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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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    Local officials gathered for a symposium in Genoa Township regarding the challenges of attainable housing in the area and the benefits of building sustainable communities. The Housing Symposium, sponsored by the Livingston County Association of Realtors, was held at Genoa Township Hall Tuesday afternoon and attended by elected officials and other stakeholders. The event featured presentations and discussion on the benefits of diverse housing within the county, expanding and preserving housing opportunities and overall housing matters. Other topics included challenges and recommendations regarding residential construction and how it all ties into the county’s Master Plan. Carol Griffith is a member of the Association of Realtors and tells WHMI event organizers felt it was important for officials at decision-making tables to hear statistics that are a part of the community and how those statistics could apply to their municipality. Association President Pam Zimmerlee says there are a number of factors that contribute to the presence of attainable housing in the community, or the lack thereof. For those looking to own a home, it may be a matter of a shortage in inventory, and for those interested in selling, it can be an issue of the uncertainty as to whether they’ll find their next home due to the inventory shortage. Zimmerlee notes another challenge is that developers are more interested in building higher-end homes because “builders can’t afford to build”. Zimmerlee says that’s based on information the Association has received which shows that 25% of the cost builders incur is due to government regulations. Marcia Gebarowski is the Director of Business Development in Livingston County for Ann Arbor SPARK. She says there is also the challenge of employers looking for a place to locate their business, but a factor in making their decision is housing availability for potential employees. Gebarowski says while their data shows Livingston County has the highest median household income at an average of about $80,000, the wages of people employed here fall far below that at about $44,000. She says that disparity between people that live here and those that work and live here is prompting discussion to find resolutions to bridge that gap. Those who attended the symposium were asked to fill out a survey afterwards, indicating whether they would be open to having future discussions about the issue. Event organizers say the hope is that the symposium will help continue and foster conversation on what can be done to create solutions or additional opportunities. (DK)

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    A local man accidentally shot himself over the weekend while cleaning his gun. Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Highland Township substation were called out shortly before 4pm Saturday to the 3500 block of Emerald Park on the report of an accidental discharge of a firearm. A 55-year-old Milford Township man was said to be cleaning his 9mm semi-automatic handgun but failed to extract the remaining round from inside the chamber. While cleaning the firearm, the subject shot himself in the leg, just above the knee. A report states cleaning supplies were found on the kitchen counter. The Highland Township Fire Department responded and transported the man to a nearby hospital for a non-life threatening injury. Deputies placed the handgun into safekeeping pending the investigation. (JM)

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    A potential new animal day care facility in Genoa Township has won approval from the Planning Commission. Paula Vanderkarr was back before the Commission Tuesday night for a special use permit review and site plan recommendation for Dog Town and Kitty City Day Care. Vanderkarr said she will have capacity for 63 animals, but expects the daily average to be around 40. Aside from day-boarding, she hopes to offer overnight boarding, obedience training, and therapy training. Her facility would be located the at former Knights of Columbus banquet hall in Genoa Township. Several residents spoke at the September Planning Commission meeting about pet waste and noise, causing the special use permit discussion to be temporarily tabled. Since that September meeting, Vanderkarr had a sound engineer do a study on noise levels and give a presentation to the Planning Commission, Tuesday. At peak levels, with the planned vinyl wall in place to screen, the noise generated was conservatively estimated to be at 57 decibels, well below the 80 decibel limit allowed by ordinance. Planning Commission Chairman Doug Brown said the information presented changed his mind. Brown said coming in, he was probably going to vote “no” but after the analysis, he was convinced that the sound would “be a part of the ambient noise and shouldn’t be significant.” Vanderkarr said barking dogs will be taken inside right away, and all dogs will be indoors after 7pm. Neighboring residents spoke again at this meeting, one wishing to have their own hired engineer do a study. Brown said he was all for more information, but was also mindful of putting the applicant through delay after delay. The resident, admittedly not knowing how long it would take to get the study done, was supported in her effort to try, but was told she’d have to present it to the Board of Trustees. That’s because the Planning Commission approved the special use permit application, environmental impact study, and made a recommendation to approve the site plan to the Board. The Board’s final decisions are expected to be on the December 3rd agenda.(MK)

