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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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    Sentence has been handed down to an Oakland County woman in connection to a fatal traffic crash. 18-year-old Sophia Buttazzoni of Commerce Township was a passenger in the car driven by Jordan Watson of Howell the night of October 9th, 2016 when he drove into two Waterford Township homes, killing one of the other passengers in the vehicle. In April she pleaded no contest in Oakland County Circuit Court to two counts of allowing an intoxicated individual to drive a motor vehicle causing serious injury. In exchange, the more serious count of allowing an intoxicated individual to drive a motor vehicle causing death was dismissed. In court Wednesday, Buttazzoni was ordered to spend a year in the Oakland County Jail with the balance of her sentence suspended after 183 days at which point she must serve 500 hours of community service and five years of probation. Police say the car in question belonged to her father, but she had legal control over it that night and is accused of knowingly allowing Watson to drive while he was intoxicated. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.32% at the time of the crash, four times the legal driving limit. Watson earlier pleaded no contest to 2nd degree murder for the death of 19-year-old Gage Remsberg of Highland Township, who died from his injuries two months after the crash. Watson was ordered to spend between 19-and-a-half years and 50 years in prison. (JK)

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    Volunteers are needed for an organization that takes to skies to assist during times of trouble. The Civil Air Patrol was formed during World War II and has spent more than 75 years as an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. During of moments of crisis like natural disasters, or when family members or friends are missing, the CAP is often called on to do aerial reconnaissance and perform search and rescue operations. Now, their local affiliate, the Livingston Composite Squadron, is actively seeking senior and youth cadet recruits. No flying experience is necessary as the CAP will provide all the training and learning materials needed. Those wishing to join are required to attend 3 consecutive meetings of the Livingston Composite Squadron to ensure this is something they are interested in. Volunteers will wear the United States Air Force uniform, participate in basic drills, and receive military training. Continuous aerospace education will take part at weekly meetings. A physical training test is required where hopefuls will have to complete a mile within a certain time limit and perform a predetermined number of pushups based on varying factors. Application fees are $45 per year for youths, $65 for seniors. The Civil Air Patrol’s Livingston Composite Squadron meets at the National Guard’s Howell Armory every Tuesday, from 6pm until 8:30. More information can be found on their Facebook page through the link below. (Photo- Livingston County Civil Air Patrol Facebook) (MK)

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    Some residents have voiced concerns over plans for a proposed sober living home in the City of Howell. Courtney Atsalakis purchased the home on 304 South Walnut Street with plans to convert it into a sober living home. The Amber Reineck House would be named in honor of her sister, who passed away in 2015 after overdosing on heroin. Atsalakis submitted a Special Land Use application, which was needed as she intended to house up to eight residents. But after a June 10th open house at the property, the application was withdrawn, as several neighbors voiced concerns regarding the project. The law firm representing Atsalakis says there have even been social media comments and posts personally attacking her. In an email to the city, the firm says Atsalakis “wants to make all efforts to be a good neighbor and member of the Howell community”. As a result of the backlash, she decided to reduce the number of women that would reside at the home to a limit of six. A public hearing on the matter was set for the city’s Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, but was cancelled because the application had been withdrawn. However several neighbors opposing the project still attended. Arnie Rubin, who lives on West Washington Street, told commissioners four families within a block of the house have put their home up for sale and three of those homes have sold. Amanda Myers, who lives three doors down from the property, feels a multi-residential area would be better suited for a recovery home. Myers says, "None of our neighbors are against recovery...We know that there's issues and we believe something needs to be done about it, but not in a single-family residential neighborhood" where they've invested so much into their historic homes. The Amber Reineck House would be operated and administered by the Home of New Vision. John Reiser is one of the organization’s board members, as well as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Washtenaw County, who frequently handles drug-related cases. Reiser supports the Amber Reineck House, having seen firsthand the extensive impact drugs can have. Atsalakis says there is a stigma attached to those in recovery as many don’t understand addiction is not a choice, but a disease. Speaking to neighbors' concerns, Reiser says, "People don’t go into a sober living house or recovery house until they’ve been through the treatment, until they are appropriate for living in a community with people who are supportive and an experienced person in recovery who can help foster them into that sober living environment." Under current zoning, the Amber Reineck House would be allowed to operate without a special use permit so long as the home is limited to six residents. The law firm representing Atsalakis has asked to be notified should the city take the position that a permit would still be necessary. City officials have said the issue will likely return for discussion at a later meeting. (DK)

