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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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    Community members still have time to get involved with their local library’s summer reading program and to take part in various events for every age group. In early June, Livingston County libraries kicked off their summer reading programs, offering incentives to promote reading throughout the summer. Participants track their reading hours to earn prizes and grand prize drawings will be held at the program’s concluding ceremony August 18th. Library officials say it’s critical to keeping kids on track while school is out, and may even put them ahead when school resumes. Anyone interested in signing up for the reading program can do so at their local library. Hartland Cromaine District Library Director Ceci Marlow says they still have spots open in their program and encourages interested parties to sign up even if they’re wait-listed, as participants sometimes drop out throughout the summer. Marlow reminds there are also a number of happenings for every age that combine education with fun. She tells WHMI they plan to reflect the library’s summer reading program theme, “Libraries Rock”, by offering courses that explore geology, rock jewelry, healing stones and crystals, songwriting and the guitar. You can find more information about the program and summer events at the link below. (DK)

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    A trial is set later this month for a New Hudson man charged with the severe beating of his girlfriend’s infant son. 23-year-old Seth Blumberg is charged with assault with intent to murder and 1st degree child abuse in the death of the child. Police began investigating after the child’s mother brought the infant to the hospital March 29th when she noticed bruising on the child had become more pronounced over the course of a week. An Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy testified Blumberg admitted trying to kill the infant, including trying to choke him, so he could spend more time with the child’s mother. The child’s mother said she dated Blumberg for about a month before moving into a two-bedroom apartment with him and his step-brother on March 1st. She testified there were numerous occasions when Blumberg was being too rough with the infant, including picking the child up by his head. Blumberg remains jailed under a $500,000 cash bond pending a July 18th motion hearing in which his attorney is seeking to exclude his statements to police from being used at his trial, which is set for July 30th. If convicted, Blumberg could face up to life in prison. At the time of his arrest, Blumberg was on probation from a 2016 guilty plea to charges of possessing child sexually abusive material and two counts of criminal sexual conduct involving someone ages 13-15. (JK)

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    The ground has been turned to start the process that will result in Livingston County getting a new state-of-the-art 911 Central Dispatch facility. County officials and members of the public safety community gathered this morning in the parking lot of the current 911 center off of South Highlander Way in Howell for an official groundbreaking. The facility, expected to cost $6.5 (m) million, will be built directly behind the current building and parking lot, and the old building will be demolished once operations are moved. That facility was constructed in the late 1970’s as a district court that was later converted into a 911 center. Project planning has been ongoing since the beginning of 2015 according to Livingston County 911 Director Chad Chewning. He says once completed next year, this facility will serve their needs for decades to come. The new 12,000 square foot building will be able to sustain a hit from an EF3 tornado along with several high wind occurrences, allowing staff to continue functioning during severe weather. The plan is to have construction completed around July of 2019. Pictured from left to right; Donald Parker, Chair of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Dennis Dolan, EMS Director Jeff Boyd, County Administrator Ken Hinton, 911 Director Chad Chewning, Commissioner Carol Griffith and 911 Deputy Director Joni Harvey.

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    A local nonprofit that provides comprehensive services for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault has purchased land for a planned move to an as-yet built facility. LACASA Center, which currently operates at a facility on W. Grand River Ave. in Howell Township, recently bought a 25-acre parcel of land off of Tooley Road across from the county’s EMS Center, which officials say will serve as the location for an expanded facility that will serve their needs far into the future. The property was purchased for approximately $500,000. LACASA President & CEO Bobette Schrandt tells WHMI that the agency’s current building, constructed in 2002 following a community capital campaign, has grown too small for their needs. Schrandt says that agency, along with its Crisis Shelter, have experienced severe space shortages over the last few years. The organization recently received approval for a modular office to sit in its parking lot so as to help alleviate the space demands. “Our services and programs have continued to expand based on community need. The number of shelter residents and agency clients have continued to increase,” Schrandt said. “Our staff has tripled in size over the last 10 years, and growth in every area of our organization has exceeded the space needed for us to operate efficiently and effectively.” While a definitive timeline has yet to be established, Schrandt recently told the Howell Township Planning Commission that they are hoping to have the new facility built and occupied within three years. She tells WHMI that a more definitive announcement with full details is expected this fall. The Livingston Area Council Against Spousal Abuse (L.A.C.A.S.A.) was formed in 1979 with $40 in donations, utilizing a single desk in borrowed office space. In 1981, it was officially established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, providing advocacy services for domestic violence victims and their children. Following a community capital campaign, they moved into their current facility in 2002. Officials say that as the nonprofit expanded services to include services for victims of child abuse and sexual assault, the original name no longer accurately represented the organization’s range of services. In 2012, the agency officially changed its name to LACASA. Picture courtesy of Google Street View.(JK)

