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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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    Applications are being accepted for the next Pinckney Village clerk. Longtime Pinckney Village Clerk Amy Salowitz is moving out of state with her family and says it’s bittersweet because she will definitely miss the small town she has grown to love. Salowitz says it’s an exciting time to be in Pinckney and she’s very proud of what the community has been able to do in the last few years, and her part in that. Salowitz says she would not want to leave it in a situation set up to fail so she intends to stay on through the end of the year, possibly longer, to help train whoever is hired because it’s not your typical job. Salowitz says after notifying the Village council and staff, it was decided to get going with the search so they would have an opportunity to find the right candidate but also time to train with Salowtiz so they’re not jumping into an unknown job. Since it is not an elected but appointed role, technically applicants do not have to reside in the Village “proper” but Salowitz says it’s much more helpful if someone is local and knows the community because that’s a big part of the job. She tells WHMI the job is not what many would think and it’s different from other municipal clerk positions. She says Putnam Township handles elections but the clerk handles more things driven by the services the Village provides like sewer, water, planning and zoning. Salowitz says applicants should be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time as there’s a lot juggling but also be very organized and involved in the community. Salowtiz anticipates most applicant will likely not be coming from a municipal or government setting or have that experience. In cover letters, she encourages applicants to address their transferable skills, what they think would work well from previous experience and why they want to make that change. Salary will be based on experience and qualifications and Salowitz encourages anyone with questions to call or email her. Applications and resumes are being accepted through 4pm on Thursday, August 2nd. She says they hope to have a good pool of quality candidates by that time so they can conduct interviews in mid-August. A job description and application are available on the Village of Pinckney website. That link is provided. (JM)

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    53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan has resigned from a state judge’s association amid an ongoing criminal investigation. Brennan was in line to become the next president of the Michigan District Judges Association. Southfield District Court Judge Sheila Johnson is the current president, and her term expires in December. Johnson’s chambers confirmed for WHMI that Brennan, who was president-elect, has officially resigned. The stated mission of the association is to actively promote and support activities designed to improve and maintain a sound and efficient administration of justice in the District Court. It also encourages the highest level of judicial and legal competence among associate members and the practicing bar. Locally, Brennan’s caseload has been reassigned and she is the subject of a Michigan State Police criminal investigation, which Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has said he will immediately review upon conclusion. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission also filed a formal complaint against Brennan in June alleging misconduct in office involving her relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong. He served as the chief prosecution witness during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which Brennan presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. 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. Brennan was required to respond to the complaint within 14 days but that deadline was extended. (JM)

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    A county subcommittee has approved a nonprofit’s annual plan outlining steps that will be taken to better support local services for disabled and older adults. The Area Agency on Aging 1-B provides services to older adults and people with disabilities in a six-county region that includes Livingston County. Some of the organization’s offerings include the Meals on Wheels program, advocacy, transportation assistance, home care and adult day services. The nonprofit’s 2019 Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) was brought before the county’s General Government and Health & Humans Services committee Monday, where it received approval, moving it forward to the Board of Commissioners for consideration. The plan outlines objectives the organization has been and will continue to implement by the end of next September using a combination of grants and funding avenues. As of May 2018, the draft budget for the agency’s regional services was $18.5 million in federal and state funding. Cost sharing, donations and cash in-kind matches bring the total budget to an estimated $22.1 million. Among the plan’s objectives are five categories that are prioritized and to receive the most funding, which are home delivered meals, congregate meals, in-home services, adult day health services and care management. The plan also lists program development objectives that the agency says will strengthen their existing assets, like increasing their outreach to the Hispanic/Latino population and expanding awareness of services to the LGBT population. Listed as a highlight in the 2019 AIP are accomplished and ongoing measures to secure additional, alternative funding in the event of a reduction in federal and state grants. Other objectives include reaching out to newly elected legislators to educate them about some of the older adult population needs. The agency’s 2019 AIP can be viewed in its entirety at the link or attachment below. (DK)

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    A part of this weekend’s Taste of Brighton celebration will feature a chance for the public to dunk local notables while raising money for a local nonprofit. Once again a dunk tank will feature some well-known personalities in Livingston County, including WHMI’s Mike Marino, Sheriff Mike Murphy and several others. Proceeds raised by the dunk tank will benefit the Work Skills Foundation. The nonprofit foundation helps to support Work Skills Corporation in their mission to provide assistance and training for the disabled. Development Manager Julie Smith says the money raised at Taste of Brighton will benefit a wide variety of programs and services. "Over the years, the decades really, we have residential programs for people with an acquired brain injury, we have a home health care arm, we have production, we have an art program, secondary education and staffing and our newest venture is an applied behavioral analysis program for school age students with autism and that will kick off in the fall." The Taste of Brighton will take place this Friday, July 13th and Saturday the 14th on Main Street, with the dunk tank operating from noon to 10pm both days. You’ll find details about the weekend’s activities through the link below. (JK)

