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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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    The Green Oak Township Planning Commission is working to stay ahead of new laws on cell phone towers. Commissioners discussed a proposed amendment to their wireless communications ordinance at Thursday night’s meeting. Township Planner Paul Montagno said there is new state legislation coming down the pipeline. The Small Cell Tower Wireless Communication Act is in the State Senate now, and has not been approved yet, but is expected to. Once the Act is approved, it will take effect immediately. By amending the ordinance now, the township will have greater control over the allowed height of small cell towers when it happens. Montagno suggested that the board set the maximum height allowed be at 40 feet, with a 5 foot extension for the antennae. Clerk Mike Sedlak, who is the Green Oak Board of Trustees representative on the Planning Commission, was interested in setting more specific specifications. While most small towers are known to be mono-poles, Sedlak wanted to make certain that cell companies couldn’t come in and put a three-prong pole up, especially in a right-of-way. A motion was made to recommend approval of the amendment to the township board, with conditions that the type of poles allowed would be defined, along with minimum and maximum heights. The motion passed 5-1, with Secretary Deborah Sellis dissenting, stating that she believed the ordinance needed more work. (MK)

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    A Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District believes it is his stance on policies that sets him apart from the competition, whether Democrat or Republican. Chris Smith of East Lansing is one of two Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to run against Republican-incumbent Mike Bishop for his seat in Congress this fall. The other is Elissa Slotkin of Holly. With a doctorate in political science, Smith has spent nearly a quarter of a century teaching public policy and law at Michigan State University. He has written over 45 books on the subject, some of them used as textbooks in other schools across the country. Smith, labeled by many as a progressive, believes it is his position on several key topics that makes him the right choice for the district’s future. Smith said he thinks many of the ideals he holds resonates with not only Democrats, but also independents and even some Republicans. He has taken a firm stand on no pipeline activity under the Great Lakes and calls for a complete ban on the sale of assault rifles to the public. Smith said if elected, one of the first things he’ll look toward correcting is the amount of money being spent on the criminal justice system, and how that money is being spent. With the opioid crisis reaching the middle class, Smith said more people are opening up to it being a public health problem. More effort, he believes, needs to be going in to treating and helping people, rather than just locking them up. Smith also believes in pursuing single payer universal health care. He said the goal needs to be Medicare-for-all, and if that isn’t the goal, we’ll never work towards it. Smith will be at the next meeting of the Livingston County Democrats, where he has been invited to speak. That meeting is next Thursday, at 7pm, at the RE/Max Auditorium in Genoa Township. You can also hear more about Smith and his candidacy on WHMI’s Viewpoint, this Sunday at 8:30am. (MK)

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    The Second St.construction bid, submitted on May 3rd by the Fonson Construction Co. of Brighton, was $207,000 below the engineer’s estimate. The base project, costing an estimated $2 million, includes complete reconstruction of the street from First St. to its terminus at Cross St., replacement of water and sewer lines, and repair of the curb and gutter. The bid plus "alternate 1" involves reconstruction of the street plus complete replacement of the curb and gutter. City Manager Nate Geinzer tells WHMI that construction is expected to start on the project in June. The Downtown Development Authority is paying for the entire cost of street reconstruction itself, totaling about $930,000. Replacement of all utilities will be covered by the city’s utility reserves fund, at a cost of $1.26 million. Council Member Jim Bohn was the lone person on council voting no on the Fonson contract. Bohn said that Oak Ridge, which was done by Fonson, had a complete reconstruction about a decade ago, and is already showing signs of serious deterioration. It was stated that the reason Oak Ridge has declined so fast is that the city has not had an adequate street maintenance budget for the last several years and streets that are not well maintained deteriorate faster, but Bohn was not persuaded. The Second St. project is taking place because of the deteriorating condition of the street, old sewer and water lines which are too small for current demands and future growth projections, and a couple of major construction projects – one approved and the other a good possibility. Already approved with expected construction beginning next month are the 15-unit Second Street Flats condominiums. And a huge potential project involves a proposed $35 million, 200-unit luxury apartment development between the Mill Pond and Second St. However, a site plan has yet to be submitted to the city by the developer, DTN Development Group of Lansing. (TT)

