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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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    On June 29th, a sinkhole developed on Rickett Road in Brighton that resulted in temporary closure of the northbound lane and necessitated a detour through a south side neighborhood. That’s just a couple hundred feet down Rickett from where a sewer line earlier ruptured. City officials fear that these types of scenarios may occur more frequently in the future due to an aging infrastructure. The sinkhole and collapsed sewer line are supposed to be repaired in the coming week at a cost of around $200,000. The funds used to pay for the work will come from the city’s utility reserve fund. City Manager Nate Geinzer tells WHMI that many of the sewer and water lines in the city date back to the late 1930’s. But Geinzer says the city can’t address the aging sewer and water line problems until the deteriorating condition of the streets is addressed with a comprehensive repair and resurfacing program. Geinzer says many city streets need resurfacing, and those on the northwest side of town don’t even have curb and gutter. Voters will have a chance to express themselves at the ballot box and decide whether to approve an override of the Headlee Amendment, which would allow the city to levy the full amount authorized under the city charter. The override question will be on the August 7th primary election ballot. For those not registered to vote, the last chance to register at city hall for the primary election is Monday (July 9). (TT)

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    At the Brighton City Council meeting Thursday night, a Brighton resident asked council who was paying for the over $2 million in improvements that are being made to Second St. David Bogden, who resides on N. Second, asked at call-to-the-public whether new residents who would be moving in would be required to help pay for the project, if the proposed, 200-unit luxury apartment complex comes in on the banks of the Mill Pond. City Manager Nate Geinzer says the Downtown Development Authority is paying for the cost of the new street and sidewalks, while the city is paying for the new sewer and water lines through the utility fund. However, he tells WHMI that while residents’ tax dollars are not paying for the improvements, existing and new residents will be paying into the city’s utility fund via connection and rate fees –and therefore indirectly helping pay for the upgrades. The base project, costing an estimated $2 mllion, will include complete reconstruction of the street from First St. to Cross St., replacement of water and sewer lines and new curb and gutter. The DDA is paying for the entire $930,000 cost of street reconstruction. Replacement of the utilities at a cost of $1.26 million will be covered by the city’s utility reserves fund. The reason for the Second St. project, which got underway in June, is the deteriorating condition of a street, aging and inadequate sewer and water lines and two major construction projects. Already approved are the 15-unit Second Street Flats condominiums, and a huge potential project involves a proposed $35 million, 200-unit luxury townhouse development between the Mill Pond and Second St. However, a site plan has not yet been submitted to the city by the developer, DTN Development Group of Lansing. (TT)

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    A new temporary community space is opening up in downtown Howell this week and is being billed as the first of its kind to make its debut in the United States. After representing Howell and the State of Michigan at the International Placemaking Conference in Amsterdam, Howell Main Street staff brought back a unique temporary roll-out green space with them. This Pop-Up space was created in response to the community’s request to have more public green space where families felt comfortable playing, eating, and just enjoying the downtown. The carpet will be rolled out for its debut in front of the County Courthouse tomorrow for Food Truck Tuesday attendees from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Following the food trucks, the community is invited for a Soulshine Yoga Gentle Flow class on the carpet Wednesday, July 11th at 9:30 a.m. The July debut will then wrap up with the Pop-Up Park set-up on State Street the evening of July 11th for Rock the Block. As a community crowd-funded project that kicked off last winter, the Pop-Up Parks project was designed to create temporary, fun and flexible mobile community gathering spaces that move throughout the downtown district. Businesses and community members all provided matching funds to bring this community space to downtown Howell. Donors include: Patrick Financial Group, L.L.C. of Brighton, Steelcase, Uptown Coffeehouse, Livingston County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, First Impression Print & Marketing, Steve Bearden and Gwen Haggerty-Bearden, Country Lane Flower Shop, Catherine Daniels, and other individual donors. (JK)

