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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 new Emagine Theater is set to open in Hartland Township just in time for the busy holiday season. Emagine Entertainment announced that the grand opening of Emagine Hartland will take place on Friday, December 14th beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce at 6pm. The theater will open to the public on Saturday, December 15th at 10am. The theatre is located in the Hartland Towne Square Shopping Center, located at the northeast corner of US-23 and M-59. The 55,000-square foot venue will feature -luxurious amenities, 1,140 seats in ten state-of-the-art auditoriums including a screening room, and an EMAX premium large format screen. Emagine Hartland will be the first theatre in Michigan to offer all heated reclining chairs and the first to deploy ten pure laser digital cinema projectors featuring high contrast lenses. Emagine Hartland will also be the first and only theatre in Michigan to feature 100% laser projection systems. Among the amenities are a full-service bar, expanded concession men, stadium seating, and special front row seating of cuddle chairs. All auditoriums will be handicapped-accessible and equipped with assistive devices for both seeing and hearing-impaired guests. Hartland Township Supervisor Bill Fountain said they can’t wait until later this year to be part of the official grand opening of Emagine Hartland and feel it will be the anchor for future opportunities and developments. The following are the luxury amenities Emagine Hartland will include: •Heated Luxury Chairs - All auditoriums at Emagine Hartland feature heated luxury powered reclining chairs and Emagine’s proprietary cuddle chairs to ensure optimal guest comfort. •Reserved Seats – For guest convenience and comfort, Emagine offers 100% reserved seating. Guests may purchase tickets online or on Emagine’s app available on Google Play or iOS App Store, and choose their perfect seat for the show. •Stadium Seating – All 10 auditoriums feature stadium seating, which means you have the best and most comfortable movie watching experience. Every seat offers an unobstructed view of the screen. •E-Bar – A full-service bar with hand-crafted cocktails, wine and beer on tap including local selections Founders, Shorts, Bells and Atwater will be available with service to each guest’s reserved seat. •Handcrafted Pizzas - Guests can enjoy all their favorite traditional movie concessions or try one of Emagine’s handcrafted pizzas made on-site in its stone oven. •Self-Serve Coke Freestyle Machine – Guests may choose from over 100 flavors or grab a slushy drink for the same price as a soft drink. •Specialty Popcorn – Emagine Hartland will feature a variety of popcorn: traditional, caramel, cheddar, and OlivEpop, Emagine’s proprietary popcorn prepared with olive oil and sea salt. •Birthday Parties and Private Theatre Rentals – Both are available at Emagine Hartland. •All theatres will be handicapped accessible and equipped with hearing impaired listening devices. (JM)

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    The effort by a retired local judge and an area attorney for a citizen’s grand jury has been rebuffed by the Michigan Court of Appeals. In July, former Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress and Howell attorney Tom Kizer filed separate appeals of a ruling by Livingston County Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh for an out-of-county judge to hear a request for a grand jury to investigate Judge Theresa Brennan. Cavanaugh asked the State Court Administrative Office to assign a judge from another county to hear the request, which then assigned Eaton County Circuit Judge John Maurer. At issue is Brennan’s admitted relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who served as the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double-murder trial of Jerome Kowalski that she presided over and resulted in his conviction and life sentence. The chief reason cited by Judge Cavanaugh in her decision to send the case out of the county was Judge David Reader’s appointment of Kizer as the grand jury’s Special Prosecutor, questioning Kizer’s impartiality as he is a long-time critic of Judge Brennan and had served as the attorney for Brennan’s ex-husband in their 2017 divorce. In an opinion issued October 12th, the judicial panel denied the leave to appeal, “for lack of merit in the grounds presented” and further denied a motion for reversal of Judge Cavanaugh’s order, “for failure to persuade the Court of the existence of manifest error requiring reversal and warranting peremptory relief.” In response to the ruling, Buress and Kizer issued a joint statement, saying they were, “surprised and concerned over the one sentence denial without any written analysis of the serious issues raised.” They again raised the issue of Cavanaugh’s social interactions with Judge Brennan and Det. Furlong during the time leading up to and beyond the trial of Mr. Kowalski, which they feel has not been adequately revealed. They ended by saying they are reviewing their options and “remain steadfast” in their belief “something is seriously legally wrong with the actions taken by Judge Cavanaugh and must be addressed” to protect the integrity of the grand jury process and respect for the judiciary itself. Brennan’s conduct during the Kowalski trial is the subject of a Michigan State Police criminal investigation and a complaint by the Judicial Tenure Commission, which charged Brennan with “a pattern of improper conduct.” That complaint was heard over an eight-day period earlier this month, with an additional day of testimony expected before a recommendation is made to the JTC about whether or not sanctions should be made against Brennan, which could include removal from the bench. When asked for her comment. Judge Cavanaugh said she would have no comment other than that, “The Orders of the Michigan Court of Appeals speak for themselves.” (JK)