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    A last second call prompted Green Oak officials to pass on purchasing foreclosed property they were considering buying. Green Oak Township Treasurer Susan Daugherty said during the Board of Trustee’s meeting Wednesday night that a conversation with County Treasurer Jennifer Nash spurred the decision to take no action on the property at 9150 Spicer Road. The property was previously foreclosed for tax delinquencies. The Township had to step in and spend nearly $20,000 to demolish a dangerous building that the previous owner, Nelson Rasmussen, had failed to do as required by the Dangerous Building Order and the Order of the Livingston County Circuit Court. The county had already reimbursed Green Oak Township for the taxes and officials were set to purchase the parcel for the minimum bid of roughly $8,600. Daugherty said Nash told her she was confident she could find buyers for that plot along with several others in the county and recommended passing on the purchase right now. If Nash can sell the Spicer Road property along with 18 others for a total of $109,000 between them then no chargebacks to the municipalities would be incurred. Daugherty said that if Nash doesn’t get the $109,000 from the 18 parcels, then the township would be charged back, but most likely at a price smaller than the $8,600 current price tag. Several board members shared an opinion during a discussion period that they were happy to not have to buy and deal with the property, as it has swampland across one portion of it and trees that need to be cleared in another.(MK)

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    The community is invited out to celebration in honor of cancer survivors and tour of a local facility fighting the disease. The St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer is inviting the community out for a National Cancer Survivors Month celebration on Tuesday, June 26th, from 5pm to 7pm. Attendees will the opportunity to honor the strength and courage of cancer survivors, as well remember loved ones who have passed. After a short program, a blessing of new space, and a ribbon cutting by the Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, those in attendance can take a tour of the Radiation Oncology unit. There, a new Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator will be unveiled. Beth Lavasseur, Executive Director of Oncology for the St. Joseph Mercy Health System, said the accelerator is replacing an older unit and will allow for additional treatments to be done in Brighton that previously would have required patients to drive to Ann Arbor to receive. Lavaaseur said the machine is capable of delivering very highly precise beams of radiation to tumor cells. By doing so, it spares the normal tissue from radiation exposure and reduces side effects while having a better outcome at killing cancer cells. Also on the tour will be a stop by the Infusion Center where patients receive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Medical experts, clinical research nurses, social workers, and chaplains who specialize in caring for patients with cancer will all be at the event to talk and answer questions attendees may have. The Cancer Center is located at 7575 Grand River Avenue, in Brighton. (MK)

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    Lane, ramp and rest area closures are planned on US-23 in Livingston County tonight. The Michigan Department of Transportation says a lane closure is scheduled tonight on northbound US-23 from approximately N. Territorial Road to M-36 starting at 8pm, lasting through 7am Friday. A lane closure is also planned on southbound US-23 from approximately Barker Road to M-14 that will be in effect from 7pm tonight through 5am. As for ramp closures, the northbound US-23 ramp to 6 Mile will be closed from 9pm tonight through 7am. The southbound US-23 ramp to 6 Mile will also close from 7pm tonight to 5am. A rest area closure is also scheduled. M-DOT advises the southbound US-23 Rest Area will be closed from 8pm Friday to 8am Saturday. (JM)

