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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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    The one-time Director of Livingston County Animal Control is facing suspension in a neighboring county. The Ingham County Law and Courts Committee voted Thursday to recommend the suspension of Animal Control Director John Dinon and Deputy Director Anne Burns following multiple investigations about poor care of animals at the shelter. Burns was the Director of Livingston County Animal Control until 2010, when she left the job after being targeted for more than a year by animal activist groups upset by policies on so-called bully breeds and euthanization. The investigation in Ingham County began after the abuse of five dogs came to light following their seizure from a dog-fighting ring last year. A report by the Michigan Humane Society found neglect of the dogs while in the shelter’s care, leading to two of them being euthanized. Many of those who spoke at the meeting described an atmosphere at the shelter of low morale. One longtime volunteer alleged that after expressing her concerns about animal care, Burns told her the staff was "sick and tired" of her being a "drama queen." Dinon told commissioners that while he thought they were making appropriate decisions at the time concerning the care of the dogs, in retrospect it was clear they did not. The recommendation to suspect Dinon and Burns with pay is not binding, but can be acted on by the Ingham County Controller at any time. He indicated he was waiting for all of the investigations into the shelter to be completed. (JK)

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    A pair of Republican candidates for State Senate shared different points of view on many topics during a candidate forum, Thursday night, in Hartland Township. State Representative Lana Theis and Joseph Marinaro are running against each other in the August 7th primary for the Republican nomination for 22nd District State Senate. Theis credited hard work in the Michigan House and the ability to connect with constituents as a large reason for her successes so far. She said she routinely spends 10-20 hours per week while House is in session reading bills to make certain she understands them. Theis said she attended over 300 district events last year, and finds connecting with people an essential part of being both a representative and a senator. With several questions being asked of the two candidates, they didn’t see eye-to-eye on many. Marinaro said he is in support of decommissioning the Line 5 pipeline up north, saying it doesn’t bring Michigan much benefit. He warned if it’s not shut down and disaster does happen, it will ruin the state’s economy. Theis said absolutely need to protect the Great Lakes, but that there is more consider with shutting down the pipeline. She said doing so could hurt Upper Peninsula residents and that they need to find a solution that won’t cause new ones. Thies was also pro-charter schools, stating they show higher results. Marinaro was against charter schools, believing they are siphoning money from public schools. Marinaro was also emphatic after being asked if he liked the idea of creating an independent commission to draw district voting lines. He said that we cannot continue our democracy with gerrymandered districts, drawn by people that benefit from them. Marinaro said it becomes a situation where politicians are choosing voters, not voters choosing the politicians. Theis argued that with voters not having to declare party affiliation or not knowing what their voting record is, she questioned how they could know the commission was truly independent under those rules. One thing they did agree on was the need to use better materials for roads. When it came to fixing the roads though, Marinaro proposed implementing a toll system and leveraging the digital signs on the side of highways for advertising. Theis dismissed the toll road suggestion, stating that Michigan is already prohibited from doing that because of federal funding. (MK)

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    A pair of workshops focused on providing dementia care are coming to Cleary University next month. The workshops will be held Tuesday, August 7th at Cleary’s Genoa Township campus and will be conducted by Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist with forty years of clinical practice. The first workshop is entitled, “Providing Quality Care Throughout the Journey of Dementia” and will give an overview of how to give care for those living with dementia and increase the awareness, knowledge and skills to create a positive environment for those affected. The second workshop, “Providing Late Stage and End of Life Care that Makes Sense,” will give an understanding of how to best meet the needs of someone who is in the final stage of their dementia journey. Both presentations are free and open to the public, although attendees are required to register by Tuesday, July 31st. For more information call 1-734-433-1000 ext. 7424. (EO/JK)

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    A man has been found competent to stand trial in connection with a break-in at the Scorpions Motorcycle Club in Lyon Township. 40-year-old Kinley Rae-John Kelm is facing charges of breaking and entering with intent, larceny of firearms, being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of felony firearms for the incident on September 22nd of 2017. That’s when police say a fire was intentionally set and severely damaged the Scorpions Motorcycle Club headquarters building on Milford Road. A Bobcat belonging to a fence company working a project at the nearby War Dog Memorial was reportedly stolen, driven to the motorcycle club and used to crash through the clubhouse wall and move a large safe. Club members identified Kelm as a suspect in the break-in after noticing him in downtown South Lyon at a fundraiser, wearing a shirt that was from a locker inside the clubhouse. When questioned, Kelm reportedly said he was an out of state club member. While the B&E charges were authorized against Kelm, no charges were filed in connection with the fire that occurred the same night as the break-in. The official cause of the blaze was ruled arson by investigators. Kelm had earlier been referred for a competency evaluation, which was reviewed this week in Novi district court where it was determined he could go to trial on the charges. An August 23rd preliminary exam was set. (JK)

