressed a wish to keep the parcels separate. Owners and their representation were frustrated, having received a recommendation for approval from the planner, the Planning Commission, Road Commission, and other invested parties. They claimed to have already paid $10,000 in escrow and $750 in fees just to put in a cooler. It was revealed that the new site plan hadn’t gone to the township’s lawyer to review. This is required unless the Board waives its necessity. They voted to send it to their attorney for review, with hopes that they might get it back on the agenda for their next meeting. Picture - Google Street View (MK)

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    While criticism continues both within and from outside the Republican Party about a comment from a Trump Administration official concerning Arizona Senator John McCain, the campaign of Congressman Mike Bishop is using Senator McCain’s own words to attack their main Democratic rival. Last week, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis issued a release and video clip of comments made by McCain at a December 2, 2014 confirmation hearing for Slotkin as assistant defense secretary for international security affairs. In the video, McCain questions Slotkin about the strategy the Obama Administration planned to implement in its fight against ISIS. At the end of the exchange, McCain says she is “totally unqualified” and tells Slotkin at one point, "either you don't know the truth or you are not telling the truth to this committee." He then put a hold on her nomination, forcing it to be set aside. Slotkin would not be confirmed for that post in the remainder of her entire time at the Department of Defense. Anuzis said that, “Shady Elissa Slotkin was not fit for her job in the Defense Department. John McCain called her totally unqualified and questioned her ability to tell the truth." In response, Mela Louise Norman, Slotkin Campaign Manager, said that, “Slotkin has the utmost respect for Senator McCain. He has a remarkable record of service and is a respected statesman who sets the example for putting service and country over party politics.” She added that, “Our current Congressman could learn a thing or two from the standard he sets.” Norman said Slotkin, “is happy to talk about her record on national security with the Republican Party, Rep Bishop, or anyone else. Elissa joined the CIA after 9/11 and served three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military. She worked for over a decade in top national security roles under both Republican and Democratic administrations at the White House, the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, and at the Pentagon. Norman said it was, “obvious that Rep. Bishop is facing the toughest election of his career and he is making every attempt to minimize a strong opponent who he knows will pose a formidable challenge,” calling the attacks, “a page out of a tired playbook, and show that despite nearly twenty years in politics, Rep. Bishop doesn't actually have a strong record to run on.” Last week’s release by Anuzis came the day before it was reported that White House aide Kelly Sadler said in a private meeting that it didn't matter whether Senator McCain opposed President Trump’s nominee to be CIA Director "because he's dying anyway." McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer. There has been no official apology from either Sadler or the White House to the comment, which has drawn sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle. (JK)

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    Community members are being encouraged to donate blood during a local drive in honor of National Police Week. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and the Howell Kiwanis Club are sponsoring the drive. Those donating have an opportunity to honor the police officer or department of their choice. The Office says 98% of the population will need blood in their lifetime, but only 5% of the population donates. One pint of blood has the ability to save three people. Due to a recent storm, the Livingston Chapter of the American Red Cross had to cancel an important blood drive and donations are said to be critical. All blood type donations are important but O-negative blood inparticular is in demand. The blood drive will take place Friday at the LESA building off Grand River and Highlander Way from 10am to 6pm. Donation appointments are preferred, but drop-ins are always welcome. Individuals can sign up online at www.redcrossblood.org. The link is provided. (JM)

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    Fenton Area Public Schools advised parents and the community about a suspicious incident while a student was waiting for the bus Monday. Superintendent Dr. Adam Hartley said the incident occurred around 8am as a Tomek-Eastern Elementary student was standing in her driveway waiting for the bus when a red truck with a black tailgate drove by her numerous times. The student became frightened and went back to her house. Hartley says while inside, the student saw the truck pull in her driveway and wait there for approximately 10 minutes, while pointing at her. The Fenton Police Department is investigating the incident but Hartley says they felt it was appropriate to notify the community of the suspicious behavior. He says it’s a good reminder to talk with students about awareness and safety, noting the student chose to do the right thing by going back to her house and notifying her parents. Anyone with information about the incident or truck in question should contact Fenton Police. (JM)

