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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 lawsuit spanning years between Green Oak Township and the owner of the shuttered Barnstormers complex has finally been settled. The property on M-36 near US-23 has been in flux since 2012, when the entertainment complex was shut down following years of code violations. Rob Cortis still owns the shuttered facility, which has been the subject of lengthy litigation with the township. Multiple safety and code violations led to occupancy being reduced and portions of the building were ordered closed until the conditions deemed dangerous could be rectified. The township sought sanctions against Cortis and his attorney Roger Myers for what it maintained were frivolous filings that caused lengthy legal delays and additional costs. RJMC Corporation, on behalf of Cortis, sued the township in 2011 alleging the fire department’s actions limiting occupancy were unwarranted and caused him to lose business. The suit also challenged the sanctions imposed by the township. The Michigan Court of Appeals eventually ordered mediation and a facilitated settlement was reached in the case in June. Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles tells WHMI the court upheld the finding that the Barnstormers is a dangerous building and that the facility must remain closed until such time as all the dangerous portions have been demolished and the building is renovated in conformance with all applicable codes. He says the court affirmed the award of the township’s costs related to the litigation in the amount of $27,078. St. Charles says the parties also reached a settlement on court-awarded sanctions against Barnstormers for filing a frivolous lawsuit in the amount of $85,000. The monetary awards will remain in the form of a lien against the property until paid. (JM)

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    One of the four candidates in the Republican race for Michigan’s governor attended a forum in Hamburg Township to share his thoughts on various issues, including the potential political appointment of a judge to Livingston County’s 53rd District Court. Gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck attended the Pinckney/Putnam/Hamburg/Hell Chamber of Commerce’s “Meet the Candidates” forum, held at the Hamburg Township offices Monday night. Colbeck, who is currently serving his second term in Michigan’s Senate representing the 7th District, is up against Lt. Governor Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and political newcomer Dr. Jim Hines in the Republican primary race for governor. Michigan’s next governor could be charged with the task of appointing a new judge to the 53rd District Court in Howell in the event embattled Judge Theresa Brennan is removed from the bench. At Monday’s forum, Colbeck was asked by Moderator Rick Beaudin how he would go about choosing her replacement if she were removed and he was elected governor. Colbeck says he'd look for a person of integrity and a "rule of law judge". Colbeck added he'd look for someone who respects the fact that the judicial branch interprets the law in the context of a specific case, and that the branch does not make laws. Livingston County’s court system is being reorganized in the way judgeship positions are allocated. A district court judgeship will be eliminated December 31st of this year and a circuit court judgeship will be added on January 1st, 2019. There are four candidates vying for the newly created judgeship in Livingston County’s 44th Circuit Court, one of whom is 53rd District Court Judge Suzanne Geddis. Michigan’s next governor would only have to appoint a judge if Geddis were elected to the circuit court judgeship and Brennan were removed from the bench. (DK)

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    Township officials enacted a moratorium on new signs earlier this year, citing the need to amend their current ordinance to provide clarity and consistency. The moratorium recently expired, prompting officials to enact a second one earlier this month. The township’s Planning Commission met Tuesday to review the proposed amendments to the ordinance and shared whether they were on board with them or felt there were further changes still needed. One of the amendments would allow digital billboards in the township, though highly regulates them. The current state law does not allow municipalities to ban static billboards, but does give them the authority to prohibit digital ones. Commissioner Peter Manwiller is against digital billboards entirely, saying evidence suggests they pose a threat to traffic safety. Commissioner Wayne Williams on the other hand is in favor of electronic billboards as they do not fade and deteriorate like static ones. Other amendments include requiring site plan approval, whereas before only administrative review and a permit was needed. Township Planner Paul Montagno said he’d take the board’s thoughts into consideration and bring the amendments with the suggested changes back for further discussion next month. The amendments have caused some controversy as the moratorium was enacted after the American Legion Devereaux Post 141 at Grand River and M-59 had proposed to put up an electronic billboard on its property, leaving their application in limbo. One proposed amendment that could affect their ability to put the sign up prohibits billboards within 1,000 ft. of an intersection or interchange. Though township officials say they have not measured the exact distance, the Legion’s proximity to the Grand River and M-59 intersection could effectively preclude their sign as currently proposed. Lawyer Bill Fahey is also seeking further clarification from the Michigan Department of Transportation regarding their ability to prohibit digital signs on those federally funded highways. (DK)