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    The Green Oak Township Planning Commission has approved a site plan for a new landscape supply center. Corrigan Environmental Wood Solutions will provide supplies for the public but anticipates selling more to those in need of wholesale bulk when they open up for business off of Whitmore Lake Road in Green Oak. Planning Commission Chairman Lamberto Smigliani believes the business won’t negatively impact the area. Corrigan is re-purposing the existing industrial site that formerly had an asphalt facility located there. The business plans on building a processing facility to create mulch and grind wood. Originally, owners wanted to run composting onsite which would require a special use permit, but have since withdrawn that request. The Planning Commission was concerned about possible soil contamination from the previous owner. Corrigan representatives seemed eager to work with the township and have testing done. Any abnormalities in the soil and they will work with the Department of Environmental Quality to address them. The Planning Commission approved the site plan unanimously at their regular meeting Thursday night. Smigliani said he believes they will be a nice addition to the community and that it is nice to see a former industrial site that wasn’t viable turn into something that was. (MK)

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    A public meeting has been set to discuss elements of a new veterans assisted living home in Green Oak Township. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has plans to turn the former Maxey School for Boys site, near Leman Road and M-36, into a senior living home for veterans. Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles supported the idea, which he stated called for 128 beds and a clubhouse, during the Board of Trustees regular meeting Wednesday night. Because it’s a state owned property, St. Charles said no site plan would come through the township. The project is being funded through a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Home Grant Program. The MVAA is holding a public meeting to gather input on potential environmental impacts on the area being developed, as well as suggestions to mitigate any that may come up. That meeting will be held at the Hamburg Township Library, this coming Wednesday, from 5:30pm until 7:30pm. A brief presentation will take place at 6, with the public then having an opportunity to provide spoken or written comment regarding construction and operation impact. (MK)

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    The Brighton city Council Thursday night authorized taking up to $150,000 from the utilities reserve fund for emergency repairs to a sewer line on Rickett Road. The sewer line serves an industrial area consisting of five businesses. City Wastewater Superintendent Corey Brooks tells WHMI that the aging sewer line, built in 1939, ruptured last week and since that time DPW crews have had to empty the sewage twice a day. Some 350 feet of Rickett will have to be torn up in order to address the problem since the sewer line runs directly underneath the road. The city will take bids on the project next Wednesday and will award the bid on June 29th. The work will then be done as soon as possible. The funds to pay for the work will be taken from the city’s utility reserve fund. City Utilities Director Tim Krugh says it will not be necessary to take money from the general fund for the project, and that’s the very reason why the reserve fund is there. Krugh says although there are some aging sewer and water lines in the city - and there is the possibility that could affect the city’s utility reserve fund - 70% of the utility lines built in the late 1930’s have been replaced in recent years. (TT)

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    A Hamburg Township woman was hit by a car in the parking lot of a grocery store. The 70-year-old woman was said to be in stable condition after being struck by a Ford Focus, driven by a 66-year-old Gregory woman, in the parking lot of the Hamburg Kroger off M-36 shortly before 9am Thursday. Authorities said the woman was walking in the parking lot when she was hit by the driver who was pulling into a parking spot near the front of the store. The woman was pinned underneath the Focus and trapped by her hips. The Hamburg Township Fire Department responded and freed the woman by lifting the car using air bags. The victim suffered a leg injury and was hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery. The Gregory woman was not injured. Hamburg Township Police and Livingston County EMS assisted on scene. Drugs or alcohol are not believed to be factors. Photo: Google Street View.(JM)

