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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 dispute over the tenancy of a Downtown Brighton storefront has been settled out of court, but not without some lingering resentment. Debbie Carley has operated Beverly Rae’s women’s clothing store for more than 25 years, the last eleven at 306 W. Main Street. But in February, her landlord, Patrick Tortora, filed suit to evict her after plans had been put forward for a coffeehouse and part-time theater in that location. Carley countersued, saying she had received a lease agreement via text until 2020 from Tortora and disputes any assertion that she was on a month-to-month lease. But both parties have since reached a settlement in the case, although Carley says she really didn’t feel as if she had a choice after her lawyer said that if they lost in court, she could be forced to move out, along with all of her inventory, immediately. She feels as if Tortora has not been truthful in the matter. Carley now has until August 1st to vacate the premises, but says Beverly Rae’s is not closing and she is working on a new space to lease. However, she says the fact that city council granted the permits necessary for the coffeehouse and theater space while she still had a lease, does not sit well with her, saying the city has "thrown her under the bus." Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer reacted to that statement, telling WHMI, “It is unfortunate to hear that, but the City does not get involved in private legal matters/disputes. Such matters, as advised by the City's Attorney, should not be a factor when processing an application submitted with the approval of the property owner.” She also had harsh words for Marcus and Amy Goller, who plan to move into the building and open the Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater. She maintains the couple “colluded” with Tortora to get her out of the building. Marcus Goller tells WHMI that he has never met nor talked to Carley, and that he and his wife simply responded to a ‘for lease’ sign. Anything else, he insists, is between Carley and Totora, but said he is glad there is a settlement. The Gollers plan to locate a full-time coffeehouse that could double as a theater space on the first floor and then use the second floor as a rehearsal space. (JK)

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    A local teen who had been the subject of a police search is now safe and back with family. Pinckney Police had been searching Wednesday night in the Pinckney State Recreation Area for a missing 15-year old boy. The teen had reportedly told his mother he planned to take a hike at about 5pm, but was thought to have suffered from depression and might be suicidal. The search began at around 9pm, but after extensive efforts that included help from Unadilla Township Police, a K-9 from the Brighton Police Department and helicopters from Survival Flight and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the search was concluded at around 3:30 this morning. Police say that prior to renewing the search this morning; the teen came home safe and sound. He was taken to an area hospital for an evaluation. Pinckney Police thanked all of the departments and agencies that participated in the search, including the Putnam, Unadilla and Dexter Township fire departments. (JK)

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    A benefit is being hosted to honor local high school senior’s dream after a tragic accident. Ryan Wismer is a Lakeland High School senior whose dream of becoming a school teacher was dealt a setback in June of 2017 when his parents Victoria and Randy were struck from behind by another vehicle as they rode on their motorcycle. Victoria was killed, while Ryan’s father was put in a coma for an extended period. The Knights of Columbus, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Council #7444 of Milford, and the councils of District 8 are hosting a benefit dinner called “Helping Ryan.” The dinner will consist of salad; roast beef, roast pork, baked and mashed potatoes, green beans and deserts. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. The event is being hosted on Saturday, June 16th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Hall, 1955 E. Commerce Road, in Milford. Tickets are $30 per person, and those interested must register before Monday, June 11th. Those who can't attend, but would like to donate to Ryan's cause are advised to send your checks to John Rogers at, 3101 Sands Ct., Milford, MI 48380. Make the checks payable to Knights of Columbus #7444, and earmark them Ryan's Dream. For tickets call John Rogers at 248-714-5353. (EO/JK)

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    A new program designed to help families on the brink of eviction stay in their homes has seen tremendous success. Two years ago in response to high rates of eviction both locally and nationally, a collaboration between community organizations, legal services, and the 53rd District Court led to the formation of the Livingston County Housing Stability Taskforce. The taskforce then created the Eviction Diversion Program, or EDP, to help homeowners and tenants-in-need. The EDP is designed to help low-income defendants that don’t have access to a lawyer. Participants in the program are matched up for no cost with a lawyer who can advise them and negotiate with landlords. Families will also be connected with social service agencies that can hook them up with financial and other helpful resources. With one full year under its belt, the program is showing that it gets results. According to data from Princeton researcher Matthew Desmond, who leads a project called Eviction Lab, Livingston County’s eviction rate stood at 10.5% from 2008 through 2012. During that period, approximately 1,000 families were evicted each year. Eviction Lab data from 2016, the year the EDP began and the most recent year that data is available for, reveals the county eviction rate has dropped under 1%. While parties contributing to the program are being careful about declaring it a total victory after just one year, they are encouraged by the foundation it’s laid to help break cycles of poverty and the negative effects of homelessness like adults losing jobs and children’s education being interrupted. (MK)