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    The founder of a local addiction and counseling support center is stepping down. Key Development Center announced that as of April 30th, Patricia Meyer (pictured) is its new Executive Director. She replaces long-time Executive Director Anne King-Hudson, who founded the center in Brighton 17 years ago. King-Hudson will stay on with the agency, working on the development of a new Medication Assisted Treatment program set to be implemented next month. Meyer is described as an experienced social worker who brings both clinical and administrative expertise to the role. She has over 20 years of experience providing substance abuse and mental health services and 10 years of experience in program development and administration. Meyer has a Masters in Social Work, is certified as an Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has a post-masters Certificate in Social Welfare Research and Evaluation. Key Development Center is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit agency that is fully licensed by the state of Michigan for substance abuse treatment. (JK)

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    The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce has begun to actively recruit candidates to fill the vacant position to succeed former President/CEO Pat Convery. Convery retired earlier this year and a national search is underway, but with a Michigan/Great Lakes States emphasis. Search Committee Chair Ashley Prew says they’re looking for a collaborative leader and a relationship builder who can sustain the Chamber’s legacy of inclusion, as well as its ability to tap into the talent in the community. She says while long-standing Chamber programs like the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, Livingston County Home Show and Fantasy of Lights enrich the community, they’re eager for the next executive to take a fresh look at them while working to make the organization even more responsive to member and community needs. Howell Chamber Membership Director Kim Esper is acting as interim executive, which officials say will provide the continuity the organization needs through the transition. The chamber has retained a national firm to assist with the search. Expressions of interest will be accepted through June 8th. The search process will continue over the summer. If all goes as planned, the next CEO would be on board by early fall. The position profile is posted on the Chamber’s website. That link is provided. (JM)

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    A Detroit suburb can't get around lawsuits related to a hayride mishap at a city-owned camp in Milford Township five years ago. At least nine people were taken to a hospital when a hay wagon tipped and threw many of its passengers to the ground at Camp Dearborn in October of 2013. The camp is located off of General Motors Road, west of the Village of Milford. Police say the tractor driver, part-time Dearborn employee Adam Forehand, admitted to having a few drinks prior to his shift while celebrating his birthday. He also told police that the riders had shifted to one side despite his warnings to remain seated so they could throw hay at a passing wagon. However, the passengers disputed that claim. Forehand was initially charged with reckless driving but pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of impaired driving and was sentenced in March 2014 to 10 days of community service and 18 months of probation. Since then many of those who were injured have filed lawsuits against the city. Dearborn official claim they are protected from legal action by governmental immunity, an opinion the Michigan appeals court previously rejected. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court agreed and upheld the lower court’s ruling allowing the lawsuits to proceed. The hayride was part of a fall event for members of a labor organization at Henry Ford College in Dearborn. (JK)

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    A freeway closure will result in detours and possibly delays tonight in the Brighton area. Westbound I-96 is scheduled to close starting at 10:00 tonight, lasting through 7am Saturday. The Michigan Department of Transportation advises that westbound I-96 will be closed at Kensington Road for the Pleasant Valley Road bridge construction project. Four of the six bridge beams were significantly damaged last September by a flatbed semi that was hauling several boom lifts. The structure over eastbound I-96 had to be removed so the freeway could safely reopen. Work to construct a new bridge is underway, necessitating tonight’s closure. The posted detour is Kensington Road to Grand River to old US-23 to Spencer Road to westbound I-96. M-DOT asks emergency responders plan an alternate route. (JM)

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    Fenton officials are asking residents for their ideas and opinions at an upcoming event. A special City of Fenton Community Forum has been scheduled for this coming Thursday, May 24th. From 6pm until 8, citizens will have a chance to share what’s on their mind with city leaders. According to the Tri-County Times, it will take place at the Fenton Community and Cultural Center, at 150 LeRoy Street. Opinions officials are most interested in are on what residents see Fenton as being like 10 years down the road, and what they do and don’t like about their community. City Council will then take the views expressed by the community and compare them with previous council discussions, using it towards development of the city’s new Strategic Plan. Dinner and childcare will be provided, but in order to make sure there are enough food and sitters, an RSVP by this Tuesday is requested. Reservations can be made by calling (810) 629-2261. (MK)