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    A local grassroots organization is calling on 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop to return a campaign donation from a company that operates immigration detention centers. In a press release Thursday, Indivisible Livingston stated Congressman Mike Bishop’s campaign committee, “Mike Bishop for Congress”, received a $7,000 donation from The Geo Group Inc.’s Political Action Committee. The campaign committee reportedly received $6,000 in 2016 and $1,000 in 2018. The Geo Group works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to operate detention centers holding immigrants. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.14 percent Wednesday, the Geo Group saw their stocks increase by 1.79 percent. Indivisible Livingston says the company is profiteering from the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order halting the practice. Indivisible Livingston Leader Gretchen Hertz says, “The separation of children and toddlers from their parents is immoral and un-American, and we expect more out of our Congressman. We call on Mike Bishop to immediately return these contributions and personally and forcibly condemn the brutal confinement of children in cages away from their loved ones. Americans are better than this.” Chris Smith, a Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District says, "Mike Bishop's belated statement about the desirability of keeping families together is not an adequate response to the harms being inflicted on children at the border. With respect to the specific injustice of separating families and the hundreds of children still kept away from their parents, the problem is not 'hyper-partisanship' as Bishop claims. The problem is a specific, harmful decision by the Trump administration and the unwillingness of Bishop and his GOP colleagues to carry out the constitutional role of Congress in being a check against the president. Words mean little right now. Bishop needs to take action. Returning PAC money from those who profit from the abusive treatment of children and families would be a small step to show he is doing more than merely saying the words that his advisers tell him to say." Bishop Campaign Spokesperson Stu Sandler responded to say, “As a father of three, Mike Bishop is on record stating he believes families should stay together while their cases are pending. Mike Bishop has also worked closely with his colleagues, as part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, to work on immigration reform that would secure the border, close loopholes, and defund sanctuary cities. Indivisible Lansing and Democrats Elissa Slotkin and Chris Smith support making Lansing a sanctuary city and other extreme measures that would make our borders less secure. Geo Group runs hundreds of facilities around the nation including rehabilitation centers, and youth and family services. They give to Democrats and Republicans and gave $10,000 to Nancy Pelosi’s DCCC in December 2017 before the DCCC gave Elissa Slotkin $2,500 in January 2018.” A request for comment to Slotkin’s campaign has so far gone unreturned. (DK)

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    The Salvation Army’s popular summer meal program is back in full swing and is in need of donations to help ensure no child goes hungry.The Summer Lunch Bunch serves area families who may need a little help with providing food for their children now that school is out. Over the next 10 weeks, the program will be running at 6 different sites on different days across Livingston County. There is no income requirement, fee, or waiting list. On top of a healthy meal being served, the kids will also be able to take part in special activities at each site. Last week, for example, Howell firefighters read to children in attendance. They also schedule special field trips to local farms throughout the summer. Last year, the Summer Lunch Bunch served over 36,000 meals to children; a 10,000 meal increase over the year prior. The Salvation Army expects the number served to be similar this year. As such, the Salvation Army of Livingston County is in need of monetary donations to support the program. Donations can be dropped off at their office at 503 Lake Street in Howell, or donated online at SalvationArmyLivingston.org. For a list of times and locations of events, check out the Salvation Army Summer Lunch Bunch on Facebook. More information and volunteer opportunities can be found by contacting Darlene Howard at (517) 546-4750 ext 347, or by emailing Darlene_Howard@Usc.SalvationArmy.org.(MK)

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    Officials say a power outage that affected thousands of Linden and Fenton Township residents was caused by a squirrel. Approximately 2,885 Consumers Energy customers were without electricity Wednesday, with the outage reaching from Owen Road near Linden, north to Lahring Road in Fenton Township. Consumers Energy Spokesperson Debra Dodd tells WHMI that outage was caused by a squirrel that had gotten into the substation at Mill and Main Streets in Linden, creating damage that caused a fuse to blow. Dodd reports repairs to the substation have since been made and power was restored around 1:20pm that afternoon. No information was available regarding the physical condition of the squirrel. (DK)

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    The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education is poised to adopt the 2018/2019 budget. The board will take action on an amended budget during Monday night’s board meeting. Superintendent Greg Gray says they’re putting more than $1 (m) million into fund equity, bringing it close to the $5 (m) million range. That’s a huge change from where the district was at nine years ago and one of the largest amount of fund equity the district has ever had. Gray tells WHMI the board will also take up the proposed budget for 2018/2019, which will further increase fund equity. He says they’re looking to add about another $1 (m) million to fund equity at the end of the 2018/2019 school year, while investing heavily into positions throughout the district from new science curriculum, coaches, elementary school counselors and other pieces that were not previously part of the budget. Gray says they’re pretty excited about the 2018/2019 budget as well as what was accomplished in the 2017/2018 budget but also really proud of how far the districts has come. He says it used to take eight months to do the budget and there was a lot of pain involved. He says the district was double digits in deficit 7, 8, 9 years ago so to switch around to a projected almost $6 (m) million in fund equity at the end of 2018/2019, is a pretty dramatic turnaround. Gray says they also received recognition from a company that looks at the fiscal health of a district. Brighton was previously rated the worst at “10” but this year finally received a “1”, which is the best. Gray says it’s been a long hard process and a lot of people have worked really hard, so they’re pretty proud of the fiscal health of the district. Gray says the district’s fund equity will end up close to $5.5 or $6 (m) million at the end of the 2018/2019 budget year. Gray says the biggest challenge currently is to dream up new programming and challenge themselves to increase already great test scores. He says they remain focused on work being done in the classrooms and making sure kids get what they need. The budget must be adopted by June 30th. The Board of Education meets Monday night at 7pm in the BECC building. (JM)