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    The former director of a local non-profit pet rescue organization charged in an animal cruelty case has entered a plea. 70-year-old Sharen Anne Kizer of Howell was originally charged with abandoning/cruelty to 10 or more animals. In 53rd District Court Tuesday, she pleaded no contest to a reduced one-year misdemeanor charge of animal neglect/abuse of 2-3 animals. She was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $53,596 and will be sentenced on July 16th, 2019. Kizer was charged as a result of violations found at Last Chance Rescue in Howell Township, due to alleged unsanitary shelter conditions and a lack of animal care. Livingston County Animal Control had received complaints about the facility’s conditions and care of animals. Last December, Animal Control officers found alleged violations that prompted them to seize about 120 animals. Animal Control Director Aimee Orn previously told WHMI when on scene, there were great concerns for the safety and well-being of the animals and they were not comfortable leaving them there. The plea deal reached stipulates Kizer cannot operate, work or volunteer for any shelter or any other animal care business during her delayed sentence or probation period. She must forfeit all other animals currently in care of Animal Control, if not already done, and cannot foster or possess animals. Kizer’s attorney has maintained that some of the animals seized were not owned by Kizer or Last Chance Rescue and they should have been returned to their rightful owners immediately. Records show the court will allow the defendant to possess animals /pets that were in the home at the time of seizure, which were Kizer’s four personal dogs. Meanwhile, a former employee of the rescue was also charged in a separate felony animal cruelty case. Valerie Cunnings pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of abandoning animals and was sentenced to six months of probation and must pay $4,417 restitution. A review is scheduled January 24th, 2019. (JM)

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    There will be some contested school board races in the November General Election. In Brighton Area Schools, six candidates have filed for three open seats. Board Vice President Dave Chesney, Trustee John Conely are not running for re-election. Incumbent Kenneth Stahl filed to retain his seat. The other candidates that filed include Sean Hickman, Angela Krebs, Laura Mitchell, Andy Storm, and Kara Totaro. In Fowlerville Community Schools, three seats carrying four year terms and one partial term are up for election. Incumbents Steve Frederick, John Belcher and Trish Reed filed for re-election to the four-year seats along with challenger Ron Drinkert. Incumbent Mary Veilbig was the only one to file for the partial term. In Hartland Consolidated Schools, two seats carrying regular six-year terms are up along with one partial term. Incumbents Charlie Aberasturi and Christopher Costa have filed for the two full terms and will face challenger Sherri Osterman. Incumbent Trustee Kristin Coleman has filed for the partial term. In Howell Public Schools, three seats with four year regular terms will be elected. Incumbents Brent Earl, Gregg Gilligan, and Grace Trudell all filed for re-election. They will face challengers Christy Conn and Leslie Bohnett. In Pinckney Community Schools, two seats with regular six-year terms are up for election, along with three partial terms. Incumbents Terri Bankes, Bethany Mohr and Melissa Mueller will face challenger Amanda Mortenson. Incumbents Matthew Maciag and Bill Wearne filed for re-election to their respective partial term seats. (JM)

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    A community protest is being organized in support of the man serving a life sentence who was convicted in a double murder case that 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan presided over. The protest for Jerome Kowalski will take place in front of the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office from 1 to 6pm Wednesday. A flyer being distributed on social media states an innocent man has been sentenced to life in prison for two crimes he did not commit, alleging he never got a fair trial with Brennan. She is facing multiple misconduct and perjury charges in a complaint filed by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. The complaint stems from Brennan’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the lead investigator in the 2008 double homicide of Jerome Kowalski’s brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home. Furlong was also the chief witness during the 2013 trial, which ended up with Jerome Kowalski’s conviction, based largely on his confession to Furlong. Kowalski quickly recanted the confession and has maintained his innocence. Brennan and Furlong say the affair began after the trial but testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial. Organizers are asking anyone who has been wronged in Brennan’s court to attend the protest. The flyer is attached. (JM)