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    Candidates running for Congress took part in a special forum held in Hartland Township, Thursday night. Several hundred people came to the event at the Hartland Educational Support Services Center in anticipation of the August 7th primary. The forum was 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. The two Democrats hoping win the nomination to run for 8th Congressional District were there. Elissa Slotkin said her career in national security has prepared her for Washington. Slotkin said that after 9/11, she decided to serve her country and did so for 14 years. This included 3 tours of duty in Iraq. Slotkin said, when you work national security, you focus on a mission, get to work, close the door, bring disparate parties together, and hammer out a solution. She said it’s that same focus she wants to bring to the 8th District. She wants the cost of health care and prescriptions to come down, to make a once in a generation investment in infrastructure, and curb the role of money in politics. Slotkin’s opponent in the primary is Chris Smith. Smith says he is a policy voter who has taught public policy for more than 30 years, including 24 at Michigan State University. He has penned over 45 books on the subject. Smith said he wants Medicare for all, no pipelines under the Great Lakes and offer free community college and technical education. He is in favor raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. He said he wants to be very clear in his stances, because voters need to know what they are voting for, and that they are tired of politicians who are not clear in where they stand. The two debated over a series of topics related to current events and issues. They discussed international trade policy and border safety, among many things. One issue where they differed was how best to curb gun violence. Slotkin, who said she grew up in a gun-owning family and trained with a Glock and M4 assault rifle during her three tours of duty in Iraq, believes the best way to make a difference on this issue is to put in place a system of universal background checks and close all loopholes, adding that "people with experience with weapons are actually in the best position to lead on this issue." Smith said he was for an outright ban on the sale of military-style weapons to the public, but that in his opinion the greatest method to effect change would be to remove the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits related to the use of their products. "We know from the history of the law that the ability to file lawsuits for personal injuries and harms is the mechanism through which we increase the safety of all kinds of devices in society." Slotkin promised to focus on the things she said really matter to people, and closed by saying that Congress won’t change unless the people change who they send there. Smith closed by saying he grew up in a union household, went to public schools, and believes in answering questions truthfully, whether he thinks it’s what the voter wants to hear or not. The 8th Congressional seat is currently held by Republican incumbent Mike Bishop, who did not attend the forum as Congress remained in session. He is being challenged in the GOP primary by Lokesh Kumar. The League of Women Voters of Ann Arbor Area, Brighton/Howell Area Unit live-streamed the event. The link is below. (MK/JK)

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    A mobile summer reading program has been launched by Howell Public Schools. The district launched The Highlander Reading Express early last month and the mobile library has had more than 400 books checked out to date. Howell Superintendent, Erin MacGregor, says the goal for the Highlander Reading Express is to get students excited about reading during the summer. He says some students don’t have the access to reading materials to help combat the “summer slide,” where students lose the information they obtained from the previous school year. Therefore, the Highlander Express is bringing the books to the students. The bus was transformed from a decommissioned school bus and was refurbished by students at Howell High School, and financed by local business and organizations. The bus makes frequent stops throughout the week. More information is available on our website. (EO)

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    The Howell Police Department is upgrading patrol car camera systems. The Howell City Council met recently and approved the purchase of the L3 Mobil Vision in car camera system at a cost of $63,707. The cameras are ten years old and need to be replaced. The purchase was budgeted for but involved a shifting of fiscal years due to some delays. City Manager Shea Charles says life expectancy on these in-car digital camera systems is five years. He says the last time they updated the system; they only did the back end software and did not replace the cameras. This time they’re replacing the full system, so there will be new cameras and back end software and hardware to make the system function. He says the cameras are ten years old while the back office hardware and software , as well as additional hardware in the car to transit to the servers etc, is five years old. Some council members questioned if the purchase was necessary, given tough budget times, and wondered if it could potentially be delayed. While the department could maybe get another year out of them, it was noted there is no warranty and the department would have to pay for the full cost of repairs. There was also a reduced price being offered. Howell Attorney Dennis Perkins spoke up about the benefits and importance of having working cameras, which are critical from an operational standpoint. The cameras were said to be an essential item necessary for any police department, which prove invaluable when documenting proof in different incidents. (JM)