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    The approximately 17,000-square foot building is being built behind the existing fire station on Whitmore Lake Road, west of US-23. Green Oak Police Chief Jason Pless says he spoke with the Construction Manager earlier this week and he feels that the project is on target to be completed sometime late this fall. Pless says they are currently working towards getting the building somewhat “weather tight” so they can begin the rough finishes on the interior of the building. Preparation is also underway for asphalt paving and other site improvements that should occur sometime in July. Pless reports the main municipal water line has been brought to the site and is undergoing initial testing right now before it is tied into the building. Installation of the metal roof is expected to occur soon, which Pless says “will make the building easily identifiable as our Police Station”. Township officials have said the facility is a long time coming, as the current police station is “severely outdated”. The approximately $6 million dollar project is being funded through a combination of bonds and township general fund money. $1.5 million will come from the general fund, while $4.5 million will come from bonds that will be paid off over the next 20 years. (DK) Photos courtesy of Green Oak Police Department Facebook page.

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    A local student is the recipient of a large college scholarship earned through his dedication to robotics. Owen Poloski is a 2018 graduate of Charyl Stockwell Prepatory Academy in Brighton. Poloski, has been awarded a $25,000 FIRST Robotics Scholarship in addition to a merit scholarship from Kettering University in Flint. Poloski was a member of the CSPA Gems robotics teams all four years of high school. During that time he worked as an operator and driver of the robot, along with being the lead student for the mechanical and robot design team. On top of that, Poloski served as spokesperson for the team and as a mentor and drive coach for the CSPA middle school team. His plans now involve pursuing a mechanical engineering degree from Kettering. During his time in college, he expects to alternate his time between taking classes and interning at Bosch, where he will work on autonomous vehicles. (MK)

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    The City of Brighton is accepting applications for the Brighton Arts and Culture Commission. The commission is a five member team that is tasked with supporting fine arts, performing arts, crafts, and culture. The commission also maintains and promotes the city’s outdoor sculpture exhibits and conducts creative placement projects. Anyone interested must be a resident of the City of Brighton and currently have resided in the city for at least two years. The deadline to send letters of interest is by the close of business on Friday, July 20th. You can send your letter to skopekb@brightoncity.org and the subject line should specify BACC Application. (EO)

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    Whether a quick after work hike or a slow meander with family and friends, community members are encouraged to utilize a new trail at the Island Lake State Recreation Area. The Trillium Ridge Loop is a one mile trail that traverses the top and bottom of the ridge overlooking Kent Lake between the beach and the Hickory Shelter. It offers the combination of a mild hike along the top of the ridge, and a moderate hike as the trail follows the shore. Officials say the shoreline section can be narrow, wet, and is often slanted, making the hike a bit more challenging. The shoreline section is part of the original routing of the Hickory Ridge Trail, while the higher section is the new alternate route of that trail. A temporary sign went up Wednesday evening, with a permanent one to follow. Officials say uniquely colored trail markers will be up in a few weeks, but for now users should follow the white Hickory Ridge Trail markers. The top route has a few of the markers accented in green, while the lower section has blue accents. The trail was built by volunteers, with leadership from the Friends of Island Lake, the Crossroads Group Sierra Club, and the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program. (JM)