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    Oceola Township has renewed its commitment to the partnership between the Livingston County Economic Development Council and Ann Arbor SPARK. Ann Arbor SPARK Vice President for Business Development Phil Santer, and Director of Business Development in Livingston County Marcia Gebarowki, delivered a presentation to the Oceola Board of Trustees, Thursday night. Due to an oversight, Oceola Township didn’t sign into a new 3-year contract with SPARK last year, but paid for their support anyway. Gebarowski updated Oceola officials on how their work of helping businesses prosper has been going, and where they see the future taking them. She said that while in the past, much of what they have done is to attract businesses to the region, now they are in a place where they can spend more of their efforts reinforcing those businesses. With an aging workforce in the area, a big priority has been to train new talent and work with existing talent to raise their skill sets. Gebarowski said they are also expanding Manufacturing Day in the schools. This year they are opening it up to all 11th and 12th grade students in each of the county’s 5 school districts. For it students will have a chance to go on a field trip to an advanced manufacturing facility and observe a day in the life there. Oceola Supervisor Bill Bamber said following the presentation, that while there isn’t a large industrial presence in the township, they do have residents that need work, and those residents need a place to live. The Board of Trustees was unanimously in favor of signing a 2-year contract to continue with services. This year they will offer roughly $10,500, with next year seeing a 1.2% increase. (MK)

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    The Fenton Area Public Schools superintendent has received a very favorable evaluation. The Board of Education took action in late June on Superintendent Adam Hartley’s evaluation. The board voted unanimously in approving an evaluation rating of “highly effective”, with three members absent. Hartley came on board as the district’s “lead learner” on July 1st, 2016. The Tri-County Times reports the evaluation was conducted over the course of different meetings and ratings from each board member were compiled. There were six components to the evaluation: visionary leadership, policy and governance, instructional leadership, community and community relations, organizational management, professional and ethics, and student growth. Board President Keith Reynolds commented that the evaluation combined with student growth data resulted in Hartley’s highly effective rating, saying everyone agrees he’s doing a great job. Hartley said the rating reflects the hard work their team has done and the collective work they do as a school district. However, he says the rating also means he has a lot of work ahead as they strive for excellence every day. Photo: FAPS. (JM)

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    An exhibit created by some of the state’s top artists will go on public display in Livingston County starting this weekend. Called, “Michigan Scapes,” the exhibit opens this Friday, July 13th at 6pm at the Secunda Museum at Cleary University in Genoa Township. Original artwork depicting the natural beauty of Michigan will be on display through Thursday, August 2. Hosted by the Brighton Art Guild, "Michigan Scapes" is a new, competitive exhibition featuring 60 paintings by 48 artists from around the state. The show is a visual travel tour of Michigan scenes; from Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula to rural farms across the state to downtown Detroit. Each work includes a compelling personal short narrative by the artist that references the depicted Michigan scene. Professor Emeritus Jim Nawara of Wayne State University served as juror and selected the works from over 200 entries. The public is welcome at a free opening reception this Friday from 6 to 830pm. You’ll find additional details through the link below. Artists Included in Michigan Scapes Ralph Anunziata, Denise Willing-Booher, William Brody, Linda Burtraw, Winnie Chrzanowski, Thomas Conner, Brian Cossey, Brian Creary, Ann Marie Curley, John Diephouse, Sandra Difazio, Jane Ditri, Edward Duff, Richard Everly, Sally Feil, Lori Feldpausch, Jan Gongloff, Sarah Grusin, Margie Guyot, Heiner Hertling, Deb Hosier, Mario Inchaustegui, Kathleen Kalinowski, Wanchuan Kesler, Beverly Koivunen, James Kowalczyk, David Larkins, Betty Lewis, James Lounsbury, Alan Maciag, Michael McCleer, Thomas McDole, Kim kwaz McKerracher, Kathleen McNamee, Tempest NeuCollins, Chris Ozminski, Robert Perrish, Cindy Rashid, Lisa Richter, Diane Roach Smith, Gayle Sanchirico, Mary Hertler Tallman, Michael Todoroff, Harry Villalonga, Michael Volker, Jill Stefani Wagner, Marty Walker, Jack White

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    New yield signs should help boost safety at a neighborhood intersection in the City of Howell. The Howell City Council met recently and approved a traffic control order authorizing the placement of yield signs on Summit Street at Bates to control both eastbound and westbound traffic. A citizen had contacted the police and DPW departments, asking why there were no traffic control devices at the intersection. Further investigation revealed there were no signs at the intersection, resulting in Council approving the traffic control order. The traffic control order for Summit and Bates was approved unanimously, with members Scott Niblock and Steve Manor absent. During discussion at the meeting, a few council members commented on the amount of motorists that regularly ignore yield signs in some of the neighborhoods, including the area known as Piety Hill. (JM)