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    Some 16 youths from the Brighton area were treated Tuesday to the rare sight of a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter landing. It took place at the Brighton High School parking lot, where the crew made itself available for questions and answers to a summer youth program group. In addition to his job as Brighton High School liaison officer, Chris Parks is also in charge of the Brighton Police Youth Leadership Academy. The program has been taking place for nearly three weeks now at the Brighton Police Dept., and on field trips at scattered locations throughout the Livingston County area. Parks tells WHMI that seeing the huge Chinook helicopter land within a stone’s throw was very exciting to the youths, and many of their parents, who were there to greet the Army ‘copter crew. Rolly Olney, an incoming Brighton High School freshman, says he’s received a lot of practical training as a Police Youth Leadership Academy recruit. Today, the group will go to Ann Arbor, where they will learn about a different helicopter and its crew – the University of Michigan Survival Flight Helicopter. That’s not to say the young men and young ladies have only learned about helicopters. They also have observed the judicial system first-hand by spending all day at the county courthouse, learned from local EMTs how accident victims are extricated from vehicles and attended a mini-Brighton Fire Dept. academy. Officer Parks say due to the success of this year’s pilot program, they will likely make the Police Youth Academy program an annual event. The program is funded primarily through the police budget, with the help of the local business community via many donations. (TT) Photo credit: Deb Utter, Brighton Police Dept.

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    Another analysis of Michigan's 8th District indicates it may be part of a wave that could bring a Democrat into the seat for the first time in almost 20 years. On Tuesday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis newsletter run by the University of Virginia Center for Politics, shifted the 8th District from “Leans Republican” to “Toss Up,” one of 17 race changes it made this week, all of which benefited Democrats. In fact, the newsletter said, “Democrats are now a little better than 50-50 to win the House,” noting that it was the first time this cycle they’ve gone beyond 50-50 odds on a House turnover. Sabato writes that Bishop is facing a, "seemingly high-quality Democratic challenger" in Democrat Elissa Slotkin, who he says, "has been crushing Bishop in fundraising so badly that she holds a $2.2 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage, an unusual edge for a challenger to hold on an incumbent. Both districts have above-average college graduation rates, often a predictor of Trump skepticism that could have down-ballot repercussions." The prediction follows a similar designation of “Toss Up” from the Cook Political Report earlier this month and from CNN’s nonpartisan election forecasters in March. In response, Bishop Campaign spokesman Stu Sandler reiterated their narrative that Slotkin’s move back to Michigan last year means she doesn’t truly represent the interests of the district. “Mike Bishop is in a strong position to win the district that he serves and where he has been a lifelong resident. Elissa Slotkin is being funded by coastal elites from New York and California in a district where she doesn't own a home, and her vote for herself in the primary will be her first vote in the district ever." But Laura Epstein, Slotkin’s spokesperson, said their experience tells a different story. “Elissa joined the CIA after 9/11 and is proud of her service to our country, which included three tours in Iraq alongside our military and serving under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Elissa is running a powerful grassroots campaign and has the support of more than 5,000 individual donors from Michigan, unlike Rep. Bishop, who raises most of his campaign funds from corporate PACs. The enthusiasm on the ground is real, marked by more than a thousand volunteers who have signed up to support Elissa in this campaign.” Slotkin is not the only Democrat running for the 8th District nomination. MSU instructor Chris Smith of East Lansing touts himself as a non-establishment, progressive. He says, “the new analysis simply reflects the reality of public dissatisfaction with Bishop's lack of independence and his failure to devote himself to the interests of the 8th district's residents” adding that despite Bishop taking $1.4 million from Political Action Committees during this election cycle, “outside observers clearly have questions about whether his money can make up for his lack of a defensible record, even in a district that was gerrymandered to protect his job.” Bishop also has a primary challenger; Lansing businessman Lokesh Kumar. (JK)

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    The one-time Director of Livingston County Animal Control has been suspended in a neighboring county. The Ingham County Board of Commissioners voted 11 to 3 Tuesday night to suspend 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 persistent complaints about her 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. 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." According to WLNS TV-6 in Lansing, the Ingham County Controller's investigation is expected to wrap up Friday. Once that happens, commissioners will hold a personnel meeting to determine what happens next. (JK)