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    The identity of the man killed last month in a crash in Gregory has been released. The Unadilla Township Police Department says 62-year-old Mark Orr of Pinckney was the driver in the June 25th fatal crash on Unadilla Road in Gregory. Orr was the sole occupant of the van which caught on fire after striking a tree near Doyle Road. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The Unadilla Township Police Department was assisted on scene by the Unadilla Township Fire Department as well as crash investigators from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and the Hamburg Township Police Department. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact the Unadilla Township Police Department at (734) 498-2325 or police@unadillapolice.org. (JK)

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    A retired local judge and an attorney have taken their quest for a citizen’s grand jury to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Former Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress and Howell attorney Tom Kizer have filed separate appeals of a ruling assigning an out-of-county judge to hear a request for a grand jury to investigate Judge Theresa Brennan. Livingston County Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh last month asked the State Court Administrative Office to assign a judge from another county to hear the request, saying rulings from fellow Circuit Court Judge David Reader were improper once he recused himself from hearing the case. It has since been assigned to Eaton County Circuit Judge John Maurer. But Judge Burress says that by assigning the case to a visiting judge, the remaining qualified Livingston County judges were “summarily deprived of their opportunity to take the case” and that it could lead to “justified suspicion and calls of corrupt ‘judge shopping.’” Burress requested a grand jury look into issues surrounding Brennan’s admitted relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who served as the chief prosecution witness in a 2013 double-murder trial that she presided over and resulted in the conviction and life sentence of Jerome Kowalski. Those actions are currently the subject of a Michigan State Police criminal investigation and a complaint by the Judicial Tenure Commission, which charged Brennan with “a pattern of improper conduct.” The chief reason cited by Judge Cavanaugh in her decision to send the case out of the county was Judge Reader’s appointment of Kizer as Special Prosecutor, noting that Kizer had served as the attorney for Brennan’s ex-husband in their 2017 divorce. Kizer has also been a long-time critic of Judge Brennan. No dates have been set to hear the appeals. Judge Brennan’s caseload has since been reassigned, leaving her off the bench while still being paid pending the outcome of the Judicial Tenure Commission complaint, which potentially could remove her from the bench. (JK)

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    A fire broke out today at an auto parts store in Brighton. The fire was reported after 5pm at the Auto Value store located at 4986 Old US-23, near Tee Bone’z Tavern. A traffic crash also reportedly occurred in front of the store. Crews from various fire departments and a large number of emergency vehicles were on scene. Northbound Old US-23 traffic was being diverted at the scene and significant back-ups were reported in the area. (JM)

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    A large event for veterans, military members and their families will offer a day of fun but also connect them with needed resources. Vet Fest 2018 is being put on in partnership by the Region 9 Veterans Community Action Team or (R9VCAT) and Mt. Brighton August 11th. The event that will feature three live bands, special appearances by the Detroit Lions, BBQ food and refreshments, various activities for kids and giveaways. Members of the Detroit Lions will be giving out backpacks filled with school supplies to school age children of military members or veterans. Joshua Parish is the Regional Coordinator for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. He says there is a large influx of younger veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and blending back into society - many looking to start a family, buy a home or go back to school. He says many younger veterans are not visiting typical service organizations but are attracted to events and organizations that can include their family and some type of outdoor opportunity to potentially help them give back to their local community. Parish says one of the underlying goals of Vet Fest and other events is to educate veterans about benefits they’re entitled to and what resources each agency can provide for each veteran and their family. In turn, he says they’ve been able to attract large numbers of veterans, which hasn’t happened in the past. He says bounce houses, vehicle displays, rock climbing wall, face painting, food, bands and raffles attract people to the event but another underlying goal is camaraderie. Parish, a veteran himself, tells WHMI sometimes the transition from military life to civilian life is really hard and this event provides an opportunity for veterans to interact with each other. Those who pre-register through Eventbrite will be entered into a drawing to win kayaks, golf clubs or a jersey signed by the Detroit Lions. Pre-registration is also encouraged so organizers can plan food appropriately. The link is provided. (JM)