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    A local library is inviting parents and their young children to participate in a program that will help get the kids’ minds ready to read. The Brighton District Library is hosting Rhythm and Rhyme Tuesdays story time each week from 10:15 am until 11. The library uses 5 literacy practices during their story times, those being talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing from a series called “Every Child Ready to Read.” These practices have grown out of a body of research that shows that parental interaction with children at an early age is crucial to later success in school. The library further encourages parents to use puppets or stuffed animals with their children to make up stories, which will help develop narrative skills and understanding. The Tuesday morning program helps develop children’s brains and teaches motor skills that will help prepare the child for a life of reading. Kids and parents will dance with simple instruments, with there also being tunnels for the children to crawl through, and parachute play. Each session ends with open play time. Admission is free and tickets can be obtained in the youth department 15 minutes before each weekly event. (MK)

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    Issues that have come to the forefront recently in Livingston County, like PFAS and substance abuse, were among the questions asked at a recent candidate forum in Hartland. Thursday’s forum featured candidates in contested races in next month’s election, including those running for the 42nd and 47th State representative seats. In the race for the State Representative seat in the 42nd District, Democrat Mona Shand and Republican Ann Bollin are running against one another. When asked how each would address funding for roads and infrastructure, Bollin said a revisit of the Act 51 road funding formula was needed, calling it "antiquated" and that we, "need to hold building the roads accountable, enforce our warranties and monitor performance-based contracts," adding that, "it is going to take all of us to solve this but our expectation has to be realistic to solve it." Shand directed her answer at those in charge in Lansing, "The Republicans have had control of the Governor's house, State Senate and State House for the past eight years and in that time your gas taxes have gone up and your registration fees have gone up and I don't think you can say the roads are significantly better as a result. It's time to stop trying to solve this on the backs of working families." When asked what steps they would take to expand support for those struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, both centered their answers on collaboration in the community. Bollin says, "We need to work together, implement the CARES Task Force, bring forth resources, to make sure that we are collaborating with all the agencies. There's no time for duplication. It's time to work together, work hard, and make it a better place for everybody." In addition to collaboration, Shand also mentioned consideration of treatment and whether individuals are receiving the level of treatment they need. Shand says, "We have to encourage an environment that supports addiction specialists. We need to work with law enforcement to make sure that they recognize the signs of addiction. This is really going to require a community involvement. And I'm really proud to be a member of the Livingston County Community Alliance as well, which brings together law enforcement, media, people from every sector, Community Mental Health, schools. And we're all working together." Republican incumbent Hank Vaupel is being challenged by Democrat Colleen Turk for the 47th district. Both candidates were asked about teacher shortages, roads and infrastructure, and gun violence. On the issue of gun violence in schools and how to increase safety, Vaupel says there is a need to identify people with mental health problems first, which Turk agreed with, adding there is a need to reduce the ratio of students to counselors. Speaking to the PFAS contamination, both candidates were asked what can be done to safeguard drinking water. Turk says the first thing that needs to be done is review and establish a safe level for consumption regarding water that is contaminated. Turk says, "There was a bill introduced by the Democrats last December that said that unenforceable advisory limit that we have, that 70 points-per-trillion, there are other states that have a limit as low as 15 parts-per-trillion. So what is a safe amount for us to be ingesting? So let’s move that bill out of committee, take it to the floor, and start discussing it. And then we have start figuring out how to fix the problem and the biggest way that we’re going to fix that problem is to hold polluters accountable.” Vaupel agreed a suitable level of consumption should be established, but also felt the products that contain PFAS need to be eliminated. Vaupel says, "PFAS has been in the environment for quite some time. It’s a fire retardant that’s still used by firefighters. We must look at alternatives to using the PFAS in the substances we’re using for fire retardants and also in many, many products that are made. We must come up with a way of eliminating it since we don’t know what is a safe level and it’s hard to actually find all of the polluters that are doing it.” The Livingston Post videotaped the closing arguments for each race featured at the forum and those can be viewed through the link below. (DK/JK)

