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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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    Congressman Mike Bishop and Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin got into a heated exchange over health care during their first head-to-head debate of the election season. Appearing Sunday on WDIV-TV’s “Flashpoint,” Bishop, a Rochester Republican seeking re-election to a third term, opened up the sparring by declaring he wasn’t “going to be chased out of this district by Nancy Pelosi or anybody who wants to do a classic Washington, D.C., power grab.” Bishop’s campaign has repeatedly claimed Slotkin has received hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled into her campaign by Pelosi from out-of-state donors and appeared at a fundraising event with Pelosi in California. Slotkin, a Democrat from Holly who served in the CIA and Department of Defense, responded by calling the Pelosi charge a stereotype Bishop places on every Democrat and that Pelosi didn’t recruit her for the race, but instead, “Mike Bishop recruited me into this race the minute he voted to completely obliterate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That’s personal for me.” One of Slotkin’s TV ads features her telling the story of her mother’s bout with ovarian cancer and how a previous case of breast cancer prevented her from getting coverage. Bishop said he also has a personal experience as his wife has a pre-existing condition, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and that he would never vote for anything that would halt such coverage. Slotkin then pointed out that while Bishop’s 2017 vote on the Affordable Care Act did not technically eliminate such coverage, his depiction is, “why people can’t stand politicians. Because they say one thing and they do another” as that bill would make such coverage unaffordable to most Americans. With less than a month until the election, the race has tightened into a statistical dead heat. A recent New York Times poll has Bishop up by just three points, 47-44%, in a district he won by 17 points in 2016. The candidates will have two more joint appearances before the Nov. 6 election. The first is October 16th on a Lansing radio show and then an October 18th forum in Hartland Township sponsored by Voters Voice and the League of Women Voters. (JK)

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    The resignation of a Huron Valley Schools Board of Education member came too late to have her name removed from the ballot next month. Trustee Rebecca Walsh recently resigned from the board as her family is moving out of the district. But because it came too late to have her name removed from the November 6th ballot, Walsh will likely have to submit another resignation letter after the election. Walsh is one of four candidates listed on the ballot for three four-year terms. The other three are Sean Carlson, Denise Lynn Forrest and Vanessa Lynn. The Milford Times says Milford resident Bonnie Brown was appointed to fill the vacancy until January. If Walsh wins one of the three terms in the general election, she would have to resign again and the board would take applications from residents to replace her. Huron Valley School Board President Jeff Long said Walsh "has contributed greatly during her nine years on the board" and was, “always driven by a deep commitment to providing every Huron Valley student with excellence in education.” (JK)

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    Howell Public Schools will host its second and final community meeting to share information on the Securing Our Future Sinking Fund Millage proposal on Tuesday. A comprehensive ten-year capital needs plan earlier identified critical areas of improvement, specifically centered on school security and building repairs. Many items have reached their life span and if approved, the millage would provide the district with approximately $1.3 (m) million dollars annually for the next ten years for major repair projects to fund security upgrades and perform major repair projects throughout the district. Due to the district’s expected declining debt levy, the point-5 mill proposal is not expected to result in a tax increase for residents. Instead, it would freeze the current combined sinking fund and debt levy at 6.30 mills for the first year. After the first year, the total levy is expected to begin to decline with the district’s debt being paid off by 2029. Tomorrow’s meeting starts at 6:30pm in the Howell Public Schools Board of Education room. Superintendent Erin MacGregor will deliver a roughly ten minute overview of the proposal. MacGregor will share details of the proposal including the need, the district's plan and how the proposal will provide the district with funding for security upgrades and major building repairs with no expected tax rate increase. There will also be a time for district stakeholders to ask any questions they have regarding the proposal. Complete information about the Securing Our Future Sinking Fund Millage Proposal is available on the district’s website. That link is provided. (JM)