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    The state health department is still urging residents to protect themselves from an ongoing and potentially deadly liver disease outbreak. Over the past 2 years the Michigan Department of Health and Services have reported over 900 cases of hepatitis A, which is nearly 3 times as many as occurred between 2011 and 2015. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease spread through eating contaminated food or water, living with, or having sexual intercourse with an infected person. Symptoms begin with it looking like the flu, but then progressing to cause jaundiced skin and eyes, dark urine, and pale grey feces. There’s good news on the local front, however. According to officials at the Livingston County Health Department, only 6 of these cases have occurred in the county, and none since March. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Lindsay Gestro still cautions people against thinking they’re in the clear. Gestro says that just because these numbers are low doesn’t mean a risk still isn’t there. She said it’s just as easy to contract the disease travelling or eating out in an area that is more heavily affected. Gestro said everybody is at risk for hepatitis A, but especially people over 22 to 24 years of age. It was around 25 years ago that the vaccination became more standardized and began being promoted more heavily throughout the state. The recommended age of vaccination is now 6 months to a year. The vaccine is done in 2 doses, with the first being 93% effective, and then the second virtually eliminating the risk altogether. Good handwashing and scrubbing for 20 seconds can also help. Gestro said that hand sanitizer does not work in fighting the disease. More information on hepatitis A can be found at www.Michigan.gov/hepatitisAoutbreak. (MK)

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    PFAS testing results have so far shown no levels above the federal health advisory in Livingston County. Director of Environmental Health Matt Bolang provided a report related to the PFAS contamination to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners at a recent meeting, as part of his bi-weekly reports to keep the public and officials updated. Per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are chemicals that have been used in firefighting foam and products used for cleaning and personal care. The county is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on testing and sampling. Per Bolang’s report, 74 of the 81 drinking water wells to be sampled have been completed. Results have been returned for 67 of those sites, all of which Bolang reported have been “non-detect” for PFAS. He says some residential wells will be sampled later this month in the City of Howell, due to their proximity to a chrome-plating factory. There are no plans currently to test other residential wells as Bolang says there are no known issues with groundwater contamination within the county, only surface water. He noted there is the option for residents to conduct their own testing as the state has provided guidance on their website dedicated to efforts being taken to address the contamination. But he says it’s “not cheap”, with the cost estimated to be anywhere between $250 and $475 per sample, as well as hourly rates for technicians. Bolang did recommend that fish samples be taken from Lake Moraine in Brighton, which the MDEQ carried out on October 29th, with results expected to be returned within a few months. Bolang’s basis for the recommendation is that there were elevated levels discovered in Mann Creek in Brighton Township which feeds into the lake. Additional surface water samples are also being taken from the Huron River Watershed at multiple points to give officials a look at tributary streams. While PFAS chemicals have been detected locally, Bolang reports there are no sources of the contamination within Livingston County. Following his report, Bolang told commissioners he had no recommendations at this time for the board to act on. More information about the state’s PFAS response efforts can be found through the link below. (DK)

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    A one-time local municipal leader is leaving the public-sector for a position with a private law firm. Michigan Department of State chief of staff Mike Senyko will leave at the end of the month to take a position as executive director of Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. Senyko, who has been chief of staff for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson since she took office in 2011, was the city manager for the city of Fenton from 2000 to 2008. Secretary Johnson credited Senyko’s leadership with helping initiate the new computer modernization system, called the Customer and Automotive Records System (CARS) project, to upgrade and expedite services at all 131 Secretary of State offices. It is scheduled to be operational by February 2019. She also said that during Senyko’s tenure, the department upgraded the state’s voter file system, procured the funding for new statewide cyber secure voting machines for each community and started voter post-election audits. Rose Jarois, the director of the Department Services Administration, will serve as chief of staff through the end of the year. Secretary Johnson was term-limited from running again and is being succeeded by Democrat Jocelyn Benson in January. (JK)

