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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 Fenton City Council member is facing repercussions after admitting she damaged a sculpture donated to the city by placing her hands in the wet concrete. Councilwoman Cherie Smith admitted to council she had made the imprints on concrete that was drying around the base of the historic sculpture, known as “The Game”. The piece was donated by Phil and Jocelyn Hagerman last October. Mayor Sue Osborn had reportedly met with Smith two weeks ago after learning about the incident through surveillance video, which caught Smith in the act, reaching past the taped-off work site to make the prints. Osborn attempted to deal with the issue privately, instructing Smith to contact each council member to let them know, but made the issue public at council’s Monday night meeting after some members indicated they had not heard from Smith. At the meeting, Smith inferred the prints were small, but Osborn reminded her it’s still considered vandalism, asking Smith if it's any different from spray-painting a building. Smith says yes, because "it's not a scene". The company contracted for the job was still working in the city when the prints were discovered and have since fixed the base. Council reportedly discussed the incident at a recent budget work session before knowing who the culprit was and Smith says she acted “cowardly” by not openly admitting to council that she was responsible. Smith says she admitted her role to Police Chief Jason Slater at the session, but says Slater must’ve thought she was joking. Some of the council members learned about the incident through an opinion piece published May 18th in the Tri County Times’ “Just Sayin’” section. Associate Editor Vera Hogan refers to the incident as “a little mischievous and kind of funny”, also expressing regret that Smith’s hand print couldn’t be next to her late husband’s, Ben Smith. All council members at Monday's meeting made comments expressing their disapproval of Smith’s actions. Councilwoman Tracy Bottecelli says she was “confused and shocked” upon seeing Smith mentioned in the article. Bottecelli told Smith, “If I was you and I were to run into the Hagerman’s, I would be very embarrassed." Councilman David McDermott said he doesn't think the act is cute or funny, and believes the missed opportunity was for Smith to show better judgement. Councilwoman Nancy Draves called the act "childish". Smith apologized, saying it was “a dumb thing to do”. When Bottecelli stated she was put-off by one of Smith’s comments, Smith spoke directly to her, calling Bottecelli the “new kid on the block” and citing her position on the Oakwood Cemetery Board. Council later voted to remove Smith from all boards and commissions she currently sits on until the end of her term, as well as a formal reprimand. Osborn told Smith she does not trust or have confidence in her. Councilwoman Patricia Lockwood told Smith, "I think your behavior speaks against everything that we all stand for here.” Smith plans to write an apology letter to be published at a later date. It could not be said conclusively whether any costs were incurred by the additional work that was done in repairing the sculpture's base. The base was referred to as “temporary” in the aforementioned article and by Smith herself, though it is unclear why either does not believe it to be a permanent part of the structure. Another individual was also caught on surveillance video making prints in the concrete, though their identity is unknown at this time. (DK)

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    Donations are being sought for a new program that will make sure kids in need don’t go hungry over the weekend. Brighton Area Schools will be taking part in the Blessing in a Backpack program, which helps feed elementary school children on the weekend. Each week, backpacks are filled with enough non-perishable food for the weekend to students that qualify on the federal free and reduced lunch program. The cost is $100 per child, per year. The goal is to keep students from going hungry on the weekends and remove barriers to academic success. A steering committee is hoping to raise enough funds to start sending backpacks home with students in the fall. Retired BAS Teacher and Administrator Kay Nicholas tells WHMI there is definitely a need and it’s a very beneficial program. She says they’re in the organizational phase right now and have begun collecting donations to start the program at the elementary level, where approximately 260 kids qualify. The backpacks will be filled with various items such as mac and cheese, juice boxes, granola bars and canned fruit. Blessing in a Backpack is a national program through which Meijer will get the food together each week. It will be housed and packed at the Brighton Board of Education offices before being delivered to elementary schools for students to take home each Friday. Ideally, the program would be expanded to all Brighton schools as funds become available. In addition to donations, volunteers will eventually be needed to help pack food. To date, roughly $3,500 has been raised. Those wishing to donate can do so by selecting Brighton Area Schools on the national website. That link is provided. Anyone wanting to get involved can contact Nicholas at 810-588-7950 or via email knicholas888@yahoo.com. (JM)