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    It now appears that the Michigan Attorney General is not assisting with the investigation into the misappropriation of donated funds by a member of the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee. The investigation began after a woman said she was unable to obtain documentation for a $400 check she wrote Committee Chair Hansel Keene in October of 2017. She subsequently provided WHMI with a copy of the canceled check which shows it was made out to both Keene and the Livingston County Veterans Service Department, but signed by Keene and deposited into his personal account. On October 12th, WHMI was told by a State Police spokesperson that their investigators “continue to work with the Attorney General’s office on this investigation.” But State Police Detective 1st Lt. Tom DeClercq now tells WHMI that was an error, and the AG’s office is not involved. However, he says they recently were able to interview the donor and continue to look through “a stack” of documents and that once they are done with their investigation, they will turn over their report to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office for a determination if any charges are warranted. The investigation into the donation came to light after the sudden firing of then-Veterans Services Director Adam Smiddy on August 27th. Smiddy has said he believes his firing was at least in part due to his insistence that the details of the donation and where the money ended up be fully investigated. The $400 was eventually refunded to the donor’s attorney via a cashier’s check provided by the law firm of Kevin Nagle, who also serves on the veterans committee with Keane and is representing him in the matter. County Commissioners have remained silent on the issue of Smiddy’s firing and the investigation into the donation. (JK)

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    Emergency repairs are forcing a road closure in the City of South Lyon. 10 Mile Road (Lake Street) west of Pontiac Trial (Lafayette Street) is currently closed for emergency sanitary sewer repairs. The Road Commission for Oakland County advises that westbound 10 Mile Road traffic is being detoured to Whipple Street, while eastbound 10 Mile Road traffic is detoured to Liberty Street. The repairs are expected to be completed on Friday. (JM)

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    Fetal remains have been found at a third Michigan funeral home in less than two weeks. An asbestos-removal crew on Monday discovered the skeletal remains of two fetuses at the former Mowen Funeral Home in Owosso. Police say the remains were in a casket inside a wooden box in a closet. The box containing the fetuses was found in an abandoned second-floor apartment of the former funeral home. Markings on the box indicate that the box is more than fifty years old. The funeral home, located on W. Main Street in Owosso, has been closed for more than two years and is being prepared for demolition. The exact age of the remains was not known, but a review by the Shiawassee County Medical Examiner's Office determined both fetuses were born around 20 weeks' gestation. The findings are just the latest in a long string of fetus remains found inside funeral homes across Michigan. On Friday, police removed the remains of 63 fetuses from Perry Funeral Home in Detroit. The remains of 10 fetuses and a still-born infant were found Oct. 12 at the Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit. (JK)