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    The Whitmore Lake community is gearing up for a bevy of 4th of July related festivities. The Red, White & Blue Color Run will kick things off on Saturday, June 30th at Whitmore Lake Middle School on Main Street, featuring a 5K and a 10K race. Registration can be done prior or on the day of the race. Proceeds will go toward scholarships for graduating seniors from Whitmore Lake High School. Music by the lake across from the post office will be provided from 7 to 10pm Saturday, to entertain crowds waiting for the fireworks to begin. A patriotic fireworks display will be set off from the center of the lake beginning at dusk. The show is solely funded through generous community donations and put on by the Whitmore Lake 4th of July Fireworks Committee. Then on Wednesday, July 4th, the annual Independence Day Parade sponsored by Kiwanis Club is planned along Main Street featuring a patriotic and festive display of fire trucks, floats and decorated bicycles. The parade will begin at 10am on Barker Road, proceed south onto Main Street and end at the Public Safety Building. Various family activities will follow the parade including a free root beer float social at noon at the Northfield Township Community Center, and a banana split eating contest at 3pm. The 4th of July festivities will wrap up with the Parade of Lights, a parade of lighted boats. Those wishing to enter are encouraged to decorate their boat with festive lights and line up at Mac's Marina at 9:30pm. Complete details about all of the 4th of July activities in Whitmore Lake are available through the provided link. (JM)

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    Four area municipalities will receive funding for various projects designed to add to Michigan’s regional trail system and improve walking, biking and safety while promoting connectivity. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments or SEMCOG awarded $13 (m) million in Transportation Alternatives Program or TAP funding and more than $900,000 in Planning Assistance Program funding, which is new this year. The projects selected for funding all require a 20% local match, as federal funds are involved. SEMCOG’s new Planning Assistance Program provides funding for three categories that include traffic safety, road asset management and multi-community planning. Under the latter, Highland Township and the City of Wixom will receive $50,000 each. Wixom will get funds to develop a plan to identify action-ready green infrastructure projects for the seven communities of the Norton Creek Watershed of the Huron River to address flooding and other issues. Highland Township is working with six neighboring communities to plan and coordinate demand-response bus service to serve the elderly as well as those with mental or physical disabilities. The City of Chelsea was awarded $40,000 for traffic safety planning to conduct a road safety audit at the busy intersection of Freer Road and Dexter-Chelsea Road. SEMCOG Plan Implementation Manager Kevin Vettraino tells WHMI there’s a lot of activity and different converging going on at the T-intersection, which is also part of the future Border to Border Trail extension. He says there’s a lot of bicyclists and pedestrians but also a railroad and school nearby so the community wants to get an assessment of what options are available to improve the safety of the intersection. The cities of Wixom and Dexter will receive Transportation Alternatives Program or TAP funding, which goes toward projects that aim to improve pedestrian safety and connectivity, as well as encourage students in grades K-8 to walk or bike to school. Wixom will be developing the MI Air Line Trail, which involves constructing a 5.5-mile 10-foot wide path for walkers and bicyclists along the Grand Trunk western railroad from roughly Haggerty Road to Wixom. That’s a larger project that M-DOT is also contributing another $1.6 (m) million toward. Vettraino says it’s exciting because when that’s done, it will connect two major trail systems through the City and serve as a connection between the West Bloomfield Trail and the Huron Valley Trail. It’s also part of the Great Lake to Lake Trail. In the City of Dexter, $313,693 will go toward a shared use path and boardwalk extension of the popular Mill Creek Trail. Vettraino says the trail will be extended one mile to the south and connect to Wylie Elementary and Mill Creek Middle School. The funds are being awarded to communities that really wouldn’t be able to fund the projects without the assistance. Vettraino says in many cases, especially on the planning end, projects aren’t done because of tight budgets. He says hopefully with the funding, some of the planning projects can lead into implementation projects. Vettraino says they were excited by the number of good applications that came in and it was a good opportunity to provide the funding, noting communities had some really good shovel ready projects while others had really given some thought to planning projects they want to undertake. (JM)

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