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WHMI 93.5 FM Radio Station for Livingston County Michigan with News, Traffic, and Weather Service for Howell and Brighton

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    The Wall That Heals arrived at the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport this afternoon accompanied by first responders, motorcyclists, veterans and family members. Police halted traffic at major intersections along Grand River as the caravan arrived; led by a motorcycle escort, followed by first responders, and in the middle of the group, the mobile education truck hauling the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The journey began at 2pm from Cabela’s in Monroe County, traveling through Washtenaw and then into Livingston County, with the group arriving around 3:30pm at the airport. Livingston County Undersheriff Jeff Warder says the trip “went off without a hitch”, with members of law enforcement, fire departments, EMS and other first responders from different jurisdictions along for the ride. Warder says it was very humbling to be part of such a great experience. He was grateful for the large turnout of community members that lined up along Grand River to welcome the Wall and its company, noting a line of people waving, saluting, clapping and cheering them on in every community they traveled through. There are 58,318 names on the wall honoring those that lost their lives, with over 1,500 service members unaccounted for. The wall is a three-quarter scale replica, measuring 375 feet in length and 7.5 feet tall at its highest point. The Wall That Heals and the mobile education center will be on display at the airport this Thursday through Sunday. A variety of events are planned along with the exhibit, which will be open 24 hours a day and is free to the public. (DK)

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    A Consumer’s Energy employee with a sharp memory who helped save an elderly dog from a house fire in Howell says “always pay attention to details and the little things matter”. 26-year employee Guy Houseman performs gas leak investigations and appliance repairs out of Consumers Energy’s Howell service center. He’s described as a dedicated employee and a devoted animal lover. He was on call the night of July 3rd and responded to an emergency request to shut natural gas off at a house fire on Coon Lake Road. He arrived to find firefighters battling a blaze believed that have started by used fireworks reigniting in the garage. Houseman went to work to make sure the gas was shut off and performed routine testing of the home’s gas line but had a “deja vu” moment and kept thinking he had been to the home in the past. After checking records, it turned out he had been to the home last November for a furnace repair and remembered an elderly beagle named Pearl that kept following him around. After making the gas situation safe, he requested prior service records for the address. Sure enough, Houseman had been to the home last November for a furnace repair. Houseman immediately told firefighters he was sure a dog lived in the home. Firefighters were able to find Pearl, a 12-year-old beagle, cowering underneath a bed. She was scared but not hurt. Houseman told WHMI he always remembers animals at homes he’s been to, whether dog or a silly cat so when he arrived that night, he knew he had been there before. He says after firefighters rescued Pearl from the home, everyone on scene was tearing up and grinning that they were able to get her out safely. He says the DART team gave Pearl water and everybody just started loving her up. It was only just recently that Houseman, homeowner Claire Stevens and Pearl were able to reconnect and it was an emotional reunion. He said he had a whole bunch of emotions going on from heartwarming and gratifying to proud. He referred to Pearl as a “little love sponge” with her tail wagging, just eating up all the attention. Stevens, the homeowner, said it was surreal and horrible to see the damage to the house, but material things can be replaced. She said knowing her children were safe and not home when the fire occurred was the most important thing. Stevens said it was a very lucky coincidence, maybe even divine intervention, that Houseman was the person who responded to turn off the gas because firefighters wouldn’t have known Pearl was inside. Although this was a story with a happy ending, not everyone is always as fortunate. During times of emergencies, Houseman says if he has a hard time finding someone, then so do police and fire. He says having the simple, inexpensive green reflective address signs on both sides of a mailbox go a long way, especially for those who live far off the road. (JM)

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    The Howell Police Department is advising the community about a school supply scam. Around 5pm Tuesday, four juveniles were seen in the downtown Howell area requesting cash donations for kids in need of backpacks and school supplies. They were distributing flyers, telling people that the proceeds would benefit LESA. The Howell Police Department followed up and stresses LESA is not doing that kind of fundraising. If anyone notices the group of juveniles at downtown businesses or homes, police say it is a scam and individuals should call 911 to report their whereabouts. A photo of the flyer is attached. (JM)

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    Motorists traveling in the Northfield Township area are being advised of some preventative maintenance work that gets underway today. The Washtenaw County Road Commission will begin a chip seal project on 7 Mile Road between East Shore Drive and Pontiac Trail in Northfield and Salem Townships today. The road will not be closed to traffic, but delays are likely due to lane restrictions. Motorists, emergency services and others are being encouraged to use an alternate route. The road improvements are expected to take approximately one day. However, all dates are tentative and subject to change due to weather conditions. Once the project is completed, drivers are advised to lower their speeds to 35mph while the stone settles. (JM)

