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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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    M-DOT’s US-23 Flex Route project is competing in a national competition in which the public has a vote. The Michigan Department of Transportation's US-23 Flex Route project is among 12 finalists from across the nation for the 2018 America’s Transportation Awards competition organized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The project was is a national finalist after winning at the regional level in the Operations Excellence, Medium category, and is credited with greatly alleviating traffic congestion in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties. The US-23 Flex Route is the first of its kind in Michigan and operates along a 9-mile corridor from M-36 to M-14, just north of Ann Arbor. The system notifies drivers when the shoulder lane can be used for travel. It also offers motorists suggested speed limits during congested traffic periods and indicates when to merge. M-DOT University Region Planner Kari Martin says AASHTO is the setting body that publishes specs and guidelines used for highway design and construction throughout the United States so it was very exciting to win the operations excellence award category, as they were up against peers within the Midwest. Martin tells WHMI they’re very proud of the project, which has really improved operations along the corridor. She says it has improved system reliability and planning time by about 50% for southbound traffic in the morning and about 20% for northbound traffic in the evening. Martin says it makes it more predictable in how people can use the corridor. She says people know when to leave home or work and know what time they can get home so it’s much more reliable. As for the competition, the national grand prize will be determined by an independent panel of transportation industry experts. Finalists are competing for the national Grand Prize and the Socrata People's Choice Award, both of which come with a $10,000 check for a charity or transportation-related scholarship of the winners' choosing. The people’s choice award will be selected through online voting by the general public, which is underway now though 11:59pm on Saturday, September 22nd. Individuals can vote once a day through the provided link. Online votes will be weighted to each state's population, allowing for greater competition between states with larger and smaller populations. The winners will be announced at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Atlanta on Sunday, September 23rd. Martin noted the Flex Route project has won several awards throughout the consultant industry as well as some other national awards so it’s been highly recognized throughout the country. She added they’ve also had a lot of peer-to-peer exchanges with other states looking to do similar types of activities along their corridors using this type of technology. The current competition is considered the big transportation project level award for the nation so Martin says it would be a big win and public voting would greatly improve their chances for the people’s choice award. (JM)

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    A presentation will be held in Pinckney this week to educate community members on the issue of identity theft and how to take action against it. The Attorney General’s Consumer Programs Team will hold the Identity Theft presentation at the Pinckney Community Public Library on Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30pm. The seminar is open to the public and will focus on the signs of identity theft and fraud, how to protect one’s own personal information online and offline, and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud. The Pinckney Community Public Library is located at 125 Putnam Street. You’ll find additional event information at the attachment below.

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    The 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be recognized at an annual event in Brighton next weekend. The Brighton Area Fire Authority (BAFA) will hold their 9/11 Memorial 5K Run-Walk Saturday, September 8th, as a reminder of the tragic day in America’s history and the sacrifices made by those who serve to protect. The 6th annual 5K began as a way to honor first responders while also promoting fitness in the community, as many firefighters that take part in the event run in full turnout gear. Brighton Fire Chief Mike O’Brian says proceeds from the event will be used to preserve and complete construction of the 9/11 monument that sits in front of the BAFA station in Downtown Brighton. The centerpiece of the monument is an actual steel beam from one of the collapsed World Trade Center towers. Any additional proceeds will go back to public safety organizations supporting first responders and Community Risk Reduction programs. The race kicks off at the Mill Pond and ends at the station’s memorial. All ages of runners and walkers are welcome, and prizes will be awarded in different age groups and categories. Registration and event details can be found at the attachment and link below. (DK)

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    A local nonprofit dentistry is celebrating a decade of serving Livingston County residents with an outdoor art tour. Community members are invited to VINA Community Dental Center’s 10th Anniversary celebration on Thursday, September 13th, at Oaken Transformations in Brighton. Oaken Transformations Sculpture and Poetry Walk is an out-of-doors art tour dedicated to showcasing the work of poets and artists with ties to Michigan. Guests at VINA’s celebration can take part in a tour that is said to be part nature walk, part meditative footpath and part art installation. Light refreshments will be served and the event runs from 5:30 to 8pm, with a presentation beginning at 6pm. Oaken Transformations is located at 6893 Grand River Avenue. VINA is a community dental center that provides affordable dental care to local residents with limited finances and little to no access to dental care. Facebook photo.