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    A plea has been entered by a former Howell High School student charged in an incident in which he allegedly extorted a teenage girl for sex. 18-year-old Scott William Minton appeared in Livingston County Circuit Court Friday and pleaded guilty as charged to a count of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration and an added count of attempt to commit sexual penetration. In exchange for Minton’s plea, prosecutors agreed to a recommended sentence of five years of probation with the first year served in the Livingston County Jail, and to dismiss the eight remaining felonies Minton originally faced, which included 1st degree criminal sexual conduct and extortion. Minton, who was 16-years-old at the time of the incident, agreed to be sentenced as an adult and to not attend the same school as the victim. The agreement also calls for Minton to register as a sex offender for life. Charges were filed last year after Minton was accused of using extortion to force a 16-year-old girl he went to school with to perform sexual acts multiple times between April and May of 2017. He is said to have demanded sex from the victim and threatened to share explicit photos of her if she did not comply. The incidents are said to have occurred on property adjacent to Howell High School. Though Minton was a minor at the time of the incidents, he was charged as an adult. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt has said while it isn’t common practice to charge a juvenile as an adult, his office will do so when the circumstances are appropriate. Minton is set to be sentenced November 29th.

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    Some questions are being raised about the towing policy of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office. The Livingston County Democratic Party issued a press release (posted below) about a decision made by former Sheriff Bob Bezotte in 2013 to move to a single company, Corrigan Towing, for services - versus traditional practice of rotating towing companies. Democrats allege it raises ethical questions since the company contributed donations to Bezotte’s political campaigns. The press release further alleges the move was not supported by current Sheriff Mike Murphy, who clarified he did in fact support the move but would have pursued a different process. Democratic Party Chair Judy Daubenmier maintains the switch raises some ethical questions, such as a government agency selecting a single source for a service, like towing without bids, and that entity has owners who make political contributions to the people making the decisions. She says it doesn’t look right and a fair bidding process should have been followed as a lot of other towing companies in the county would have been eligible to bid. Instead, she alleges Republicans who supposedly favor small business are shutting them out from government work and then receiving campaign contributions. Murphy tells WHMI he was in favor of moving away from the rotation system because of all the issues they had, adding Bezotte was within his rights to do so. However, Murphy says he honestly would have handled it a bit different and put out a request for proposals with specific parameters for the contract bids – adding more than likely it would have ended up being Corrigan anyway. Murphy says Bezotte was solely within his rights to choose a single wrecker company and he chose Corrigan. Murphy says if a vehicle is blocking the road or needs to be towed, they need it to be done in an expedient, professional manner. He says there was a long history of issues and some companies were a bit unscrupulous so the sheriff at that time just got tired of dealing with the wrecker issues and felt the simplest solution was to just utilize one company. Murphy says it also makes it easier in dealing with complaints. He clarified that doesn’t mean Corrigan is exclusive so if someone has a preference, then by all means they’ll use that company because at the end of the day, it’s all about the service. Murphy says it is unfortunate some are trying to make political, adding when he took over, it was a case of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” He noted that Corrigan has a stable of wreckers and resources over and above others, referencing a situation at Mount Brighton in which a person got caught in chairlift and crews came out with a specialty plasma welder cutting tool to free the person - more than likely saving his life. Murphy says another case in point was the extreme pile-up on I-96 near Fowlerville in December of 2016 that involved 53 vehicles and left three people dead. Murphy says Corrigan came out with wreckers and heavy equipment and they were able to do preliminary investigations, get vehicles towed and the expressway re-opened in less than 8 hours, which was he says was phenomenal considering a similar crash in Kalamazoo County that shut down the freeway there for three days. Murphy questioned why he would switch when at the end of the day, he has a resource like that who he call that comes out and gets the job done, adding it doesn’t make any sense. Murphy added the Corrigan family has been very philanthropic and politically active in Livingston and other communities and you won’t find a family more generous so to call it a kickback is just wrong. Some local towing companies have raised issues about the change. Ben Marhofer of Pardiac Towing says they have high reviews and ratings online, and you don’t get those from bad business practices. They have business locations in the Cities of Brighton and Howell. He says his family has been in business in the county since 1984 and involved in the community for a long time, so he feels to get shut out like they did was not real fair and things should change. Marhofer says the switch from the longstanding rotation system to a sole service provider was made with no real good reasoning and it was never up for debate. He says no letters were sent out, it just happened and towing companies noticed when their phones just stopped ringing. Marhofer says there very well might not be any scandal but it looks bad for the county to have one towing company without any bid process or formal arrangement as nothing is on paper and it just seems funny. He says there were eight companies in the old rotation system, five of which are no longer in business and requests to go back to the old system have fallen on deaf ears. Marhofer says he’s been to Board of Commissioners meetings, and did talk with Bezotte briefly at the time. He credited Murphy for taking time to meet with him, although he wasn’t necessarily pleased with the final decision. Marhofer says police towing is the highest profiting sector of the industry, and tends to pay well, which makes for a large portion of income for most companies. He would prefer the county went back to a rotation system and perhaps tweak it so it’s not tolerant to any shenanigans such as price gouging, adding he thinks competition drives everyone to be better and there are a lot of benefits to be had. Murphy said he did meet with Marhofer, who has a good business model and they had good conversations but it’s a business decision – adding he doesn’t care who the wrecker is and just wants professional service. A new rotation system would involve six companies and Murphy says he’s not going back down that road because things are working just fine. (JM)