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    A home in the City of Linden is being demolished to make way for a parking lot. The Linden City Council met June 25th and voted unanimously to contribute to the demolition of the structure at 114 Walmar Street, which will allow for a parking lot to be constructed. The property totals around 1.4 acres. The Tri-County Times reports the Linden Downtown Development Authority bought the property in October 2017 for $180,000 and previously asked council to assist with demolition costs. Council agreed to split the cost and approved a motion authorizing up to 50% but not to exceed $7,500 toward demolition. More parking in general is said to be needed in the area and the City has been in talks with the current resident about vacating the property. No timeline for the demolition work was given. (JM)

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    Livingston County residents are encouraged to celebrate safely this 4th of July holiday period. In 2011, a state law went into effect allowing the sale of larger fireworks that were previously banned. It permits fireworks to be discharged the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday. Fireworks can only be discharged on a person’s private property, so use of public, school, church, or anyone else’s property is prohibited without permission. The Cities of Howell and Brighton as well as the Villages of Pinckney and Fowlerville all have ordinances on the books prohibiting the discharge of fireworks outside of the holidays specifically included in the law. Fireworks complaints should be directed to local police agencies, although enforcement can be tricky due to noise and actually witnessing an incident. Any packaged firework marked as a 1.4g is legal for sale in Michigan. However, Brighton Fire Chief Mike O’Brian says many complaints are actually tied to people using illegal fireworks. He tells WHMI the general rule of thumb is that if you’re shooting fireworks from your property, then it must land on your property. O’Brian notes there are certain time frames to abide by for those who choose to discharge fireworks but it’s also important to keep safe distances from structures and have water sources handy. Overall, he says overall advice is to leave fireworks to the professionals and enjoy local displays. On Wednesday, Fowlerville will host its annual parade and fireworks. The parade starts promptly at 7pm with the fireworks starting at approximately 10:15pm. For those seeking a quieter Fourth of July experience, the MDNR and the Michigan Veterans Affairs are again promoting Fireworks-Free Fourth of July at several state parks. It offers Veterans, pet owners and other visitors the opportunity to camp farther away from traditional community firework displays July 2nd through 6th. Locally, the Brighton State Recreation Area and Bishop Lake Campground is participating. (JM)

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    Two new school resource officer positions will be implemented in South Lyon Community Schools. The board met Monday night and unanimously approved contracts with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, which operates a Lyon Township substation and will provide the three deputies. A contract for a resource officer at South Lyon East High School was renewed while two new contracts were approved for resource officers at South Lyon High School, as well as Millennium and Centennial Middle Schools. The two middle schools will be covered by one deputy. Deputies will be in the schools and at different events to interact with students during the school year, which is 40 weeks. Once school is out, then the deputies would be utilized throughout the township for a number of things. Board members agreed the yearlong contract is beneficial for a number of reasons as deputies would be available for additional enforcements but could also step up community policing efforts or alcohol or tobacco stings. Substation Commander/Lieutenant Mark Venus tells WHMI it’s a great partnership, everyone works well together and it will benefit for every community involved. With all of the incidents happening across the country, he says there are benefits to having officers around for children’s safety. He adds it’s also good for the kids because they get to know the officer, which makes them friendlier to officers outside of the school setting. Venus says there were incidents at the middle school level last year. He says it being a stepping stone to the high school and considering the amount of students between the two schools, Venus thinks the district just felt it was time for an officer to be there as well. The cost of each contract is roughly $135,000 and will be being split between Lyon Township, the City of South Lyon, Salem Township and the school district. (JM)