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    The city of Brighton has had a couple of recent revenue enhancements that have enabled the projected fund balance to expand by $345,000, which will give the city a new fund balance of $1.37 million, which is 16% of expenditures. According to auditors, that makes for a very healthy, though not excessive, fund equity. City Manager Nate Geinzer says that is due to unexpected new revenues, including $195,600 from personal property tax reimbursements from the state, $180,000 as a result of more-than-anticipated building permits and a $33,400 increase in state revenue sharing funds.) Geinzer says other revenues that were higher than anticipated include state revenue sharing and an increase in licenses and permits. The new budget year for the city starts on July 1, and council last month adopted a 2018-19 general fund budget of slightly over $9 million. (TT)

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    A study conducted by the Livingston County Health Department shows an increase in reported cases of domestic violence and child neglect or abuse for the first time since 2010. The Health Department completed its Community Health Status Assessment in June of 2015 and has since been releasing volumes of the assessment, each of which focuses on one health issue or group of issues at a time. Recently released were volumes 10 and 11, which speak to the issue of domestic violence and violent crimes in Livingston County. Reported cases of domestic violence and child abuse or neglect have risen in the county, with domestic violence increasing for the first time since 2010, while child abuse and neglect cases between 2014 and 2015 had the largest increase reported since 2010. Health Promotion Coordinator Chelsea Lantto says it’s unclear whether Livingston County’s numbers are due to an increase in incidents, or if they’re just being reported more frequently. She did, however, praise local domestic violence shelter LACASA for their work in aiding victims. The Health Department also assessed the number of reported incidents regarding four different types of violent crime: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery and rape. Despite the lower than average rates of all violent crime compared to the state of Michigan and U.S., Livingston County has a significantly higher proportion of the rape component at 34%, compared to the state at 11% and the country at 8%. Lantto says the Health Department’s goal in breaking down the 75-page Health Assessment is to provide understanding regarding health trends and what components affect them. Lantto says this is an important role everyone can play, adding, “Knowledge is power”. You can view the Health Assessment’s full publication at the link below. (DK)

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    The public is being advised of a confirmed case of Hepatitis A at a Fenton brewery. The Genesee County Health Department says guests who consumed food or drinks at Fenton Winery and Brewery, 1370 N. Long Lake Road on May 26th thru May 31st may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. The advisory does not include the retail portion of the winery/brewery business (bottled product). The business was notified by the health department that one of their former trainees may have been exposed to Hepatitis A. The brewery posted a statement on social media clarifying the employee was never involved in any kitchen or production duties. It says the case did not originate at the business and as of June 1st, there is zero risk at Fenton Winery & Brewery. The health department says vaccination can prevent illness if given within 14 days of exposure. It recommends anyone who visited the Fenton Winery & Brewery during the specified dates and has not been vaccinated for hepatitis A or who has a sudden onset of any symptoms should contact their health care provider. Michigan is currently experiencing a serious outbreak of hepatitis A. Genesee and Livingston Counties are included in the outbreak. (JM)

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    Livingston County drivers heading eastbound on I-96 this weekend will encounter lane closures on a stretch from M-52 to M-59. The Michigan Department of Transportation is resurfacing 11 miles of freeway through Livingston and Ingham counties. The $14 million resurfacing project will close the right lane of eastbound I-96 from M-52 near Webberville to M-59 in Howell Township as well as the Fowlerville entrance ramp to eastbound I-96 beginning at 9 pm tonight. This is the third of four planned weekend lane closures on an 11 mile stretch through Livingston County. The state has been working on the project since this past spring. MDOT wants to try and avoid hitting holidays and major events so that traffic can move more smoothly. MDOT advises drivers to seek alternate routes during this weekend’s closure. The closure of the ramp and right lane of eastbound I-96 is expected to wrap up on Monday, June 11th at 5 am. (EO/JK)