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    A full on stage show of dance and music from the 1960’s is on tap this week in Hartland. The Hartland Senior Activity Center is putting on their annual variety show at the Hartland Performing Arts Center, starting Wednesday. Approximately 100 members of the center will be performing in the show, which will feature live music, dancing and comedy. Included in the show will be members of the Recycled Rockettes, a dance group of women age 50 and over who dress up in Broadway-style costumes with many changes during their performances. Called, “Feeling Groovy”, there will be matinee performances Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30pm, with a 7:30 show on Friday night. Tickets are on sale now at the Hartland Senior Activity Center for $10 and will be $12 at the door of each performance. You’ll find additional details through the link below. (JK)

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    The Livingston County Drain Commission is up against a tight deadline to revise storm water standards, due to murky communication from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At a county subcommittee meeting Monday, Drain Commissioner Brian Jonckheere says the MDEQ had previously indicated verbally that they would issue a new permit identifying a timeline for the Drain Commission to revise drainage standards. But the Drain Commission recently received an email from the MDEQ stating there must be a draft revision of the current drainage standards by the permit application deadline of December 1st. Jonckheere says the Drain Commission has typically worked with the county’s communities to incorporate drainage standards into the municipality’s ordinance, so any new standards that are established could be “effectively meaningless” if they do not comply with the current ordinances. He says it’s “interesting” for the MDEQ to make such an order because the Drain Commission does not have any legal authority to unilaterally develop drainage policies except for rare occurrences. Jonckheere also noted the MDEQ made a decision to move all entities in the state to a jurisdictional permit, despite some being under a watershed permit, like Livingston County. Livingston County has been operating under a watershed permit versus a jurisdictional permit, as the watershed option is said to allow the county’s communities to develop their own approach to identifying threats to surface water and initiating necessary education and rules. The MDEQ moved all entities to a jurisdictional permit without a new permit or modification of the initial permit. Jonckheere called it a "pretty frustrating double-standard". While frustrating, Jonckheere did let committee members at Monday’s meeting know that the Drain Commission is working with the City of Detroit, as well as Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, to develop similar storm water standards. The entities are also preparing to issue an invitation to stakeholders that could be impacted by new rules. (DK)

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    Both fire stations in Fenton Township will be getting security upgrades. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the upgrades at the request of Fenton Township Fire Chief Ryan Volz. The Tri-County Times says he wanted cameras both inside and outside the building, and swipe-card access for each firefighter, as knowing who’s going in and out of the stations is important. Supervisor Bonnie Mathis concurred and said that security had been relatively lax with people having the ability to go in and out of the fire hall, which she didn’t think was a wise idea. After researching security companies, Chief Volz selected Unified Telecommunication Systems, LLC out of Burton, saying they were a reputable local business and “pretty cost effective.” They were ultimately the lowest bidder at just over $17,200 for installation of the equipment and a $418 annual service charge. The funds for the security upgrades will come from the department’s budget. Picture courtesy of Google Street View. (JK)