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    A motorcyclist was hospitalized following a Monday morning crash in Putnam Township. Deputies with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the intersection of M-36 and Pingree Road around 9:30am for a personal injury crash. The intersection remained closed for approximately three hours for investigation. Preliminary investigation revealed that a 36-year-old Gregory resident was operating a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan southbound on Pingree when he failed to stop at the stop sign. The Gregory resident turned left into the westbound lane to avoid a vehicle in the eastbound lane and struck a 1995 Yamaha motorcycle traveling westbound. The operator of the motorcycle was identified as a 41-year-old Howell resident, who was transported to the University of Michigan Hospital by Stockbridge Ambulance service with life threatening injuries. The Howell resident was not wearing a helmet. The Sheriff’s Office says speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors in the accident. Deputies were assisted at the scene by personnel from Stockbridge Ambulance, Hamburg Township Police, the Putnam Township Fire Department, and Michigan State Police. The crash remains under investigation by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Bureau. (JM)

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    The results of a recent study conducted for the Silver Lake Corridor in Fenton were presented to city council on Monday night. The City of Fenton hired traffic engineer Pete LaMourie earlier this winter to conduct a study of the roadway conditions between Silver Parkway and Leroy Street. Within the corridor there are seven major intersections that produce heavy traffic during peak hours. The study was used to help determine the most effective ways to address roadway and traffic signal concerns. LaMourie addressed city council regarding his findings. Two major concerns were addressed. The simpler of the issues involves improving signal timing at several intersections to improve traffic flow. LaMourie said with the help of the Genesee County Road Commission he could see the signal timing being adjusted within the next month. The other improvement involves extending several left hand turn lanes. Extending the lanes could take place over the course of the next 5-10 years. The next steps involve LaMourie working along with M-DOT and the Road Commission to move forward with the improvements and discuss funding options. (DF/JK)

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    A Milford man is heading to prison for trafficking in stolen goods and defrauding the IRS. 60-year-old Viorel Pricop was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Detroit to 26 months in jail and ordered to repay nearly $502,000 in restitution following his guilty plea to one count of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property and one count of Aiding or Assisting the Preparation of a False Return. From 2010 through 2014 Pricop earned a substantial income as the owner of Twin Twisters Trucking and Good Time, LLC in Milford, which he failed to report on his tax returns. Officials say Pricop and his wife, Mihaela, engaged in the trafficking of stolen goods, using the proceeds to buy cars and real estate. The activity came to light in February of 2015 when a Michigan State Police Trooper responded to the Storage King on Grand River in Wixom to locate a load of stolen Bose stereos from New Mexico. A trucking company had installed tracking devices in the load and informed police. Pricop admitted the equipment in the storage unit was stolen as well as another unit that contained electronic, clothing and household goods. Three days later, he fled with his family to Canada, the same day a search warrant was executed at his home in Milford and a large pole barn on property off Rowe Road near North Milford Road. The two searches reportedly yielded nearly 60 pounds of marijuana and more than $1 (m) million in merchandise, including a red Ferrari and silver Mercedes Benz. Pricop voluntarily returned to the U.S. to face trial, while his wife, who was also indicted in the scheme, has reportedly since fled to Romania. (JK)

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    Community members are coming together to assist a local family whose home was destroyed by fire last week. Brighton firefighters were called out just after 7pm last Friday to a report of a home on fire on Chilson Meadows Lane in Genoa Township. Chief Mike O’Brian says the fire had a significant head start because it was well advanced by the time they arrived on the scene just minutes later. Fortunately the 8-member VanderPlas Family wasn’t home at the time, but the family did lose a cat, while two others survived. However, the home was a total loss, which relative say left them with, “only the clothes on their back.” They have since organized a GoFundMe page to assist the family, which has three girls in college and three boys still in elementary, middle and high school. The goal is $10,000 with the stated purpose of helping them during, “the long difficult process working with the insurance company and rebuilding their home and all they have lost.” You’ll find that link below. (JK)

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    Free child car seat checks are being offered through a local fire department. Over 80% of child seats are said to be used incorrectly. The Lyon Township Fire Department says residents can bring their child and have their seat inspected by a certified Child Passenger Safety technician. Inspections are performed once a month at the department’s Fire Station #1, located at 58800 Grand River. Car seats must be installed prior to inspections and corrections, if needed, will be made at the time of the inspection. The car seat checks are offered free of charge but anyone interested needs to schedule an appointment by calling 248-486-3775. (JM)