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    A man was rescued from a fiery crash in Lyon Township on Tuesday. The accident happened in front of the Lyon Township Fire Department Station 1, located on Grand River. Officials say on-duty firefighters heard the collision and responded in seconds. Firefighters found a truck against a pole and a second vehicle with front end damage. There was an injured driver inside of the truck that had gas spilled on him from cans in the bed of the truck. Officials say firefighters quickly pulled the driver to safety as his vehicle began to start on fire. Firefighters then provided medical treatment and extinguished the fire. The driver of the truck was transported to a local hospital. The other driver was uninjured. Photos: Lyon Township Fire Department Facebook. (JM)

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    Community members gathered outside of the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office in Howell today in support of the man convicted in a double murder case that 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan presided over. Supporters at the protest for Jerome Kowalski came and went throughout the day, with a group of about 15 people outside the Prosecutor’s Office as of 4pm. Protestors say Kowalski is an innocent man sentenced to life in prison for two crimes he did not commit, alleging he never got a fair trial with Judge Brennan. Protestors cite Brennan’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the lead investigator in the 2008 double homicide of Jerome Kowalski’s brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home. Brennan and Furlong say the affair began after the trial, but testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial. While Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt does not have the authority to remove Brennan from office, Jerome’s son, Jared Kowalski, says Vailliencourt could take alternative actions like granting his father a new trial and filing charges against Brennan. In a written statement to WHMI, Vailliencourt responded to say, “I am conducting a careful and thorough review of the facts and the applicable law to determine whether a new trial is required. I have consulted with Mr. Kowalski’s attorney and have also made sure that the family of the victims are aware of what is going on. This is not a decision to be made lightly. Once a decision is made, it will be handled though the appropriate judicial processes." Also attending today’s protest was individuals who say they too have been wronged in Brennan’s court. Protest organizer Denice Watts says in her own divorce case, she had to sell her house or remortgage it. Watts took it off the market because she felt it needed some more work and says Brennan’s response to that shocked many involved in the case. Watts says Brennan angrily told her she had no right to take her house off the market, then, to Watts' ex-husband and his attorney twice said, “Let’s just give her 30 days to get out." Jerome Kowalski’s conviction from the 2013 trial was based largely on his confession to Detective Furlong. Kowalski quickly recanted the confession and has since maintained his innocence. You can view Vailliencourt's full response at the attachment below. (DK)

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    A school supply collection event is planned today in Brighton. The Michigan State Police Brighton Post is partnering with the Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA) and Target to gather back to school supplies for the families in Livingston County. The MSP Brighton Post located at 4337 Buno Road in Brighton Township will serve as a drop off location for back to school supplies until Monday, August 13th. State Police will also be hosting two “Stuff the Blue Goose” events at the Brighton Target store on Challis Road today from 10am until 2pm. Another event will take place on Thursday, August 9th from 2 to 6pm at the store. MSP partners with various agencies throughout the year collecting items needed for families in our communities. During the Stuff the Blue Goose events, backpacks and back to school supplies will be collected for LESA. All donated items will be distributed to families in Livingston County during LESA’s annual Backpacks for Kids/Connect for Kids event which will be held in August. “Blue Goose” refers to the name of MSP patrol vehicles. During the collection events at Target, a Trooper will be on site with patrol vehicles available to be “stuffed” or filled with all of the provided donations. (JM)

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    The Brighton Board of Education has reached tentative agreement with two of the district's unions, including the Brighton Educational Support Personnel Association and the Brighton Area Schools Administrators Association. If the agreements are ratified at the next board meeting, the two groups will receive a 2% pay increase, according to Superintendent Greg Gray. Also included in the contract: Gray says the district again will pay the employees for attending professional development classes that they need as part of their jobs. The tentative agreements were announced at Wednesday night’s board session, which was the only board meeting during the month of July. BESPA includes about 65 secretaries, food service employees, para-professionals and maintenance personnel, while BASAA represents 25 district principals, assistant principals and directors. Those bargaining units, plus the Brighton Education Association –representing about 310 teachers – are all under multi-year contracts with annual wage reopeners. Last year BESPA approved a 1-year extension in its contract, and therefore it won’t expire until Dec. 31st, 2020. Gray says the district has had only one negotiating session with the teachers’ union, but he doesn’t foresee any problems in reaching agreement. Just one meeting has been held so far, with the next bargaining session set for August 6. (TT)