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    A Fowlerville man has entered an insanity plea to charges connected to an incident that left him and a State Police trooper injured. 35-year-old Robert McKee pleaded not guilty by reason insanity in Livingston County Circuit Court last week. He will now be evaluated at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline for at least 60 days. McKee was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer in connection with an April 29th incident that began when a trooper from the Michigan State Police Brighton Post and an officer from the Fowlerville Police Department responded to a call involving a suicidal subject in Handy Township. When they arrived on scene, police say McKee had already injured himself with a knife and was hiding in the basement of the residence. It’s believed he was having a reaction to medication. Police say officers were able to make contact with him and call for an ambulance, but when they attempted to render aid he became combative and moved towards them with the knife, prompting the Fowlerville officer to shoot McKee to stop the threat. One bullet ricocheted and struck the trooper in the leg. He has since recovered. McKee, who could have been sentenced to up to four years in prison, will remain at the forensic center until he is evaluated to no longer be a danger. (JK)

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    An event next month will honor the legacy of a Howell icon by unveiling a permanent memorial in his memory. Not long after Duane Zemper passed away in 2016 at the age of 96, community leaders began to discuss ways to make sure his impact on the community was never forgotten. A committee of friends, family, business leaders and government officials quickly formed the Duane Zemper Legacy Project in order to erect a statue of the decorated World War II combat photographer who co-founded the Howell Area Archives, preserving pictures of the area dating back to the 19th century that might otherwise have been lost forever. “Zemp,” as he was known to many, was also a lifelong volunteer, donating both time and money to local organizations including a 66-year record of straight attendance at Howell Rotary meetings. He was also an All-American at Eastern Michigan University and U.S. Olympic track qualifier. The statue, created by Colin and Kristine Poole, a nationally renowned sculpting team out of Sante Fe, New Mexico, will be unveiled on Sunday, November 4th at 1pm on the lawn of the Howell Carnegie District Library. Following the statue unveiling there will be a Meet and Greet with the Pooles at the Howell Opera House to celebrate Zemper’s 99th Birthday. Cake and punch will be served. Some of his work will also be on display as well as the Emmy Award Winning film “Through the Lens of Duane Zemper” along with the film “Creating the Zemp Legacy Monument”, put together by artist Colin Poole. Donations are still needed to finish off the project costs. Details on how to do that and full information about the project are available through the link below. Committee members Mike Hall and Brent Earl also discussed the project on WHMI's Mike & Jon in the Morning. You can hear that interview by Clicking Here (JK)

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    Today marked day six in the court hearing that’s continuing for 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. The proceedings are related to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s complaint against Brennan alleging misconduct in office, perjury and abuse of power. It was announced this morning that the JTC would no longer pursue two counts in the complaint that were related to former Court Administrator Francine Zysk. The main issue of the complaint is Brennan’s relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski. Brennan is now presenting her defense and took the stand all day. No witnesses were called. Brennan offered testimony related to her education and background, court processes and cases, her relationships with other local judges and her divorce from Don Root, as well as her cell phone and email practices. The hearing will continue Tuesday in 16th District Court in Livonia, with Brennan to resume testimony. (JM)

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    The Village of Milford Parks & Recreation Commission is in need of volunteers for an annual fall tree planting event. Organizers say they’re for volunteers who have a few hours to spare and want to help improve local parks while making new friends. The event takes place at Janowski Field, starting at 9am Saturday, October 20th. The event will run until all of the trees are planted, which is usually a couple of hours. Volunteers will also place wood chips around both the newly planted trees and those from the last few seasons. There will be some tools available on-site, but volunteers are asked to bring a shovel or rake just in case. The event will take place rain or shine, with coffee and donuts on hand for volunteers. Children under the age of 18 can participate but must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the activities. Anyone interested or those with questions are asked to send an email to parks@villageofmilford.org. Those signing up to volunteer should provide contact information and the number of volunteers in the group so organizers can plan accordingly. A link to the event page is provided. Facebook photo. (JM)