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    City of South Lyon officials have approved a resolution establishing new rules for public comment at City Council meetings. City Council members from South Lyon took steps to expand the number of opportunities residents would have to speak, at Tuesday night’s regular meeting. Under the old rules, each person wishing to address agenda or non-agenda items had one public comment period and 3 minutes to do so, at the beginning of the meeting. Under new rules, there will be a second public comment period added at the end of the meeting. Mayor Dan Pelchat said City Council also set waiver procedures to potentially give residents with valuable information extra chances to share it during the meeting. Pelchat said if they are on an agenda item, and there is someone there that can speak on it, if Council feels it is of adequate importance they will recognize that member of the crowd and give them a chance to speak. If Council doesn’t allow them to, they will still have the opportunity during the second public comment period. Waiver opportunities will come by a council vote, with measures set in to assure that people with differing viewpoints will be recognized and allowed to speak, if appropriate. The time allotted for speaking will be decreased from 3 minutes to 2, with hope that the reduction will cut back on people repeating themselves and help them hone in on their point. Each public comment period will be treated individually, with no saving or borrowing time from one or the other. Councilman Greg Kivell spoke up, happy and appreciative of the new rules. Mayor Pro-tem Maggie Kurtzweil said she’s been trying to get new rules like these passed for years, and that it is a “very good thing.” (MK)

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    Road work this weekend will again force the closure of northbound Latson Road. The pavement rehabilitation project on Latson Road between Golf Club Road and M-59 will resume at 8pm Friday, June 1st and last through 8am Saturday. It will then resume at 8pm Saturday and last through 9am Sunday, June 3rd. Traffic during the construction hours will be only allowed to travel southbound from M-59 and from the side streets and businesses along Latson Road. Officials say that provides more room for equipment, workers, and private vehicles during construction. Contractor personnel will be on site to direct traffic. The traffic flow will be directed southbound only from M-59 to Golf Club Road. All northbound traffic will need to use a detour of either Gulley Road (east of Latson) or Eager Road (west of Latson). Because extended delays are expected during the beginning of construction each night and at the end of work the following morning, motorists are encouraged to find alternate routes. Road Commission officials say the work is weather-dependent and will be pushed back 24 hours if necessary. (JK)

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    Following a gas leak earlier today, students at Pinckney High School were evacuated to the school's football field and then sent home for the day. The leak was thought to have occurred in a roof unit at the school on Dexter-Pinckney Road shortly after class began for the day. Students were evacuated to the school’s football field and from there were allowed to return home either by bus or if a parent or guardian picked them up. According to Pinckney Superintendent Rick Todd, as of 11am, all of the school's students were on their way home. Todd said he was proud of how "awesome" the students were throughout the entire process and that they relied on their "flexibility, patience and trust in getting everyone taken care of and more importantly, home safely with a parent or on the bus." Todd added that the local EMS and Livingston County Crisis Response Team, "were a great support as they provided water and made sure any and all health related concerns could be addressed immediately." Todd also commended the school's staff who he said were instrumental in making sure students felt safe and informed while working with parents/guardians who were there to pick up their student. "The leadership, calmness and compassion they exhibited were vital in making our students feel more at ease and they also were instrumental for the efficiency of the entire process. Given the recent events in our nation, it is expected that both student's and parent's anxiety would be elevated in any type of emergency, but our staff did a wonderful job in helping minimize the worry that comes when unexpected situations like this occur." Todd said he fully expected that the gas issue will be fixed this afternoon and that school will be in session tomorrow at the high school. (JK)

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    The City of Fenton is contributing funds to The City of Escanaba to help in a legal dispute with a megastore over tax assessments. Fenton City Council on Tuesday voted to contribute $1,000 from their legal funds to alleviate costs Escanaba may incur throughout the process. The City of Escanaba and Menards Inc. are currently in a legal battle over the company’s use in evaluating company property within the city. Big box stores are using the value of older stores for their newer stores, which decreases tax revenue. Fenton is among 35 municipalities that contribute towards a fund that aids cases the Michigan Tax Tribunal would eventually oversee. The Michigan Tax Tribunal is a an administrative court that hears appeals relating to individual, property, and business tax matters involving taxes enforced by the Michigan Department of Treasury. The Supreme Court previously ruled in Escanaba’s favor, while sending the case down to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The goal is to arrive at a more reasonable value assessment for the taxing of big-box retailers.