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    A barricaded gunman situation turned fatal late Tuesday night in Lyon Township. Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lyon Township Substation responded to a residence on Ladbrooke Drive for an assault complaint around 11:15 Tuesday night. Authorities say the husband had pointed a handgun at and threatened to kill his wife during an argument. The victim called 911 and responding deputies were able to safely get her out of the home, after which they attempted to make contact with the suspect who had barricaded himself in a second story bedroom. The victim stated that the suspect had access to multiple firearms, which are kept in the bedroom, and had told her he had no intention of peacefully surrendering. Deputies on scene established a perimeter and began evacuating residents from neighboring homes. The Oakland County SWAT Team was activated and negotiators on scene were unable to make contact with the suspect, adding no movement was detected from inside the home. After deploying a robot, SWAT personnel made entry and located the suspect obviously deceased in a second story bathroom. The suspect, a 54-year-old Lyon Township resident, shot himself with a handgun. The incident remains under investigation. Officials say there were previous domestic violence calls or family fights reported at the home. (JM/JK)

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    A Republican candidate for governor was in Brighton sharing his ideas with homeowners on how he will improve the state if elected. Dr. Jim Hines is a 38 year medical doctor who has delivered countless babies and performed hundreds of robotic surgeries. Hines ran a small business for 22 years, is the former Chief of Medical Staff for Covenant HealthCare, and is the past president of the 18,000 member Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Now he is running for governor on the platform of putting people first, not politics. Hines says that the governor of Michigan is the governor of all 10 million people in the state, not just politicians, lobbyists, and special interest groups. He is currently on a 10 Day Tour of the state, traveling via motor home and meeting with residents in anticipation of the August 7th primary. Hines travels brought him to Livingston County, Tuesday, where he spent part of the afternoon in Brighton. Hines shared his plan for fixing roads, which is a hot topic among Brighton residents who are being asked to override the Headlee Amendment next month. He proposes taking one-third of one-percent of state income tax for 2 years for roads. This will create approximately $875-million per year, in addition to the road tax that was passed in 2015. Hines will give this money to cities, villages, townships, and counties for roads for improvement. He said that if funds like this were available to the municipalities, they might not need to ask so much from their citizens. Hines is also interested in getting an insurance fraud bureau up and running to help reduce the cost of auto insurance to Michigan drivers. The doctor wants to develop a fee schedule that is more equitable, stating, for example, that a broken arm from an automobile accident shouldn’t cost 10 times more than the same injury suffered from falling off a swing. Other platform stances show Hines in favor strong families and educating children, protecting the environment and Great Lakes, and keeping the lawmakers in Lansing from inhibiting Michigan’s recovery by raising taxes. Hines opponents in the primary include Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Senator Patrick Colbeck. (MK)

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    After a year of fundraising and planning, organizers say it’s finally time to build the new playground. The current playground was original to the school and long overdue for repairs. Along with aging equipment, poor drainage on the site often caused the playground to become un-usable during wet weather. As a result, the school, with help from the community, launched a very successful Project Playground: 50K for Play to help pay for the required fixes. The students at Whitmore Lake Elementary also played a big part in helping design the new structure, which took accessibility for kids with different abilities and needs into consideration. A community build day on Monday, August 27th is planned to construct the final pieces of equipment and prepare the site for play. Organizers say many hands are needed to help spread over 300 yards of mulch. Various shifts are available from 8am to 8pm, and volunteers are being asked to bring certain types of tools if they have them. If anyone has the following, they are asked to bring them to the event: shovel, heavy rake, wheelbarrow, ratchet 3/8" drive with 9/16"& 5/8" sockets, combination allen wrench, 9/16"& 5/8" wrenches or crescent wrenches. Those with questions about Community Build Day should contact Heidi Roy-Borland at heidi.roy-borland@wlps.net. Photo: Facebook. (JM)