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    Several community groups have come together to host a primary candidate forum in Hartland tonight. Tonight’s event is being held in advance of the August 7th primary and is set for 6:30pm in the auditorium of the Hartland Educational Support Services Center on M-59 at 6:30 p.m. It is being sponsored in part by Voter’s Voice, the League of Women Voters Brighton/Howell area unit and the Howell, Brighton and Hartland chambers of commerce along with The Livingston Post and WHMI. Scheduled to attend tonight are Democrats Elissa Slotkin and Chris Smith, vying for the party’s nomination to run for the 8th Congressional District. On the Republican side, incumbent Mike Bishop is being challenged by Lokesh Kumar. For the 22nd District State Senate race, Lana Theis and Joseph Marinaro are going head-to-head for the GOP nomination. There is also a four-way race for the non-partisan 44th Circuit Court Judicial seat, with Dennis Brewer, Monica Copeland, L. Suzanne Geddis and Tara Pearson in the running. The two candidates with the most votes in that race will go up against each other in November. A second forum before the General Election is tentatively set for on Thursday, October 18th in the same location. (JK)

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    Three local fire departments have been awarded grants for new equipment that will help them save more lives. The Howell Area, Green Oak Township, and Northfield Township Fire Departments were 3 of the 14 recipients of a Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant. Representatives from each of the departments gathered for a special ceremony held at the Michigan Firehouse Museum and Education Center in Ypsilanti, Wednesday afternoon. The Howell Area Fire Department received a chest compression system valued at over $20,000 through the grant at the end of April. Captain Bryan Hager said that the device gives them the ability to do automatic compressions, which takes out the human factor, and results in better blood flow and survivability. Hager said the department has already used the device half a dozen times since receiving it in spring. The Green Oak Township Fire Department received a chest compression system valued at over $15,000. Fire Chief Kevin Gentry said this is their second such device and that it better ensures the availability of such a system for any Green oak resident suffering from cardiac arrest. Northfield Township Assistant Fire Chief Steven Lowe said they received new cameras valued at over $13,000. These cameras help with locating people in smoke and fire-filled houses. Lowe said that these are lighter, more dependable, and easier to use than the older cameras they are replacing. The Assistant Chief said that being from a smaller department, a grant like this helps out tremendously. In total, Firehouse Subs awarded over $265,000 in grants and equipment to Detroit-area departments. Area Representative John Kupiec said that the majority of the funding for the grant program comes from customers rounding up their bill to the nearest dollar. Kupiec also revealed that out of more 1,100 Firehouse Subs locations nationwide, the Brighton store ranks in the top 25 for donations. (MK)

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    A press release from the Brighton Area Fire Authority indicates the fire progressed “rapidly” due to flammable and combustible liquids that were also burning. The fire was brought under control using foam and water. Northbound Old US-23 traffic was diverted at the scene, resulting in significant delays along Old US-23. While the fire damage was contained to the rear warehouse, the remainder of the store did sustain smoke damage. There were no customers in the store at the time of the incident and the three employees who were there escaped without injury. However, an unknown quantity of hazardous materials, made up of flammable and combustible liquids, spilled into the parking lot and an adjacent gravel road with the fire suppression water runoff. The Livingston County Hazardous Materials team was dispatched to scene and contained the majority of the hazardous materials using absorbent booms and pads. A private Hazardous Materials cleanup contractor has been requested to respond to clean up the spill. The cause of the fire has been determined to be from discarded cigarettes that ignited combustible materials piled up against the outside of the building. Approximately 40 firefighters from the Brighton Area Fire Authority and Green Oak Fire Department responded to the incident, as well as the Haz-Mat Team. Crews were assisted on scene by Livingston County EMS, Michigan State Police, DART and deputies from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. The Howell Fire Department assisted by covering the Brighton Area Fire Authority during the blaze.

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    An epic tale is being re-imagined and will make its world debut this weekend in Brighton. The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer is one of the oldest works of Western literature, having been composed near the end of the 8th century BC. Telling the story of the adventurer Odysseus as he tries to make his way home at the end of the Trojan War, it will be staged this weekend at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts. The work has seen many adaptations through the centuries, but a recent translation by Emily Wilson is the first English rendering of the poem by a woman, and Director Gregory Keng Strasser tells WHMI that it was immediately clear to him it was far superior for a staging. "Her text is lean...it's light-footed. And also, she wrote it speaking out loud every text, and so I was like 'she understands that this is oral tradition and that it's meant to actually be heard and not read' and so I figured we have to do this. It's the smartest way and it just slid onto the stage." Based in Washington D.C., Strasser is an alumnus of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, & Dance. He is the artistic apprentice at the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. This weekend’s shows will be the world premiere of Wilson’s translation which Strasser says will feature spectacular shadow puppets, epic movement sequences, as well as dynamic and engaging original music. The show actually opens tonight at 7:30pm with performances on Friday and Saturday, also at 7:30pm, and then a Sunday matiness at 2pm. You’ll find ticket information and additional details through the link below. (JK)