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    Signs promoting Howell’s win as a 2018 Great American Main Street are up in the community. The City was recognized as the 2018 Great American Main Street winner earlier this year by the National Main Street Center. To highlight the achievement, the city and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation are promoting the win with digital billboards on I-96 between Lansing and Detroit. The city has also updated the city welcome signs to promote the win. The award recognizes communities that serve as models for comprehensive and preservation based commercial district revitalization. The center recognized Howell Main Street’s achievement in transforming their downtown district into a cultural destination through community driven economic development and place making efforts. (EO/JK)

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    A local man who crashed his car while intoxicated and then falsely told police another vehicle had hit him has been sentenced. 25-year-old Thomas Blackledge of Green Oak Township was recently sentenced by Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh to ten days in the Livingston County Jail and 18 months of probation. Blackledge previously pleaded guilty to a reduced count of resisting/obstructing or assaulting a police officer, operating while intoxicated and assault and battery. If he successfully completes probation, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss a count of indecent exposure. Blackledge was charged as a result of the November 12th incident, which began when Green Oak Police responded to the scene of a car crash at Leman Road and M-36 around 4:45am. Officers found that the vehicle Blackledge was driving had gone off the roadway into a ditch, sustaining significant front end damage. Police Chief Jason Pless says Blackledge told officers another vehicle had crossed the centerline and hit him, but there was no evidence that was true. After failing sobriety tests at the crash scene, Blackledge was taken to the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Medical Center for a blood draw. Once there, however, Pless says he became belligerent and refused to have his blood drawn, resisting an officer and a nurse, and kicking a security officer attempting to assist. Pless says Blackledge also kept exposing himself and screaming obscenities. (DK)

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    Democratic candidates vying for various elected positions called for an overhaul in political leadership at an annual event in Hamburg Township. Guests of the Livingston County Democratic Party’s 35th annual Winans Dinner packed the event ballroom at the Lakelands Golf and Country Club Friday. The theme of this year’s dinner, “Build the Blue Wave”, spoke to the political wave that some say is forming off the coast and could crash into this year’s elections, sweeping Democrats into the majority. Gretchen Whitmer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, was the keynote speaker of the Winans Dinner. Whitmer believes citizens are ready for a change in leadership, saying she sees "energy" and "people showing up". Whitmer says, "...people want a leader that’s listening to them and focused on solving their problems." Also speaking at the event was Elissa Slotkin and Chris Smith, who are both Democratic candidates for the 8th Congressional District. Slotkin and Smith also voiced ideas regarding a need to better listen to and serve constituents. Smith says he was convinced to run after noticing a difference between the words and actions of the district’s current congressman. Slotkin says, "You don’t get to ignore your constituents, vote against their interests and keep your job.” Whitmer, who is the former Senate Democratic leader and is one of four announced Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination, says she wants to make Michigan a state people come to for opportunity. If elected, she says she plans to focus on fixing roads, holding schools to a higher standard and ensuring everyone has clean drinking water. (DK)

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    A gas station in New Hudson has had its liquor license suspended after selling alcohol to minors. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission met this week in Lansing and commissioners ordered a 102-day suspension of the liquor license and permits held by Auto City Service Incorporated, doing business as Kensington BP located on Grand River. The commission is required to suspend or revoke the liquor license if a licensee is found liable for three or more violations of sales of alcohol to minors and sales of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons – on different occasions within a 24-month period. Three violations occurred at the Kensington BP on November 30th, 2016, September 18th, 2017 and December 19th, 2017. The state says minors who were 17 and 19-years-old were sold alcoholic beverages that included a 6-pack of cider, a 12-pack of beer and a 6-pack of beer. Identification was not requested in any of the three incidents. The suspension will be in effect from Friday, May 25th through Monday, September 3rd. MLCC Chairman Andy Deloney said it is imperative licensees not sell to minors and in circumstances like this – where the licensee breaks the law three times in less than thirteen months – the Commission has a legal responsibility to suspend the liquor license. He says it’s their job to make sure that the health, safety, and welfare of the public is protected and after reviewing the file and considering the entirety of the record, the Commission felt the suspension was appropriate. Photo: Google Street View. (JM)

