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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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    A lame-duck bill that would make it harder to organize ballot drives is advancing in the Republican-controlled Legislature, with many groups, including the League of Women Voters, standing in opposition. The Michigan House approved the legislation late last Wednesday on a 60-49 mostly party-line vote, as hundreds of activists (pictured) rallied at the Capitol for different causes. Among those voting in favor were State Representatives Hank Vaupel of Handy Township and Lana Theis of Brighton Township. HB 6595 would impose a geographic threshold for groups proposing constitutional amendments, initiated bills and referendums. They would be limited to collecting no more than 15% of their signatures from a single congressional district - a change from a 10% threshold passed earlier by a House committee. Critics say it’s another unconstitutional, lame-duck power grab that would burden the Secretary of State’s office and hamper the ability to pursue ballot drives. Proponents maintain it would bring transparency and accountability to the process. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. President Judy Karandjeff of the Brighton/Howell Area Unit attended the Committee hearing, saying the League opposes the bill and will be opposing the bill in the Senate. She tells WHMI there were more questions raised than answers but thinks the intent is definitely to decrease the power of the people to initiate legislation or constitutional amendments. Karandjeff says she’s not sure how it would all work; noting the language is unclear and there would be increased costs involved for SOS staff as well as verification issues. She doesn’t feel the bill is the will of the people or what’s written in the constitution. This past November, all three ballot initiatives were approved by voters. The League supported Proposals 2 and 3. Proposal 2 aims to end gerrymandering and create a nonpartisan commission to be in charge of redrawing district lines while Proposal 3 aims to expand voter options and make it easier to vote. Karandjeff says they had a lot of members who collected signatures in both campaigns and the bill could really hinder volunteers from participating. She cited requirements for everyone who circulates a petition to file an affidavit with SOS, which could be cumbersome for volunteers. Karandjeff added it’s important that people follow what’s going on in lame duck and remember the impact that bills will have for the well-being of the state. House Bill 6595 will be up for consideration in the GOP-controlled Senate this week, which is expected to vote before adjourning the Legislature's two-year session. Picture courtesy of Progress Michigan. (JM/JK)

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    Following a criminal investigation and months of allegations surrounding misappropriated donations, the embattled chair of a county veterans committee has withdrawn his name from consideration for reappointment. Livingston County Administrator Ken Hinton has confirmed for WHMI that Hansel Keene formally informed officials that he will no longer seek another term on the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee. The terms of both he and fellow member Joe Riker expire at the end of the month. The County Board of Commissioners is expected to decide on the two appointments at their meeting Monday. Also in the running are former County Commissioner Steve Williams, along with Michael Reeve and Jim Pratt. The board will now presumably fill the two spots from the four remaining candidates. Keene’s tenure as chair of the committee came into the spotlight beginning in August following a complaint filed by a donor who said she had been instructed by Keene to make out a $400 check in his name as well as that of Livingston County Veterans Services for a plaque to honor members of the county sheriff's department who had served in the military. The donor said she had also given Keene a vacuum cleaner, a floor cleaner and a riding lawnmower and had been assured by him that they had been given to local veterans in need. But after repeated attempts to obtain a receipt for the donations from Keene, she emailed the then-director of the veterans services department, Adam Smiddy. Smiddy says he immediately began to look into what happened to the cash and other donations, but was fired several days later by the committee, with Keene one of those voting to oust him. Smiddy has since filed a Whistleblower Protection lawsuit against Keene and the county alleging his firing was in retaliation for trying to get to the bottom of the donation dispute. A copy of the State Police report obtained by WHMI indicated that Keene admitted to the investigator that he was aware of the county's policy in which donations are supposed to be brought to the Treasurer's office for deposit into the proper account and then spent from that account. But he said that, "in his mind, a $400 donation was made for this plaque, he accepted the donation and the money was spent on its intended purpose, the plaque." While Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt determined earlier this month that there was "insufficient evidence to justify any criminal charges,” questions remained about Keene’s ability to lead a committee entrusted with handling more than a million dollars of taxpayer funds generated each year following the passage of a 2016 county-wide millage. (JK)