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    The Brighton Area Schools is considering adding a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or Jr. ROTC program, to the curriculum. But the Board of Education, while keenly interested in adding such a program at Brighton High School, had a lot of questions at Monday night’s board meeting. Michigan Junior ROTC official Col. George Pettigrew presented an overview of the program at the Board of Education meeting Monday night. Pettigrew said JROTC is a great program which teaches self-discipline, camaraderie, organizational skills, patriotism and other values. He added that 29 high schools in Michigan have a junior ROTC program. Board Trustee John Conely, who had originally proposed the program, pressed to have it added to the curriculum as quickly as possible. However, others on the board said a lot of questions had to be answered first, including a determination of if there was enough interest on the part of students, whether there was enough classroom space for up to a hundred students and so forth. President Andy Burchfield, who, along with Board Vice President Dave Chesney, said that the board should take a more deliberative approach and properly evaluate the program before taking any action. One potential drawback is the cost of the program. Except for classroom materials, the district would be required to pay all costs, including teachers’ salaries. uniforms, insurance and daily operational expenses. That would amount to about $150,000 for the first year alone. Superintendent Greg Gray told WHMI after the meeting that if all the board’s questions are answered to their satisfaction, the JROTC program would be added, perhaps as early as next fall. Col. Pettigrew said the program had a requirement of 100 students enrolled in each school, and if a program declined to less than 75, it would be decommissioned. He said Brighton would be allowed to invite students from other area school districts in order to make the minimum enrollment requirement. The board said a survey would be taken of BHS students to determine the level of interest (TT)

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    A check for the improvement of local cancer treatment options was presented to St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital by the Howell Pink Party. Every year, the Pink Party takes over Howell’s downtown area for one night in June, allowing women who buy passports to take advantage of special deals at local businesses as well as attractions and services, all with the goal of increasing funding for breast cancer treatment and research in Livingston County. Pink Party Executive Director and President Diana Biermann recently presented an $18,500 check to officials from St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital. The money will go toward breast imaging services, including the purchase of a new ultrasound unit. From left, Karen Gerkin, Mammographer; Julie Stokosa, Mammography Imaging Specialist; Diana Biermann, President of The Pink Party; Andrea Barksdale, Breast Imaging Manager and John O'Malley, President , St. Joseph Mercy Livingston & Brighton, pose in one of the mammography rooms at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston hospital. (JK)

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    Eeyore has been reunited with its owners. The donkey, which was named Eeyore by Argentine Township police after discovering the donkey wandering down Rolston Road near McCaslin Lake Road, was returned to his owner Monday morning with the assistance of social media. After the officer noticed the donkey a nearby resident came out and put a rope around its neck. He was then taken to a farmer at Smith and Duffield roads for safe keeping. Police then posted on their Facebook page about the donkey, receiving over 100 comments and nearly 1,900 shares. In less than two hours, Eeyore’s owner was located and reunited for a happy ending. (JK)