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    Local students who took advantage of a summer library bus are showing the positive results in Howell Public Schools. This past summer the Highlander Reading Express took to the streets for eight weeks, bringing books to children around the district. In all, more than 1,000 books were checked out by over 160 students. The Highlander Reading Express is a decommissioned school bus that was transformed into a literacy bus. The goal was to build excitement for reading while also combating the loss of literacy skills that can happen over summer vacation. After studying the results, the Howell Public Schools district is declaring it a success. The district compared data from spring and summer of this year, when the bus was active, to data from spring and summer of 2017, when there was no bus. 52% of students who checked out materials maintained or increased their reading levels this year, which is 4% more than 2017. While that percentage may seem small, the district is pleased that the literacy bus had positive effect on decreasing the “summer slide” in reading levels that many students go through. Superintendent Erin MacGregor called it a great first summer and said they are looking at ways to further improve it going forward.(MK)

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    Local agencies and advocates are spreading the word about homelessness in Livingston County with a variety of events aimed at encouraging a community conversation and plan of action. The Livingston County Homeless Continuum of Care Committee (HCCC) is drawing attention to Homeless Awareness Week, which began November 10th and runs through Sunday. The week’s main event was held at the Howell Opera House Wednesday and featured a display of local students’ artwork depicting the many faces and aspects of homelessness. This year’s theme is “I Need a Hero”, calling on community members and organizations to come together in working to find solutions that will mitigate and eventually eradicate homelessness. Pam Dahlmann, HCCC Housing Resource Specialist, feels Livingston County is missing a key component that many other communities have: a year-round homeless shelter. Dahlmann feels the shelter doesn't necessarily need to serve in a long-term capacity, but instead provide housing during the interim periods in which an individual is working to transition and make next steps. Dahlmann's daughter Julie agreed, adding that there is a need for a shelter that serves everyone. Julie says, "...it doesn't matter whether you're a veteran, a male, female, child, it doesn't matter your circumstances, they're willing to help you. That's just something I'd love to see." Livingston County does offer numerous resources that include homeless programs and services, which was noted by several individuals who spoke at Wednesday’s event as they shared their story of becoming homeless and how those resources helped them get back on their feet. Kelly Bolling was homeless for ten years before she says she knew about any of the resources that ultimately helped her overcome homelessness. She encourages the community to learn more about them and to reach out to those who may be "surviving" homelessness adding, “Just because you're homeless doesn’t mean that’s the end of your story. It could be the beginning, starting over." Several guests at the event noted they preferred the term “surviving” homelessness over “experiencing” it to highlight just how difficult it can be. 100% of the donations made at Wednesday’s event will go to homeless programs and services for Livingston County residents. Last year’s event raised $720.20, which supplied three families with an additional week of shelter, as well as covering Housing Application fees. The HCCC is holding other events throughout the remainder of Homeless Awareness Week, including a kids’ Paint and Pour fundraiser on Sunday in Brighton and a screening of a documentary about homelessness at the Historic Howell Movie Theater on Friday, at 7pm. (DK)