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    A Fenton man was killed earlier this week in a Clinton County crash. Police say 19-year-old Tyler Jelinek of Fenton was killed in a three-vehicle crash on I-96 Monday morning in Watertown Township. The crash occurred near Bauer Road as traffic was stopped for a construction zone. Jelinek's SUV was rear-ended by a pickup truck driven by a 32-year-old Grand Rapids man. Clinton County Sheriff’s officials said the impact forced the SUV into a passenger car driven by a 46-year-old driver from Byron Center. The driver of the pickup and two people in the car were taken to Sparrow Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and have since been released. The crash remains under investigation. (JK)

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    A plea deal has been offered to a woman charged in the shooting death of a pregnant Linden woman and her co-worker. 56-year-old Jacquelyn Tyson is charged with two counts of pre-meditated 1st degree murder and two counts of felony firearms in the shooting deaths of 20-year-old Lyric Work and 45-year-old Tamara Johnson at the leasing office of the Grand Oaks Apartments in Grand Blanc on July 26th, 2016. Johnson was pronounced dead at a hospital while Work, who was pregnant, was put on life support so the baby could be delivered. Work then passed away three days later. Her child survived. Authorities have yet to say what the motive was for the shooting. However, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton previously said the shootings could have precipitated from a dispute over Tyson's apartment. Tyson is being held without bond at the State Forensic Center for Psychiatry, and has twice been declared incompetent. But at a hearing earlier this month, Tyson was offered a deal in which she could plead guilty but mentally ill with two counts of second degree murder. In exchange, the sentencing agreement would recommend a prison sentence of 20 to 50 years. The offer was taken under advisement by her attorney. A pre-trial hearing is set for August 27th at which time Tyson can formally accept the deal. If she rejects it, a trial date will be scheduled.

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    Local legislators were in Hartland Township to speak with officials as they prepare to defend their tax assessment on a big box retailer. State Senator Joe Hune and State Representatives Hank Vaupel and Lana Theis spoke to the Hartland Township Board of Trustees, Tuesday night, on the status of legislation that could affect how big box retailers are taxed. Also known as “dark stores,” this presentation came on the same night the Board chose an assessor of their own, as the Rural King on M-59 is attempting to have their assessment lowered. Many dark stores have challenged that they should be treated more as warehouses than retail establishments when it comes to tax assessments, which would lower that they pay. The Board of Trustees is of the opinion that a lower tax base on the Rural King would unfairly push their tax burden onto smaller, local businesses. Township Assessor Jim Heaslip reported that Hartland Township already has the lowest tax rate for dark stores in the county. He said they were prepared to ask Rural King for $36 per square foot, but that they are asking for $23 per. He and Township Manager James Wickman were concerned about the trickle-down effect this could have on other large businesses, namely the Target, Meijer, and E-Magine Theater in the area. Heaslip estimated that a lower Rural King assessment alone could mean around $100,000 in lost revenue over 2 years. As part of their meeting, the Board of Trustees agreed to hire the firm of Frohm & Widmer to represent the township through the assessment process for $10,000. Of the 3 bids received, they were recommended Frohm & Widmer based largely on their experience in assessing big box retailers and their experience in court with them. Legislation that would potentially favor the township in this matter recently passed through the State House with bipartisan support, but has stalled out in the Senate Finance Committee. Hune said the Senate tends to lean on the opinions of the chairs, and that with Finance Committee Chairman Jack Brandenburg opposing it, he doesn’t see it moving this year. The Senator said he felt the reasons were more philosophical than political, and that with several Senators being term limited in key positions for this, including Brandenburg, there may be hope in the new blood coming in. As part of their meeting, the Board of Trustees agreed to hire the firm of Frohm & Widmer to represent the township through the assessment process for $10,000. Of the 3 bids received, they were recommended Frohm & Widmer based largely on their experience in assessing big box retailers and their experience in court with them. (MK)

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    The Salem-South Lyon District Library has broken ground on a new addition that will benefit children and the surrounding community. In 2014, faced with revenue reductions beyond their control, the Salem-South Lyon District Library Board was faced with the decision of reducing services, or asking taxpayers to pass a library millage increase. When the millage passed, the Board got work on first updating the heating and cooling, and then followed with restroom upgrades. With that shored up, Tuesday night, in front of roughly 50 members of the community, they broke ground on the crown jewel of their promise- a 2,800 square foot addition to the children’s area. Literacy Team leader Mary Daugherty shared some of the new features coming with it, saying there will be a toddler area for moms, and new seating for parents and grandparents so that they can be comfortable while watching their kids. The books will also face out so that children will have an easier time picking out what they want. The new expansion will also provide a designated area for tweens, new meeting and programming space, and additional bathrooms. Kathy Marrucci, the Head of Youth and Teen Services, said it will bring benefit not only to children, but the whole community. The new expansion will provide the library better opportunities for special events like blood drives and elections. Library Director Donna Olson said she expects to cut the ribbon and have it open to the public by next May. (MK)