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    Final informational meetings on a Headlee Amendment override request in the City of Howell that will appear on the November 6th ballot are scheduled this week. On Wednesday morning, Mayor Nick Proctor will host a coffee event at 9:30am at the Howell Chamber of Commerce building at 123 East Washington Street. City programs, parks, police and fire, DPW, leaf clean-up, sewer and water services as well as road repairs are all topics on the table and Proctor welcomes residents and business owners who might have questions or concerns to attend. Then on Wednesday night, the 4th and final public education session in regard to the Headlee Override is scheduled at 7pm at the LESA building off Highlander Way for people to share input and have questions answered by City staff and elected officials. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI it’s an open session from 7 to 9pm for those who want to learn more and they encourage people to come out. Periodic presentations on financial data will be delivered. As with previous sessions, Charles says they’ll have staff from various city functions available for people to talk to such as police, public roads, financials, or other city stuff. He noted they will be set up to give property owners an exact amount of what the potential tax increase would be, if the override passes. Howell, like most all municipalities across the state, has had a difficult time recovering from the 2008 recession. Because of the Headlee Amendment and the way it works with Prop A, which limits the increase of taxable value on homes, the city can only draw roughly 15.5 mills of their authorized 20 from residents. Paired with state shred revenues that are still below 2002 levels, the city needs to raise revenue to maintain services and roads. The request that will appear on the ballot would restore the lost 4.5-mills for the next five years, via a Headlee Override. If the override is approved, it would generate roughly $1.4-million per year for the next five years. The funds generated would be used primarily on roads and infrastructure, while around 20% would be used to correct a deficit and maintain city services at their present level. More information can be found through the provided link. (JM)

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    The Howell Nature Center will be getting some TLC next week thanks to a large group of volunteers. Nearly 40 DTE Energy employees will donate their time and skills to help rehabilitate the Howell Nature Center next Tuesday. The center is short on maintenance funding and consequently does not have the proper equipment or maintenance crew to assist with upkeep and repairs. DTE volunteers dressed in red t-shirts will be using a bucket truck to repair the bald eagle habitat. Once an endangered species with fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, bald eagles have made a tremendous comeback because of government protection, the banning of the pesticide DDT and conservation programs like the Howell Nature Center. Other projects include erecting a bat house and trimming trees and vines. Volunteers will also be swinging hammers, sawing wood, laying mulch and using other tools to install and fix split rail fencing and make other repairs and improvements at the center. DTE volunteers have a long history with the HNC. Last year, they repainted the DTE Raptor Education Center, a classroom and wildlife habitat facility, repaired fencing, painted classrooms and benches and installed drains to help with a flooding issue. Since 1963, the Howell Nature Center has served as a natural resource for wildlife rehabilitation, education and advocacy. The facility is nestled around Pleasant Lake and among 230 rolling acres in the heart of Livingston County. In addition to summer camps for children, the Center offers comprehensive outdoor education and recreation programs; a premier wildlife rehabilitation clinic; the Wild Wonders Wildlife Park and an adventure education center, available year-round to individuals and groups throughout the Midwest. (JM)

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    With the weather cooling down and winter ahead of us, local fire chiefs are encouraging residents to keep their families safe and their smoke detectors operating properly. October is Fire Prevention Month in Michigan and this year’s theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The state’s home death fire total has already reached 90% of the 2017 total. Through the first 9 months of the year, there have been a reported 87 residential fire deaths from 66 residential fires in Michigan. Howell Area Fire Chief Andy Pless said that his department sees lot of houses where people have a problem with their smoke detector and then they take them down or don’t do anything with them. Green Oak Township Fire Chief Kevin Gentry echoed this, saying that the biggest thing about smoke detectors is not just that you have one, but that you have working ones. Modern smoke detectors should be good for up to 10 years, with batteries being checked every month, and changed every 6. Mike O’Brian, Fire Chief for the Brighton Area Fire Authority, encouraged incorporating home fire drills in coordination with monthly testing. He said one of the first things parents should aim to teach their kids once they can speak is to yell “Mom and Dad, I’m right here!” when they hear the alarm. That way, he says, it becomes their initial instinct, and can help them remain calm in a fire situation through adolescence and beyond, like if they move to dorms and rental homes in college. O’Brian said that in Brighton, 50% of the homes they interact with for either medical or fire runs don’t have working detectors. Chief Pless said that in his 34 years as a firefighter, only once has there been a fatality from a fire where the home had working smoke alarms. All three chiefs said anyone who needs help with a smoke detector or installing one, should contact their local department for assistance. They say almost every local department has a program to provide the units to those in need and assist with installation. (MK)

