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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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    Livingston County’s jobless rate held mostly steady from April to May. 73 of Michigan’s 83 counties recorded seasonal unemployment rate drops in May, with a median decline of seven-tenths of a percentage point. Livingston County’s unemployment rate stood at 2.8%. The rate decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from April to May, and Livingston County’s ranking improved to second among all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says total employment rose in all areas over the month, while workforce levels increased in most regions. Officials say as is typical for May, the primary labor market changes occurred in the state’s northern lower Michigan regions as hiring for the tourism season escalated. A monthly survey of employers indicated seasonally unadjusted payroll jobs in the state rose by 65,000 or 1.5% in May. Most job gains were said to be seasonal and led by increases in leisure and hospitality services. (JM)

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    The League of Women Voters of Ann Arbor Area, Brighton/ Howell unit are encouraging voters in Livingston County to prepare for the August Primary. The League is recommending Livingston County voters visit www.vote411.org. Officials say the website has a number of tools to help voters read and understand the candidates, as well as their response to the relevant issues. It will also help voters find their polling place, check voting hours, learn about ballot measures, and read tips about voting in Michigan. The League says that some communities are only represented by one party, and usually the winners of the primary in August will win the election in November so they encourage local voters to not skip the primary. (EO)

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    The Brighton City Council has approved a special land use permit and the final site plan for a historic home at 142 Brighton Lake Road that will be converted for commercial use. At its meeting Thursday night, council was told by property owner Dan Oginsky that he plans to restore the former home of the late City Council member Ricci Bandkau to honor Bandkau’s memory. But, rather than being used as a residence, the house will be converted for light office use – specifically his wife’s “Healing Arts” business, for his own office, and with room for a few other offices – possibly for non-profits. Oginsky says his working name for the house was “Warm Hearted Home”, but he now has decided to give it the formal name of “Brighton Light House”. Oginsky and his wife Anna purchased the 1860’s-era home from Don Bandkau, the surviving husband of Ricci Bandkau, in 2016. In addition to restoring the home to a 1920’s look and building an addition, Oginsky plans to raze the existing garage and erect an ornate carriage house in its place. The entire project is expected to cost about $1 million. Oginsky is also president of the North Manitou Light Keepers, an organization with the goal of restoring the automated shoal lighthouse off North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan. (TT)

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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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    The 34th Annual Michigan Challenge Balloonfest did crwona winner, although because of weather, it had to be done randomly. Cleary University hosted the pilots banquet Sunday morning where the pilots and their families got to enjoy breakfast. The Balloonfest committee drew the winners for this year's balloon competition as both competitive flights early Saturday and Sunday morning were canceled due to weather. There were 20 winners drawn and the prizes were cash prizes. Cash Prizes ranged from $50 to $1,000. The top three winners won prizes; Third $600, Second $800, and First Place winner Dave Seekell (pictured) won $1,000. (EO/JK)

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    The City of Brighton is hosting a chalk art event at the end of June. The conclusion to the Brighton Arts and Culture Commission’s The Story of US: Summer Performance Series held last summer will feature renowned Chalk artist, David Zinn where he will share his story of artistic discovery. Brighton Arts and Culture Commission member Brenda Ochodinicky says David Zinn is “Known for his street art and illustration locally and internationally, David brings his whimsical creatures to life.” Zinn participated in the grand opening of Hyne Alley in 2016 where more than 300 children and families attended the event. Although this event concludes last year’s The Story of Us: Summer Performance Series, it also serves as the kick off to a summer long collaborative art project that will allow people to share their stories throughout the summer. The event is taking place Saturday, June 30th beginning at 11am in Hyne Alley. That’s located between the Imagination Station and Main Street in Downtown Brighton. The event is free and open for the public to join. (EO)

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    Community members and NHL players hit home runs for a good cause at an event in Brighton. Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard held his first Howie’s Home Run Derby at the Legacy Center Friday. The event benefits the Jimmy Howard Foundation, which supports research of treatment and cures for disease including, but not limited to, cancer and arthritis. Those participating in the derby tried to hit as many home runs as possible, as the winner of each of the four age groups received two game tickets and a meet and greet with Howard. The winner of the 8-11 year old age group was 10-year-old Neko Hall of Howell with four home runs. Speaking to his winnings he says, “I’m very excited that my hard work paid off. I can now go see professional hockey players at the new arena.” Red Wings players Luke Glendening, Dylan Larkin, Danny Dekeyser, Luke Witkowski and Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks supported Howard by joining him at the derby. The players warmed up by hitting some baseballs themselves, then tried their hand at catching while participants took their swings. The idea to hold a home run derby benefit was dreamed up over a year ago, as Howard says he and his wife wanted to give back to the city that’s given so much to them. His foundation will work with children’s hospitals throughout the Detroit area and the Arthritis Foundation. Howard says the Arthritis Foundation has a special place in his heart, as his 20-year-old cousin with arthritis took his own life due to the pain he experienced. Howard feels no child or parent should have to suffer through those conditions and wants to help in any way he and his family can. (DK)