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    The deadline is approaching for people to volunteer for the Livingston County United Way’s 17 annual Day of Caring. Groups and individuals are encouraged to get involved in the one day community service blitz on Wednesday, August 15th. Event Co-Chair Piet Lindhout says projects vary from helping with simple cleaning and taking care of things a disabled homeowner can’t do or minor construction work such as rails or ramps. Other times, he says it could be weeding a garden and having conversation as some of the worksite hosts lonely and love to have company for the day. Lindhout tells WHMI volunteers have the option to register individually or in groups, for a half or full work day. However, they must do so by tomorrow, Friday, July 13th. Volunteers can designate preferences for the location, type of project and any special skills they might have. Volunteer applications and other information is available online through the link below. (JK)

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    Aircraft wreckage discovered Wednesday in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula may be that of Livingston County couple missing since 1997. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, they are investigating wreckage of a Piper PA-28-235 single-engine plane found near St. Ignace in the Hiawatha National Forest. It was that exact model of aircraft that Mark and Janet Davies of Howell were in when they were last seen alive, departing Drummond Island on September 14th, 1997 to return to Howell. Janet Davies reportedly worked for Brighton Area Schools. Until yesterday, the plane’s whereabouts had not been determined, despite extensive searches at the time of its disappearance. The Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol searched for four days, before abandoning the search for lack of sighting evidence of the airplane. The NTSB at the time concluded the airplane was presumed to have been destroyed and the pilot and passenger were presumed to have sustained fatal injuries. No flight plan was on file. According to the Toronto Air Route Traffic Control Center, after the airplane departed Drummond Island it was observed flying 20 to 25 miles south then turning 180 degrees before disappearing from their radar. A friend of the pilot said that the pilot was known to experience vertigo easily. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. (JK)

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    A portion of a well-traveled road in Hamburg Township will be closed to traffic for most of the day Friday. The Livingston County Road Commission advises that crews will be replacing a drain crossing under McGregor Road, approximately 750 feet south of M-36. The Road Commission advises that portion of McGregor Road will be completely closed to through traffic. Local traffic will have access. Work involves excavating a trench to place a culvert and back-fill. The closure is anticipated to be in place from 8am to 3pm Friday. Signs notifying motorists of the closure are up and alternate routes are advised. (JM)

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    Hamburg Township is encouraging residents and businesses to brush up on their floodplain information. A large portion of the municipality is comprised of 100-year floodplain, the majority of which is adjacent to the Huron River and the Chain of Lakes. Officials say various floods from those water bodies and river have hit Hamburg Township in recent memory. Information on whether a property is included in the 100-year floodplain can be obtained by coming into the township offices, where the zoning administrator can assist. Maps are available to look at, along with other flood related information. The township also has elevation certificates for new development, dating back to 1986. All development within the 100-year floodplain, not just construction of buildings, but filling, excavation and fences etc, is required to obtain a township land use permit. The township advises applications must be made prior to doing any work in a floodplain area and the zoning administrator can provided needed information in order to properly develop in the floodplain. Any illegal development activities should also be reported by calling the township offices at (810) 231-1000. (JM)

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    The search to find the next Huron Valley Schools superintendent is progressing. The Huron Valley Schools Board of Education is in the midst of a search for a permanent superintendent to replace Nancy Coratti, who announced she would be retiring in December. Coratti has worked for more than 40 years in the Huron Valley district as a teacher, principal and administrator, retiring in 2015 as deputy superintendent. She came out of retirement last August following the departure of Jim Baker to become deputy superintendent of human resources for Detroit Public Schools. The Huron Valley School District covers Highland, Milford, White Lake and Commerce townships and the village of Milford. The Michigan Leadership Institute has been hired to aid the board in the search process and the deadline for applications is August 31st. Initial interviews will take place September 10th, 13th and 14th, while the second round of interviews is scheduled September 19th and 20th. All interviews of final candidates will be conducted in open meetings, which is not the usual protocol, and the board is hoping to select its next superintendent on September 27th. Whoever is selected would then assume the position on January 1st of next year, to allow time for a smooth transition. As for qualities the board is looking for, officials told the Milford Times they prefer someone with leadership experience in education but also a good people person. A candidate with a vision that matches the districts is also desired. (JM)