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    Despite some construction, free concerts are still taking place in downtown Brighton as part of a popular summer series. The Brighton Kiwanis Millpond Concert Series is now in its 42nd year. The series will be taking place in a new location due to current construction of the Millpond Bandshell and Amphitheater project that includes replacing the existing pavilion with a new bandshell, stage and seating. The concerts will take place on Sundays in July and August in the parking lot of Brighton City Hall near the Imagination Station playground. Concerts start at 6:30pm and run until 9pm. All of the shows are free and open to the public. The summer line-up will kick off this Sunday with The Dale Hicks Band. A pre-show will feature Frank McCoil. The complete summer line-up is available through the link. Facebook photo. (JM)

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    Temporary stop signs have been installed at an intersection in Fenton after a suspected drunk driver destroyed a large traffic pole. A suspected drunk driver struck the traffic light and pole at the intersection of Rounds Drive and Shiawassee Avenue around 3:15am Sunday. The Tri-County Times reports the man was traveling eastbound on Owen Road/Shiawassee Avenue. The road curves at the traffic light but the driver, a 24-year-old Sterling Heights man, is said to have steered directly into the pole. The man fled the scene but was located in a nearby neighborhood. He had sustained injuries in the crash and was transported to a hospital. The results of a blood draw are pending. The Genesee County Road Commission will be installing a temporary traffic light while a new specialty pole is ordered. Fenton’s Department of Public Works has since installed stop signs at the intersection, which will be treated as a four-way stop. Officials are working to get a temporary pole and signal installed as soon as possible, hopefully next week. (JM)

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    A scale model of a national memorial honoring veterans will be making its way to Howell this August. The Wall That Heals is a ¾ size height and width recreation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Made of the same synthetic granite, Avonite, it carries all of the names, the same reflective quality, the 120 degree angle, and even the mistakes of the original in our nation’s capital. When it arrives in Howell, from August 23rd through the 26th at the Livingston County Airport, visitors will be able to feel the names as they can on the original and even take a rubbing home. Also as part of the experience will be the presence of the Mobile Education Center. This travelling museum carries on display thousands of artifacts from soldiers and loved ones of soldiers as articles of remembrance. Tim Tetz, Director of Outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said there will be 2 6-foot monitors on-site as well. One monitor will dedicated to showing the names and photos of everyone from Livingston County and the 6 surrounding counties that are on the Wall. The other will honor those who went to war and came back, but died from illnesses and injuries from their service and chose Michigan as their home of record. As part of the organization responsible for both the Wall That Heals and the original memorial, Tetz said they ask the hosts of the Wall to have 100 to 120 volunteers available. This includes helping with set up, tear down, and assuring that it is manned 24-hours a day while on display. As such, the local host, the Livingston County Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans 125 is in need of volunteers. For more information on the Wall, visit the link below. To help volunteer, visit http://www.dav125.com. (Photo - thewallthatheals.org) (MK)

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    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is putting out the call for stewardship volunteers in the coming weeks at state parks. The DNR is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help restore and maintain fragile, native ecosystems in more than twenty state parks across southern Michigan. Volunteer stewardship workdays are taking place at a handful of state parks throughout July. Volunteers will pull invasive plants like spotted knapweed and sweet clover from prairies and dunes. They’ll also cut invasive shrubs like honeysuckle and buckthorn from wet mesic flatwoods to restore balance to high-quality natural areas. Locally, workdays are planned at the Island lake State Recreation Area on Saturday, July 7th and 21st; the Brighton Recreation Area on Sunday, July 8th and 22nd; the Pinckney Recreation Area on Saturday, July 28th and at the Highland Recreation Area, also on July 28th. More information about the volunteer stewardship workdays is available through the link. (JM)