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    A Fowlerville man accused of assaulting police officers in an incident where he and a trooper were injured will undergo a competency evaluation. 35-year-old Robert McKee was referred to the state forensic center Wednesday for an evaluation to determine competency and criminal responsibility. He is facing two counts each of assault with a dangerous weapon and assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer. The charges stem from the April 29th incident, which began when a trooper from the Michigan State Police Brighton Post and an officer from the Fowlerville Police Department responded to a call involving a suicidal subject in Handy Township. When they arrived on scene, police say McKee had already injured himself with a knife and was hiding in the basement of the residence. Police say officers were able to make contact with him and call for an ambulance, but when they attempted to render aid, he became combative and moved towards them with the knife. The Fowlerville officer shot the man to stop the threat. One bullet ricocheted and struck the MSP trooper in the leg. The trooper was reported to be in good condition the day after the incident, while McKee was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital to be treated for his injuries. A follow-up hearing regarding the results of McKee’s evaluation has been scheduled for July 6th. (JM/DK)

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    Pinckney Community Schools’ officials say they’re looking forward to a boost in revenue for the coming year’s budget, but are still facing enrollment challenges. Proposed in Michigan’s 2019 budget is an increase in base K-12 funding, from $120 to $240 per student. The additional revenue was brought up at Pinckney’s Board of Education meeting Thursday as officials discussed the district’s 2018-2019 budget. Speaking to the additional funding, Superintendent Rick Todd says “everything helps”, especially as the district has only made its way out of a deficit within the last year. Still, the state’s effort to increase per student revenue is somewhat of a bittersweet situation for school districts like Pinckney, which has and still is battling declining enrollment. Todd says there are a variety of factors contributing to that problem, like a lack of affordable housing and therefore a decrease in incoming families, as well as the many quality school of choice options in Livingston County. The district is also up against natural attrition, as there are more students graduating than there are coming in. Todd says that’s a hit of about $1 million per year. At their most recent meeting, the board of education discussed various aspects of the district’s budget for the coming year. Last year’s budget reflected the district’s first step out of debt with a small, but no less victorious, $147,000 surplus in their fund balance. As this year’s budget has not yet received official approval, it’s unclear where the fund balance will stand. The board will review and discuss this year’s budget once more, before it returns for final approval June 28th. (DK)

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    A Livingston County Board of Commissioners subcommittee will vote on a resolution next week against the recreational use of marijuana. The resolution, which will be heard by the General Government and Health and Human Services Committee on Monday night, is aimed against an initiative on the November ballot allowing the personal possession and use of marijuana similar to other states like Colorado and California. Currently only marijuana use for medicinal purposes is allowed in Michigan. The resolution cites what it says is (quote) “significant evidence demonstrating that non-medical or recreational use of marijuana has a profoundly negative impact on our youth, particularly teenagers.” It goes on to detail statistics from Colorado that indicate a rise in school expulsions and marijuana-impaired driver related fatalities since that state legalized public use of the drug in 2014. The resolution then predicts that “increased consumption of marijuana would likely lead to higher public health and financial costs” while stating that “emergency room admissions for marijuana use now exceed those for heroin and are continuing to rise.” It ends by encouraging other entities to “oppose the recreational use of marijuana for general use including the adoption of similar resolutions in opposition to the general use of legalization of non-medical marijuana.” The ballot proposal, which limits open usage to residents ages 21 and over, would legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, while taxing its sale at 10% in addition to the state's 6% sales tax. (JK)

