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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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    A Milford native and head chef at two popular restaurants is moving on to a new role that allows him to give back to the community. Brandon Zarb has served as executive chef at Imperial and Public House in Ferndale for the last three years, which are two of the busiest restaurants in Metro Detroit. At this point in his career, Zarb says he’s ready for a new chapter and an opportunity to give back to the community that has so deeply supported him. Come August, the 31-year-old Milford native will serve as the culinary paraprofessional educator at Rising Stars Academy where he’ll educate young adults with disabilities in culinary arts. Zarb will be teaching the special needs students the cooking and social skills needed to become gainfully employed in the food-service industry. Zarb says he’s been fortunate enough to witness how the founders are changing lives every day. Zarb says he’s always been drawn to teaching and mentoring, and in the face of an industry wide labor shortage, he’s excited to bring his passion for cooking to an organization that helps both the local community and local restaurants. His final day with the Ferndale restaurant group is August 3rd. (JM)

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    Motorists are sharing the road with an ever increasing amount of motorcycle riders, and the public is being reminded to “Look Twice, Save a Life”. May is Motorcycle Awareness Month but Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says safety should be at the forefront year round. Riding offers a sense of freedom for many, and Johnson says it’s important that all motorcyclists are properly licensed and have completed safety courses. Johnson tells WHMI there are just under 500,000 people that ride motorcycles in Michigan, so people need to look for them. She says it’s easy for them to get in the blind spots of a vehicle, noting that a lot of accidents occur when people are pulling out and not paying attention. Johnson says motorcyclists also need extra room so don’t ride on their bumper. For the 10% of people who don’t get their motorcycle endorsement, which is the law, Johnson urges them to do so. She says classes teach riders how to fall correctly but also evade accidents, among other important safety aspects. Classes are held all over the state but Johnson says they’re actually looking for more instructors because more people are taking up motorcycling. Johnson stressed that she’s very careful when she rides and hopes that motorists are also being careful and watching for smaller vehicles on the road, especially during the summer. (JM)

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    A bridge replacement project is starting up soon that will impact different forms of traffic in the Milford area. The Road Commission for Oakland County is replacing the bridge on Wixom Road over the Huron River. The $2.2 (m) million bridge replacement project involves bridge demolition and culvert removal, followed by construction of a new single span bridge and new guardrails. Tree removal work was done earlier this spring. Construction has a scheduled start date of July 29th. The project will stretch into the fall, with target completion in late October. Wixom Road will be completely closed, resulting in lengthy detours for motorists. The detour for vehicle traffic is Wixom Road to Glengary Road to Benstein Road to Bass Lake Road to Sleeth Road, back to Wixom Road and vice versa. A temporary left turn traffic signal will also be installed at the intersection of Glengary and Bass Lake Roads. Officials are trying to accommodate recreational users of the waterway. The Huron River underneath the bridge will be closed during various stages of bridge construction. However, the current plan is to keep the river open during weekends throughout construction. Informational signs will be put up at popular boat launches so canoers and kayakers will know if the river is open or closed. (JM)

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    An annual picnic event that serves as a thank you to local veterans is approaching in August. The Livingston County Veterans Appreciation Picnic is planned Saturday, August 4th from noon to 4pm at the Brighton State Recreation Area. The picnic will be held rain or shine at Chilson Pond featuring an opening ceremony with the local organizations, free barbeque, a band, games and resources for local veterans. Refreshments will be provided but no alcohol as it is a family themed event. A number of donated prizes will also be passed out. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Livingston County Veterans Council sponsor the picnic every year as a thank you, according to Council Commander Montie Ocha. He tells WHMI the event offers a good time to get together and give back. He says they’ve held the event for about ten years now and it’s been pretty successful. It’s free and open to all Livingston County veterans and their families. Ocha says a vehicle pass is not required to enter the park, as the state waives fees for veterans for the day. No registration is required. (JM)