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    A plea has been entered by a local man charged in a marijuana growing and distributing operation. Five area men were charged in 2015 following an investigation into the alleged operation. The investigation led authorities to the suspects’ homes, where 15 pounds of marijuana, about 550 plants and nearly $200,000 in cash was found and seized by police. Among those charged is 48-year-old Jeffrey Allen Michael of Fowlerville, who recently appeared in Livingston County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to two added counts of maintaining a drug house. In exchange, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office agreed to dismiss charges of delivering/manufacturing a controlled substance, felony firearms and conspiracy. Michael will be sentenced August 2nd. As for Michael’s co-defendants, Dennis James of Howell and Joseph Zubor of Gregory previously entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to probation in 2016. The case against Johnny Glen Cooper of Fenton was dismissed without prejudice. The remaining co-defendant, Darryl Scott Berry of Howell, is scheduled for a status conference at the end of August. The charges against the five men were authorized almost two and a half years ago, but it was a stay in the case that caused a holdup for Michael and Berry. Marijuana plants that were collected during the investigation were destroyed by police before trial could commence, which prompted District Court Judge Carol Sue Reader to dismiss several charges against the pair. Judge Reader later reversed her decision and defense attorneys appealed. The appeal was denied by Judge Michael P. Hatty last June. (DK)

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    Livingston County’s election chairpeople received training Thursday at the John E. LaBelle Public Safety Complex in Howell. Experienced inspectors were trained Wednesday, and those working in an absentee voter counting board will be trained Monday. Elections Coordinator Joe Bridgman says the training sessions not only prepare inspectors for the upcoming election, but also allow them to renew or achieve certification that is required every two years. Bridgman says as part of that certification, participants are extensively trained on election rules and regulations- an important piece in avoiding voter fraud. Bridgman feels Bridgman says the risk of voter fraud in Livingston County is very minimal, adding the county’s promulgated regulations go “above and beyond” the federal standards. Thursday’s session offered hands-on training on new voting equipment that has already rolled out in Livingston County, though not all municipalities have had the opportunity to use it yet. Patricia Hughes, Deputy Clerk for Hamburg Township, says the municipality used the equipment in the 2017 November election for Precinct 4. Hughes staffed that election with other chairpeople to allow them to get acquainted with the equipment. She tells WHMI the new equipment is much more reliable and "user-friendly", adding the machines have very clear instructions and lets a voter know that their ballot has been counted. Hughes also likes that the equipment works off of a flash drive for internal workers, as the old machines used a memory card that could lose its programming if it had an electric surge when turned on. The upcoming primary election will take place Tuesday, August 7th. (DK)

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    A former Brighton woman who claimed to have cancer and took donations from an online fundraising account has been found competent to stand trial. 34-year-old Candace Ann Streng is charged with False Pretenses of $20,000 or More and Use of a Computer to Commit a Crime. Streng’s attorney in May ordered a psychiatric evaluation for his client to determine criminal responsibility. Streng recently appeared in Livingston County Circuit Court, where Judge Michael Hatty found her competent to stand trial on the felony charges. The charges were the result of the Brighton Police Department’s investigation into allegations that Streng falsely claimed to have Stage 4 breast cancer and was collecting donations to help with her medical expenses. Several fundraisers were held for Streng over the past year with friends rallying by her side. Police in January began looking into a GoFundMe account called “Candace Kicks Cancer”, which had been set up for Streng. Police say the evidence indicated the account was fraudulently used to accept donations based on Streng’s false cancer claims. GoFundMe records show 399 people donated money totaling $31,645 before the account was deactivated. GoFundMe banned Streng and worked with the Brighton Police Department to refund donors. Streng’s trial is scheduled to begin August 27th. (DK)