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    Monday marked day six in the court hearing that’s continuing for 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. The complaint filed against Brennan by the JTC alleges failure to disclose relationships and disqualify herself from cases, misconduct in office, perjury and abuse of power among others. At the beginning of Monday’s hearing in 16th District Court in Livonia, it was announced that the JTC would no longer pursue two counts in the complaint related to former 53rd District Court Administrator Francine Zysk. The complaint alleged Brennan failed to disclose her close, social relationship with Zysk and failed to disqualify herself from Zysk’s divorce proceedings and other cases. The main aspect of the complaint involves Brennan’s affair with now-retired Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong while presiding over a double murder trial where he was the chief prosecution witness. Brennan’s divorce case called into question the conviction of Jerome Kowalski, who convicted and sentenced to life in prison based on a confession he made to Lt. Furlong, who was the lead detective in the case. Depositions from the divorce case revealed that Brennan and Furlong were engaged in a sexual affair, although they insist it didn't begin until after the trial. Brennan is now presenting her defense to the allegations and took the stand all day Monday. No witnesses were called. The 61-year-old Brennan was appointed to the bench in July of 2005. She testified about her education and background before generally describing relationships with local attorneys and different disagreements she had with Livingston County’s other judges over dockets, re-assignments and courtroom processes, as well as changes she implemented and felt boosted efficiency. Brennan testified about what she felt were some shortcomings of other local judges and different areas in which she disagreed with them, such as how the docket was handled and the jury trial process. Brennan used to have a law clerk but said she didn’t know how to use the person so she got rid of hers to save money for the county. Brennan was mostly upbeat during questioning but couldn’t recall various conversations or signing certain orders of importance. She became more solemn when talking about her divorce from Don Root, who filed on December 2nd of 2016. She said he was very angry and didn’t want to have to sell his business and told her he knew about her affairs with Furlong and another man. Brennan said Root asked for a divorce on multiple occasions, sometimes more than once in a year, she would beg him back but there here were always conditions and that she be good wife, meaning make sure she was submissive. Brennan said he also put a credit card in a snow globe and told her it would come out when she was good. Brennan said they tried counseling after he moved out September 2013 but it was hurtful and didn’t work. When asked if she ever had an intimate relationship with anyone until her husband moved out, Brennan responded no. Brennan had trouble remembering different items related to an order to disqualify herself from her divorce case, as well as questions about her purchasing a new cell phone from a store in Troy - which reset her old phone to factory settings before she gave it back to her ex-husband. Brennan said she didn’t recall signing the disqualification order but acknowledged it was her signature on the order dated December 7th. She also couldn’t recall first seeing a motion for an ex-parte order to preserve evidence that was filed in her divorce case or a conversation with a judicial staff member related to the motion. Some testimony was confusing and prompted clarifications from retired Judge William Giovan, who is presiding over the hearing. Kristi Cox served as Brennan’s court reporter for 10 years and ultimately took a pay cut to be reassigned in the court system. Cox said her entire decade with Brennan was “hostile, demeaning, belittling, and degrading”. Brennan testified she only kept Cox on staff because she made a very serious promise to former Judge Michael Hegarty “while he was on his deathbed.” She testified Cox was dedicating too much time to writing transcripts, a side job, and felt it was impacting her work and gave her an ultimatum. Brennan also testified that Cox was a great employee and a hard worker but felt Cox was jealous and competing with another staff member for her attention. Things apparently got extra tense after Brennan put a written warning in Cox’s personnel file. Brennan said Cox resigned but they worked things out and the letter was later removed. The court hearing resumes this morning in 16th District Court in Livonia and Brennan will be back on the stand. Two witnesses are also expected to be called, although their identities were not disclosed. (JM)

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    An increased knowledge of finances is the hopeful result of a partnership between a local school district and a credit union. Howell High School seniors recently took part in a Financial Reality Fair, which emphasized budgeting, planning and saving. It was presented through a partnership between Howell Public Schools and LOC Federal Credit Union. Participating students selected a career that they are interested in pursuing after high school. They then received a budget worksheet with the gross monthly salary, their monthly tax breakdown, and their net monthly salary for the career they selected. Once the students knew their income, they visited various stations where they made lifestyle choices. These included buying a vehicle, selecting housing, picking a cell phone plan and buying clothing. The goal was for the students to pay off their monthly expenses while being able to set aside savings and staying within a budget. This was the third Financial Reality Fair LOC Federal Credit Union has held at Howell High School and the first that all seniors participated in. The credit union has also held reality fairs at both Howell middle schools. (JK)

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    Livingston County’s two largest school districts have a new educator supervising their special education services. The Livingston Educational Service Agency last week announced Sara Leggett has joined the Agency as Supervisor of Special Education serving both Brighton Area and Howell Public Schools. Leggett earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Ferris State University, an Educational Specialist degree from Michigan State University’s School of Psychology, and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She comes to the Agency from Okemos Public Schools where she served as a School Psychologist and then Program Specialist, where she served as the district’s accommodations coordinator, Section 504 consultant, and coordinated the district’s self-contained programs. As Supervisor of Special Education, Leggett will collaborate with students requiring special education services, their families and special education teams in Brighton and Howell, to ensure programs and services support student achievement in Livingston County. Douglas Haseley, Executive Director of Special Education for the Livingston ESA said he was, "truly excited to have Sara join the Brighton and Howell teams. Sara has tremendous experience supporting the learning and social emotional needs of students, families, and staff. Although Sara is new to administration, she has a solid presence and willingness to learn.” The Livingston Educational Service Agency provides a wide variety of special education, early childhood, career development, and collaborative services to the public and private schools in Livingston County. (JK)