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    The culinary skills of local chefs will once be tested once again as they compete in the 14th annual Iron Chef competition to benefit the Gleaners Community Food Bank of Livingston County. The Iron Chef event is a culinary competition modeled after Food Network’s "Iron Chef America." The event will take place August 9th from 6 to 9pm. This year, chef and returning champion Craig Myrand of Adam Merkel Restaurants and chef and challenger Ryan Louwaert of Bourbons will battle in "Kitchen Stadium" at Bordine's Nursery in Brighton. They will create three courses, all of which must include a secret ingredient. Local celebrities will emcee the competition while the culinary creations are judged by a variety of culinary and community leaders. Two local mixologists, Sabrina Lewis of Burroughs Roadhouse, and Caitlin Wilkinson of Diamonds Steak and Seafood, will compete in the cocktail competition. Funds raised support Gleaners Shared Harvest Pantry in Genoa Township, which serves hundreds of local families on a monthly basis. Sponsorships and food tasting table opportunities are available, and tickets can be purchased through the link provided. (JM)

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    The search continues for 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. The family is 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. 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. (JM)

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    A construction project is starting up on a stretch of Hacker Road in Oceola and Hartland Townships. Hacker Road will be closed from Golf Club to Bergin beginning today. The project was originally done two years ago but is needed to repair subgrade embankment failure. Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine says occasionally the initial fix doesn’t always work so crews will be back for about a month and reminds Hacker Road will be completely closed from July 23rd to mid-August in an area about 1,000 feet north of Golf Club Road since they will have to dig the entire width of the road. He says they had a localized failure in an area of a large swamp where they had attempted to dig out the swamp. He says obviously that didn’t work so crews will be going back in because it’s the right thing to do and will provide much more stability. Craine tells WHMI the pavement currently there will not be acceptable in another couple of years because the swamp is moving and essentially sucking parts of the road bed into the swamp. He notes it is complicated work that involves taking apart the existing drainage system, pulling the road grade a little lower and then filling up the difference with large Styrofoam blocks, which are used to save weight versus heavier material like gravel. He says weight is always the problem in swampy areas so they’ll take some weight off to get better pavement performance. Craine says he sympathizes with residents and motorists who utilize the road on a daily basis because it was a long summer of construction they had to endure when the project was first done. Motorists are reminded there will be no access through the work zone and access to homes will be by way of Bergin Road between Hacker and Old US-23. (JM)

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    The fire protection rating for one local department could potentially yield insurance savings for residents and businesses. The Hartland Deerfield Fire Authority has received an upgraded rating from the Insurance Services Office, or ISO. That organization evaluates municipal fire-protection efforts in communities using credit points and various formulas, before calculating a fire protection rating from 1, being the best, to 10 being the worst. ISO’s analysis of the structural fire response and suppression capabilities provided by the Hartland Deerfield Fire Authority resulted in a 4/5 rating. It previously was a 4/6. Those properties within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant remain rated at a Class 4, which the authority says is in the top 14% in Michigan. All other properties were reduced to a Class 5, placing them in the top 34% statewide. Fire Chief Adam Carroll says homeowners and business in the new Class 5 area should realize a savings on the fire portion of their property insurance. Carroll added that over the course of the next 5 to 10 years, that could result in more than a million dollars in savings. The upgraded rating came after a comprehensive review of the authority’s operations, including available water supply and delivery capabilities. Also factored in were 911 phone services, dispatch and communication capabilities of Livingston County Central Dispatch. (JK)

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    An inert grenade was discovered by a local woman cleaning a basement over the weekend. The Oakland County sheriff's office says in a statement the discovery was made Saturday in Highland Township. No one was injured. A deputy responded to the Highland Township Substation after another person reported his friend found the military-style grenade with a safety pin in place. He told the deputy that his friend's deceased ex-husband had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. The Michigan State Police bomb disposal unit checked out the grenade and determined it was inert. (JK)

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    A full on stage show of dance and music from the Motown era is on tap later this week in Hartland. The Recycled Rockettes and Rockers are a dance group of women and men, age 50 and over, who dress up in Broadway-style costumes with many changes during their performances. They have two shows this Thursday and Friday titled “Motown and More.” Based out of the Hartland Senior Activity Center, the group is instructed and choreographed by Maria Usher and are known for always putting on an upbeat show. Cindy Rasmussen is one of the dancers and says they may not necessarily have dance experience when they join the group, but many hours are spent perfecting their routines, which she believes has a very therapeutic effect for them while also entertaining the audience. "It does a lot for fitness. It does a lot for memory...it keeps us young and fit and strong and active. A lot of people refer to it 'Oh you're doing a recital' and I always say it's not a recital, it's a show...with lighting and audio...where people come and see us perform." “Motown and More” will be held at the Hartland Performing Arts Center on Highland Road this Thursday, July 26th at 1:30pm, with a second performance on Friday, July 27th at 7:30pm. Tickets are on sale now at the Hartland Senior Activity Center for $10 and will be $12 at the door of each performance. For more details call 810-626-2135. (JK)