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    A local legislator is looking to fix language in his proposed bill regarding pet stores and local government oversight, due to “confusing” wording that may have led to misinterpretations. State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township, a veterinarian of more than 40 years, recently proposed a pair of bills that would establish new pet store standards, while protecting them from ordinances passed at the local level he says could put them out of business. House Bills 5916 and 5917 address each issue respectively. But Vaupel says HB 5917 was originally written in a way that caused some confusion, prompting him to propose changes to its wording for better understanding. The bill first used the term “regulate” when stating local government could not enforce overbearing rules on pet stores, which some thought meant removing control from the overseeing body. Several groups, including the Michigan Humane Society and the ASPCA, had voiced opposition to the bill. Vaupel has since moved to amend the term to “arbitrarily ban” to indicate government does have control when regulating the business, but cannot simply ban pet stores. Vaupel says in amending the bill, he wants to make it clear that pet stores must abide by all zoning and nuisance ordinances in a community, as they are USDA licensed businesses that are inspected by the state’s Department of Agriculture and therefore subject to a municipality’s standards. Vaupel says his bills have been portrayed in a way that suggests the allowance of puppy mills, which he says “couldn’t be further from the truth.” The bills would in fact disallow puppy mills by requiring pet stores to obtain the animals from reputable places, in addition to having the necessary vaccinations, health certificates, and guarantee that they are free from genetic and congenital disease as far as a person can determine. Vaupel has said the issue is personal to him, considering his background and instances where he has seen animals not being treated the way they should. (DK)

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    A local artist has started an organization to help deliver books to sick children across the state. Brighton’s Michael Monroe is known nationally for his award-winning wildlife paintings, prints, and children’s book illustrations. Last week, he said he officially opened the non-profit Monroe Children’s Book Foundation. The artist, who has been donating books to hospitals for near a quarter-century already, said the idea came to him after dropping off a couple hundred books at Beaumont last December. Someone from the hospital posted the deed on Facebook, and then Monroe began to get inundated with calls from other hospitals and foster care facilities. To keep up with demand, he began the process of forming his Foundation. Monroe said he is going to concentrate on Michigan hospitals, first, a new one each month, and see where it goes from there. All the books are pre-approved by the hospitals to help make certain that they don’t send any wrong messages and are upbeat to help lift spirits. As an example, he shared that there are 52 children at Beaumont in long-term care for cancer, and each time they go through chemotherapy, they get a new book. He said all the work is worth it to put smiles on faces, and he is pushing hard to get more books out to the hospitals soon. Anybody wishing to donate to the Foundation can do so through the link below. (MK)

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    A police chase on I-96 ended in a rollover crash when the suspect in a prior hit and run accident attempted to evade authorities yet again. At approximately 3pm Wednesday, an officer from the Brighton Police Department was patrolling the parking lot of the Brighton Mall when he spotted a vehicle wanted in a felony hit and run accident that had occurred at eastbound I-96 and Pinckney Road just a few minutes prior. The officer attempted to stop the suspect, who was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe, but the suspect kept driving until he was slowed by traffic. The suspect then "flipped the officer off" and fled east on I-96. Michigan State Police assisted in the pursuit until the suspect crashed near east I-96 and Haggerty Road. The driver was transported to Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills. Police say heroin and other drugs are suspected to be factors in the incident. No officers were injured and there was no damage to any police vehicles. Picture courtesy of WXYZ.