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    Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy has announced support for legislation designed to help keep opioids out of the hands of children and teens. Pilfering is defined as the act of stealing someone else’s prescription medication for recreational use, hoping it will go undetected. Studies show it’s the leading cause of opioid abuse in children and teenagers. House Bill 5857 is sponsored by Republican State Representative Joe Bellino from Monroe and would require opioids and other highly addictive Schedule II drugs be dispensed in locking prescription vials. The vials will lock using a combination that each user individually selects. Murphy says as Livingston County Sheriff, he has seen how quickly an opioid addiction can change the trajectory of a teenager’s life. He tells WHMI trends continue to go the wrong way with more people getting addicted to opiates and heroin. He says opioid addiction has ravaged communities in Livingston County and across the state. Murphy is supporting the measure, calling it a step in the right direction of protecting youth from starting the cycle of abuse. Murphy said he can remember the simple screw off tops for prescription pill bottles, but then the more difficult caps were created to prevent kids from getting into them so he just views this as the next step. Murphy says as bills progress through the system though, they can take different forms and his support is behind something that makes it more difficult for kids to get into. He says it is no secret that kids go to a medicine cabinet and get drugs, whether it’s their own house, grandparents or friends. Murphy says he is not naive to think this is the end-all, be-all but the opioid epidemic, the crisis or whatever you want to call what we’re in, it will take a lot of little things to add up and hopefully make a big difference and this is one of those. Studies show that nearly 700,000 children and teens from across the country initiate opioid abuse by pilfering every year. Experts believe the measure would prevent 200,000 Michigan children and teens from starting a cycle of opioid abuse over a 10-year-period. House Bill 5857 remains under consideration by the House Health Policy Committee. More details can be found through the link. (JM)

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    A forum in Hamburg Township gave candidates in local contested races a chance to answer constituents’ questions, which varied from typical issues like roads and healthcare, up to and including a local embattled judge. The Pinckney/Putnam/Hamburg/Hell Chamber of Commerce in anticipation of the November General Election held its “Meet the Candidates” forum at the Hamburg Township offices Monday. The event was moderated by Chamber President Rick Beaudin, who made a point to note the chamber was proud to have invited candidates from all parties for contested races at the local, state and federal level. Unfortunately, for many of the contested races, only one candidate showed up. That included the race for a newly created 44th Circuit Court seat in Livingston County, with Suzanne Geddis and Dennis Brewer running for the seat, although only Geddis attended. Citing prior commitments, a statement was read on Brewer’s behalf, explaining his platform. While the questions for Geddis naturally veered toward topics related to the courts, like the opioid crisis and how it relates to the county’s Drug Treatment Court, Geddis was also asked what should be done about 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan, who is in the midst of a misconduct hearing by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. Geddis said the Brennan case was one she tried repeatedly to correct. "I've offered two different chief judges in this county to remove her from her docket and assign it to me in addition to my own docket. I offered SCAO, which is the State Court Administrators Office, to remove her from her docket and assign it in addition to my docket. I also offered to be appointed chief judge so I could remove her cases. That too was denied. As a sitting judge I took every action I could to address the Brennan situation." Also speaking last night was Democrat Adam Dreher who is running for the 22nd State Senate seat against Republican Lana Theis, who was not present. Her husband Sam read a letter in her place, expressing her honor in having served as a state representative and hopes to move on to the state Senate. One of the audience-provided questions Dreher was asked about concerned the state of the "damn roads in Michigan," to which he said that local municipalities are getting the short end of the funding stick from Lansing. "One of the hardest problems with our roads is that there is not enough revenue sharing coming from the state to the local communities that are tasked with the maintenance with the majority of the roads. So the state does a lot of the M-roads and provides the federal funding for the interstates and what not. But it's this revenue sharing that's constantly been decreasing to counties and townships that has caused us to see the roads we travel every days just get worse and worse and worse. So I would propose fixing the revenue sharing and allowing local communities to fix their damn roads." Also speaking was Green Party candidate Eric Borregard, who discussed the failure of the two major parties to serve the best interests of citizens because of their dependence on corporate money. Also featured was the race for the 42nd State House district. Republican candidate Ann Bollin was not present and had her brother read a statement talking about her track record as Brighton Township’s clerk. She is facing Democrat Mona Shand, who was in attendance. Shand, a former public school teacher and journalist, spoke about the partisan divide she has encountered while campaigning. "I've talked to thousands of people across this district and all of them say they are tired of the fighting. They're tired of it being 'us versus them' and I really do believe now at my core, more now than ever, that we have more in common than apart. We have to focus on those shared values, those things we have in common. I believe everyone in this room believes every child should have access to a quality education. I think everyone in this room believes everyone in Michigan should have clean water coming out of their taps and in their lakes and their rivers. So I think we need to come back to those things we have in common." In the race for the 8th Congressional District, Republican Incumbent Mike Bishop is being challenged by Democrat Elisa Slotkin. Bishop was not present Monday, but had Sheriff Mike Murphy read a statement in his place, discussing his work on the House Ways and Means Committee to help bring economic benefit to Michigan. Slotkin talked to the audience about her initial reluctance to get into the race because she was wary of partisan politics. She said that changed when Bishop voted with fellow Republicans last year to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Slotkin says she underestimated the prevalence of corporate money in politics and quickly realized that has to change. "I made the decision back in January that I was not going to take corporate PAC dollars. I cannot tell you how many angry phone calls I got from senior Democrats in Washington that I had that decision. And I called for the first bill of the new Congress to be of campaign finance reform. We have to demonstrate to our young people that our system is worth saving." David J. Lillis of the U.S. Taxpayers Party is also running for the 8th District and also spoke about the two-party system being broken and a lack of representation in Congress for taxpayers. (JK/DK)

