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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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    Public comment is now being accepted on the Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency’s 2019 fiscal year grant. The Community Services Block Grant is expected to total nearly $1.6 million and be utilized in Oakland and Livingston counties to help low income, elderly, and residents with disabilities in the two counties become more self-sufficient and to improve their quality of life. The grant will assist OLHSA to secure resources that increase or improve the condition of housing, nutrition, health, employment, income management, emergency services, education, linkages to other programs, and self-sufficiency. The review and comment period is open now through Monday, August 20th. Anyone who wants to review or comment the proposed plan should contact OLHSA Chief Executive Office, on 196 Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Pontiac Mi 48342 or by calling (248) 209-2763 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. (EO/JK)

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    At approximately 3pm Saturday, members of the Livingston County Dive Team located and recovered the body of 30-year-old Paulina Krystyna Turowska of Wixom in Deerfield Township's Lake Shannon. The original 911 call came in at about 4:45pm Friday, at which time witnesses reported Turowska failed to return to the surface after going in the water on Lake Shannon in Deerfield Township. Hartland Fire Chief Adam Carroll told WHMI the woman was on a pontoon boat with friends. At some point, she went underwater. The Livingston County Dive Team resumed body recovery operations before 8am Saturday and recovered the body about 7 hours later in 15-20 feet of water. Photo: WXYZ. (JM)

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    Registration is still open for an upcoming event that aims to bring awareness how addiction and overdoses affect the entire community. Project Opiate will hold an all-day forum Friday, August 31st, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day. Francine Zysk, 53rd District Court Administrator and co-founder of Project Opiate, says the community event will feature presentations from law enforcement, a school resource officer, a former member of a federal drug unit, and a specialist discussing addiction in the brain. The event’s keynote speaker will be former NFL player Randy Grimes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now works for a treatment center and is a proponent for athletes in recovery. The afternoon segment will include a panel focused on recovery and presentations from families who have lost a loved one to the drug epidemic. The day will conclude with a candlelight vigil at the Brighton Mill Pond in memory of those who have lost their battle with addiction. Zysk says this is the second year Project Opiate has held this event and that the goal this year was to utilize various components to depict how addiction and overdoses affect everyone. She says they are aiming to show how all can have a role in working together to recognize the reality of the situation and how to combat it. She notes the Brighton Police Department has been instrumental in helping procure many of the speakers and appreciates their support. Sessions the day of begin at 9am and conclude at 4pm. Project Opiate’s event is open and free to the public, though the number of guests will be capped at 125 due to sponsored meals. Registration is open online and Zysk says there are seats still available. A link to register can be found below. (DK)

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    A career fair designed for high school students will be held later this year with registration set to start this week. MiCareerQuest of Southeast Michigan is the largest career exploration experience for public and private high school students ever been planned for Southeast Michigan. It is set for November 28th at The Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, with nearly 10,000 high school students from Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties expected to attend. Students will be meeting with working professionals in a variety of fields. In addition, they’ll be able to touch, feel, and work with equipment, tools and technology used by people every day in a range of in-demand jobs. Advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences and information technology are among the careers areas being represented. Registration for MiCareerQuest Southeast begins this Wednesday, August 15th. You’ll find the link below. (EO/JK)

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    A woman who allegedly threatened acts of violence against a local family returns to court later this month for a hearing that will determine whether she is competent to stand trial. 20-year-old Karen Lockwood of Richmond, Michigan is charged in two separate cases, the first of which is said to have occurred February 12th. She is facing counts of unlawful posting of a message, communicating with another via computer/internet to commit a crime and malicious use of a telephone. The second incident was reported February 25th and Lockwood was then also charged with false report or threat of terrorism, using a computer to commit a felony and malicious use of a telephone in connection. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office responded to a social media threats complaint that involved Village Elementary School in Hartland Township. The initial report revealed a suspect was threatening a family from the Hartland area through Facebook messenger and by sending text messages to a family member's phone. Lockwood reportedly threatened “shooting up the school" where members of the family were students and burning the family's house down. During the investigation, detectives learned that Lockwood had established numerous fictitious social media accounts, email accounts and internet based phone numbers to communicate the threats and conceal her identity. It was later determined Lockwood had no means to carry out the threats. Lockwood returns to 53rd District Court in Howell August 30th for a competency hearing. She remains lodged in the Livingston County Jail. (DK)