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    The Milford Memories Summer Festival is gearing up for its 27th year next month. The festival, which is set to run this year August 10th through the 12th, is put on by the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce and its volunteer committee. An art show, vendors, food and various activities are planned all weekend. Among the attractions is a kids fishing tournament, sand volleyball, a blind canoe race and Tailgate Olympics. The Official Milford Memories Beer Tent is located in the heart of the festival in Central Park, featuring entertainment throughout the weekend. There will also be a second stage, dubbed the Veteran’s Memorial Stage, located toward the front of the park that will have more acoustic-based acts. Complete festival information can be found through the link below. The first festival was held in August of 1992 and revolved around a musical production entitled “Milford Memories” that told the story of Milford’s founding fathers. (JK)

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    A reward is now being offered in the case of a Highland Township man who went missing from the Electric Forest Music Festival. 28-year-old Kevin Graves was last seen the evening of July 1st. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office is investigating, along with the Michigan State Police Hart Post. More than one week later, the family is now offering a $10,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. Family members were canvassing the Rothbury and Muskegon Heights areas and putting up missing person posters in addition to sharing information on social media. Some tips were received but nothing panned out. Graves’ father Gary said the reward will only be provided if there is proof it’s Kevin and they know that he's safe. He asks that people take a picture when and if they see him; adding locals in the Muskegon area are helping with search efforts. Authorities earlier said Graves was at the festival with his girlfriend but they got into an argument and he indicated he was going back to the tent to rest but was not there later. Graves is described as a white male with blond hair and blue eyes, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 185 pounds. Anyone with information about Graves' whereabouts is asked to contact the Oakland County Sheriff's Office at 248-858-4950, Michigan State Police Hart Post 231-873-2171 or Mason-Oceana Central Dispatch 231-869-5858. A missing person flyer is attached. FB photo. (JM)

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    Today marks the start of a 15-day closure in the Lee Road dual roundabout with traffic issues expected in the Green Oak Township area. Signs have been on US-23 and surface streets to prepare motorists for the roundabout reconstruction project that starts today with a complete closure of the westerly circle at Whitmore Lake Road for 15 days. The middle lane in that roundabout will be eliminated so there will eventually just be two circulating lanes instead of three. Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine says they’ve authorized 24-7 work by the contractor, as the first stage must be completed in 15 days. Then around July 23rd, the project will enter a final stage that involves a lot of pavement work. After this initial 15-day closure, most of the work will be done at night. There will be plenty of access maintained to local shops and businesses. Residents, businesses and other motorists should plan accordingly and include extra time for trips, until motorists figure out what detours they’ll be utilizing and new traffic patterns get sorted out. Details about the project and detour routes is available through the link. (JM)

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    Maintenance and replacement work is underway at two local parks. Weather permitting, the playscape at Central Park in Milford is scheduled for significant maintenance this week and will receive some updates. The playscape will be inaccessible during the project, but officials say it will result in a safer place for kids to play for years to come. The Village of Milford, Milford Township and the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce all contributed funds towards this project. The work is expected to take 7-10 days to complete and the community will be notified when the playscape re-opens. Meanwhile in South Lyon, the McHattie Park playground area closed on Monday for equipment replacement. The park will remain closed through July 16th. (JM)

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    The Brighton Township Board of Trustees in May approved a resolution expressing their desire to transfer their addressing duties to Livingston County’s Information Technology Department; more specifically its Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, Division. The division is responsible for assigning addresses to the majority of the municipalities within the county; though currently the City of Brighton and Howell, and Hamburg, Unadilla and Howell Townships, all issue their own. Though Brighton Township is technically still a part of that list, their board’s resolution looking to hand off their addressing duties came before the county’s Health and Human Services Committee Monday and passed unanimously. It must receive the Board of Commissioner’s approval before the change is made official. A representative from the department spoke to commissioners at their meeting, saying they can maintain greater consistency by assuming Brighton Township’s addressing responsibilities. The representative says it also makes logical sense as the department has to validate the information sent to them by the local units by essentially assigning an address and check it against what the township has done, before it can even be put into their database. CIO Richard Malewicz says performing the township’s addressing will only minimally add to their workload, and will bring in between $1,600 to $2,000 in revenue from the municipality. GIS is said to have a number of benefits, including better record-keeping and accuracy, as the technology system captures and stores geographic data, which is presented in a mapped format. (DK)