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    Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that he will review the Michigan State Police investigation into 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. Schuette today informed Michigan State Police that at the end of their investigation into allegations of impropriety by Judge Brennan, his Criminal Division will review the evidence to determine if there were criminal wrongdoings by the judge. Spokesperson Andrea Bitley says Michigan State Police has an open and ongoing investigation, which started in January of this year. Schuette has provided support through search warrants. When that’s complete, the information will come directly to Attorney General Schuette. Bitley tells WHMI upon review of the investigation, if there are criminal wrong doings, then they will determine what potential charges are available and move forward from there. Bitely says they wanted to make sure there is no delay or question about the end of the investigation. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt has recused himself because he is in direct contact with Judge Brennan on many open cases locally. Therefore, she says it would be inappropriate for him to be charging and investigating a sitting judge in his county, which could potentially affect cases down the road for him. Bitely says the department of attorney general has stepped in and will be taking the case from Michigan State Police upon completion of the investigation. Meanwhile, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has extended the deadline for Brennan to respond to a formal complaint against her. The complaint filed last month against Brennan alleges various counts involving what the commission called, “a pattern of improper conduct” regarding her failure to disclose various personal relationships and disqualify herself in several key cases. The complaint was filed June 12th and required Brennan to offer a written response to the allegations within two weeks. However, the JTC has extended that deadline indefinitely. Lynn Helland, the JTC’s Executive Director, tells WHMI that while he was not at liberty to say why the deadline had been extended, there was, “nothing unusual in this.” The heart of the complaint alleges that Brennan did not disclose the full extent and nature of her relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Sean Furlong during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which she presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Furlong was the chief prosecution witness as he took Kowalski’s confession, which has since been disputed as coerced. While Brennan and Furlong admit an affair, they claim it began after the trial. However, testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce seemingly dispute that and indicate it began long before the trial. The JTC has requested that the Michigan Supreme Court appoint a master in relation to the formal proceeding. A hearing won’t be set until after the judge’s response to the allegations is filed. (JM)

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    A major hydroponics supplier is opening up a distribution center in New Hudson. Hydrofarm is a California-based manufacturer of hydroponic equipment and growing supplies. They have recently moved into a 128,000 square foot facility on Research Drive in New Hudson, according to the South Lyon Herald. This location will serve as a distribution facility for shipping their product to retailers in Michigan, and surrounding states in the Midwest. With 150 businesses that use their product in Michigan-alone, Joe Zdesar, Hydrofarm’s Midwest sales manager, said that a warehouse here was necessary. New Hudson was appealing to the company because of their central proximity to Detroit, Lansing, and Flint. While Zdesar said that there is an increasing interest in urban farming, it’s more because of Michigan’s medical marijuana laws that their business has picked up here. Zdesar expects it grow even greater if the ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use passes on November 6th. (MK)

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    An annual garden show-off extravaganza is hitting a milestone anniversary and raising funds for victims of child abuse and interpersonal violence. The LACASA Center’s 20th annual Garden Tour Weekend is coming July 14th and 15th. 10 gardens across Livingston County have been chosen for this year’s event. The tour runs from 9am until 4pm each day. Money raised during the event helps LACASA’s efforts in providing resources and shelter to abuse victims in Livingston County and beyond. One of the key stops on this year’s Garden Tour is at their LACASA Connection boutique in Howell. There, attendees will find refreshments, goodie bags, children’s art, and a historic display for the 20th anniversary of the event. Also in honor of the anniversary is a luxury bus tour. On it, attendees will be taken on a guided tour of all 10 gardens with LACASA President Bobette Schrandt. A special lunch will be provided. Returning favorites are the Blooming Raffle, Quilt Raffle, and the popular scavenger hunt. For that, clues and answers will be scattered throughout each of the gardens, with a prize drawing for those who complete it at the end. Tickets to the tour are $20 in advance, $25 day-of at the gardens. The bus tour is $70 and seating is limited. Tickets can be purchased at the LACASA Collection, by calling the LACASA Center at 517-548-1350, or by visiting the link below. (MK)

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    A 55-year-old man was hospitalized after a near-drowning at Camp Dearborn in Milford Township. State Police were summoned to the campground off of General Motors Road Wednesday for a medical call at about 1:15pm. A beachgoer reportedly pulled the man from the water after he had suffered a heart attack and when troopers arrived they found a civilian performing chest compressions. They then used an automated external defibrillator, or AED, to help resuscitate the man. Once they were able to obtain a pulse, he was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Camp Dearborn is owned and operated by the city of Dearborn Recreation & Parks Department. The Detroit News reports that state police and the city of Dearborn entered into a memorandum of understanding for troopers to provide law enforcement services at the camp during the 2018 summer season. (JK)

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