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    Road repairs could cause delays in the Village of Milford this week. The Village advises that contractors working on behalf of DTE Gas will be making repairs to the road surfaces near the intersection of Commerce Road and Summit Street. Crews will be repairing the road due to the recent gas line repairs/replacement work. The work will start this week, weather permitting. Since it will require intermittent lane closures, officials advise traffic backups may occur. Meanwhile, the Village advises that the majority of restoration work was completed last week for the Residential Paving Program. Officials say the remaining punch list items such as driveway patches, additional ditching, and irrigation repairs will be addressed over the next two weeks. (JM)

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    The Humane Society of Huron Valley is reportedly “bursting at the seams” following the rescue of more than 100 animals at a home in Salem Township. According to MLive.com, Animal Cruelty Investigators found 39 exotic cats with 20 kittens, 18 purebred dogs with 16 puppies, 14 chickens and an African Grey parrot living in what were described as “deplorable” conditions at the home last Wednesday including being forced to live among their own waste, slimy water bowls and a food bowl full of maggots. Other animals were confined in a basement with no ventilation. The owner, a self-described "hobby breeder," did not have a breeder or kennel license, nor were any of the animals licensed. Investigators said they will be seeking prosecution. That rescue of 108 animals came after another recent one involving 71 animals in Augusta Township May 25th. Because of those two rescues, the Humane Society of Huron Valley is encouraging people to adopt from their facility and is discounting adoption fees for a limited time. Adult cats are free, kittens are adopt-one-get-one-free and adoption fees for adult dogs are 50 percent off. A link for the HSHV website is below. (JK)

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    The pilot of a hot air balloon escaped injury when his balloon hit a power line near the beach area of Thompson Lake in the city of Howell this morning. The pilot was in a group of pilots who launched this morning on the last day of the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell. The balloon hit a live power line near the boat launch area at 7:40 a.m. and the balloon plunged into the lake. A number of people who were watching Balloonfest from the ground witnessed the incident. The pilot was pulled out of the water by two people in a fishing boat. According to Howell Fire Department Chief Andy Pless, the pilot, who has not yet been identified, was not injured. Livingston County EMS, the Howell Police Department and the Howell Area Fire Department all responded to the scene. When the balloon hit the power line it resulted in a power outage to the immediate neighborhood, knocking out power to about 40 customers. A DTE spokesman said the affected customers should have their power restored sometime this afternoon. The hot air balloon incident will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration - something which is considered routine. Picture courtesy of Scott Hable. (TT)

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    An investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration is expected after Sunday morning’s incident in which a hot-air balloon hit a power line near the beach area of Thompson Lake in Howell. The pilot was in a group of pilots for a morning launch on the last day of the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. A Facebook video posted by Brian Karrick II (link below) shows the balloon hit a live power line near the boat launch area at 7:40 a.m. A loud electrical buzzing was followed by flames appearing at the bottom of the balloon. A man on the video, presumably a member of the balloon's crew, is heard yelling for everyone to get back and then calling up to the pilot to see if he's injured. He then yelled for the pilot to, "put it in the water!" And the pilot, believed to be a Mason man, did just that, directing his crippled balloon to the waters of Thompson Lake, where he was pulled out by two people in a fishing boat. According to Howell Fire Department Chief Andy Pless, the pilot, who has not yet been identified, was not injured. Livingston County EMS, the Howell Police Department and the Howell Area Fire Department all responded to the scene. When the balloon hit the power line it resulted in a power outage to the immediate neighborhood, knocking out power to about 40 customers, which was later restored. (JK)

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    Northfield Township Police issued an advisory to residents and the community reminding them the courts will not notify anyone by text or email of an outstanding warrant. If an arrest warrant has been issued for someone, police say they will be notified by U.S mail and given the opportunity to turn themselves in to the jurisdiction holding the warrant. At no time will they be asked to wire money, or pay a bond or fine through the internet. Should someone get a call, text or email from someone representing themselves as an officer, officials say it’s important to know that no police department will ever contact someone to pay a fine over the phone or through western union. Police further advise to ignore any email or text advising someone they have a warrant, do not open the email, and never respond to any email or text questions. For those uncomfortable about the correspondence and think they may have an outstanding warrant, police advise contacting the court agency directly to clear up matters. (JM)