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    The official unveiling of an authentic 1888 caboose was held Sunday in Howell. The public was allowed to tour the Grand Trunk Western Caboose now owned by the Howell Area Historical Society, which spent countless hours restoring it. Previously it had been was housed in the Grand Trunk Railroad Depot in Lansing, but had been allowed to deteriorate. It has since been brought to Downtown Howell where it now currently sits at the Depot Museum on Wetmore Street. Vice President of the Howell Historical Society Mike Mason tells WHMI that donations are needed to keep the future of restorations possible. "The upkeep on this is tremendous because it's all wood and every year you have to paint it. It's just one of those things and it costs money to do so." The caboose was added to the society’s collection in 2011, and has been lovingly restored in the years since by a group of volunteers. The Michigan 5th Civil War Band also provided period tunes at Sunday’s event. The caboose will be open every Sunday until the end of October, coinciding with the Howell Farmers Market. (EO/JK)

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    A fire science scholarship at Lake Superior State University has been created to honor a local student who died. The Sault Ste. Marie school says the Justin Kelly Memorial Endowment is made possible by family and friends of Kelly, a fire science student from Milford who died in February as a result of an accident. Kelly was a 2016 graduate of Milford High School, where he played basketball, ran track, and was a swimmer. Fire science candidates entering their junior year are eligible for the award, which will be a minimum of $1,024. The criterion stipulates that the award amount will end in $24 to represent Justin’s fire science helmet number at Lake Superior State University. The first recipient is Jacob Sieloff, who is from St. Clair. He says in a release that Kelly was a classmate and friend who remains "a huge part of LSSU." The LSSU Foundation is accepting additional contributions to the scholarship. Pictured: John and Joan Kelly sign documents with Lake Superior State University President Peter Mitchell (standing, left) in April to create the Justin Kelly Memorial Endowment in memory of their son. His scholarship will benefit eligible LSSU fire science students entering their junior year. In uniform is Kelly’s former LSSU professor, Fred Newton. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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    The two Republican candidates vying for the 6th District seat on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners went head-to-head at a forum in Hamburg Township Monday. The Pinckney/Putnam/Hamburg/Hell Chamber of Commerce held its "Meet the Candidates" forum at the township offices, inviting candidates from all of the contested positions in the August 7th primary election. Among the participants were the two GOP candidates for the 6th District seat - incumbent Bob Bezotte and challenger Steve Williams. Bezotte defeated Williams in the 2016 primary to take the seat from him following an often contentious relationship that often brought the two to loggerheads over a variety of issues. Despite that, they remained civil while sharing their thoughts on a variety of issues, including housing federal prisoners in the county jail, roads, and funding economic development organizations. The pair was asked whether they supported continuation of county funding for the Economic Development Council of Livingston County and Ann Arbor SPARK. For the last five years, the county has partnered with the EDC, who in turn contracts SPARK to provide business recruitment and retention services in the region. In November, the County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a one-year contract with the EDC for $175,000. Bezotte says he is now questioning whether he’d again be in favor to continue the funding in the future, after reading a report from SPARK that he says claims the area doesn’t have the roads or infrastructure to support business growth. But Williams believes SPARK has been a helpful asset to the county because of the exposure it provides and the growth it’s helped achieve thus far. He supports each municipality having control over their own level of participation in the partnership, but notes it’s still beneficial to those who choose not to contract the organizations, as they can still access some of those services because the county has an over-arching contract. The pair was also asked how they’d go about fixing local roads, assuming no help will come from the state level. Bezotte says he’s been working toward that by meeting with Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine, and would like to revert back to a shared-funding effort that was formerly in place and incorporated county, road commission and municipality funding. Bezotte says that shared funding would help bring additional road projects to fruition each year. Williams says the state and feds are responsible for road funding, and that the townships should not have to pass millages to fund repairs. Williams noted by law, the county can only allocate additional money for road funding as it cannot be allocated from its general fund. Also featured at the forum were candidates for a newly created judgeship position in the 44th Circuit Court, 22nd District State Senator, and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck. (DK)