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    The Howell City Council is in the process of finalizing ballot language for a Headlee Override request. The City is faced with significant budget and revenue challenges, coupled with what officials say is a very broken state fiscal model and reduced revenue sharing. The City has made significant cuts over the years and is running with a staff that’s “stretched very thin” despite their sacrifices during the recession, such as a seven-year wage freeze and lowered benefits. Council met Monday night to review proposed language for a Headlee Override that’s expected to appear on the November ballot. If approved, a Headlee Override would allow the City of Howell to increase its authorized millage rate for five years by an additional 4.5003 mills. The request would restore the authorized millage amount, which has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment. The proposal would generate approximately $1.4 (m) million per year, beginning in July of 2019. The revenue would allow the City to maintain continued levels of service as well as infrastructure improvements such as roads. Council reviewed ballot language proposals from the City of Brighton, Ferndale and East Grand Rapids. Members appeared to favor the City of Brighton’s language, since it was more specific about where the money would be going. Councilman Bob Ellis commented he liked the brevity and the fact the language was easy to read. Mayor Nick Proctor liked capping the proposal at five years, referring to it as a performance review for residents and the City. Staff plans to re-word the draft language and bring it back to council at the July 23rd meeting. The deadline for adopting the language is August 14th. Should anything come up, Council has another meeting August 13th to potentially approve the language and still meet the deadline. (JM)

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    Emergency repairs to a sewer line are underway in the City of Brighton this week. Rickett Road was closed from Sisu Knoll Drive to Oak Ridge Drive last night for emergency repairs to the City’s sanitary sewer line. Traffic was diverted around the construction area by utilizing Sisu Knoll Drive and Oak Ridge Drive, but was reopened to two lanes this morning. Construction is anticipated to last approximately one week barring any unforeseen circumstances. Officials advise motorists to expect slowdowns as crews continue to work with an expected completion day of Saturday. City officials said the sewer main where the breach occurred is one of several old sewer lines in the city which date back to 1938. Due to the age of some of the city’s sewer and water lines, another rupture could occur in the near future anywhere in the system. However, city officials say when, and the location, would be hard to predict. (JM)

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    Two Livingston County fire departments will be among more than a dozen statewide to receive grants for the purchase of life-saving equipment. The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation plans to award more than $250,000 worth of equipment grants to first responders on Wednesday at a ceremony set at the Michigan Firehouse Museum in Yspilanti. The foundation says the awards are for first responders who respond to crashes. The Howell Area Fire Department will receive $20,046 while the Green Oak Fire Department will get $15,026. All of that money will be used for chest compression systems. Those devices assist firefighters by delivering uninterrupted chest compressions at a constant rate and depth to cardiac arrest patients, helping improve the chance of survival. The foundation says that research shows mechanically controlled compressions are able to sustain a higher blood flow to the brain and heart compared to manual compressions. Meanwhile, the Northfield Township Fire Department will receive two thermal imaging cameras worth $13,635. The grants come as Michigan reported more than 1,000 motor vehicle fatalities last year, with the number of serious injuries reported up by 8%. Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Executive Director Robin Peters said their goal is to ensure first responders are able to reach victims and get them to safety as quickly as possible, “improving their chances of recovery and survival." (JK)

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    Conway Township has approved a special use permit and site plan review for a new communication facility tower. A 150 foot tower is currently in the works for Conway Township in an effort to bring better cell phone service and data to the township. The wireless tower will be provided by AT&T’s wireless service, New Cingular Wireless, and will be located on North Fowlerville Road. A representative of New Cingular Wireless was present for Monday night’s Public Hearing and Planning Commission Meeting. During the meeting, the board approved the special use permit and site plan review for the construction of the project. Conway Township Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas told WHMI that the wireless tower should be under construction within the next six months. New Cingular Wireless will be paying the full construction costs for the project. (DF)