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    State Senator Joe Hune is calling for the resignation of embattled 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan, saying the charade must end. The Fowlerville Republican called for the resignation in a formal letter today, saying Brennan has been mired in controversy since 2013. An ongoing investigation into her professional and personal conduct has drawn criticism of Brennan’s behavior from constituents and local officials. Hune says he’s tired of the continual complaints that flood his office involving Brennan’s antics inside and outside of the courtroom. He says residents have been bullied far too long by Brennan and he’s beyond sick of it. Brennan is being investigated by Michigan State Police and the Judicial Tenure Commission following revelations of an admitted sexual relationship with MSP Detective Sean Furlong. Brennan presided over the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Furlong was the lead detective and chief prosecution witness. Brennan is also under scrutiny for potentially violating professional standards becoming of a judge, egregious misconduct from the bench and allegedly misappropriating public resources for personal gain. Former Livingston County Judge Daniel Burress recently filed a petition in circuit court to impanel a grand jury and appoint a special prosecutor in the matter. Hune says he hopes the ongoing investigations are proceeding with honesty and integrity, but the speed at which they are progressing is pathetic. He says the Judicial Tenure Commission’s sloth speed and veil of secrecy are further weakening the confidence citizens have in the judicial system – adding Brennan should simply do the right thing and step down. Should the Judicial Tenure Commission find wrongdoing in Brennan’s actions, they will make a recommendation for sanctions to the Michigan Supreme Court, which will decide on a penalty of censure, suspension or removal from office. (JM)

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    A “STEAM” program will soon be coming to Scranton Middle School in Brighton and no, it’s not a science program to learn about steam engines, the technology of the past. So, what is STEAM? The word, which is heard frequently these days in education circles, is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. It’s essentially the STEM program, with the addition of the arts. The Brighton Board of Education was given a presentation by Scranton representatives on the coming STEAM program at its meeting last week. According to Scranton Principal Mark Wilson, STEAM works to bridge the curriculum divide between courses of study and connect the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. It aims to result in high school and college graduates who can combine two or more academic disciplines to solve real-world problems. Wilson said the STEAM program will be phased in at Scranton over three years, beginning this fall. In the short term, the Scranton media center will be utilized to run the program. Two full time teachers will be assigned to run the program, including a media specialist and a media assistant. Wilson said the STEAM program will be phased into the curriculum and, at that point, they may launch a full STEAM Academy at Scranton. Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that making Scranton a STEAM Center will involve a complete re-branding of the school, its focus and its goals. Wilson agrees, saying that at the end of the three-year process Scranton will not merely be a school which offers STEAM activities but a full-fledged STEAM Center. When asked by Board Treasurer Bill Trombley whether the STEAM program just catered to the high achievers or would be all-inclusive, Wilson said it will be for all students across the achievement spectrum. In fact, Wilson said, studies have shown that it actually helps the lower achieving students more than those in the upper tier. He said kids at the middle and lower ends of the spectrum experience a greater level of academic growth than their higher-achieving peers, and typically exceed the expectations of school officials. Although the program will cost the district nothing in its first year, eventually it will have a cost figure attached - an amount yet to be determined. (TT)

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    A paving project in the Village of Milford is in the restoration phase. A residential paving program has been underway. Ditching work and road milling was done prior to paving work on various streets. The work required intermittent lane closures. Paving work was completed and restoration is currently underway, along with irrigation repairs and final ditching operations. Village officials advise that restoration work will continue into next week and the contractor is expected to be on site to complete the work starting on Monday. All work is weather permitting. (JM)

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    A Stockbridge man and Williamston man charged with sexual assault case have entered a plea in their case. 27-year-old Vincent Albert Gentilozzi of Williamston and 33-year-old Jon McClain Martin of Stockbridge were originally charged with 1st degree criminal sexual assault and furnishing alcohol to a minor for an incident in 2015 involving a teenage girl. Court records show that the pair recently entered a no contest plea to a single count of felonious assault in exchange for the other counts being dropped. They’ll be sentenced August 1st. Both men rejected a plea deal earlier this year and were set for trial on the criminal sexual conduct charges this Monday. Authorities originally received a report in March of 2015 that a 17-year-old female had been sexually assaulted by two men in Stockbridge Township. The case has been languishing in Ingham County Circuit Court for nearly two years with various motions, delays and adjournments. (JK)