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    Firearms deer season is underway and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says things are generally on an upward trend throughout the state. Firearm season is when the MDNR tends to see the highest participation. Last year, 576,000 hunters participated across all seasons of deer hunting – with about 490,000 of those participating in firearm season. The overall forecast depends where you are in the state according to Chad Stewart, Deer and Elk Program Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says Michigan is a big state so there’s a lot of diversity and variability with the deer population. The MDNR has seen an increase in overall deer numbers in the trends monitored. There is higher deer density toward the southern Lower Peninsula but as hunters work their way further north, deer numbers tend to decrease, which has been common trend for quite some time. Stewart says the Upper Peninsula experienced a pretty dramatic decline in deer population after the 2013/2014 winter, which was a really hard winter and a lot of deer died. He says there has been an upswing in the overall harvest though. Last year’s harvest in the U-P increased 55%, and with a fairly moderate to mild winter from last year, Stewart says all signs are pointing to continued improvement in that region as well. He notes numbers are typically higher in the Lower Peninsula than anywhere in the state, and trends support an increasing population. He says they anticipate a similar season to last year, if not better. Firearm season runs through November 30th to make up a 16-day season, which Stewart says is by far most popular season and most heavily participated in – adding most hunters are successful in the first couple days or first half of the season. Although the deer population is up, the state is seeing a 2-3% decline annually in the number of participating hunters which Stewart says is a function of the baby boomers – individuals in their 50’s and 60’s. He tells WHMI they continue to age each year and the state loses a percentage of those hunters because they start dropping out of the sport. Stewart says unfortunately they don’t see the number of teens, 20 and 30-year-old hunters behind that baby boomer wave that is getting out of hunting to come back in and replace them. He says the age structure of hunters is very much skewed to the older side and looking forward in years to come, many of those hunters will be out of the sport and they do not have the numbers to fill that void. Stewart says that is absolutely one of the next big challenges and when you look at deer management over the next 20, 30, 40 years that’s going to be a topic that will have to be addressed. At some point, he says they’re going to try to ask hunters who are smaller in number to continue taking the same amount, if not more deer, than they’re currently taking –which may prove to be a challenge. Stewart says they’re trying to hold off that wave as much as possible today and doing things to try to recruit new hunters and retain the hunters they do have but at some point the age and numbers will catch up and the MDNR will have some challenges on their hands over the next couple decades. As for firearm season, Stewart say what the MDNR is trying to accomplish in many areas is a reduction of the deer herd, especially in southern Michigan, and they would like to see more antlerless deer being harvested, which is something they historically have not seen. Antlerless deer are primarily female deer and reproducing animals, so they control the direction the deer population. Stewart says since 1970, Michigan hunters have only taken more antlerless deer than antler deer in four different years. He says they want to change that trend as it contributes to an increase in deer population in many areas. Chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis also remain prevalent in certain areas but Stewart says they haven’t seen any dramatic shift in hunters away from those areas. He says there are several areas in the state where identified diseases are transmissible between deer including Montcalm, northwestern Kent, northern Ionia, Clinton, Ionia and Ingham Counties but most recently Jackson. He says there has been a lot effort and emphasis on trying to identify the scale and scope of the disease in those areas. A couple weeks ago, Stewart says chronic wasting disease was discovered for the first time in southern Dickinson County in the U-P. He says staff has been working really hard and would like more hunters to participate in the DNR surveillance program and get their deer tested, to further knowledge of chronic wasting disease up there. 16 counties are included in a chronic wasting disease management zone where hunters are prohibited to use bait because of the added risk to transmit the disease. Stewart says the future health of the deer herd is important and while the regulation might turn off some hunters, he ultimately thinks most will continue to hunt - albeit at a slightly smaller margin because they are seeing those very small declines annually based on generally what appears to be the demographics associated with the overall hunting public. Complete hunting information and regulations can be found through the provided link and attached Michigan Hunting Digest publication. (JM)

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    At the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night, the board recognized student leaders in the recent Pink Week activities at Brighton High School. The highlight of the presentation was announcement that all Pink Week-related activities combined in all Brighton schools, including elementary buildings, raised $45,195, making it the most successful Pink Week in school district history. Some 100% of the proceeds will be going to the cancer program at St. Joseph Mercy-Brighton, formerly called the Woodland Health Center. St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton President John O’Malley, who attended the presentation, tells WHMI that he was blown away by the amount collected this year in the Brighton Area Schools’ annual Pink Week fundraisers. Individual schools in the district conducted their own fundraisers for Pink Week, and the Brighton Area Fire Dept. raised over $3,000 for the cause by selling pink T-shirts. Board of Education student representative Gabrielle Myers, daughter of Board Secretary Roger Myers, conducted the presentation. She stated that all of the proceeds will go to the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center. Over $135,000 has been donated through Brighton Area Schools Pink Week activities to the St. Joseph Mercy-Brighton Cancer Center since the year 2012. (TT) Photos: St. Joseph Mercy-Brighton Cancer Center, Brighton Area Schools logo, BHS student leaders presenting St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton President John O’Malley with a check mockup for $45,195. Photo courtesy of Arnella Park.