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    The Wall That Heals will be assembled at the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport today, as volunteers and project leaders prepare for the four-day exhibition. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, first responders, veterans, family members, and motorcyclists escorted the mobile education truck carrying the Wall from Dundee in Monroe County to the airport in Howell Tuesday afternoon. Vietnam veteran Lawrence Curtis Jr. was part of the caravan that rode into town, passing community members that had lined up along Grand River to welcome the group. Lawrence says he has friends he fought alongside with whose names are on the wall. He became emotional in sharing how the community’s welcome was one that some of his friends never received. Lawrence tells WHMI he’s from Indiana and the plan to participate in escorting the wall is one that only fell into place within the last week, adding that he's grateful to be a part of the journey and grateful to be here physically. Site Manager Tim Tetz says the journey itself for the traveling replica and its escort can be difficult in terms of preparation, but bringing the Wall to Livingston County is a process that began at least a year ago. The airport was one of 109 applicants that had applied to host the Wall and among 38 communities that have the opportunity to do so. Tetz expects it will take well over 100 volunteers to assemble the Wall, which will begin after volunteer training today. The Wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day, beginning with opening visitation Thursday. Various events will be held throughout the stay of the exhibit, including recognition of first responders on Friday, Agent Orange Awareness Day Saturday, and recognition of women in the military and gold star families on Sunday. There are 58,318 names on the wall honoring those that lost their lives, with over 1,500 service members unaccounted for. The wall is a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., measuring 375 feet in length and 7.5 feet tall at its highest point. (DK)

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    A Fenton couple worried about vehicles driving at dangerous speeds is asking the city to lower the speed limit on a residential stretch of road. Robert and Marie Bechtel live on a stretch of North LeRoy Street in Fenton between North Road and Silver Lake Road. As development continues to prosper downtown, they have become concerned with growing traffic problems, as they see it. Earlier this month they approached City Council with a document detailing their concerns, according to the Tri-County Times. The Bechtels noted that in that specific 3/4 –mile stretch laid several pedestrian destinations, including Bush Park, 2 churches, and a school. The posted speed limit in the area is 35, but the couple claims most are driving 10 miles per hour or more faster, and at a speed that often rattles their walls. Fenton City Manager Lynn Markland said that many times pedestrians overestimate nearby passing vehicles’ speed and that when he drives through that area, traffic seems to following the speed limit. The Fenton Police Department will soon do a speed study there, nonetheless. Markland said they will look at creating a new crossing near Bush Park, as there isn’t one in the area but noted that there may be challenges. Due to recent regulation changes with the Michigan Department of Transportation, a pedestrian activated signal that the Bechtels asked for isn’t an option. The City Manager said that once the speed study is done, they will consider what other options may be realistic. (MK)

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    As anther school year approaches, a local police department is putting out the call for crossing guards. The Milford Police Department is currently looking for school crossing guards and immediate openings are available. Officials say those interested in applying must be available Monday through Friday from 8:45am to 9:15am and from 3:45pm to 4:15pm. Pay is $12.50 an hour. Candidates must be 18 years of age, dependable and have no criminal history. Individuals will be subject to a background investigation. All interested candidates are asked to contact Officer J.D. Panza at Milford Police at 248-684-1815 or via email at jpanza@milfordpolice.com. (JM)

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    The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it's loosening rules on emissions from coal-fired power plants, rolling back the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The new rules would largely allow states to regulate emissions. In Michigan, it's unclear whether utilities or the Department of Environmental Quality would seek less stringent air-pollution controls for state’s 15 coal-fired power plants. Regardless, Pete Ternes with D-T-E Energy says his company plans to close all of its coal plants by 2040 and is sticking with its plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions significantly. "DTE Energy is still on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and we're also setting a goal of reducing our methane emissions from our natural-gas utility operations by 80 percent by 2040." The Monroe Power Plant, pictured here, opened in 1974 and is just one such coal-burning facility in Michigan set to close by 2040. Consumers Energy has also announced plans to shutter all of its coal-fired plants by 2040, a decision it has said is primarily driven by the cost of upkeep on aging plants and the rising affordability of natural gas and renewable energy. Charlotte Jameson with the Michigan Environmental Council praises the D-E-Q and utilities in the state for moving forward toward the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, but worries that other states won't be as conscientious about cutting carbon emissions. "Given the magnitude of the problem with climate change and the magnitude of the solution that we need, it's really concerning that we are looking to the states as opposed to having federal leadership, which is really what we need." The Obama-era Clean Power Plan is tied up in litigation and so, never went into effect. Multiple groups that fight climate change have vowed to challenge the E-P-A’s new rules in court as well. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period once it is published in the Federal Register. The Public News Service assisted with this story. (JK)