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    Officials say reorganizing Livingston County’s Administration Department will save the county over $13,000. Department officials say the announcement of the pending retirement of the County’s Purchasing Agent Roberta Bennett provided an opportunity for County Administrator Ken Hinton and Deputy County Administrator/Financial Officer Cindy Catanach to evaluate how the Administration and Purchasing Department is organized. Based on their evaluation, Hinton and Catanach recommended changes to the current structure, which was recently approved in a resolution authorized by the county’s Board of Commissioners. The changes include creating a Fiscal Services Department and transferring the duties of the Purchasing Agent to the Financial Analyst. The purchasing agent position was previously reclassified to a Purchasing Coordinator and a new Administrative Aide position will also be created. The county also entered into a memorandum of understanding with MAC Services Corporation, or CoPro +, which will support the coordinator and departments regarding the purchase or procurement of goods and services. The addition of CoPro + is expected to help drive operational efficiencies and yield in better contract prices, which is where the county will see savings. Officials say the structural changes will result in an overall savings of approximately $13,400 to the county.

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    A vigil on overdose awareness is being held in Fowlerville later this month by a local nonprofit. Mitchel’s Hope is hosting and sponsoring its 4th annual International Overdose Awareness event and vigil on Friday, August 31st at the Fowlerville UB Church from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. The organization is dedicated to promoting awareness, ending stigma, educating the general public, rallying for change and supporting people struggling with addiction and the people that love them. The vigil will feature a remembrance banner, Chinese lantern release, resource tent along with light snacks and refreshments. There will also be a candle light vigil with names read aloud of those who have succumbed to the epidemic. Those who want their loved ones names read should send the information to mitchellshope@gmail.com. (EO/JK)

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    An upcoming fundraiser will benefit a non-profit that provides the brain injured and broad-spectrum disabled community with scholarships for fun outings and needed social interaction. Compass Creations Inc. was founded by Sally Urbaniak of Pinckney, which focuses on the importance of having of social interaction in one’s life. She says many don’t understand all of the challenges that can result when someone has a sudden accident or injury, especially when it comes to having a social life after recovery. The non-profit offers scholarships for different activities and trips for adult individuals with a similar peer structure, whom Urbaniak refers to as “extra ordinary people living extraordinary lives”. Urbaniak is a certified brain injury specialist and has seen a lot of people become socially reclusive and feel as though they don’t fit in because so many things change in their life, especially if it’s due to an accident. However, Urbaniak says when you put them in a similar peer situation with others who can relate; things change and they begin to open up and become social again. She tells WHMI many people don’t realize the depth of social life, until a change occurs, and they help people who can’t afford social outings. There are certain requirements and an application process for individuals to receive scholarships. A fundraiser is approaching to benefit the non-profit and honor first responders because Urbaniak says without first responders, they wouldn’t have their survivors. Sponsors are also being sought to help build scholarships to help more people have fun but also get a wheelchair accessible van. The 2nd Annual First Responders Banquet Dinner Dance will take place on Saturday, September 8th at the American Spirit Center in Brighton. Tickets can be purchased online through the provided link. (JM)

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    Fifteen new teachers will be coming to the Brighton Area Schools this fall. The Brighton Board of Education approved the hiring of 10 of the teachers at its meeting Monday night, while the others had previously been hired. That will give the district 318 teachers for the academic year starting in September. The teachers will be represented at the bargaining table by the Brighton Education Association. The BEA currently has a 5-year contract with the district with an annual salary and benefits re-opener, in which negotiations are currently taking place. The Brighton Area School District is expected to have slightly over 6,000 in-house students in grades pre-K through 12 for the 18-19 school year. Brighton will also have about 11,000 Shared Services students from Southeastern and mid-Michigan. In enrollment terms, that amounts to approximately 2,000 FTE, or full-time equivalent, students who will be taking classes not offered by the over 40 public, private and parochial schools in the program. (TT)