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    The memory of a police K9 killed in the line of duty is being honored through the efforts of a local organization. K9 Axe with the St. Clair Shores Police Department was shot and killed November 4th by a man confronted by police after he produced a rifle following a family dispute at a baby shower. The suspect was then shot and killed by officers. Axe was laid to rest on Wednesday with full honors. But the St Clair Shores Police Department K9 Unit has asked the Michigan War Dog Memorial in Lyon Township to assist with a fundraiser to be able to secure a statue and monument to honor Axe and all the other K9's that have since passed at the Department. War Dog Memorial President Phil Weitlauf said they were honored to assist and have set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of raising $30,000. Weitlauf asked all K9 supporters to make a donation. You’ll find that link below. For further information contact Phil Weitlauf - mwdmk9@gmail.com or Chris Periatt at SCSPD - copsniper69@msn.com (JK)

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    A new microbrewery in the City of Howell has officials looking at amending their microbrewery ordinance. Old Post Brewery will be located at 121 South Walnut in Howell, on the site that was formerly the Post Office and more recently the Ann Arbor railroad office. The owner was before the Planning Commission Wednesday night for site plan and special land use approval, which is necessary for a brewery in central business district zoning. During the public hearing, a couple neighboring homeowners voiced issues over parking and the brewery being next to a residential area. Chairman Paul Streng said they bring some valid concerns, chief among them is parking. The owner estimates an occupancy of 100 to 124 people. There is on-site parking, but only 13 spaces. A couple residents who live in the area spoke of concerns with overflow parking from a bar in an area that is already stressed for parking. One neighbor in the area who recently moved in said he is 30 years sober and is disappointed to hear the first thing going in at that location is a brewery. Old Post Brewery is the first of its kind to apply since the City Council adopted an ordinance on where micro alcohol production facilities could be permitted within Howell. Community Development Director Tim Schmitt identified in a letter to the Planning Commission that he may have found a flaw in the ordinance through this Old Post process. Their ordinance ties together microbreweries and brewpubs. The 2016 ordinance requires brewpub applicants to have the same type of license from the state, which is a class C that also allows a full bar. Schmitt said this was not the intent of the ordinance, and that the types of businesses like this Howell wants to see are technically microbreweries. It was proposed that they begin looking at 2 changes. One is removing references to the state license, as it superfluous and needed to open anyway. The other is to change their definition of microbrewery to include a range of amounts that can be brewed each year. Schmitt said that Old Post could still operate under the old ordinance, just that it would be more work . With the Planning Commission wishing to pursue the changes, a public hearing will be held at their next meeting. They approved both the site plan and special land use permit unanimously, with Streng urging the owner to work with their new neighbors. (MK)

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    The closure of a pet cemetery in Livingston County is leaving some residents wondering what will happen to their animals' remains. Heavenly Acres pet cemetery in Genoa Township closed after its lease expired on September 30th. Genoa Township Supervisor Bill Rogers says there could be up to 74,000 animal remains buried on the 12-acre property. Diane Rousseau has five cats buried at the cemetery. She says she's worried the property will be repurposed and she won't have access to her pets' remains. First Pet Care Services, LLC operated the cemetery. First Pet owner Linda Williams has declined to comment about the closure. Attorney David Johnson represents Williams. He says he attempted to renegotiate the lease with the property's owner but was denied. (JK)

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    Survivors of suicide will be the focus of an event in Howell Saturday that will be among many taking place across the country. Livingston County Community Mental Health will be once again hosting a program as a part of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The event will take place at the CMH Miller Building, 622 East Grand River in Howell from 9 to 11am. It's being held in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Southeast Michigan Chapter. The program will include support and resources to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Registration for the event and more information can be found through the link below. (JK)