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    A Whitmore Lake man was killed Wednesday after being struck by two people accused of illegal street racing. The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office says the 62-year-old man was pulling onto Ecorse near South Harris in Ypsilanti Township at about 10 a.m., the same time witnesses reported an Audi and Chrysler 300 speeding to pass each other on the road. Sheriff's spokesman Derrick Jackson said that after colliding with the victim’s Ford Fusion, both motorists kept going but crashed, with one of the vehicles hitting three parked cars at a gas station on the north side of the road. Both drivers fled on foot. Investigators apprehended one, a 31-year-old Ypsilanti resident, a short time later. The other driver remained on the run. The 62-year-old Whitmore Lake man died at the scene. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP or the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office at (734) 994-2911. (JK)

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    Community members can now visit The Wall That Heals, which will officially open with a special ceremony this evening. Approximately 50 volunteers helped assemble the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Wednesday, working from 8:30am to 4pm carrying pieces of the Wall; some of which weigh up to 200 lbs. Dale Brewer, a member of The Wall That Heals committee, encourages community members to visit the exhibit, which also includes tours of the mobile education center, the Michigan Memorial Wall, a traveling artifact museum and the chance to try on combat gear complete with an imitation gun and ammunition for a photo opportunity and history lesson. Brewer tells WHMI an opening ceremony will be held at the site at 6:30pm this evening and will feature Guest Speaker Phillip Pham. Pham and his family lived in Vietnam until they escaped in 1975 just ahead of the North Vietnamese takeover when his father stole an airplane and flew his family and 50 others out of Vietnam to Singapore, later making their way to the United States. Pham and his father will share their experience at the opening ceremony. Now U.S. citizens, both father and son are proud to be here. Brewer says they want to thank veterans and those whose names are on the Wall for all they gave to them through their service and sacrifice. A ceremony will also be held tomorrow evening at 6:30pm to recognize first responders, which will include medics, corpsmen, nurses, clergy and K9’s. Brewer guesses anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 people will visit the site over the course of the next several days and encourages guests to arrive early for ceremonies they plan to attend. A schedule of the weekend’s events can be found at the link below. (DK)

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    This year will mark lucky 13 for Downtown Brighton’s Smokin’ Jazz & Barbeque Blues Festival. The Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its yearly celebration of barbeque and live entertainment, September 7th and 8th. The festival will showcase a number of barbecue vendors and others featuring items such as corn on the cob, specialty mac and cheese, and sweet treats in the downtown area. Local and nationally known jazz and blues acts will be performing at a music stage on Mill Pond Lane in the municipal parking lot behind Great Harvest Bread Company. The entrance fee to the music and beer tent is $5, which will also feature ciders and wine. The festival is designed to appeal to not only an older crowd but kids and families according to the Chamber’s Director of Digital Marketing and Special Events Jen Ling. She tells WHMI they’re trying to come back to family friendly roots with the event and have added several bounce houses and kid-friendly vendors, adding Puzzled Escape will do a scavenger hunt throughout the festival. Ling says there are also some new attractions they’re excited about this year. The Chamber’s Men 4 A Cause group will host a cornhole tournament on Friday night from 6 to 11pm in the music venue/beer tent area. Registration can be done on the Chamber’s website and the winning team will be awarded a cash prize. Men 4 A Cause exists to bring support, help, change and impact to the community and surrounding world through events that raise funds for a selected family or non-profit in need. Proceeds from the Cornhole Tournament will go to a local non-profit. Past recipients have included Love INC, LACASA, a local family with terminally ill child, a local veteran with cancer and Samaritan’s Purse. The Smokin Jazz & Barbecue Blues Festival will run from 5 to 11pm Friday and from noon to 11pm Saturday, September 7th and 8th. Free shuttle service will be offered throughout the event with pick up locations at the Meijer parking lot. Volunteer opportunities are still available. Details can be found through the provided link. (JM)