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    A motorcycle crash over the weekend has left a Highland Township man critically injured. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says the crash occurred at about 3:25 Saturday afternoon on eastbound M-59 east of Livingston Road. A preliminary investigation indicates that a 2014 GMC Sierra pickup truck was stopped in the median crossing waiting to turn left onto eastbound M-59. As a 2013 Suzuki 750 motorcycle traveling eastbound on M-59 approached, the pickup truck entered the left lane and was hit from behind by the motorcycle. Several witnesses stated that the motorcycle was speeding and driving in a reckless manner just prior to striking the truck. The 31-year-old motorcyclist, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to McLaren-Oakland Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and stabilized. He was then transferred to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where was last listed in critical condition. The pickup truck driver was not injured in the crash. Alcohol is believed to be a factor on behalf of the motorcycle operator, but the crash remains under investigation by the Crash Reconstruction Unit and Deputies from the Highland Substation. (JK)

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    A pavement rehabilitation and shoulder paving project is getting underway on D-19 in Marion Township. The project encompasses a stretch of D-19 from roughly Schafer to Triangle Lake Roads. Work was scheduled to get underway June 20th and traffic will be maintained under flag control, which will result in some delays and inconveniences for residents and motorists. Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine tells WHMI work got serious today with flag controlled traffic during daylight hours. The next three weeks will have several work elements underway and he asks that motorists follow the flagger’s directions and slow down please. There is about five weeks of work, which will be similar to the other projects that have been done on D-19. Old curbing will be replaced and the road will be paved. Craine says crews will mill existing asphalt, which is starting to crack, clean it up, do a series of leveling and applications of asphalt. He says they’ll be making the road a little bit wider by paving some of the shoulders, which everyone likes because it takes away from the wheel drop at the edge of the white line. Preliminary prep work will be done that involves the saw cutting of some existing materials at driveways to leave a clean edge. Craine says there’s a little asphalt curb now, which they’ll be setting back so it’s a bit easier for residents to safely get their mail. Even though D-19 is very busy road, Craine notes it’s a relatively low impact job since it’s basically just road work and doesn’t involve a lot of digging or trench work. If all goes as planned, the project should be wrapped up by the end of July. (JM)

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    Charges have been filed in the case of a loaded gun being left in a portable bathroom during a soccer match in Hamburg Township in April. A charge of Reckless/Heedless Use of a Firearm was filed against a 64-year-old Farmington man after his gun was found April 21st in a portable bathroom at the Merrill Soccer Field in Hamburg Township. Police said the father of a soccer player discovered a loaded Glock 23 .40-caliber handgun and called 911. A Hamburg Township officer responded and took possession of the weapon. The owner was then contacted while at his grandson’s birthday party in South Lyon. A police report noted that when the man realized he left it one the bathroom shelf, he “felt sick to his stomach.” The man picked up the gun from police later that evening. Police Chief Richard Duffany told WHMI that the owner of the handgun had a valid concealed pistol license. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. An arraignment is set for Wednesday in 53rd District Court. (JK)

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    A motion has been denied in the case against a driving instructor accused of raping one of his students at his home in Hartland Township. Rape charges were dismissed last September against 63-year-old Ningan Hu by Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty after the prosecution was unable to arrange for the alleged victim to testify. The female college student is a Chinese citizen who was attending school in Windsor, Ontario at that time of the 2016 incident. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says his office was attempting to obtain a special visa for her to return to the U.S. and testify when Judge Hatty refused to grant an adjournment and dismissed the case. An appeal of that ruling was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which this week denied a motion by Hu’s attorney to prevent certain issues being raised by the prosecution. Vailliencourt says the “Court simply held that the issues in the case should be decided as a part of a proper resolution of the merits, not on a procedural basis.” The rape charges were filed after police were dispatched to a gas station in Hartland Township on May 21st, 2016, where they found the 25-year-old woman who claimed Hu had plied her with alcohol until she was drunk and then sexually assaulted her at his home. She told police Hu was her driving instructor and that they had driven across the border into the United States so she could gain driving experience. Court records list a Windsor address for Hu, however the Hartland residence where the alleged assault reportedly occurred was also said to be his home. The case remains before the Court of Appeals, which has yet to schedule a date for oral arguments. (JK)