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    Local law enforcement agencies are again teaming up to “Cram the Cruiser” this weekend and help those in need. The drive is a collaborative effort between local law enforcement agencies including the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, the Howell, Fowlerville and Hamburg Township Police Departments and Michigan State Police. Officials say it’s important to support local shelters and food banks and in turn, provide another resource to families that need help, not only during the holidays but all year long. Sheriff Mike Murphy tells WHMI this is the second year of the event and they’ve had some other law enforcement agencies as well as new stores come on board this year. During the event, he says public safety will selfishly take advantage of people’s generosity this time of year to help fill up some of the local food pantries. He says Livingston County is already very generous anyway and when people see what’s going on, it’s tough to not to throw a few extra canned good in a cruiser. He says when the supplies get dropped off at local pantries, they are ecstatic but especially for items that have a shelf life of any length of time, because those can be saved for the down time. Murphy says people tend to be more generous this time of year and there’s a lot of celebrations and a general feeling of helping people but after the holidays when people get back to routines, that’s when there’s a significant fall off with that generosity. He says the “Cram the Cruiser” drive helps because its pantry stuff that’s being collected that the food banks and local shelters can push out to keep food and supplies available. Non-perishables, canned goods and household paper products will be collected at various locations this Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Those include the Aldi in Howell, Kroger in Howell and Hamburg Township and Walmart stores in Howell and Fowlerville. (JM)

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    The Brighton City Council has passed the first reading of an ordinance governing the sale and distribution of marijuana, in line with a new state law allowing those over 21 to use recreational pot. The rules are scheduled to go into effect sometime in December, when the results of the November election allowing recreational marijuana are certified. According to City Manager Nate Geinzer, the city wants to be proactive when it comes to the new rules. The ordinance, simply put, would prohibit commercial marijuana establishments in the city. Council Member Jon Emaus, a local attorney, said that prohibiting pot establishments in the city disregards the will of the people, saying the majority of Brighton residents voted in the election last week to allow the sale of recreational pot. However, Geinzer says since a lot of factors won’t be known until the new rules are put into place, the ordinance will allow the city time to establish the correct policy. He says council at that time may decide to amend the ordinance and allow marijuana sales in the city, with appropriate ground rules. As an example of the complexity of the new rules, there will be several different license types under the new legislation including retailers, processors, transporters, microbusinesses, and class A, B, or C growers – class A growers being the smallest growers and class C covering the largest cultivation volume. The motion passed on a 6-1 vote, with Council Member Emaus voting no. The second reading of the ordinance, which will include a public hearing and its possible adoption, will take place at the Dec, 20 council meeting. (TT)

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    Individuals with developmental disabilities shared the runway with celebrities at a yearly fashionable fundraiser benefitting a local nonprofit organization. The Arc of Livingston held its 25th annual Celebrity Holiday Fashion Show Thursday at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Genoa Township. The Arc is a nonprofit organization that advocates for people with disabilities to help them build independent and contributive lives. The money raised at the fashion show allows The Arc to provide services and support to those people and their families at no cost. This year’s fashion show kicked off with a presentation from an individual whose family has benefitted from The Arc’s services. Charlie Tithof and his wife have three children with various disabilities that all attend public school. Tithof says The Arc helped him and his family manage challenges by advocating on their behalf in order to understand all of their children’s strengths and weaknesses. Tithof’s story was followed by the fashion show, which features members of The Arc paired with celebrities and leaders from the area, modeling outfits donated by local businesses. Among this year’s models was former Michigan offensive lineman Grant Newsome and Larry Prout Jr. of Howell, who was previously drafted as an honorary member of the Michigan Wolverines. Prout says he’s been doing the fashion show for over a decade and asked Newsome to join him this year. Newsome says it was an awesome experience and that he was grateful to see so many generous donations made to such a worthy cause. Another model to walk the runway was Arc member Cedar Butler, who has participated in the fashion show since its inception. Butler says he loves "everything" about the show because it makes him feel like a "brand new person." This year’s event featured a silent auction and a jewelry raffle, in addition to the fashion show’s tradition of auctioning off a puppy that walks the runway with one of the pairs of models. It will take a few days to tally the final amount raised for The Arc. All proceeds will remain in Livingston County. The show had over 400 guests, including community members and leaders from local businesses and organizations that Executive Director Anne Richardson says have supported The Arc since the beginning. Reflecting on the fashion show’s 25 years of success Richardson says, “…it’s a celebration of the people that we serve and our community.” (DK)