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    City of Howell leaders came together to share visions for the future of the downtown area. Howell City Council, the Downtown Development Authority, and Howell Main Street, Inc. boards came together for a joint meeting at the Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday evening. DDA Director and Main Street Chief Operating Officer Cathleen Edgerly said this is a valuable way to get everyone on the same page. She said, “Now that have been named one of the top downtowns in the U.S., where do we go from here? All eyes are on us, and understandably so. People want to know what’s next.” The three boards spent 90 minutes sharing ideas on how to better make downtown Howell a destination for residents and visitors. Two areas focused on were the restaurant mix and the business mix. A survey conducted last fall showed that people were interested in more family-friendly, affordable, but quality restaurants. While many liked the variety of cuisine downtown, Mayor Nick Proctor questioned if the price point wasn’t beyond the city’s low-to-moderate income demographic. The business mix downtown was also considered, with the survey showing a demand for more youth based activity businesses, a bookstore, a deli, and a grocery store. Edgerly believed, as an example list of youth-based businesses was read, that Howell had or has had several of them, but perhaps they need to find a way to better help them. A disconnect between residents and the downtown that was brought up was also discussed. It was suggested that an aging population has seen Howell change over the years and doesn’t believe there is stuff for them downtown any longer. Mayor Proctor said that a lot of people may be clinging to the past, but the reality is that economics have changed. Trying to find ways of welcoming the older crowd back, while appealing to a younger generation so that the city continues to grow, is one of challenges officials will continue to tackle. An informal agreement to hold another joint session was made. It will likely take place in the fall, after the summer event season has concluded. (MK)

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    An annual celebration to help fund local cancer research will paint downtown Howell pink next month. The 10th annual Howell Pink Party will take over downtown Thursday, June 14th. President Diana Biermann tells WHMI the event is about supporting and celebrating breast cancer survivors while also providing exclusive giveaways and access to local retailers through the purchase of $25 passports. Women who purchase the passports in groups of eight or more will get personally escorted around town by one of the tuxedo-clad men who volunteer for the event. Various forms of entertainment including massage stations, belly dancing, Zumba, live musical entertainment and food and wine tasting are all part of the event, which will run from 5 to 10pm, ending with a Queen of the Night contest. Through the years, the Pink Party has raised approximately $200,000 for breast cancer services and research at the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center, which is an official partner of the event. Earlier this year funds raised by the event were able to purchase a Stereotactic Needle Biopsy System, which provides a more cost-effective and less invasive method for breast cancer screening. Details are available through the link below. (JK)

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    A World War I-era practice bomb was discovered in an Argentine Township lake by two girls as they played a diving game. 10-year-old Paige Burnett and 9-year-old Sage Menzies were pretending to be mermaids in Lobdell Lake, diving deep to search through the mucky lake bottom, when Paige said she felt something unusual. It turned out to be the tail end of the practice bomb. The girls and Sage's mother dragged the 3-foot-long mystery find from the murky water. Paige says they were excited at first, but then got worried. She says she was "so scared" it might explode. Argentine Township police Sgt. Douglas Fulton says the Michigan State Police's bomb squad came out and drilled a hole in it, but "nothing but mud came out." (JK)

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    A group of students at The Bridge Alternative High School in Brighton have completed a 10-hour course in workplace safety and safety-related employee rights. Some 16 Bridge Alternative High School students were presented with certificates for successfully completing a course in work place safety and employee rights at ceremonies Wednesday evening. The certificates, given to the 16 students who took the course, are earned through the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known commonly as OSHA. The ceremonies were held at the Brighton Education and Community Center, with about 50 students, parents and supporters in attendance. The Bridge Principal Colleen Deaven says that instructor Dan Bastien, who is certified by OSHA to teach courses in work place safety and procedures, offered to teach the 10-hour course at no cost in memory of son Daniel, a former Bridge student who passed away. Deaven says it is the first time the course has been offered in a high school setting in Michigan and the students were given one-half-hour class credit for passing the course. Next fall, a 30-hour OSHA course in work place safety will be offered to the Bridge students, again at no cost. Deaven says The Bridge is the perfect place to present the course, since the majority of its students either directly enter the work force, or enroll in a technical school, upon graduation from The Bridge. Commencement exercises for the 2017-18 graduating class will take place on June 12 at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts. The Bridge, with about 120 students, was named the Michigan Alternative Education Organization Alternative School of the Year in 2016. (TT)