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    This year’s Red Tie Gala has a medieval theme and will be held Thursday, September 20th, from 6:30 to 10pm at Mt. Brighton. The event will include a medieval feast, jousting and sword fighting, but Volunteer & Seasonal Programs Coordinator Darlene Howard says many more volunteers are still needed to make the evening a success. Numerous slots are still open in a variety of positions, like helping with auctions, games, providing information to guests, and a chance to play the role of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck or Maid Marian. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at the link below.

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    A school in Whitmore lake will host an anti-bullying initiative this week. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights announced last week that the Relentless Tour, featuring motivational speaker Anthony Ianni, will speak to students and parents at Whitmore Lake High School on Tuesday morning at 8am and again at 9am. The one-time Spartan basketball player, who took part in a similar event last month in Brighton, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 4 and was the victim of bullying as a child. He graduated from MSU and became the first known individual with autism to play Division I college basketball. Under Spartan coach Tom Izzo, Ianni played with the 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion teams, and the 2010 Final Four team. He won the 2012 MSU Unsung Player Award and was named a 2013 Detroit Pistons Community Game Changer Finalist. Through the Relentless Tour, Ianni and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights are hoping to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Students with autism are frequently targeted by bullies, with an estimated 65-90% of individuals with autism having been victims of bullying at some point in their lives. Ianni hopes that by telling his story he can help to not only “inspire kids to take a stand against bullying but also make bullies rethink their actions.” To learn more, visit the link below. (JK)

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    The City of Howell is recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During last Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Nick Proctor read a mayoral proclamation aloud marking the designation. He says local organizations are on the front lines of a battle that many still refuse to discuss in public, as suicide and mental illness remain too taboo a topic to speak on. Proctor further stated throughout life’s struggles, the occasional reminder is needed that everyone is silently fighting their own battles. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the United States and the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24. Councilman Dr. Bob Ellis shared some staggering statistics for the audience, saying suicide may actually be a lot more common that many think because unless there is very clear evidence of suicidal intent, many deaths are classified as accidental. Ellis said suicide is rare in younger kids but it starts to increase after age 10, noting there are two peaks in the suicide rate. He says the first occurs in people between age 45 and 54 but it then drops to people between age 54 and 85, and then rises again for people over age 85. Ellis stated men kill themselves about three-and-a-half more times than women and firearms account for more than half of the suicides in the United States. Ellis said knowing suicide is fairly common; it is still kind of taboo as people don’t talk about it and a stigma is associated with it. Ellis said he thinks since suicide is fairly common, most people know someone who has committed suicide. He shared during the meeting that his first wife committed suicide so like many families, it’s out there. Ellis said the more people talk about it though and are aware of help that’s available, then the more impact everyone can have on this. Mayor Proctor commented that suicide has always been a heavy topic that hits him pretty hard whenever he reads articles but not long ago, he was contacted by an out-of-state councilman who lost a close friend to suicide who is now is on a personal mission to bring awareness to suicide by reaching out to municipalities across the country to have cities proclaim the month of September as National Suicide Awareness Month. Proctor felt it was a good idea and Council agreed. The proclamation is attached. (JM)

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    At Monday night’s Brighton Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Greg Gray said that, with a week to go before the start of school, enrollment at both Maltby Intermediate and Scranton Middle School will be about 900, and about 480 students have registered for kindergarten classes. He says the high school also has at least 500 students in each of the four grades – freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Gray tells WHMI the figures are a good sign that the financial stability in the district – which has resulted in an expansion in program and course offerings - is having a positive impact on enrollment. The 2018-19 school year starts next Tuesday, and Gray says that as in the past, the first 10 days will be devoted to evening up class sizes from school to school. His desire is that all elementary schools have an enrollment of about 500. Gray says the Shared Services program – in which the Brighton Area Schools teaches non-core curriculum classes to schools which cannot provide certain courses – is going well, too, with 2,000 to 2,200 full-time equivalent students. He says Brighton offers the largest Shared Services program of any school district in the state, with nearly 50 schools in about 12 counties, which adds about $2 million to the district’s revenue stream. (TT)