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    Howell City Council has approved a license for a competitive video game room, which the owner has likened to an “adult Chuck-e-Cheese’s”. The application for a Commercial Recreational Establishment license came before council Monday and was unanimously approved for “Lucky’s Skill Games”. Owner Greg Miller says Lucky’s is similar to an arcade, but with skill-based redemption games instead. The video gaming systems are either networked to allow players to compete against one another or standalone units for one player games. Miller also compared the business to casinos and their games that hinge on chance. He says a skill-based player has to take action to determine the outcome of the game and while it’s not gambling, money can be used to play and prizes can be won. The operation is legal because the rewards are non-cash merchandise only. However the business will strictly cater to players 18 and up, as Miller says they didn’t want to encourage minors to get into a mode that is similar to gambling. Miller says this concept has been around for about 10 to 15 years and when the building at 920 East Grand River became available, he decided to move forward with the venture. Lucky’s will be located on the northwest corner of the intersection at Grand River and North National Street, near Rite Aid, the Mobil gas station and Scratch Sweet Shop. The hours of operation may be from 11am to 8 or 9pm, though Miller is still working to decide what would work best with the surrounding community. Lucky’s also will not be serving alcohol. While a few interior improvements remain, Miller says the building is otherwise complete and is hoping to move into the space within the next two weeks. Miller expressed his love for the Brighton and Howell area, noting his excitement to bring the business that is unique in the city to the community. (DK)

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    Brighton Township officials are looking forward to closure when it comes to a class-action lawsuit filed against the municipality by a group of residents, though some represented in the suit are dissatisfied. The township was served with the lawsuit in June of 2016 by a group of original sewer system users who claim they were overcharged in assessment fees for a number of years. A settlement agreement was negotiated this past January, which requires the township to pay $1.5 million from the general fund to a sewer settlement fund for a payout to those represented in the lawsuit. The remaining funds would be used to purchase REU’s, or Residential Equivalent Units, and the loan from the general fund will be forgiven. The township would then sell the REU’s and the profits would go back into the general fund. However some of the plaintiffs were unhappy with the agreement, which came before Judge Michael P. Hatty in Livingston County Circuit Court last month. Judge Hatty gave residents time to express their opposition and concerns at the hearing before adjourning the matter. Judge Hatty then on Friday ruled the agreement was “fair”, approving and signing the settlement. Township Manager Brian Vick says if everything goes according to plan, then the township will soon be required to make a payment into the settlement escrow and from that escrowed money the class administrator will discharge the funds. Reflecting on the allegations asserted in the lawsuit, Vick says nothing illegal took place and that the township is just looking for closure with the settlement. Vick says, "It’s been two years… the plaintiff's counsel got $500,000 out of the settlement fund and the township has incurred about $500,000 as well. The township continues to maintain there were no improper charges. The expenses and distractions and the risk of protracted litigation and the protections from the future claims support entering into the settlement agreement." Bob Potocki is one of the plaintiffs represented in the suit and says if the township had done things the right way, there would have been no legal fees and everybody would pay their fair share. Still, Vick says it’s “interesting”, considering the number of staff hours and tax dollars that were spent, in addition to the costs associated with the lawsuit, as the provisions of the settlement agreement are nearly identical to the proposal the township was scheduled to adopt over two years ago. Potocki fired back, saying, “Crooks blame everyone else for the mess they create.” (DK)

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    The Fenton Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to suspend Fire Chief Ryan Volz without pay until October 1st following allegations he not only failed to stop the sexual harassment of a female firefighter, but also participated. That action followed a nine-hour closed session of the township board to discuss the ongoing issue, which is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Firefighter Kristy Polidan and Captain Kirk Stephens, alleging Polidan has been subjected to sexual harassment since she was hired in January 2015 and that Captain Stephens was retaliated against for supporting her. The board called five witnesses, all firefighters, before making the decision to extend Chief Volz’s suspension. Township Supervisor Bonnie Mathis abstained from the discussion and vote as Volz is her son-in-law. Volz, who had been under paid suspension since July 9th, will now have to forfeit 35 days of paid time off, transition to an employment at will contract, complete a sexual harassment training session, participate in township-wide diversity sensitivity training and agree to complete a bachelor’s in business administration by Dec. 1, 2021. Volz maintains his innocence and asserts he has been falsely accused. After Monday’s decision was announced, the Tri-County Times say firefighters formed a line to hug Volz. Polidan says she was repeatedly accused of having oral sex with Volz and that when she complained to him about it; he instead suggested she give him oral sex. Captain Stephens claims he was subjected to retaliation for supporting Polidan in her complaint. They are seeking an undisclosed financial judgment. (JK)