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    A reclamation project aims to improve and restore the Island Lake State Recreation Area. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is proceeding with the project now that a mineral lease has been signed with Spring Mill Reclamation, LLC. The project site involves a 540-acre former gravel mine in the state park, south of the Spring Mill Pond in Green Oak Township. The site consists of a large, open area scattered with old spoil piles and mining debris. Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the 10-year lease will facilitate the restoration of the site’s native grassland habitat that will benefit grassland-dependent songbirds and other wildlife species. The project includes the removal of mining debris, sand and gravel to make way for the ultimate restoration of a mix of hilly and flat terrain, primarily planted for native prairie. Olson says the restoration project has been on the horizon since 2014 when they began looking into creative ways to fund the cleanup and enhancement at the rec area. As part of the transaction, the DNR also will acquire a gift of an approximately 155-acre land parcel that will expand the footprint of the Pinckney Recreation Area in Washtenaw County. The property – known as the Cunningham tract – is located on M-52 in Lyndon Township, north of Chelsea. That land will be used exclusively for the expansion and enhancement of outdoor recreation opportunities for park visitors. Both the reclamation project and new parcel of public land were made possible by the non-metallic minerals lease. Under the lease, it is anticipated that Spring Mill Reclamation, LLC will mine nearly 10 million tons of aggregate from the Island Lake site. In turn, the DNR is expected to receive royalty payments approaching $10 million – funds that will be deposited into the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund for use in creating and expanding future outdoor recreation options within the state. The lease will enable the DNR to reclaim a significant part of Island Lake State Recreation Area that once was a mining site and restore it to healthy grassland habitat that will attract a variety of wildlife and expand outdoor recreation opportunities. The possibility of a reclamation project initially was discussed at a July 2014 public meeting in Green Oak Township, and the mining permit was approved by the township at another public meeting in December 2015. After a request-for-proposal process, Spring Mill Reclamation, LLC received the lease. Photo: DNR - Island Lake Rec Area, former mining site. (JM)

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    Art in the Park is taking over downtown Pinkney once again, this weekend. The 28th Annual Art in Park kicks off the summer season of activities for the Pinckney-Putnam-Hamburg-Hell Chamber of Commerce this Saturday and Sunday. Over 100 fine artists and crafters will be on-hand to demonstrate their love of art and show off unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. The CAP Kid’s Fair, hosted by LACASA’s Child Abuse Prevention Council will take place on Livingston Street. There will be a petting farm, a magic show both days at noon, and free arts and crafts for kids. Children can also participate in a scavenger hunt for a chance to win a gift basket with prizes valued at over $200. For parents, LACASA will offer information on child safety and development, as well as area programs and services for families. The Putnam and Hamburg Fire Departments will be on South Howell Street with current and vintage fire trucks, a smoke house, and tours of the trucks. Adults 21 and up can visit the Eternity Brewing dining tent at the corner of Mill Street and Livingston. Entrance is free and beer is $5. Art in the Park begins at 10 am to 5pm both days.(MK)