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    A Brighton Board of Education trustee claims the union representing Brighton teachers, which interviewed board candidates for the November election in a public school building, violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. Board member John Conely says the six candidates in the November election were interviewed at Brighton High School by the Brighton Education Association, which represents about 325 district teachers, to determine which ones the BEA would recommend its members support at the polls. Conely contends that all staff, from administrators to teachers, were informed this fall that they may not have anything to do with elections on school grounds and, therefore, the interviews violate that directive. Conely maintains that in violation of the directive, the BEA notified the candidates in September, “using a school district computer and letterhead,” that they were being invited to an interview session in which the candidates would be interviewed separately in half-hour increments. BEA President Matt Dufon confirmed the interviews Tuesday for WHMI, saying they were done by a “ screening and recommendation panel.” But Dufon says Conely is wrong about the legality aspect, saying past legal opinions rendered on the subject have stated that conducting such interviews on school property is legal. “The superintendent has got 3 legal opinions on it (which say it’s not illegal),” Dufon says. “When John Conely was running for the board four years ago he came and didn’t have a problem with it,” Dufon adds. To that, Conely responded, quote, “I didn’t’t like it, but knew I had to do it, and did it for a learning process.” After the interviews, and based on the panel’s choices, the BEA chose three “recommended” candidates out of the six. They are incumbent Trustee Ken Stahl, along with Angela Krebs and Laura Mitchell. Not on the list of recommended candidates are Sean Hickman, Andy Storm and Kara Totaro. Dufon adds that the “recommended” list is meant to be internal — to be shared among the membership. Conely says he has nothing against the candidates who are on the recommended list, saying, “It’s the process and it needs to be fair for everybody.” The other two incumbents whose terms expire at the end of the year — board Vice President David Chesney and Conely himself — are not running for re-election. Superintendent Greg Gray said at Monday’s board meeting he would seek a legal opinion on whether it is legal to use a classroom or other location on public school property to conduct such interviews. Although Gray says legal opinions the district has received in the past have affirmed the legality of the BEA holding such meetings on school grounds, he has asked the district’s legal experts, the Thrun Law Firm, for an updated legal opinion on the use of school facilities by the BEA. Gray expects the latest legal opinion to be forthcoming sometime today. Conely says he is waiting for that opinion before he decides on his next course of action. He also says that due to his actions, the e-mail account used by the BEA at the high school has now been “frozen”, and that as a board member, he has the right to go through all past e-mails “from 2015 to today,” without filing a Freedom of Information Act request. He says he want to determine if there have been any illegal uses of a district computer, office space and other facilities or equipment. (TT)

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    Livingston County residents and others across Southeast Michigan are invited to attend a listening tour event hosted by the state’s lead agency on volunteerism. The Michigan Community Service Commission will visit Ann Arbor as part of its Volunteer Michigan Tour, visiting each region in the state to explore ways to expand service and volunteerism in communities across Michigan. The Commission will host two events from 9 to 11am and 2 to 4pm Thursday, October 25th at The United Way of Washtenaw County, located at 2305 Platt Road. Community leaders and residents from Washtenaw, Livingston, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties are invited to attend. The listening tour will allow individuals to share thoughts on how to expand service and volunteerism to address the state’s most pressing issues and learn about resources available. Participants will discuss community challenges and ways to improve the quality of life for residents. The input gathered from the tour will help shape the future of Michigan volunteerism and national service as participants will generate ideas to include in a new State Service Plan. Michigan Community Service Commission Executive Director Ginna Holmes says they want to hear from a diverse group of community leaders to see how service and volunteerism can address Michigan’s toughest challenges. Register for the event: 9 to 11am: https://2018-volunteer-michigan-tour-annarbor-morning.eventbrite.com 2 to 4pm: https://2018-volunteer-michigan-tour-annarbor-afternoon.eventbrite.com. A link to more information and tour dates is provided. (JM)