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    A fire at a local brewery meant an early morning call for Lyon Township firefighters. Just before 4:30am, Thursday morning, the Lyon Township Fire Department received word of an outdoor fire at the Draught Horse Brewery on Grand River Avenue. Officers from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lyon Township Substation informed the L-T-F-D upon arriving that it was a meat smoker structure that was fully aflame and had a closed in trailer next to it. Firefighters used a handline and foam to extinguish the fire. Fire Marshal Brian Holzheimer said that there were no injuries, foul play, or damage to main building found. The trailer suffered minimal damage, but the smoker was a complete loss. Photos- Lyon Township Fire Department Facebook (MK)

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    Candidates for the 44th Circuit Court of Livingston County judicial seat gathered and made their cases to voters why they should be elected through the primary and beyond. The Circuit Court handles Family Court, Juvenile Court, felony criminal, and large civil liability cases. Four non-partisan candidates are vying for the seat this fall, which comes with an 8-year term. At the August 7th primary, the field will be trimmed down to 2. Last night, the foursome met at the Hartland Educational Support Services Center as part of a candidate forum sponsored in part by Voter’s Voice, the League of Women Voters Brighton/Howell area unit and the Howell, Brighton and Hartland chambers of commerce along with The Livingston Post and WHMI. District Court Judge L. Suzanne Geddis said that it is her experience that the others don’t have behind the bench that makes her a worthy choice. She said that she has been a judge for 14 years, an assistant prosecutor for 16, and has 35 years total of legal experience. She is cross-assigned to the Circuit Court, and did their docket of Family Law cases for a year once to help catch them up. She said she runs a courtroom with integrity and respect, while remaining efficient. Also running is Monica Copeland. Copeland has 21 years of law experience and is the only business owner in the group. By not having ties to the current system, she said she believes she can bring a fresh approach and balance to the bench. Copeland said she is looking forward to working for the people of Livingston County and rebuilding their faith in the court system. She said the only way they can do that is by offering day-in day-out quality services to the community for a solid 8 years. Dennis Brewer feels that he may be the most well-rounded individual for the job. Brewer claims that he has the most experience in all the different areas of law that come before the Circuit Court. He cited an investment in the community, working with youth sports, doing community service, and serving on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Brewer said that talking to residents, they are outraged at the Judge Theresa Brenna scandal and that they deserve better. He said that he is the proven leader that the court system in Livingston County needs. Tara Pearson says that her experience in private practice, including all the areas of law that would appear in circuit court, make her the best fit. She said she is prepared to step behind the bench and that there would be no on-the-job training done at the expense of the people before her. Pearson said she has done the research, the litigation, and will step onto the bench knowing what needs to be done in each area of the law. Pearson promised to restore respect in the system and be a good influence to the community. During the forum, the candidates answered a series of questions, including what experience they bring, what role the Circuit Court Judge should perform should marijuana be legalized, their opinions on specialty courts, and how to reduce the opioid epidemic. A second forum is tentatively set for Thursday, October 18th, between the primary and general election. (MK)

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    A former principal is recalling the day a beloved art teacher went missing more than 20 years ago. Authorities believe they have located the wreckage of a Howell couple's small plane that disappeared in remote northern Michigan. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss says national forest personnel found the wreckage Wednesday near St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. The 45-year-old pilot, Mark Davies, and his wife, Janet were in a single-engine Piper that took off September 14th, 1997 from Drummond Island in Lake Huron. They were heading to Howell and the couple has been missing since the date of the apparent crash and were presumed dead. Ken Hamman is retired now but was the principal at Scranton Middle School in Brighton when Janet Davies went missing. He worked with her on different levels for many years, saying she was an art teacher, through and through. A scholarship was later named in her memory. Hamman says Janet was a kind and very gracious individual who valued hard work and creativity, adding she was often quiet but had a great sense of humor. Hamman tells WHMI it was a real mystery when she disappeared, and remained so up until the last couple days. He tells WHMI it’s sad but also relieving to find some type of resolution. He says everyone was very concerned as there was no resolution, although memorials were held with family, staff and community members. The plane wreckage was discovered is in a very remote and wooded area, which has reportedly made it difficult for investigators to inspect the site. The NTSB says the couple’s plane departed from Drummond Island heading south into foggy weather before disappearing from radar. Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol personnel searched for the plane for days before eventually abandoning the search, after failing to find the remains of the couple or the plane. A flight plan wasn't filed. The NTSB says the plane was seen on radar flying south, then turning and flying north. Then it disappeared. Davies photo: WDIV Detroit. Scene Photo: UpNorthLive.com. (JM)

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