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    Handy Township officials have approved a tax abatement that will help allow for the construction of a test track for autonomous vehicles. Aisin Holdings of America, an automotive supplier with a location in Handy Township, plans to add $5-million autonomous vehicle test track to the FT Techno of America facility at the Fowlerville Proving Grounds. At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees Thursday night, they asked for an Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate that they claim is critical for their ability to keep up with rapidly evolving technology. The IFT would reduce their taxes by 50% over the next 12 years. While approval and construction would only create 6 new jobs, Handy Township Supervisor Ed Alverson said there would still be several benefits for the township. He called FTTA an “excellent corporate citizen.” The supervisor said FTTA and Aisin have been excellent corporate citizens and have opened their facilities to emergency providers like fire and EMS, as well as to high school students learning to drive. He said unlike a production facility coming in with 200 new jobs, this isn’t a job-intensive expansion, but an investment intensive one. The track will fit neatly inside the existing large oval at the Proving Grounds and be set up specifically for driverless vehicle testing and research. Plans for the track include simulated highway on and off ramps, 4-way stops, a roundabout, and busy downtown intersection. The request was granted by a 4-1 vote, with Trustee Gordon Munsell dissenting. He questioned when the township starts recognizing new comers as full time residents, as FTTA has been in Handy Township since 2005. Aisin still needs approval from the state’s Tax Commission, but a representative said they are excited to break ground and have the track built by fall. (MK)

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    A weekend ceremony will honor the memory of a lifetime Howell resident. Morrie Coles was 99 when he was tragically killed in a car crash in October of 2017. The World War II veteran was a career employee of the U.S. Postal Service who also served 12 years on Howell City Council. During the last several decades of his life, Coles was said to have spent countless hours volunteering as a member of the Howell Beautification Committee. The garden at the Howell Boat Launch on Roosevelt Street became his pride and joy. Committee members say he not only established the location, but also tilled the ground, planted the flowers, did the weeding and watered the garden with pails of water dipped into the lake. In recognition, the City of Howell and the Beautification Committee will dedicate the garden in his memory with a ceremony on Sunday at 1pm. His family has invited anyone interested to attend and share in the celebration. (JK)

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    The search continues for a missing kayaker last seen near Dexter, while authorities say they’ve found the body of a man who jumped from a railroad bridge into the Huron River. The Washtenaw County sheriff's department says a person spotted what looked to be a body on Thursday night near the Argo Dam in Ann Arbor. Deputies responded and the sheriff's office said the body was that of 35-year-old Jason Yoder. The Ann Arbor resident had been missing since Wednesday. An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death, but MLive.com says authorities assume Yoder drowned in the river. He was reportedly walking with a friend on the railroad bridge near Argo Dam Wednesday morning when he jumped into the water. Yoder's friend saw him resurface but quickly lost sight of him while walking across the bridge to meet him on the other side. Divers failed to find his body Wednesday. Separately, a 36-year-old woman who was last seen putting a kayak in the water near Portage Lake Dam near Dexter on Thursday afternoon was reported missing. Deputies found her vehicle but not her kayak. That search is ongoing. (JK)

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    Libraries throughout Livingston County are encouraging community members of all ages to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Program. The free program, which runs from June through August, is offered by the Brighton, Fowlerville, Hamburg, Hartland, Howell and Pinckney libraries. Events for kids, teens and adults registered for the program are held throughout the summer to encourage continued reading and learning. Program participants can earn prizes by tracking their reading. This year’s theme is “Libraries Rock”, which will be interpreted in various ways by each library for the program’s different activities and incentives. Margaret Vergith, Youth Program Specialist at the Brighton District Library, says the Livingston Libraries’ Summer Reading Program provides a way for families to beat boredom, in addition to its educational benefits. Vergith says kids who continue to read, are read to or even listen to reading material throughout the summer stay on track until school begins in the fall, and can even gain ground. Anyone interested in joining the Summer Reading Program can register at their local library or online, where you’ll also find more information about the libraries’ scheduled activities and offerings. (DK)

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    Another full freeway closure is planned on westbound I-96 tonight, resulting in detours and possibly delays tonight in the Brighton area. The Michigan Department of Transportation advises that westbound I-96 will be closed at Kensington Road for the Pleasant Valley Road bridge construction. This is the second full closure to be scheduled during the project. Westbound I-96 will close starting at 11:00 tonight, lasting through 5am Saturday. Work to construct a new bridge is underway after it was significantly damaged last September by a flatbed semi hauling several boom lifts. The posted detour during tonight’s closure utilizes Kensington Road to Grand River to old US-23 to Spencer Road to westbound I-96. (JM)

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