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    A summer reading contest hosted by a local legislator is underway. Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township is for students in first through fifth grade. The contest concludes September 1st, where the winners will be invited to Lansing to be “Rep. for a Day.” Vaupel says he’s excited to host the reading program for young people in community. He says studies show reading over the summer helps students with learning retention, preparing them for the following school year. Vaupel adds it also provides a great opportunity for local youth to learn about the legislative process and how their government works. To enter, students must fill out a special contest bookmark identifying with ten books they read over the summer. The bookmarks can be found at the Howell, Hartland, and Fowlerville libraries, and there is no limit to the number of entries. The winners will be randomly drawn and invited to Lansing with their families to serve with Representative Vaupel as “Rep. for a Day.” Questions related to the contest or other state issues should be directed to Rep. Vaupel’s office at (517) 373-8835 or via email to: HankVaupel@house.mi.gov. (JM)

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    A local woman was reappointed to the Michigan Board Optometry. Governor Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that Sandra Doud of Brighton Township was reappointed to the Michigan Board of Optometry. Doud is an optometrist at Huron Ophthalmology and also a member of the American and Michigan Optometric Associations. The nine member board oversees licensure requirements and standards for more than 1,600 Michigan Optometrists. Governor Synder says Doud is an accomplished optometrist, and he believes she will be a great asset to the board. The appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate, which is expected. Doud will serve a four year term which runs until June 30th, 2022. Picture from LinkedIn (EO/JK)

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    A budding commercial enterprise that combines agriculture and tourism has prompted some communities to explore the need for regulations. Agritourism speaks to recreational activities, experiences or events held on private agricultural land. Putnam Township Planner Stephen Hannon says these types of happenings are occurring more frequently, as the agritourism trend continues upward. Agritourism often includes events like barn weddings and farm-to-table dinners, and places to pick fresh produce. In addition to providing various entertainment and educational activities, agritourism also serves as a supplemental source of income for the owners of the private agricultural lands. Hannon says a number of communities, including Putnam Township, are considering establishing an agritourism ordinance. The township’s Planning Commission met Wednesday and discussed the issue, taking into account the impact agritourism could have on the community. Hannon says board members want to make sure the ordinance includes standards regarding venue, occupancy, traffic, restrooms and compliance with safety codes. Overall, the majority of the board noted they were in favor of agritourism, though noted they have a lot of work to do in further exploring, drafting and carefully crafting regulations. The board plans to take the issue up again for further discussion at a later meeting. In the meantime, Chris Schell, owner of Schell Family Farm in Pinckney, has begun to develop a vision that would turn his farm into a hub of agritouristic activities. Though it’s still very preliminary, Schell is interested in expanding his farm’s offerings with the idea to someday add a market and winery. He also has ideas for entertainment that would appeal to the entire family, like hay rides, concerts and walking trails. (DK)

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    Several Hartland Township entities are working together on ways they can better connect with residents to keep them informed. Leaders from the township, Cromaine District Library, Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce and Hartland Consolidated Schools make up the “Partners in Progress” group. Township Manager James Wickman says the four entities have been meeting for a little over a year to discuss local issues that are of mutual interest and benefit, and how they can work together to further connect with community members. Wickman reports additional help has been brought on by some of the group’s partners in order to focus on more ways to share relevant information to residents. Several of the partners are working to increase their social media presence, while the township plans on purchasing video equipment for broadcasting purposes with funds that have been set aside for the Public Education and Government (PEG) channel. Wickman adds Partners in Progress will also need to discuss whether there is agreement in promoting the township’s brand, “Friendly By Nature”. He says one of the next steps moving forward will be to update their website, hartlandliving.com, as they hope it’ll become a more prominent place residents seek out for township happenings and information. Part of the website makeover is expected to include a more streamlined community calendar. Wickman says the group is set to meet at the beginning of next month to further discuss plans for the initiative. (DK)

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    New classes are opening up for students and graduates looking to begin a career in what is now being called the “professional trades.” Come the Fall 2018 semester, Mott Community College’s Livingston Branch Center will be offering a host of new courses for students preparing to enter the industrial workforce. Welding, Industrial Construction Safety, Computer Numerical Control Lathe and Mill classes have been added to their training curriculum. Site Manager for the Livingston Branch Center, Doris Stromer, said there has been a national shift towards changing the term “skilled trades” into “professional trades” because these aren’t the jobs of old. Stromer says that manufacturing today isn’t like it was in the past. Many of the factories are clean and employers are looking for people with higher degrees, like in robotics. Some students may make $18-$20 an hour after graduation. Stromer said that these classes will help fill a growing demand they are seeing from manufacturers. Mott Community College has been doing a non-credit program for years, but with more companies wanting educated workers, this is an opportunity for students to earn a certificate or associate’s degree in these fields. Classes begin September 4th, but Stromer suggests that interested students should apply as soon as possible. MCC is keeping classes small this first semester, with some having the capacity for only 11 students. Visit the link below for more information. (MK)