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    An alleged sexual assault complaint and possible swatting incident at an area campground is under investigation. Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office responded around 7:16am Sunday to the campground in the Proud Lake State Recreation area near Wixom on a report of a victim who had just been sexually assaulted at one of the camp sites and was running for help. Detectives believed this was a “swatting” incident and trying to locate the caller. “Swatting” is when someone makes a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address. The alleged victim had called a non-emergency number into the Sheriff’s Operations Center and advised that she had suffered stab wound on the leg by a knife that the assailant had threatened her with. The victim said she did not know her attacker and she was walking on a nearby trail but did not know the specific location. The cell phone was a WI-FI only type phone and was unable to be “pinged” and police say the caller refused to call back on a 9-1-1 line. Deputies, the Commerce Township Fire Department and rangers from the Proud Lake Campground say a thorough search of the campground property was conducted An off-road vehicle was brought in by the fire department, as well as off-road trail riding vehicles by campground personnel. The Sheriff’s Office says pedestrian trails, boat launches, parked motor vehicles, camp sites and multiple cabins were checked but the victim was not located. Information that was received was that the victim’s cell phone had a 616 area code and that her number was returning to the west side of the state, possibly the Berrien Springs area per the service provider. Personnel conducting the ground search were satisfied that the call was a hoax and discontinued their area search. The investigation continues and authorities are working to locate the caller. (JM)

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    The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has filed an amended complaint against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan with additional allegations that involve misconduct in office and perjury. The Commission 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 contradict that and indicate it began long before the trial. The amended complaint filed by the Commission includes two additional charges related to false statements concerning work that employees did for Brennan’s campaign, and improper demeanor/disrespectful treatment of an attorney assigned to a case. The complaint alleges Brennan made knowing misrepresentations in statements to the Commission during its request for investigation, which constitutes a pattern of misconduct in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The complaint details instances of Brennan directing her staff to conduct personal tasks on court time and improper campaign activities. The Commission had requested follow up responses, in which Brennan affirmed she never allowed campaign work to be done during work hours and mixing her campaign with work was an “absolute no”. The complaint says the statements Brennan made were false and she knew they were false. Brennan has 14 days to respond to the amended Judicial Tenure Commission complaint. She had the same time frame to respond to the initial complaint but that was extended. The amended complaint is attached. Meanwhile, Brennan’s caseload has been reassigned and she is also the subject of a Michigan State Police criminal investigation. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has said he will immediately review that upon conclusion. (JM)

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    A new executive director has been named for a local nonprofit organization. Jim Gilmore of Hamburg Township has been named interim executive director for UBU Today. The non-profit addresses individual trauma, stemming from any number of causes including sexual assault, domestic violence, depression, grief or loss, divorce ad PTSD among others. The non-profit provides education, resources, workshops and access too world renowned natural techniques as a springboard for renewed personal growth, hope and healing. Gilmore has an extensive history of community involvement, including with local rotary clubs. Gilmore says he’s excited lend his passion and expertise in organization and resource development to helping people release the hold that trauma has on them and change lives for the better. Wendy Jo Morrison of Brighton is the founder of UBU Today. After being diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy in 2010, Morrison traveled to Greece, where she discovered Biodynamic Breath and Trauma Release. She is now the only person certified in the modality in the United States. Morrison had previously served as the voluntary executive director but will now concentrate on her duties as board chair, facilitation, trauma awareness and on expanding opportunities through programming and curriculum. (JM)