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    Authorities are investigating three vehicle arsons in Highland Township. Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Highland Township Fire Department responded early last Wednesday to the 700 block of Spiroff Drive on the report of a vehicle fire located near a residential structure. A report states that upon arrival, deputies observed two of three vehicles that were parked outside of the residence totally engulfed. The heat from the blaze was melting the vinyl siding of the attached garage. Firefighters extinguished the fire and requested the OCSO Fire Investigations Unit respond to the scene. The Sheriff’s Office says due to prior incidents involving harassment from a past neighbor, the homeowner had a surveillance camera set to capture movement installed outside of his residence. Deputies reviewed the surveillance video and observed an unidentified male approach the three vehicles and pour an accelerant onto them. The vehicles were then set on fire and the subject had fled the scene. The three vehicles were impounded as evidence and the Sheriff’s Computer Crimes Unit was assisting. The OCSO Fire Investigations Unit is continuing with the investigation. The victim has been identified as a 51-year-old Highland Township man. (JM)

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    A trial date has been set for a Livingston County woman charged with facilitating the sexual assault of a minor. 26-year-old Paige Nicole VanCamp of Brighton is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Lenawee County Circuit Court, where a trial date is set for December 11th. Authorities say that in September of 2016 VanCamp drove a 16-year-old girl to Adrian with plans to have sex with her, another woman and a man. The teen was allegedly plied with alcohol and pressured to have sex with the man, which resulted in her pregnancy. 32-year-old Shane Rodgers, a parolee from Adrian, was originally charged with first-degree CSC for assaulting and impregnating the teen. He pleaded guilty to a reduced count of third-degree CSC and was sentenced earlier this year to five to 15 years in prison. (jk)

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    A groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the soon-to-be permanent home for a nonprofit organization that serves local residents in need by providing food and personal hygiene products. Community members, local officials and volunteers attended Tuesday’s ceremony with shovels in hand, joining in to break ground on the site that will soon be home to Bountiful Harvest’s new building. The approximately 3,300-square-foot facility will be constructed on property that was donated by the First Presbyterian Church in Brighton, which is located directly behind the church’s parking lot. Church Pastor Scott Phillips says in the beginning, he was cautioned that church members might not be on board with the project because construction could disrupt operations and the current layout. Phillips tells WHMI it was the exact opposite, adding "People were so behind it, we just needed to find out how to make it happen." Project leaders are hoping to finalize the building’s exterior work by mid-December, prior to winter conditions. It is expected that the interior portion will be completed and functional by April 1, 2019. Bountiful Harvest Volunteer Pastor Terry Simpson says one of the building's unique components is that it will have a geo-thermal heating and cooling system, with pipes bored 400 ft. into the earth’s core, allowing for minimal energy use. The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $550,000. Approximately $360,000 has been donated thus far, including the church’s land donation and Brighton Rotary, which made a $55,000 donation with $20,000 in matching funds still available. Bountiful Harvest Founder and President Yvonne Cavalli says the support from local businesses, volunteers and organizations has made this all possible, and credits God with giving her the initial push, saying “Every time I decided I didn’t want to do it, he caused something to happen in my life that made it where I wanted to do that." The new facility will allow the organization to expand its hours of operation and services in order to reach more families and individuals in Livingston County that are in need. That expansion will be very helpful according to Cavalli, who says when Bountiful Harvest first opened, they only had seven clients. Within a year, the organization had to open an extra day in order to serve 40 to 50 people. Bountiful Harvest now serves about 100. Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer attended Tuesday's ceremony. He shared an experience in which he, Mayor Jim Muzzin, Councilmember Jon Emaus and some staff members volunteered at Bountiful Harvest. Geinzer says it helped him fully grasp the need that is in the community and what a gift the new building will be. 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop also attended the groundbreaking and noted the close-knit community, adding, "Brighton never ceases to amaze me. Every time I turn around it’s something else that people are doing for the community." (DK)