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    A local middle school student from Howell put her writing to the test and brought home honors in a statewide essay contest. 8th grader Grace Fyke of Parker Middle School in Howell was named one of 10 winners of the Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan America and Me Essay Contest. Fyke’s essay won 5th place out of the 3,500 essays that were submitted from nearly 350 schools in the state. On Tuesday, she and her mother attended a ceremony in Lansing that started aboard the Michigan Princess Riverboat before proceeding to the State Capitol Building to meet with Governor Rick Snyder. Fyke received an engraved plaque, $1,000 cash, and a congratulatory letter. The theme of the contest was “My Personal Michigan Hero,” and Fyke’s essay entitled, The Things I Don’t Say, was about a teacher of her’s who made a strong impact. A link to her award-winning essay can be found below. (MK)

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    The restaurants are now under construction at 317 West Main Street. The developer is Dan Cheresko of Cheresko Development LLC of New Hudson. Cheresko received council approval last November for the redevelopment liquor licenses, but has since created two new business entities – Main Street Steak House, Inc. and Wynwoods, Inc. Due to the name change, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission told Cheresko to resubmit the application. Council Thursday night approved the request, which now goes back to the state Liquor Control Commission for approval. His development includes two adjacent restaurants – Main St. Steak House and Wynwoods - separated by a courtyard and pedestrian walkway, along with two offices and two luxury loft apartments on each side. Cheresko has said he hopes to have the development completed by this August. (TT)

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    More than a decade after a historic Linden building burned down, the Planning Commission has approved plans for a new development. The Union Block in downtown Linden, which was built in the 1870’s was destroyed by a fire 11 years ago this week. Now, the Linden Planning Commission has approved a final site plan that will bring business and residents back to the parcel. Owned by Nicole Wax of Wax Orthodontics, the two story building will host her practice, 3 other unnamed tenants, and 4 condominium units, according to the Tri-County Times. The mixed-use building will offer nearly 15,000 square feet of space over 2-stories, on the near half-acre plot. It will include a 23-space parking lot that be accessed by North Bridge Street. Sidewalk, utility, and landscaping improvements were also approved. The site plan was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission at their May 7th meeting. (MK)

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    Water parks are scheduled to open for the Memorial Day weekend at three Michigan state parks, including Livingston County's Brighton Recreation Area. The Department of Natural Resources calls the parks "floating playgrounds." The water parks include Jump Island on Bishop Lake in Livingston County’s Hamburg Township, southwest of Brighton. Water Warrior Island is in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigamme at Van Riper State Park in Marquette County., while the WhoaZone is at Heron Beach at the Holly Recreation Area in Oakland County. Jump Island in the Brighton Recreation Area has an inflatable iceberg slide, while the WhoaZone has an obstacle course and Water Warrior Island features 20-foot water slides. A state Recreation Passport is required for entry into most state parks, state forest campgrounds, boating access sites and state trailheads. Admission to the water parks carries an additional fee and reservations are recommended. (AP/TT)

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    The Brighton Board of Education has decided to make open swim at the high school pool free to all district residents. At its meeting Monday night, the board voted unanimously to allow residents who live within the boundaries of the Brighton Area School District to swim for free at the pool. Board members stated that since district residents' taxes helped pay for the pool as part of the $88.5 million bond issue passed by voters in 2012, they should have the right to use the pool free of charge. Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that the district will not require that people using the pool for open swim be homeowners who pay taxes that go directly for school district operations. Rather he says, those who rent will also be able to use the pool for open swim without charge. Previously, those utilizing the pool for open swim had been charged a $4 fee, which generated $17,000 in each of the last two years for pool operations. Gray was philosophical about the loss of revenue. “It’s a revenue loss,” he says, “but we feel it’s a benefit to our community, and we can afford to do it.” The district has also expanded the number of lanes for open swim from one to two, with one lane being reserved for faster swimmers and the other for recreational swimmers who go at a more leisurely pace. The current hours for open swim are Monday through Friday from 7-9 p.m. as well as Saturday from 3-5 p.m. Gray says the district will soon be switching to summer hours and will be posting the new hours and days of the week for open swim when the change is made. (TT)