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    A local teen charged in connection with a shooting threat at South Lyon High School has entered a plea in the case. 18-year-old Ryan DeBruyne of Green Oak Township pleaded guilty this week to a count of making a false report or threat of terrorism. The charge was filed after he allegedly sent a friend a Snapchat message on February 16th, asking if he would like to re-enact the Florida school shooting that occurred two days before, leaving 17 people dead. Police say after DeBruyne sent the message, his friend replied “no” and reported the incident to authorities the next day. Police interviewed DeBruyne and his family, and no firearms were found in DeBruyne’s possession or under his control following a search of the family’s home and vehicles. After friends, fellow students and their parents voiced support for DeBruyne, saying he’s not a dangerous person; a judge reduced his initial $10 (m) million bond to $100,000 with a 10% cash surety. Oakland County Circuit Judge Phyillis McMillen agreed to sentence DeBruyne under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, which will erase his criminal record if he successfully complete probation. (JK)

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    The American Red Cross has plans to eliminate 230 jobs as part of a “tentative decision” to limit operations in the Great Lakes Blood Services Region. Chris Hrouda, President of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services, says the decision to limit operations involves mainly mobile blood drives in the Great Lakes Blood Service Region starting in November 2018. He says the impacted region includes Lansing, Muskegon, Petoskey, Flint, Kalamazoo and Kentwood/Grand Rapids but the changes would not affect the availability of Red Cross blood products in Michigan. Hrouda says the Red Cross will continue to collect blood donations at its two fixed sites in Flint and Lansing, as well as their Southeast Michigan Blood Services Region, located in Detroit. It’s unclear how the decision could impact Livingston County, which is part of the Mid-Michigan Region, as the organization is only releasing a “reactive media statement”, which is attached. As part of the transition, approximately 230 Red Cross employee positions would be eliminated. He says they deeply regret the loss of jobs and know the changes would affect the lives of employees and their families, adding the Red Cross is committed to doing the most it can to help make the proposed transition as smooth as possible, including reaching out to area employers to help affected employees find new jobs. The decision was said to be made in response to a continued industry-wide decline in the demand for blood products and the need for consolidation of operations to ensure the organization can deliver cost-effective and reliable products and services for patients in need. Hrouda says the changes would allow the organization to focus its Biomedical Services in other geographies that generate more concentrated efficiencies and a better economic profile but stressed the Red Cross will continue its lifesaving mission in Michigan. Hrouda says "In addition to providing blood products for people in need, our focus on providing disaster preparedness and response activities, our services to military members, veterans and their families, and our ongoing health and safety trainings throughout Michigan remain just as robust. During fiscal year 2018, the Red Cross in Michigan responded to more than 2,200 disasters and mobilized nearly 6,000 volunteers who contributed to our mission.” (JM)

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    A Canadian company plans to grow about 8 million tree seedlings a year in Livingston County. PRT Growing Services Ltd. has signed a 20-year lease with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. The lease is for about 14 acres at the Brighton State Recreation Area. Plans this year call for the construction of a large commercial tree nursery with 22 greenhouses, outdoor raised beds, and production and office space. Nicole Toman is a regulatory unit manager for the state's Parks and Recreation Division. She says the company will pay the state $1.4 million in rent over 20 years. She says the facility will create 50 seasonal jobs and a few year-round positions. PRT sells its tree seedlings to park agencies, counties, the lumber industry and other private sector businesses. The contract was one of the highlights provided to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners at their meeting earlier this week by the Economic Development Council of Livingston County, which updated the board on its most recent quarterly report of economic activity and successes in the county. The total investment from PRT Growing Services is pegged between $4 and $5 (m) million. (JK)

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    Volunteers are still needed for a community build day planned for the new playground at Whitmore Lake Elementary. 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. 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 is scheduled on Monday to construct the final pieces of equipment and prepare the site for play. With less than a week away to go, organizers say they are still in need of a ton more volunteers to help out Monday. Various shifts are available. Details and contact information for anyone interested in participating is available through the link. (JM)

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    July jobless rates increased seasonally in most of Michigan’s regional labor markets, including locally. Livingston County’s jobless rate stood at 3.6% in July, ranking 5th amongst Michigan’s 83 counties. That marked an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point from June. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reports jobless rate hikes were typical for July, with the largest rate increases mostly concentrated in the state’s southern half and metro regions. Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives, says jobs fell in July due to seasonal staffing cuts in local government education along with temporary layoffs in Michigan’s auto industry due to the annual vacation shutdown/retooling period at a number of factories. The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn statistical area, which includes Livingston County, was among one of the regions recording the most pronounced over-the-month jobless rate advances. (JM)

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