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    The Howell Downtown Development Authority has parted ways amicably with a pair of members and local business owners. Howell DDA President Brian Walker announced at Wednesday night’s meeting that he had two unfortunate resignations from the Board to approve. One was restaurateur Adam Merkel, who owns Diamond’s, The Silver Pig, and Cello, downtown. Merkel recently announced he was expanding his brand to Royal Oak with new dual concept-restaurant and bar that includes a second Diamond’s location. He cited a lack of parking in Downtown Howell as one reason for choosing Royal Oak. In his resignation letter to DDA Director Cathleen Edgerly, Merkel stated that it was a pleasure working with the DDA, and he will still be a part of the community, being in town 3 to 4 days each week to run his Howell restaurants. The DDA Board also accepted the resignation of Kevin Adamo. Adamo owns Country Lane Flower Shop, but is moving to Seattle, Washington on August 1st for a job opportunity in education. He will remain the owner of the shop, keeping it open under the management of his current team. Mayor Nick Proctor said during the meeting that he intends to keep the DDA board at its current seven member size after the resignations. This puts it in unison with City Council and the Planning Commission which also have seven member boards. Edgerly said the DDA was originally designed for this number, but due to great interest they had taken on additional members. However, neither her or Proctor were closed off to the idea of allowing new members if their qualifications fit and they have the appropriate passion. (MK/JK)

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    A Genoa Township man facing attempted murder charges remains held on a $1 (m) million bond while a judge decides if he should stand trial. 50-year-old Michael Troy Mapes appeared in 53rd District Court this week for an exam on charges including assault with intent to murder, attempted murder, arson-preparing to burn a building, and resisting/assaulting a police officer. Prosecutors also recently added a felony firearms charge, which would carry a mandatory two year prison sentence. Mapes had previously been referred to the state forensic center where it was determined he was competent to stand trial. Mapes was arrested following an incident that began April 9th when Livingston County Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call of a possible armed suicidal subject at a residence off of Brighton Road in Genoa Township. Mapes had already fled the area when they arrived. Early the next morning, the Sheriff's Office received a second call from Mapes’ wife that she had awakened to find him pouring gasoline on her and around her bed. She said he had a lighter in his hand and a rifle slung over his shoulder. The 41-year-old and her two children ages 12 and 14 were able to flee the residence, but while doing so heard a gunshot and Mapes yelling. Deputies established a perimeter around the residence and attempted to negotiate with Mapes for several hours. When he attempted to leave the area in his vehicle, he was taken into custody after a short vehicle pursuit and physical altercation with deputies on scene. His exam is set to be continued July 31st so that Judge Suzanne Geddis can determine if there is enough evidence to bind the case over to circuit court. If convicted, Mapes could be sentenced to life in prison. (JK)

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    There’s finally some good news for area motorists as two large construction projects are basically complete and detour signs will be coming down. In Green Oak Township, the roundabout reconstruction project is coming along and crews are closing in on paving work. The Whitmore Lake roundabout is now open for daytime use but motorists should follow detour signs in the evening after 9pm. Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine estimates there are probably two more nights of paving. The rest of work involves specialty markings and tearing down tons of detour signs but they’re hoping everything is complete by Monday or Tuesday of next week. In the City of Brighton, Challis Road is now open to traffic after a lengthy closure and detours. That project was completed a full 35 days ahead of schedule and is all done, with the exception of a few punch list items left and some random pavement markings. Craine says they are just little items that will be done with flaggers and cones to keep people out of the work area, noting pavement markings would have been done today but rain storms rolled through. Carine noted it was a very local job that was designed in Brighton, built by a Brighton contractor and done in cooperation with the City of Brighton. Detour signs are being taken down, but Craine says there are a lot so it will probably take a couple days to get them all down. (JM)

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    A new collaboration between Howell Public Schools, the Livingston Educational Service Agency and Child Connect will bring several early childhood education programs and services under one roof. Child Connect began operating at The Little Highlanders Learning Center on June 1st, which is designed to promote high-quality early childhood education. The center is located at 861 E. Sibley Street in Howell. Over the summer months, Howell Public Schools and Livingston ESA will move several childcare, preschool, Great Start Readiness and Head Start programs to the center in preparation for the upcoming school year. Officials say by bringing several programs and resources together, families will have access to daycare, preschool and educational opportunities all at one location. Howell Public Schools will operate its childcare and several preschool programs at the center, and Livingston ESA will house multiple Great Start Readiness and Head Start programs there. Child Connect will offer professional development opportunities for early childhood education providers, parents, and community members. Additionally, Child Connect will expand its free Resource and Lending Library which is available to childcare centers, educators, and families. Officials say research has proven that students who participate in an early childhood education program perform better academically and the goal with the learning center is to increase access to those programs while providing parents with additional resources and support. More information is available in the attached press release. (JM)

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