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    Hamburg Township residents and businesses are being advised of a phone scam. The Hamburg Township Police Department has received several reports from concerned residents regarding phone calls that they have received from a New York phone number, which has a 516 area code. The caller tells people that they have four outstanding warrants and the “local police department” will arrest them on the warrants if they don’t take care of them. The department warns this is a scam and individuals should not provide any personal information or respond to the phone call. Officials advise no police department will ever attempt to have someone “clear up” a warrant, post a bond or pay a fine over the telephone. If someone is the victim of a scam attempt, they’re should contact their local police department and make a report. Hamburg Police say if a call is received from someone reporting to be a police officer and you’re suspicious about their true identity, ask for their name and the name of the police department for they work for. Then hang up and either call that police department (using a phone number from a reliable source) or call your local police department and ask that they help you verify the legitimacy of the officer. (JM)

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    A local veteran’s group effort to put up a billboard is on ice after the Howell Township Board voted to enact another moratorium. The American Legion Devereaux Post 141 at Grand River and M-59 had proposed to put up an electronic billboard on its property as a way to generate income they said was needed for their future existence. Township official had instituted a 120 moratorium on new signs around March of this year just as the Legion’s proposal was making its way to the township’s Planning Commission. Township officials cited the need to amend their current ordinance before moving forward. However, Legion officials say they submitted their application prior to the original moratorium and believed they should be exempt. The new moratorium enacted Monday does not exempt the group and leaves their proposal in limbo. Last night’s meeting had been moved to the Livingston County EMS Building on Tooley Road in anticipation of a large crowd, but only four people were in attendance; two Legion supporters and two township residents. Those in support of the billboard said the township would likely lose a legal battle on the issue, while the residents expressed concerns about road safety and just who would actually own and operate the sign. (JK)

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    With the legalization of marijuana up for vote in November, the Livingston County Community Alliance and their friends are warning residents about its dangers. The LCCA is a county-wide coalition that works to reduce substance abuse through several different facets. Tuesday night in Howell, they invited Scott Masi of the St. John’s Providence Brighton Center for Recovery to speak about the new generation of marijuana to interested parties. Masi said there is a generational gap in knowledge that has formed over the past few years between young adults and the older crowd. Methods of extracting a butane concentrate have allowed for jumps in potency that Masi suggests older generations, in states that have legalized, might not have known they were signing up for. He said that THC levels in marijuana doubled over the first 2 years, and have now tripled, in Colorado since 2013. This has led to an increase in overdoses and emergency room visits. Infants being born with THC in their system is also up out west, leading Masi to warn that we are priming the adolescent brain for addiction. If passed, Michigan will have the lowest taxes on recreational marijuana at 10%. Masi compared that to Washington state, which taxes 37%. He cautions that those taxes it would bring in might not be going to where people think. He said much of it would go to rewriting legislation and fighting legal battles with neighboring states where marijuana would still be illegal. Masi pointed at lawsuits Colorado faced after legalization from problems caused by residents of bordering states crossing over for the drug, believing Michigan could face the same fate. He questioned if people were happy with where tobacco taxes, cigarette taxes, and lottery money were going, and if they believed it would be any different with marijuana. Masi said, “There’s this belief that there’s actual tax revenue that’s going to come in, but it’s like stepping on a dollar to get a dime.” If having the lowest taxes on marijuana isn’t enough, Masi shared that one area Michigan would be highest in is possession rate. If passed, individuals would be allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, compared to Colorado where the legal limit is 1 ounce. Masi urges everyone to educate themselves on what legalization would mean to the state and to read the ballot initiative, which can be found at https://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_Marijuana_Legalization_Initiative_(2018) (MK)

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    Detours will be in place on Rickett Road in the City of Brighton a little bit longer than originally anticipated. The City of Brighton advises that due to unforeseen circumstances, Rickett Road will again be closed from Sisu Knoll Drive to Oak Ridge Drive from 8pm Wednesday to 7am Thursday morning for emergency repairs to the City’s sanitary sewer line. Traffic will continue to be diverted around the construction area by utilizing Sisu Knoll Drive and Oak Ridge Drive. The City says Rickett Road is anticipated to be re-opened to two lanes after 7am Thursday morning. The detour map is attached. (JM)

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