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    The final two witnesses and 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan took the stand Tuesday, the seventh day of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s complaint hearing against Brennan. The central issue of the complaint is Brennan’s relationship with State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness in a 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski. Kowalski was found guilty by a jury and given a mandatory life sentence in a case that was presided over by Brennan. Brennan and Kowalski claim their relationship started after the trial, but documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate otherwise. Tuesday’s portion of the hearing started with long-time friend of Brennan, attorney Shari Pollesch. Pollesch was married at Brennan’s home, the two have gone on ski trips together, to each other’s cottages, were in a book club, and were also known around downtown Brighton as “walking buddies.” Pollesch testified that while the two have been close for 25 years, she wouldn’t consider their friendship to be a “special relationship.” When asked if she felt her and Brennan’s friendship should have been disclosed to other lawyers, Pollesch said she knew of other judge-attorney friendships in the county and that there were never any disclosures made. The two hit a struggle in 2014 over events that occurred in the case Halliday v. Halliday in which Amy Krieg was representing Pollesch’s firm. Krieg testified last week. Brennan and Pollesch were not on speaking terms from two-and-a-half to three years, but have since reconciled their friendship. Pollesch shared her experience with an infamous dinner party Brennan hosted at her house. Pollesch said there were lots of people there including Furlong, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Ryan, State Police Detective Chris Corriveau, members of a book club, and many others she didn’t know. Three of the women, according to her testimony, were in the pool, which was dark, two of them without suits on. Pollesch said the girls were giggling and chatting, saying “Sister Solidarity” to get those who had suits on, to take them off. At some point, Corriveau jumped in, wearing underwear, and was told “women only,” and to get out, which he did. When they left the pool, all got dressed except Ryan, who did an open towel “shimmy” to Furlong, who Pollesch said looked embarrassed. She said Furlong did not get in the pool, nor did she see him in the vicinity. Next on the stand was former Livingston County Court Administrator Francine Zysk. She was also the Chief Probation Officer for the Brighton court from 2006 to 2015. The defense objected with her not being on the current witness list, but the JTC was allowed to continue. On Monday, Brennan had two counts against her involving Zysk dropped by the JTC. Zysk has her own case against Brennan currently in federal court. Zysk gave testimony to observations she witnessed between Brennan and Furlong, noting that he was around the district court a lot. She said she saw saw the two going to lunch together often, sometimes with Ryan, sometimes not. She shared a 2016 conversation she had with Brennan, now 61, about a pair of events that happened around Brennan’s 50th birthday. One event was attending a Tigers game, the other was a kiss with Furlong, “but just a kiss,” Zysk said. Zysk described Brennan’s demeanor as “haughty” and demeaning when communicating to her wishes to staff, especially court recorder, Kristi Cox. Zysk said she would order and demand Cox to get her a coffee and muffin, tossing money to her. While she said she tried to talk to Brennan about how she is treating Cox a couple of times, Zysk said it didn’t seem to make a change. As Court Administrator, she said she would hear reports of a “hostile work environment” and that there didn’t seem to be any accountability to how she treated people. In a report from 2017, Zysk said 17 to 21 left employment with the courts because of her. Despite this, Zysk still testified that she believed Brennan to be an “excellent criminal judge.” Tuesday’s session ended with Brennan and her attorney Dennis Kolenda picking up where they left off the previous day, when she was on the stand. They first addressed previous testimony that Brennan was trying to delete files from a company computer. She testified that it was only once, and that it was a quick claim deed dealing with property from her divorce. Brennan said she wanted it deleted so that her personal information wasn’t on a county computer. An examination of phone records took place that suggested State Police Detective Sean Furlong was contacted the most. Brennan and Furlong’s relationship is at the center of the complaint the JTC is investigating. Brennan took exception to the graph shown, which was composed of some names and some numbers. She said that many of the phone numbers are alternate lines to reach other people listed in the exhibit. If work, landline, and cell numbers are combined, for example, as many as four friends could leapfrog Furlong on the graph. Last week, Kristi Cox testified that company time was used to help with campaigning activities. Brennan disputed most of the documents Cox said she worked on while on the clock, saying they were likely done during lunches, breaks, or at home. Brennan said she herself was responsible for most of the drafting of campaign materials and that very little editing was needed; often just the addition of a header or changing of a number. Previous testimonies from Cox, former law clerk and research assistant Jessica Yakel-Sharpe painted Brennan as a boss who commanded personal errands be done for her rather than ask. Brennan testified Tuesday that both were often willing to do whatever they could for extra money, and so she would offer them money for tasks like paying her bills or returning clothes. When asked about Yakel-Sharpe staining her deck, Brennan said she believed it could have been done on her own time, and not 2 of the 3 days of it on county time, as Yakel-Sharpe said it took. Brennan said Yakel-Sharpe was part-time at the time of the staining, and if she told human relations she was full time, she’s lying. Brennan said they often had nothing to do at the Brighton court, so they did “what you do during down times” – like checking out tickets, or going on an extended lunch. She said she believes 6 judges in the county is too many, but the other judges try to hush her from speaking that. Her testimony and the hearing are expected to wrap up today at 16th District Court in Livonia. (MK)