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    The Brighton Area Schools has a new assistant superintendent for instructional services. She is Elizabeth Mosher, who replaces Laura Surrey, who left the district after serving 17 years in various capacities. Surrey had been assistant superintendent for instruction since 2009. Mosher, her replacement, has been the director of secondary education in the Plymouth-Canton School district in Wayne County for the past two years. Before that, she was director of secondary education in the Huron Valley School District in Oakland County. Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that, with Mosher’s educational background and credentials, the district is “fortunate” to have her. Mosher was given a 2-year contract at $130,000 per year. Surrey has been credited for being instrumental in improving the school district’s overall academic performance with her curriculum upgrades, and Gray feels that Mosher will be able to accomplishment the same objectives.(TT)

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    Plans are in motion for creating a Public Defender Administrator position within Livingston County. County Administrator Ken Hinton addressed Livingston County’s General Government and Health and Human Services Committee on Monday night about implementing the new position within the county. The creation of a Public Defender Administrator would help comply with new state standards from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. Funds for the position would be coming from State grants. The selected candidate would be responsible for overseeing the assignment of contract attorneys to indigent defendants. Other duties would include reporting necessary legal information regarding cases back to the state and tracking the educational requirements of contract attorneys. Following Monday night’s approval, the next steps involve getting approval from teh county's Finance Committee and then the full Board of Commissioners. Hinton says he feels confident the board will give their final approval on the position on August 20th. Once the position gets approved, the job posting will be made. Hinton says he hopes to have the position filled by the second week of October. (DF)

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    The pastor of a local church has issued an apology to one of its now former members, after she says she was shamed for breastfeeding inside the building. 29-year-old Amy Marchant of Brighton says she received a private Facebook message from a church leader about two months ago, after she breastfed her child at The Naz Church in Brighton. She says she was accused of immodesty and inspiring lustfulness, and was asked to cover up or use a privacy room. Marchant tells WHMI when she received the message that claimed she was making people feel uncomfortable while she nursed, she felt humiliated and shamed and is now very self-conscious when nursing in public. Marchant says “when the church was unreceptive to changing their mindset on the issue or acknowledging that what they did was wrong”, she made the choice to take a stand and use the law to show other moms that they do have legal protection when it comes to this situation. Marchant recently received an apology from Lead Pastor Ben Walls Sr., who says the church supports and encourages breastfeeding, though Marchant has no plans to return to The Naz. She feels the insecurity and fear of being shamed is a huge reason why women don't nurse for as long as is recommended by health experts, and that she wants women to feel empowered to nurse however is best for them. She further shared with WHMI that on a larger scale, her dream is for women to stop being taught how to survive in a society saturated with rape culture mindset and for men to start being taught how to respect women. Marchant says plain and simple, “breastfeeding is not being immodest and it is not sexual”, adding that if someone has a problem with it, it’s not that hard to look the other way. (DK) Facebook photo.

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    There’s no need to feel “melon-choly”, as Howell will hold its yearly Melon Festival downtown this weekend. The 58th annual Howell Melon Festival will take place Friday through Saturday, with family friendly activities, entertainment, food, and of course, Howell melons. Among this year’s events are the Melon Roll, 41st annual Melon Run, concerts at the Historic Howell Courthouse, Doc May Memorial Melon Ride, historic steam train rides, and kids’ carnival. Held downtown since 1960, the Melon Festival is said to be a tradition that celebrates the “famed” cantaloupe grown only in Howell. The event, which draws thousands of visitors each year, is hosted by the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority, the Howell Downtown Development Authority and the City of Howell. For more information, contact the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority at 517-546-0693 or by email at melonfest@howellrecreation.org or visit www.howellmelonfestival.com. A link is provided below. (DK)