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    Two longtime members of the Howell Police Department are retiring. Mayoral proclamations were delivered to Sergeant Jeff Woods and Officer Darren Lockhart during Monday night’s Howell City Council meeting as they retire and move on to the next chapters in their lives. Both were presented with retirement badges after the proclamations were read aloud detailing their achievements and strengths and they were acknowledged by Council members. Police Chief George Basar told WHMI it was a day of transition as they’re losing two long term employees with over 50 years of combined institutional knowledge due to the retirements. At the same time, Basar says they’re welcoming Aaron Reynolds as a new patrol officer, who will start the chapter on the next 25 years. Reynolds was sworn in and presented with his official badge in a separate recognition during the meeting. Basar says Monday was his first day and they’re looking forward to him getting started. He says they currently have a second officer going through the background process at this time and are anticipating that officer will be able to come on board within the next 2-3 weeks. An impromptu recognition also happened during Monday night’s Council meeting. Livingston County Undersheriff Jeff Warder presented Howell Mayor Nick Proctor with a citizen’s award for his actions in assisting on the scene of a plane crash in January of 2017. A New York man luckily survived after his two-engine jet skidded off the runway at the Livingston County Airport, ripping off the wings, which then burst into flames. The pilot, who was the only one on board the plane at the time, was trapped inside the fuselage, which continued on across Tooley Road into a field. Proctor was on his way to a Howell Rotary meeting, which was being held at the EMS Center next to the airport, and as he approached Tooley Road, he saw a plane skidding off the runway into a field. He and two bystanders ran over and were able to safely pull the man out of the wreckage. Pictured top left to right: Chief Basar, Off. Lockhart and Sgt. Woods. (JM)

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    An opening on Hartland Schools’ Board of Education has been filled by a student parent who says she wants to continue down the positive path the district is on. A trustee seat on the board was left vacant when longtime member Kevin Kaszyca announced last month that he’d be leaving for personal reasons. Kaszyca served on the board for 13 years. Six candidates applied for the position, which Board President Thom Dumond says was both a blessing and a curse. Dumond was thrilled to have so much interest, but noted it was a hard decision, saying every one of the candidates was very much qualified and would’ve brought something significant to the board. Public interviews were held and the board voted at its Monday meeting to appoint Kristin Coleman to the seat. Coleman has been on Round Elementary School’s PTO for three years and this coming year will be her third as president. She says she’s frequently involved in district happenings as she has four sons going into third grade there. She says she frequently participates in school events and attends meetings for Hartland’s District Parent Advisory Committee, where she says she’s gained “quite a bit of perspective” from information shared by Superintendent Chuck Hughes. She hopes to bring to the board her experience in event planning, project management and organizational skills. As for her goals, she says she wants to continue down the positive path the district is on and continue community partnerships. Dumond says he was drawn to Coleman, having heard much praise regarding her contributions to the district, adding something he was also looking for among applicants was a desire to foster Hartland’s culture and that he saw that in Coleman. He and other board members reiterated how impressed they were with all of the candidates and encouraged them to continue to pursue involvement opportunities in the district. (DK)

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    The Hartland Cromaine District Library is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their summer music series, with five concerts still remaining for community members to attend. The series kicked off last week with the group “Just Around the Corner” and about 250 community members in attendance. Library Director Ceci Marlow says the library bought pizza and slices were free to anyone who brought a non-perishable food item to be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Four boxes were filled with food and $144 was raised for the nonprofit organization. The series’ next concert will be held tomorrow night and features “The Ragbirds”, who are expected to perform a combination of indie-pop melodies and global rhythms. Marlow says the concerts are family-friendly and include other entertainment for kids like crafts and face-painting, as well as popcorn and hot dogs. Three concerts are scheduled in July and the series wraps up with a final event August 1st. The concerts are held rain or shine on the library’s south lawn and begin at 7pm, though Marlow recommends getting there at 6:30pm to get a good seat. More information about the series can be found at the link below. (DK)

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    A new online and interactive Master Plan is being finalized for Livingston County. Since the start of 2017, The Livingston County Planning Department has been drafting a new Master Plan to take the place of the current plan they have been using since 2003. For the past year, the planning department has been gathering information from the public to start drafting a new plan. The Master Plan is being used to display county trends in demographics, land use, and is intended to help guide Livingston County to progress the quality of life for all residents. Director of Livingston County’s Planning Department Kathleen Kline-Hudson addressed The Board of Commissioners on Monday night regarding the new Master Plan. She described the new online format as easily accessible and interactive. The Board of Commissioners seemed very excited and confident that the new plan and format will be very effective. Once the board authorizes distribution of the draft plan, there will be 63 days for the public to comment on it. After all comments go into consideration, the plan will then be adopted and can be accessed through the Livingston County website. (DF)

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