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    A Medical Marijuana Education Forum is set this week. The forum will take place this Thursday at 6pm at the 2/42 Church on Grand River in Genoa Township. Representatives from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office will be in attendance. There is no cost to attend. This is the second attempt for the forum as zero people from the public showed up for the event last August, causing the Sheriff’s Office to cancel the event. The forum is intended to help educate the public and answer questions they might have on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, as well as compliance and changes in law. (JM)

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    New traffic signals are being installed at two well-traveled intersections in Hamburg Township. The intersection of Chilson and Swarthout Roads will be a 3-way (all-way) stop beginning on September 12th. The intersection will be controlled by flashing red traffic signals. Hamburg Police ask that motorists use caution when approaching the intersection, while everyone gets accustomed to the new traffic signal. A signal will also be installed at Merrill Road and Strawberry Lake Road, which will become a 4-way stop. There is not an exact date but officials say the Livingston County Road Commission has indicated that it will probably become effective in the beginning of October. The two signals should help boost safety at the busy intersections and improve traffic flow. Hamburg Police Facebook photo. (JM)

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    Construction of a portion of the Livingston County Jail expansion is ongoing, but additional money is being set aside for the project as unforeseen soil and utility conditions have cropped up. Funding for the planning and construction of the Sheriff Storage Facility was originally approved to not exceed $800,000; however project officials recently requested an additional $28,000 in contingency funds due to some unforeseen conditions. The project has been tied into the construction of the new 911 Dispatch Center, where soil samples, hidden utilities and covered manholes indicated contingency funds may be needed to cover any issues they present due to the proximity to the jail. The Storage Facility, which will house what Undersheriff Jeff Warder says is about $100,000 worth of equipment, was included in the original scope of the bond sale, with the remainder coming from the Capital Replacement Fund. Project Architect Brad Alvord says the additional $28,000 will not be spent until all of the bond proceeds have been exhausted. A county subcommittee last week unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a transfer of funds from the Capital Replacement Fund to the Jail Expansion Construction Fund. The resolution still requires the Board of Commissioners’ approval, which is expected to come tonight. Their approval would give the Chair of the Construction Committee the authority to approve any change orders submitted for the storage project, as long as it does not increase the overall cost. (DK)

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    With the summer legislative recess set to end, a local lawmaker says she still plans to introduce an impeachment resolution against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan, who is accused of corruption in office and perjury. State Representative Lana Theis says the investigation by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission began over 18 months ago but it wasn’t up until roughly two months ago that Brennan finally had her caseload removed and re-assigned to a visiting judge. She says Brennan is now getting paid to sit at home and do nothing while taxpayers are now paying a visiting judge to hear all of her cases. Theis feels there have been extended delays of justice and says she’s heard from numerous people wanting to know when action will be taken to hold Judge Brennan accountable. "Up until her docket was removed from her, people were being, I believe, harmed in her court because of the decision making process that she went through. I don't believe she was an unbiased observer from the bench. I think there was a real necessity for change and normally that would happen at the ballot box...but when someone has perjured themselves they subject themselves then to the process of impeachment." The Judicial Tenure Commission complaint stems from Brennan’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who served as the chief prosecution witness during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski. Brennan presided over the trial and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Brennan and Furlong maintain they had a friendship that morphed into an affair but claim it began after the trial. Testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial. The JTC hearing into its complaint against Brennan will commence October 1st. The case will be heard at the 16th District Court in Livonia, a decision made to ensure there is no conflict of interest. A Michigan State Police criminal investigation also remains active. (JK)