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    Brighton community activist and frequent City Council critic Susan Backhaus is charging that three City Council members who attended meetings of a private pro-Headlee override group at the Brighton Chamber of Commerce building owe the chamber $450. The pro-override group, which does not have a formal name, consists of several City Council members and others who are in favor of passage of the Headlee override issue that will be on the ballot in August. The reason Backhaus claims the three council members owe the money is a, quote, “running deal” she alleges exists between the two by which the city can hold meetings in a special room free of charge. But since the three meetings which took place were by a private entity, and not official city meetings, Backhaus claims the three council members should have to pay for the room for a charge of $150 per meeting. However, Chamber President and CEO Pam McConeghy says Backhaus has it all wrong. McConeghy says it is up to her discretion as to whether to charge a group to use the room or not. She tells WHMI, in her words, “We have members who don’t pay and those who do…it depends on the needs of the group.” McConeghy then cited the Salvation Army as one example of a group which is not charged to use the meeting room. “(The chamber has) no special arrangement with the city, (and) we look at it as a community building.” McConeghy says. City voters are being asked to override, or nullify, the Headlee Tax Limitation Amendment in the city. The amendment, passed by the Michigan legislature in 1978, limits tax increases to 5% or the rate of inflation — whichever is lower. City officials assert that the extra revenue is needed because streets have been deteriorating for many years but they don’t have the revenues to repair them or install new pavement. A “yes” vote on the date of the primary election on Aug. 7th would allow the city to levy up to 20 mills, the charter limit. (TT/JK)

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    Plans are moving forward to name the Howell High School football field after a teacher, coach and mentor with a lengthy sports and community legacy. New turf is going in at the high school stadium field and when a committee was formed to discuss potential naming, it was noted that one name repeatedly surfaced – John Dukes. The Howell Board of Education met last week and the naming of the football field turf was among items discussed. Dukes was referred to as the face of Howell football and the district in general. He’s coached numerous sports in Howell including football, baseball and wrestling and still regularly volunteers at games. He was inducted in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008 after 34 years of coaching football at Howell and Hartland High Schools. During the meeting, Dukes was described as a man of faith, family, and community who always steps up in general. Superintendent Erin MacGregor tells WHMI the item was brought forth for information for board members and general discussion. MacGregor says board policy states if members of the school community, or the community in general, have made significant contributions to the school community then the board can take action to name buildings, or in this sense an area, after that person. MacGregor says John Dukes’ name has certainly surfaced as someone of high character, integrity, and just great leadership. He says the item will be back on the agenda in June for official action but the board was supportive. The turf would go in this summer if the board moves forward with the action at the June 11th meeting, and then the name and stitching in honor of Dukes would be put on the field at the high school stadium. Those on the committee noted a number of people easily stepped up to commit financially to the project and made contributions, thus no general fund dollars will be used. Photo: Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. (JM)

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    A federal grant will aid Livingston County with hazardous materials emergency preparedness. The Livingston County Emergency Management Department received a federal award through the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant Program. The grant covers hazardous materials preparedness, should there ever be an emergency involving an industrial site. The grant is an incentive to cover the cost for the county to develop the plans for SARA Title III sites and support the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Livingston County Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte tells WHMI they have several sites in the county that fall under SARA Title III. Those are sites that have extremely hazardous substances of a certain quantity so Cremonte says they need to note where they are, have a plan for the site, contact numbers and an evacuation route planned. She says they also need to know if there is any critical infrastructure around the site such as a school, hospital or assisted living facility that would take priority in an evacuation or shelter-in-place event. Cremonte says they have several plans already but there are a few sites within the county where plans have not been developed. She says that’s part of what they do and they will share those plans with the state and the local hazardous materials team. The amount of the federal grant award is $2,750 with a required 25% match from Livingston County in the amount of $687.50. A resolution approving the grant program award agreement was approved earlier this month by the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. (JM)

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