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    A man will be sentenced next month in connection with a deadly, wrong-way crash that killed two people on US-23. 75-year-old Edwin Brown of Chelsea entered no contest pleas on Tuesday to two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death. In exchange for the plea, two counts of second degree murder will be dismissed when he is sentenced December 12th. The crash occurred on southbound US-23 near Six Mile Road in Northfield Township the afternoon of April 8th. In total, four cars were involved in the crash that left four people hospitalized and two others dead. 51-year-old Debbie Pinson of Broadview Heights, Ohio and 56-year-old Cathy Kretzschmer of Olmsted Township, Ohio were both killed. Konrad Siller, the First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, told WHMI that the victims’ families were consulted prior to the plea and sentence agreements being finalized and approved them. Siller adds that the plea agreement included consecutive sentencing on each count of 10-15 years imprisonment. “In short, Mr. Brown must serve a term of 20-30 years imprisonment.” Picture courtesy of clickondetroit.com (JK)

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    A toy drive aims to brighten the holidays for children at LACASA. The Starry Night Holiday Toy Drive runs through December 20th. Community members are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy, gift or gift card to the LACASA Collection charity boutique in Howell. LACASA Center is an independent, locally-based nonprofit that provides shelter, counseling and critical services for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. All victim services are provided a no charge. The agency also conducts educational programs throughout the community to raise public awareness and help prevent abuse. All donated toys and gifts from the drive will be distributed to children living in the LACASA Crisis Shelter and those who participate in the agency’s Children’s Counseling Program. LACASA clients who are parents also will have an opportunity to select gifts for their children to ensure Santa is prepared with everything he needs. Officials say toys and gifts are needed for boys and girls of all ages, but VISA or discount-store gift cards are most helpful for pre-teens and teens. Younger children enjoy arts and crafts kits, as well as remote control toys. Infants and toddlers need educational toys and books while board games, card games, books and puzzles are said to be good gifts for children of any age. Donors can place their gift under the store’s giving tree and write their name, or initials, on a star ornament to be hung on the tree. In return for donating a new present, donors will receive a store discount coupon, 50% off one item (excluding furniture). (JM)

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    A public hearing was held for a property owner in Green Oak Township who is asking the township to rezone 40 acres of land from a low density zone to medium density. Kenneth Soerries owns the residential farming parcel at 13055 12 Mile Road in Green Oak. On the property stands a historic farmhouse and couple accessory buildings, including barns. Soerries was before the Planning Commission Thursday night asking to be rezoned as R3 single family residential. Soerries is looking to rezone so he can split the farmhouse off and build, at most, he says, a couple homes for his family. He wants to keep the barns, himself, as he says he has the ability and wherewithal to preserve them, where a future property owner might not. In a letter to the township, Green Oak’s planning consultant wrote that the proposed change does not appear consistent with township policies. It asked that the Planning Commission review their findings to determine if it was appropriate. During the public hearing, several of Soerries neighbors stood up and spoke on their support for the rezoning. Township Clerk Mike Sedlak, who sits on the Commission, asked if whether or not deed restricting the parcel was the better path. This could possibly open up an easier path for Soerries to get his split, while further guaranteeing that the land won’t be developed beyond that which the township wishes. The Planning Commission took no additional action, as they will wait to see if Soerries wishes to take the traditional rezoning path, or the deed restricting path. (MK)

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