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    The Brighton District Library will be one of fewer than 20 cities throughout Michigan participating in the Manhattan Short Film Festival. This year, over 300 venues will show the 10 nominated films over the course of a week. Each attendee will be able to vote for their favorite film as well actor and actress. All votes will be tallied and emailed to New York City for tabulation. Each of the films will also be entered for consideration as a 2019 Oscar Short Film nominee. Manhattan Short is not a touring Festival; rather, library officials say it is an instantaneous celebration that occurs simultaneously across the globe, including Sydney, Moscow, Vienna, Cape Town and cinemas in all fifty of the United States and beyond. Films are 20 minutes in length. It began in 1998 when Nick Mason attached a screen to the side of a truck in New York City and projected 16 short films to an audience of about 300 New Yorkers scattered in the street. Showings at the Brighton Library will take place Sunday, September 30 at 2pm, and Friday, October 5 at 7pm. Registration is required and begins two weeks prior to each showing. Popcorn and drinks will be available. This Manhattan Short Film Festival is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Brighton District Library. The library is located at 100 Library Drive. Pre-register by calling or 810-229-6571 ext. 227 or go going to the link below. (JK)

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    Pinckney High School is bucking a long-standing tradition by replacing a Homecoming “King and Queen” with elected student representatives in hopes of promoting a more inclusive environment. At a Board of Education meeting Thursday, Student Government President Allie O’Keefe shared with board members the origin of the concept and its ultimate goal. The Pinckney High School student government executive board earlier in the week had met with advisors, high school administration and counselors to discuss what they feel would be a more fair election process. The new format would consist of students from each class electing five student representatives that are of good character and have a positive outreach in the school and community. From each grade’s chosen five, the nine individuals with the most votes would be on Homecoming Court and the top three will be the winners for each grade. A secondary vote would then be held for the senior class to choose one individual that would be recognized at the homecoming game. In a letter to district officials, the Pinckney Student Government says they do not believe homecoming elections should be a popularity contest with a trend of choosing popular couples. O’Keefe says they want to make homecoming elections more inclusive overall, noting Student Government attends regional, state and national conferences every year and has noticed that many schools are moving towards a different format to better abide by discrimination policies. O’Keefe says they want this to be a smooth and positive transition, and is hoping for the community’s support as they work to recognize students who go above and beyond. Superintendent Rick Todd and other Board of Education members Thursday voiced support for the Student Government’s decision, with Todd adding that the district’s cultural beliefs should be reflected in everything they do. O’Keefe acknowledged that there may be some backlash that comes along with the transition but says, “…there’s no time like the present”. The new election format will be implemented this year, with Pinckney’s Homecoming set for September 29th. (DK)

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    An upcoming event will raise awareness about addiction in Livingston County with a focus on the possibility of recovery. Wake Up Livingston (WUL) will hold its second annual Recovery Walk in downtown Howell on Sunday, September 23rd. WUL is a coalition of community members with the common goal of eradicating opiate overdose in Livingston County. WUL Facilitator Kristal Reyes says the organization and its community partners work to dispel the “once an addict, always an addict” myth, as well as negative stigmas that are associated with addiction. Reyes says they aim to instead celebrate recovery from addiction and substance use disorders to remind the community that recovery is possible and that “people get clean every day”. Those participating in this year’s Recovery Walk will meet at the Historic Howell Courthouse at 10:30am the day of. Reyes says there will be a sign-making station at the event for participants who want to carry a poster while they walk, or, participants can bring a sign of their own, along with any memorabilia they’d like to carry in honor of their loved one’s battle with addiction or new life in recovery. The event will feature guest speakers sharing their story of recovery. Water, hot dogs and t-shirts will be provided and registration is requested so event volunteers can plan accordingly. Online registration opens up this week. (DK)