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    How to best address long term capital needs over the next ten years within the Howell Public Schools district was discussed during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. The board received an overview of long term capital needs to make sure the district has a plan in place as various improvements are needed, specifically related to security and items such as heating and cooling, roofs, sidewalks and parking lots. The rough estimate is around $18.5 (m) million for ten years and potential funding options were laid out. The district has roughly $1.9 (m) million remaining from the sale of Latson Road property to put toward capital items. One option was to utilize that and start modifying general fund allocations but that could potentially negatively impact programs. The other option, which the board agreed to pursue, is putting a sinking fund request on the November 2018 ballot. The sinking fund option would also include using the Latson funding for bus purchases and then also modifying the general fund budget to account for buses and instructional resources. MacGregor says his recommendation was to not adjust the general fund, which would mean they would have to significantly reduce some programs for kids at a time when many are being recognized for great things. He says those are opportunities they want to provide and he believes the community wants to provide as well. MacGregor says the district is in a situation where they could ask voters to maintain the current millage rate and still capture the money needed to fulfill capital needs. It was noted the district has been very fiscally responsible, which is demonstrated by existing debt millage rates as Howell is the lowest of all districts in the county at 6.4 mills, with debt set to expire in 2029. MacGregor says he anticipates the board would make a commitment to hold the existing debt millage rate, so there would be no increase to taxpayers. Since property values are increasing, MacGregor says they would be able to capture that gap and put those funds toward district needs. The board ultimately gave the green light to move forward with some planning work to identify specific needs and develop ballot language for the November 2018 election. It would likely be a point-5 mill request, to generate $1.2 to $1.3 (m) million annually, depending on how property values fluctuate. (JM)

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    The Village of Pinckney and its officials were recognized for a willingness to change for the better that led to the municipality’s certification as a “Redevelopment Ready Community”. Representatives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) attended the Village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday to present officials with an award that acknowledged Pinckney as the 19th community in the state to become Redevelopment Ready. The MEDC program assists municipalities in establishing a foundation for redevelopment and investment to occur in their region. MEDC’s Senior Vice President of Community Development, Katharine Czarnecki, says RRC certification is a seal of approval that makes sure a community’s planning is in line with their future goals for business investment, talent attraction and growth. The MEDC honors the accolade by offering benefits like technical assistance or funding opportunities for said redevelopment. Czarnecki noted the overall leadership among village officials in terms of being willing to make changes to local ordinances and processes in hopes of better preparing Pinckney for economic and developmental growth. Czarnecki says the achievement is a testament that small communities too can shape their future. In addition to receiving the RRC award, which is handmade by a crafter from Lansing to promote small businesses, village officials received signs to place throughout the municipality displaying the certification. Village President Linda Lavey says though the process to become certified was long, it was educational and helped planners establish regional goals and a direction. Lavey says part of the direction that’s been established is to focus on vacant areas throughout the small village that were affected by the recession. Lavey tells WHMI there is space that is “truly redevelopment ready”, like old buildings or open land, and that officials are willing to hear ideas for transformation. Pinckney officials first began moving towards certification in 2014 by applying for the program. They were denied due to an acceptance cap, but reapplied and was accepted in 2016. (DK)

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    The increasing influence of money into politics will be the topic of a meeting Wednesday in Howell. The League of Women Voters Brighton/Howell Area Unit is hosting an educational event entitled; "Following the Money in Michigan Politics" It will feature Craig Mauger, Executive Director of Michigan Campaign Finance Network. A recent report from his group found that as of April 20th, the top 150 political action committees in Michigan had collected a record $34.5 million. By comparison, at this point in the 2010 election cycle, the top 150 PACs had raised only about $19.8 million. Another trend that Mauger says is disturbing is that half of the 601 fundraisers in 2017 took place within walking distance of the Capitol in Lansing, while the Legislature was in session. In 2016, state elected officials reported 439 fundraisers, while the total was 315 the year before that. Mauger will speak Wednesday at the Howell Carnegie Library from 6:30 to 8pm. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. (JK)

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    Fillmore County Park in Genoa Township is one step closer to becoming rezoned as Parks and Recreation Facilities. In 2006 Livingston County was bequeathed nearly 200 acres of property located north of McClements Road and east and west of Kellogg Road. The property was given by Raymond Fillmore who intended the land to be used for recreational purposes. During Monday night’s Planning Commission Public Hearing in Genoa Township, The Livingston County Planning Department petitioned for a rezoning of the area. The land is currently zoned as Agricultural with the planning department intending to rezone the property as Parks and Recreational. Livingston County Planning Department plans to bring new developments to the area such as a 20-car parking lot, restroom facility, 5K walking trail, and a multi-purpose field. Funding for the projects is coming from a grant given by The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other partnerships with the county. Community Development Director Kelly VanMarter told WHMI she wouldn’t be surprised to see more amenities added to Fillmore County Park if Livingston County receives additional funding. Following the township’s approval to move forward with the rezoning, the issue will now be going back to The Livingston County Planning Commission for a rezoning recommendation. Should the planning commission approve the rezoning, Genoa Township will then make the final decision on its approval. (DF)