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    CSX Railroad will be performing much needed maintenance on a railroad crossing in the City of Brighton starting Monday. The work will be a complete reconstruction of the crossing. In order to perform the work, CSX will be closing Brighton Lake Road at the crossing in both directions. The closure is scheduled to begin Monday morning and continue through Friday, weather permitting. The maintenance work is said to be much needed and Brighton DPW Director Marcel Goch tells WHMI it’s anticipated the railroad crossing should re-open by Saturday, June 16th. He says last year, CSX performed work at the Main Street railroad crossing and that took roughly one week before it re-opened. He says this is basically the next road down from that CSX Railroad and kind of a main thoroughfare coming south of town so he advises motorists pay attention to posted detours. He says Monday was determined to be the best start time because after July there are a lot of events downtown, and coupled with the construction on Second Street set to begin June 18th, and other work continuing on Challis Road, everything would only get busier. Goch says the City is taking every effort to ensure the closure will cause the least amount of traffic disruption as possible. (JM/JK)

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    The Hamburg Township Police Department is advising the community about solicitors. The department says it recently received multiple questions and complaints regarding solicitors going door to door, noting Hamburg Township does have an ordinance which regulates the activities of solicitors. All solicitors are required to obtain a permit from the police department before conducting any activities within the township, except peddlers for charitable or religious organizations licensed by the State of Michigan or US government. Upon obtaining the permit, solicitors are issued an identification badge by the police department, which must be displayed on their outer garment in a manner which is visible to residents. Solicitors are only permitted to conduct their business during daylight hours between sunrise and sunset. Anyone who believes a solicitor is in violation of township ordinance, is misrepresenting themselves or the product they are selling or is otherwise acting improperly, such as being overly aggressive in their sales pitch, should contact Livingston County Central Dispatch and request that an officer be sent to investigate, as they could be issued a citation and/or have their permit revoked. A link to the full text of Ordinance 37-B is provided. (JM)

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    Green Oak Township will hold two spring clean-up days for residents Father’s Day weekend. The events will take place from 9am to 3pm Friday, June 15th, and Saturday, June 16th. The township will accept items like stoves, yard waste, automotive batteries and office equipment, which will be loaded into dumpsters by volunteers. Hazardous waste and paint will not be accepted, and non-commercial tires to be dumped are limited to five per person. Items that cannot be loaded into trash containers by one person or items requiring a title from the State of Michigan will not be accepted either. Residents are entitled to one load, unless other arrangements are made with the township, and must bring their postcard and proof of residency. The drop-off events will take place at a new location this year, 11620 Whitmore Lake Road, and will be held rain or shine. More information about acceptable items, event location and volunteering can be found at the attachments below. (DK)

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    Considering the rainy weather, the number of entries held up at the annual Brighton Optimists Club Fishing Derby, held Saturday at the Brighton Mill Pond. It was the 32nd annual derby, making it the longest-running children’s fishing derby in the state. According to Optimists Club Past President Butch Pleiness, 130 kids from the Brighton area took part in the event. Jennifer Hiller, an administrator at Scranton Middle School in Brighton, entered her two children in the fishing derby and tells WHMI that the annual event is beneficial for a lot of reasons. She says among them are engaging in an outdoor activity, getting close to nature and exposure to other kids in a social setting. The first, second and third place finishers in each category took home trophies, and all participants got a free T-shirt and pizza for their efforts. All the kids had to do was supply their own fishing gear and a bucket to hold the fish, although loaner fishing poles were also available. (TT) Photo: Pierce Pettengill and a fishing companion, courtesy of Renee Pettengill.

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    At its meeting last week the Brighton City Council approved the 2018-19 fee schedule, with most fees staying the same, a few going up and a couple down. For instance, while trash collection fees will go up, the rental registration delinquency, for those who own a rental home, will go down. City Manager Nate Geinzer says refuse collection will go up 80 cents a month, from $15.21 to $16.01 per month. A few residents have complained that there was a time when trash collection was provided to residents at no cost, but for the past several years the city has charged for garbage collection, saying it can no longer afford to absorb the cost of covering its contract with its trash hauler, Waste Management. With the new amphitheater under construction and replacing the gazebo, the city has enacted charges for rental of the facility once the project is completed. Amphitheater rental will be $100 an hour in 4-hour blocks for city residents and $150 per hour for non-residents. For the full list of fees to be charged in the new fiscal year starting July 1st, go to brightoncity.org, scroll to the packet for the June 7th City Council meeting and click on the 2018-19 fee schedule. (TT)

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