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    The City of Brighton is accepting applications for the Principal Shopping District board. All applicants must be representatives of a business located within the Principal Shopping District or a resident of the City of Brighton. A map of the boundaries is available on the City’s website. The Principal Shopping District Board is a nine-member board that oversees the promotion of Downtown Brighton. The new board member would serve a three-year term. Those interested in sitting on the board should send a letter of interest and resume by close of business on Thursday, September 6th to; skopekb@brightoncity.org, Subject Line: PSD Application Please direct any questions to Brandon Skopek, Assistant to the City Manager / DDA Coordinator at (810) 225-8019. (JK)

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    Fowlerville School officials say improvements being made to the district’s buildings will soon be completed; hopefully in time for the new school year. District stakeholders earlier this year approved a $17.5 million bond proposal, which passed by a 2-1 margin. The bond is being used to fund major infrastructure improvement projects at buildings throughout the district. Superintendent Wayne Roedel previously referred to the proposal as a “sweeping bond issue”, saying the upgrades will benefit students no matter which building they’re at. The various projects got underway this summer, one of which called for replacement of the Kreeger Elementary Schools’ roof that was said to be long past its expected lifetime. Roedel says the $1.5 million project is “essentially done” and should be wrapped up by the end of the week. Upgraded wireless access points and new technology infrastructure is currently being installed at the high school, which has been a significant project due to the extensive cabling. Every building in the district is receiving new staff access and door security systems as well, the latter of which will be located at the main entryways with a video buzz-in component and visitor security check. Last but not least, Roedel notes boiler replacement at Kreeger Elementary and the Junior High School is “moving along very well”. Roedel indicates the majority of the work will be completed before the start of the new year, though is currently working to bring in extra crews to expedite the process for any projects that may be behind schedule. (DK)

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    Residents in the City of Howell will have several upcoming opportunities to learn about a Headlee Override request on the November ballot. City officials are preparing for the November 6th General Election by developing a public education effort regarding the request. If approved, a Headlee Override would allow the City of Howell to increase its authorized millage rate for five years by an additional 4.5003 mills. The request would restore the authorized millage amount, which has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment. The proposal would generate approximately $1.4 million per year, beginning in July of 2019. The revenue would allow the City to maintain continued levels of service, in addition to infrastructure improvements such as roads. In order to communicate the entirety of the request and its outcome should it receive voter approval, city officials will hold several public education sessions prior to the election. The first informational meeting is set for Wednesday, August 29th and the second on Wednesday, September 12th. Two meetings have also been scheduled for October 3rd and 27th. At a council meeting Monday night, Mayor Nick Proctor expressed his belief that when it comes to infrastructure and city services, the status quo is not sustainable. He says difficult decisions and cuts may be coming if the Headlee Override does not pass, adding that council will need to be prepared to “play the what-if game”. (DK)

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    Several overseas markets shutting down recycling services to the United States have put one local organization into a state of flux. Earlier this year, China implemented higher standards on materials brought in for recycling that the United States couldn’t meet. With that market closed, Recycle Livingston, their vendor GFL, and other recycling organizations across the country began to look elsewhere. Recycle Livingston Executive Director Julie Cribley said they found buyers in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia, but without warning, they all stopped taking recyclable materials in July. In response to this, GFL, which previously removed Recycle Livingston’s materials for free, notified that they would now be charging $200 per load. This will cost Recycle Livingston $1,400 a month that they don’t have budgeted, beginning September 1st. To make this up, the Board of Directors met last week and approved emergency changes. Membership fees will be raised $10. Only plastics #1 and #2 will be accepted; no #3 through 7 or plastic bags of any kind can be permitted. Non-members will not be allowed to bring any plastic. Cribley said that if people can’t bring the material clean and sorted, Recycle Livingston may end up having to pay for it, and in all likelihood the material will be incinerated or thrown in a landfill. She said “That’s why we’re kind of taking this hard line right now. Either help us, or we’ll have to stop taking plastics altogether. Cribley blamed low standards across the U.S. that has led to this period of “wishful recycling” that we’ve been living in. The goal, she belives, should be a transition into a period of purposeful and sustainable recycling. She said other organization across the state and country have been scrambling for new solutions this month, too. While many communities across Livingston County offer roadside recycling, she predicts that changes will likely be coming for those residents at some point, as well. Having had discussions with the Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Recycling Coalitions, vendors, and other invested parties, Recycle Livingston reports that they expect it to take 18 to 24 months for the global market to reset and stabilize. (MK)

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