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    12-year-old Emma Roberts is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, which is a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to make too many immature white blood cells. The Maltby Intermediate School student was diagnosed in April and has been undergoing treatment since. Family, friends and community members rallied around her, raising funds for medical expenses and other needs by selling t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Emma Roberts Strong”. On Monday, Emma and some of her family members were presented with a check at Kensington Valley Varsity in Brighton, which is where the t-shirts were made. Owner Stephanie Konkel says the response they received was “tremendous”, noting that several local groups have piggy-backed off it to make an even greater impact. Emma’s mom, Janet, thanked everyone who contributed to the fundraiser, saying they couldn't have made it this far without the community's support. Janice Buckley, a family friend of the Roberts’ who helped coordinate the t-shirt fundraiser, says they plan to hold a second fundraiser with long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts soon, as well as a car wash. They’ll also be coordinating their efforts with Brighton Area Schools’ “Pink Week”. Buckley thanked supporters for rising to the occasion, saying the community has gone above and beyond where anyone thought this would go. Emma says the community’s support makes her feel “awesome”, and that it’s “amazing” seeing pictures of people wearing her shirt, which her mom shows to her during her treatments. She’ll be admitted to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor this week to begin her next phase of chemotherapy, which is expected to continue until January. (DK)

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    Voters within the Howell Public School District will vote on a sinking fund millage request in November. Monday night Superintendent Erin MacGregor successfully submitted a point-5 mill request to go on November’s Election Day ballot. The Board of Education unanimously approved the ballot request which would see an annual $1.2 to $1.5 million go towards long term district needs over the next ten years. Repairs to roofs, parking lots, sidewalks, and other infrastructure needs would be supported by the sinking fund millage. The the new millage proposal would not affect the current millage rate of 6.3. MacGregor was pleased to see approval of the sinking fund request, saying it shows the district’s long term commitment to providing a quality school structure. MacGregor also told WHMI that once he receives approval from the state’s Department of Treasury he will start an immediate campaign process to inform taxpayers about the millage request. The millage request will be placed on the November 6th ballot. (DF)

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    Various issues have led the City of Howell to launch an in-depth study period when it comes to potentially regulating group and sober living homes. The Howell City Council met Monday night and approved a 12-month moratorium on consideration of special land use permits in residential districts for group homes and other types of facilities. Staff stressed there is no pre-conceived notion or intent with the moratorium, and issues came to light over the last few months after an application and other inquires raised a multitude of questions. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI it’s something they’ll be researching and looking at potential alternatives. He says the moratorium came out of some recent applications as well as some ongoing conversations about the nature of these types of families and the impact on neighborhoods. Charles says they’ll be taking the next twelve months to do some data collection, additional analysis and come back with potential alternatives for the City to consider to help address concerns but also make sure they are integrated in an appropriate way with the community. In April, the City’s Community Development Department received an application for a recovery supportive services home at 304 South Walnut Street, targeting individuals recovering from heroin addiction. That application has since been withdrawn. Staff noted a tremendous amount of public input was received; largely negative from Howell residents but positive from those outside the City. It was noted during the meeting that it is a needed service, a lot of which has resulted from the nationwide opiate crisis, and other communities are also beginning to deal with issues and potential regulations. Another factor is that the State of Michigan pre-empts municipalities on certain facilities. A group home of six or less involves a state license but the state handles that process. Charles says there is also that balance between being pre-empted by state law, what the City can approve locally and things of that nature. The City will engage staff, legal counsel and planning consultants in the research and analysis process but also plans to seek outside services from legal counsel specializing in the topic. Staff stated they want to gather good data on where these types of homes are currently located throughout the county but that could prove tough because they are not easy to find or always required to register. It was further noted that since there are no pending applications, the City is well within its rights to implement a moratorium. (JM)

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    An estate sale at the former Brighton home of a celebrity couple has been scrapped. Melissa Gilbert and Timothy Busfield, who moved to Howell in 2013 and then to the Brighton area two years later, announced earlier this month that they would be relocating to New York City. They said career opportunities made the move necessary and that they would be having an estate sale of most of their items from their Brighton-area home, including memorabilia from both of their careers. The sale was supposed to happen this weekend but has since been canceled, according to Poof Estate Services. A statement was provided by the couple, which read “Due to reasons beyond our control we must cancel the estate sale. We have enjoyed working with the people at Poof and are saddened to disappoint both Poof and their customers.” The Detroit Free Press reports the couple’s home sits on 25 acres but is not yet on the market. (JM)

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