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    A local resident vying for a legislative seat plans to host a gathering that will focus on the issue of immigration. Colleen Turk, the Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 47th State House seat, will host an educational forum titled “Immigration: Policy & Experience” this Thursday, October 11th at 6:30pm at the Howell Carnegie District Library. The Marion Township resident says the forum will give attendees a chance to learn how immigration works by hearing directly from people who work in immigration and from people whose families recently immigrated to the US. “Immigration affects our economy and it impacts human lives, but lately it’s very difficult to know the facts,” Turk said. “Instead of half-truths and tweets, we should connect with people face-to-face to judge the truth for ourselves. Lately an undercurrent in our society exists that runs against the melting pot idea of America. It’s causing division in our state and in our country that doesn’t help anyone, especially when much of it is based on myths.” Turk says the forum will be similar to other events she has hosted through Citizens for Unity - a community group she created to heal division by facilitating discussions and leading community action. The forum will include a panel of immigration experts, including Fayrouz Saad, former Director of Detroit’s Office of Immigration Affairs. Other panelists include Seydi Sarr, founder and Executive Director of ABISA; Russell Abrutyn, Immigration Attorney at Abrutyn Law; and immigration attorney Reginald Pacis. The panelists will answer common questions about immigration -- paths to citizenship, how marriage affects citizenship, and how immigrants to the US feel about American culture compared to the culture in their native countries, for example. Turk will facilitate the event with pre-selected questions and open the floor for discussion as time allows. Discussion will continue at a nearby pub afterward for those interested in more conversation on the topic. “This forum is an example of the kind of gatherings I’d like to host as District 47’s next State Representative. Our elected officials have a duty to educate constituents on issues that impact them and their neighbors, even if the topic is controversial or complicated,” Turk added. “Real leaders should confront division and try to bring our communities together through knowledge and truth.” Tickets are free but reservations are required. You’ll find those details through the link below. The 47th district includes the city of Howell, the village of Fowlerville, and the townships of Conway, Cohoctah, Deerfield, Tyrone, Handy, Howell, Oceola, Hartland, Iosco, Marion, and Unadilla. (JK)

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