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    A commitment to accessibility for people of all abilities has resulted in recognition for a local school board member. David Chesney, who serves as the Vice President for the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education, has been named by the University of Michigan’s Council for Disability Concerns as the 2018 recipient of the James T. Neubacher Award. It recognizes U-M faculty, staff, students or alumni who demonstrate a commitment to making the campus welcoming and accessible to people of all abilities. Chesney is a lecturer in computer science and engineering at the university, who teaches a first-year student engineering course called, “Gaming for the Greater Good” in which students learn fundamental programming skills and then create a computer game with some form of social relevance. Chesney’s students have developed games for children on the autistic spectrum and for those with cerebral palsy. In addition, for the past two years, a senior-level engineering class taught by Chesney has developed technology to help Brad Ebenhoeh, a 32-year-old U-M senior from aerospace engineering, who suffered a brain hemorrhage that forced him to leave the university for a decade. After rehabilitation, Ebenhoeh re-enrolled and returned to campus, taking advantage of several devices developed by Chesney’s students, including a foot-pedal keyboard device that helps him take notes and send emails and a backup camera for his wheelchair. Chesney received the Neubacher Award at a ceremony earlier today at U of M. David Chesney (right) talks with Brad Ebenhoeh, for whom students in Chesney's senior-level engineering class developed assistive technology. (Photo by Joseph Xu, College of Engineering)

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    One local township is looking to get out in front of drainage problems before they get worse or something catastrophic happens. At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, Northfield Township officials authorized the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner to exceed state-allowed spending on a specific drain. By state code, the Drain Commissioner’s office can spend $5,000 per mile, rounding up for maintenance and repair of drains. The Horseshoe Lake Outlet Drain is the largest in the township and covers nearly 2.5 miles. Northfield Township resident George Brown spoke to the Board during the public comment period and delivered a letter from Horseshoe Lake Homeowners Association President, Scott Chism. The letter spoke of resident support and a request for the Board to approve the resolution. Brown said he moved into his home in 2011 and it wasn’t long after that it began to flood on a yearly basis. Northfield Township Supervisor Marlene Chockley said that was the biggest goal- to relieve the springtime flooding. The Washtenaw County Drain Commission isn’t budgeted money for maintenance and repair. As a result, charges for the work that gets done appear as fees on winter tax bills. Work on the Horseshoe Lake Drain is expected to cost $33,500. The township approved their share of $10,050 at the meeting. The Horseshoe Lake Outlet Drain fix is but the first step in a 5 year plan to the drain to keep it working at a healthy rate. The Drain Commission was only asking for first year approval, offering to come back each of the following years to discuss their and the township’s visions. It won’t come due until winter of next year, giving the Board time to make room for it in their 2019-2020 fiscal year budget. (MK)

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    Law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired drivers with stepped up patrols locally and across the state. October is an especially deadly time of year for alcohol and drug-related crashes according to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. Officers from approximately 100 police departments, sheriff’s offices and Michigan State Police will be taking part in the crackdown that started October 18th and runs through November 4th. Motorists are being advised to drive sober as officers will be conducting strict, stepped up enforcement to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries. OHSP Communication Strategist Kari Arend tells WHMI there will be extra patrols on roadways in certain designated areas where higher crash numbers are reported and its important motorists know ahead of time to make informed decisions if out celebrating during fall activities, tailgating or Halloween parties. Arend says there are several more impaired driving campaigns planned with stepped up patrols. She says they analyze statistics and data to determine when there unfortunately is a rise in the number of fatal, alcohol-related crashes and October is one of those times. Arend says the month of October saw the third highest number of alcohol-involved fatal crashes in Michigan between 2011 and 2016, with 151 total. Only the months of August (167) and July (159) saw a higher number of fatal crashes. October was also the fourth highest month for the number of drug-involved fatal crashes during the same six-year period, with 84 total. (JM)

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