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    A Howell City Councilman has resigned after domestic violence charges against him came to light. Andrew Yost was arraigned August 14th on a misdemeanor count of domestic violence and a felony count of interfering with electronic communications. The charges did not come to the public’s attention until today, after which Yost submitted his resignation. In it, he cited only a need to attend to personal and family matters. If convicted on the felony charge, the 31-year-old Yost could face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. He faces a probable cause conference Thursday in 53rd District Court. This is not Yost’s first brush with the law. He has four previous traffic-related misdemeanor convictions, including driving on a suspended license and failing to report an accident, between 2008 and 2010 in both Livingston and Eaton counties. Yost was elected to Howell City Council last year to a term that expires in 2021. The resignation could be accepted as soon as a special council meeting set for Wednesday or at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Wednesday’s meeting is to interview four applicants for a council vacancy created by the previous resignation of Scott Niblock. (JK)

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    Pinckney school officials are exploring a mobile app that would feature district highlights, important information and more efficient security alerts. At a recent Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Rick Todd informed board members that he and other district officials have been looking into an app that would be a one-stop shop for parents, students and teachers in search of all district communications. Apptgey is self-described as a company that empowers school leaders to take control of their district’s identity. The app is developed with a specific brand and features in mind for each district, therefore serving as a form of marketing in addition to providing information to stakeholders. Todd says the app allows principals and teachers to post pictures, events and news to the app’s feed, which can also be shared to social media platforms. The app also has safety features that, in the event of an emergency, can send a mass text or robocall to parents to alert them of the situation. Todd says the app is beneficial because it streamlines all district postings, helping to avoid confusion and searching through various web and social media pages for information. The one-time fee for the company to develop the app is $7,000, and then $11,000 annually for app maintenance. Todd feels comfortable with the expenditure because the district spends no money on marketing and he feels there is a need to invest in branding, due in part to schools of choice and declining enrollment. Because the total expenditure is under $27,000, Todd does not need the Board of Education’s approval to move forward with the app, based on district policy. Todd says the goal is to roll the app out by the end of October. (DK)

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    A new president has been chosen to lead two-area hospitals in a statewide network. The Saint Joseph Mercy Health System announced on Tuesday that Bill Manns will be taking over the lead at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. A 27-year veteran of health care administration, Manns is coming east from sister-hospital Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids. Parent company Trinity Health president and CEO Rob Casalou said that after considering several outstanding candidates, it was Manns leadership qualities and impressive track record that made him the ideal choice. In his 5 years at Saint Mary’s, Manns turned it into one of the network’s top performing hospitals, culminating in a spot on the Truven Analytics 100 Top Hospitals list this past year. In his time there he oversaw several renovations including the construction of a $50-million surgical suite and the current revamping of the maternity unit. Manns said that he is looking forward to bringing his experience leading strategy to the Ann Arbor and Livingston markets. He will begin his new role in October, once interim leadership is in place at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. (MK)

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    Several hundred union members turned out Tuesday night to the Operating Engineers Local 324 training center in Howell Township to discuss a contract fight with the Michigan Infrastructure Transportation Association that has held up road construction projects across the state. The workers were at the Livingston County site to hear the latest on the work stoppage and the state of contract negotiations with MITA. The current deal expired June 1st and talks through the summer have failed to produce a new contract. MITA has proposed 3 percent raises across the board in a five-year contract. But the union is seeking the ability to make separate deals with individual contractors as opposed to the 40-member consortium. That has created an impasse that resulted in MITA locking all Local 324 members out of projects until union leadership returns to the bargaining table. The Michigan Department of Transportation can't do anything about the situation. In a statement, MDOT said while it hopes the two sides reach an agreement soon, it will be contractors who will lose out on bonus money for beating state-set completion deadlines. (JK)

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    Public safety officials in one local community say they are working to repair faulty warning sirens. The Brighton Area Fire Authority says that during a recent test of the severe weather sirens it came to their attention that the sirens are not working in the City of Brighton. Officials say they have contacted a qualified service agency to repair the sirens as soon as possible, but continue to work “diligently” with Central Dispatch, local communities and Emergency Management to keep citizens apprised of severe weather and alert them quickly. However, they expect repairs will be made by Friday. In the interim, they recommend residents subscribe to local severe weather alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, through their smartphones. You can also stay tuned to WHMI and whmi.com for the very latest weather information, including severe weather alerts. (JK)

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