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    A public meeting is planned next week regarding the Baker Road intersections project. The Washtenaw County Road Commission, in cooperation with the City of Dexter, will be reconstructing Baker Road from Shield Road to Dan Hoey Road. Preliminary utility relocation work has already started and a contractor for DTE Gas is currently installing new gas mains. Further work will be performed to relocate electric, phone, cable and other fiber optic/communication facilities in the coming days. Road construction will begin on June 18th. Baker Road and the intersection of Shield Road and Dan Hoey Road will be closed for the duration of the project. The goal is have the project completed prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year for students in Dexter Community Schools. Tuesday’s meeting will take place from 6 to 7:30pm in the cafeteria at Creekside Elementary School on Baker Road in Dexter. A project website with more information is available through the link provided, where individuals can also sign up for email updates. (JM)

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    At its meeting Monday night the Board of Education discussed a probable bond issue proposal, which would mostly go for such items as parking lot repaving, new boilers and other infrastructure items. To those who would say the district just went to the voters six years ago, resulting in passage of an $88.5 million bond issue, the board would respond that many needs were left off the ballot because of the high price tag. In addition, bond issue revenues can’t be used for maintenance. The high school would be getting many of the upgrades from a bond issue including replacement of part of the roof, new acoustical tile in all 620,000 square feet of the building, replacement of the corridor flooring and four new boilers. The total cost of the high school projects alone in a $45 million bond issue would be $17 million. Although most of the items would be for infrastructure needs, there would be one brick-and-mortar project, and that would be construction of a $5 million STEAM Center at the high school. Other items in such a bond issue would include completely rebuilding the parking lots at Scranton Middle School and Hilton Elementary, while the other parking lots would have partial rebuilds. Scranton was constructed in 1991 and the parking lot has never been repaved, making it 27 years old. Gray says the board will have to make a decision on whether to go to the public for approval of a bond issue at its next meeting if it wants to have the election this November. It’s important to consider, Gray says, that passage of a bond issue would not increase the current school tax rate of 7.19 mills. He says due to an increase in the State Equalized Valuation of district property, the bond would have a 22-or-23-year payoff instead of the usual 30 years. He adds that with, or without, a new bond issue, the school millage rate is expected to drop off dramatically in 2022 or ‘23 to under four mills. (TT)

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    A road resurfacing project will shut down a portion of Dexter Townhall Road starting Thursday morning. Dexter Townhall Road will be closed between North Territorial Road and Cedar Drive in Dexter Township. The road will close at approximately 7am Thursday and a detour will be posted for all through traffic. Property owners and residents within the project limits will be provided access to and from their property by the contractor. The road resurfacing project is expected to take about two weeks to complete but all dates are subject to change due to weather conditions. (JM)

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    A number of students, teachers, an administrator and board member were all honored during the Howell Board of Education meeting Monday night. It was packed board room as all of the individuals, many with family members present, were celebrated during the highlights and happenings portion of the meeting. Students in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America or FCCLA were also recognized for earning highest scores and gold medals at a state competition. Next honored was Howell High School’s FIRST Robotics Team, the Howell S.C.O.T.S. Bots, for an outstanding season which included two Chairman's Awards at the state and regional competitions and competing at the FIRST Robotics World Championship. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The board and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) also honored Howell High School Principal Jason Schrock as the 2018 MASSP High School Principal of the Year. All were commended during separate presentations with certificates presented by the board and Superintendent Erin MacGregor. MacGregor told WHMI they had a room full of students as well as parents who are doing great things and representing the district in a great way. He says the general threshold they try to use when recognizing students at the board level is those who have done something to be recognized or win at the state level. Judging by the packed room, he said it spoke volumes to what the students have accomplished. Also recognized during Monday’s meeting was Trustee Gregg Gilligan for his continuing dedication and education related to school board member certification. He achieved Level 1 Certification and the Award of Merit from the Michigan Association of School Boards. Level 1 Certification is the MASB's Certified Boardmember Award which means he took all 100-Level CBA classes (101–109). The Award of Merit means that he has completed all the level 1 courses and 45 educational credits. (JM)

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