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    A town hall event will be held in Hamburg Township this week to inform residents about gerrymandering and a proposed solution. The session will be held Wednesday, July 18th, at the Hamburg Township Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm. The event is being led by Voters Not Politicians; a non-partisan ballot committee seeking to end, “the manipulation of voting maps for political gain.” The group says politicians and lobbyists draw voting maps behind closed doors as a way to favor the political party in power. Voters Not Politicians is working to amend the state Constitution to establish an Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission that would allow voters to draw district lines through a series of open meetings. Wednesday the 18th is also the same day that the Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments by an opposition group; Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution. They sued in an attempt to keep the measure off the ballot, arguing the proposal is too broad to be considered an amendment to the state Constitution. Voters Not Politicians collected over 425,000 signatures to place the proposal on the November 2018 state ballot. The group says ending partisan gerrymandering is “an important first step” in solving issues like education, roads and safe water. Event organizers say the town hall will provide information on the problems caused by gerrymandering and further details on the group’s proposal. Similar sessions will be held in Northville and Canton in August. (DK/JK)

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    Construction is expected to begin next week for a stretch of Hacker Road in Hartland and Oceola Townships. The Livingston County Road Commission (LCRC) advises Hacker Road will be closed from Golf Club Road to Bergin Road beginning Monday, July 23rd. The project, which aims to repair subgrade embankment failure, is expected to be completed August 18th. The project timeline is subject to change as it is dependent on weather adversities and other factors. Officials say the scope of the work will include removing the existing surface and road base to replace it with lightweight material. The LCRC also plans to rebuild the driving surface and restore the disturbed area. Motorists are being advised that the work will have a major impact on traffic, as the project requires a full road closure with deep excavation. There will be no access across the work zone, which begins approximately 800 feet north of Golf Club Road and ends about 300 feet south of Norlynn Drive. Access to area homes will be by way of Bergin Road between Hacker Road and Old US-23.

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    A gathering later this week will combine a quick and easy meal with a chance to jump-start some local ideas and turn them into reality. Hartland SOUP, set for 6:30pm on Thursday, July 19th, is a small-scale crowdfunding initiative according to Hartland Cromaine District Library Director Ceci Marlow. "People bring proposals and buy a $5 ticket. You get soup and bread and dessert and then you vote on which proposal gets the money. And all the $5 tickets are the pot that the winning proposal gets. And that's going to be held at the new Settler's Pavilion at the Hartland Township Settler's Park on Clark Road." Marlow says ideas were previously submitted online and can include everything from starting a new community service to beautifying a roadside or an area park. You can get details about Thursday’s Hartland SOUP gathering through the link below. (JK)

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    The Pinckney Police Department is sponsoring a Hunter Safety Education seminar next month. The introductory class will be held Wednesday, August 8th, from 9am to 6pm at the Pinckney Community Library. It will be led by Hunter Safety Instructor Art Joslin, who teaches the same course for local groups including Pinckney Police, Peacemakers Gun Range, and the Howell Gun Club. Joslin says in addition to obviously teaching safety measures, the class covers survival skills, conservation, preservation and laws that a new hunter needs to know to apply for a hunting license in the state of Michigan. Joslin feels the class is very important, in part due to his belief that new hunters are often so focused on the game that they forget there are other components to practicing. He says that includes trespassing and knowing how to find one’s way around. Joslin says the ultimate goal of the class is to reduce the number of hunting accidents. There is a course fee of $10, which covers lunch, snacks and water. A parent or guardian must accompany participants under the age of 10, with a requirement to register in advance. Additional event and registration details can be obtained by contacting Joslin at 810-623-1305. (DK)

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    A New Hudson man will be back in court this week after police say he tried to kill his girlfriend’s infant son so he could spend more time with her. 23-year-old Seth Blumberg is charged with assault with intent to murder and 1st degree child abuse. 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 motion hearing Wednesday 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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