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    Brighton’s city manager is trying to clear up misunderstandings about a proposed civic event fee structure. In a contentious Brighton City Council meeting on Dec. 6th that included concerns by local event organizers over proposed fees, council ended up tabling action on a new fee schedule for civic events to reimburse the city for what it costs to host the events. Since then there has been criticism of the proposal from several groups that use the Mill Pond amphitheater concerned that the fees will prevent them from holding events in the coming year. But City Manager Nate Geinzer says emphatically that the city does not intend to make any changes for the coming year in the current fee schedule. The new fees are being reviewed as part of next year’s city budget, following August’s unsuccessful Headlee Override request. Given the fact that the fee schedule will remain the same for 2019, Geinzer says city staff will be sending out civic event applications in late January or early February. Several officials from local organizations, including Pam McConeghy of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, Rick Bailey of the Livingston County Concert Band and Dennis Dimoff of the Brighton Kiwanis Club, told council at the last meeting that they couldn’t afford the proposed fee increases. In addition they said they have to know what their costs will be months in advance. Dimoff said he starts booking the bands for the Kiwanis Mill Pond summer gazebo concerts in early January and has to know what his costs will be. Otherwise, he told council, there won't be any Sunday Mill Pond concerts in the coming season. Likewise, Bailey said what he called the “low budget” county concert band couldn’t afford a proposed fee of $300 for its Tuesday summer concerts. Geinzer said the $94,000 in city costs cited in a WHMI article on Dec. 7th, that were contained in the Dec 6th meeting packet, was an error due to a computation mistake by staff, and the actual costs of civic events borne by the city is about $73,000. The Civic events include Ladies’ Night Out, Flower Day, the Memorial Day Parade, St. Patrick’s 5-K Run, Optimists Club Fishing Derby, July 4th Parade and related events, Kiwanis Gazebo Concerts, A Taste of Brighton, the Fine Art and Acoustic Music Festival, Smokin’ Jazz & Barbecue Blues Festival, Harvest Fest, Alzheimer’s Walk, BHS Homecoming Parade, Veteran’s Day Parade, and Holiday Glow. Civic event costs to the City range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the event. Had the cost structure passed as proposed, the fee for use of the new Mill Pond amphitheater and adjacent new band shell would have been $300 per half-day and $500 for a full day. For a civic/special event performance series, it would have been $1,000 per 4, one-half days. The reimbursement costs for city DPW services would have been $31.36 per hour and $44.15 per hour for police dept. personnel, with 1.5 times the rate for overtime for both. Reimbursed electrician services would cost the organizer of the event $67.50 per hour. For 2019, the organizer would have paid 50% of all fees incurred for it plus 100% of supplies and contractor fees, as recommended by the City Council’s Fiscal Realities Task Force. Geinzer notes that civic event reimbursement fees are also common in other communities. He says the proposed civic event reimbursement fee is part of a larger recommendation by the Council Task Force to fill an annual $2 million funding gap for investments in streets and related infrastructure totaling $1.85 million and other costs amounting to $150,000. Geinzer said members of council will continue to discuss the recommendations of the Task Force in the coming months. (TT/JK)

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    The operator of a closed Livingston County pet cemetery is hoping to form a nonprofit group that could avoid a sale of the property. Heavenly Acres pet cemetery in Genoa Township closed after its lease expired Sept. 30. The 12-acre cemetery, which contains the remains of as many of 74,000 pets, had been operated by Linda Williams of First Pet Care Services, LLC which had attempted to renegotiate the lease with the property's owner but was denied. In a video posted over the weekend to Facebook, Williams tried to answer criticism about why a cemetery would be located on leased land. She said that she had originally owned the property but had to turn it over to her ex-husband as part of a 2000 divorce settlement. But by 2002, she says the bank had sold the property as part of an eviction proceeding against her ex, forcing her to step back in and assume a lease on the land. She insists that if she hadn’t, the cemetery would have closed back then. Williams says the property’s owner, Carol Street Park Ridge LLC, has since refused to negotiate with her on renewing the lease, forcing the closure and sparking concern among those with pets buried there that they would be forced to exhume the remains and move them or lose future access. The investment firm that owns the land, Carol Street Park Ridge LLC, says the company is "sensitive to the concerns" of those with pets buried at the property and is hoping to find a buyer "willing to continue to maintain the pet cemetery." But Williams says she is hoping that a group of cemetery patrons can come together and form a 501c3 nonprofit group that would assume control of the cemetery and that Carol Street Park Ridge LLC would then donate the land to the group. She says the property isn’t worth much more than $75,000, while it would cost about $55,000 to demolish the aging structures located there and another $20,000 to replace the roof on a still-functioning pole barn. Shari Pollesch, an attorney representing Carol Street Park Ridge LLC, previously said pet owners could retrieve grave markers or pet remains after making arrangements through her firm. But Williams says that process is much more difficult and dangerous than one might think, with the likelihood of remains being damaged or destroyed in the process along with concerns of air and blood-borne pathogens being released. (JK)

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    Christmas came a little early for a lucky Michigan Lottery player who bought a winning multi-million dollar ticket in Livingston County. The winning Lotto 47 ticket was bought at the Sunoco gas station at 763 South Michigan Avenue in Howell, and is worth $3.73 million jackpot. It matched all six numbers drawn Saturday: 01-02-07-08-11-26 and marks the seventh time the game’s jackpot has been won in 2018 for a total of more than $21 million. The lucky ticket holder from Saturday’s drawing is asked to contact the Lottery’s Public Relations Division at (517) 373-1237 to make an appointment to claim the prize at the Lottery headquarters in Lansing. Lotto 47 tickets are valid for one year from the drawing date. Lotto 47 drawings take place on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. (JK)

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    A weekend holdup of a Hartland store has Michigan State Police searching for three suspects. Troopers from the Brighton Post responded to a report of armed robbery at the Sprint Store on Highland Road, just west of US-23, at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. A preliminary investigation indicates that three African American males, each wearing gloves and hooded sweatshirts which covered their heads and lower faces, entered the store and immediately threatened the employee, pointing a long gun at him. The trio took an undetermined amount of money and new cell phones and then left the store. The incident remains under investigation. State Police ask anyone who may information about this crime to contact the Brighton Post at 810-227-1051. (JK)

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    Arraignment has been set for a Livingston County judge facing a three-count indictment alleging she perjured herself and destroyed evidence. The Michigan Attorney General's Office filed charges last week against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. Michigan State Police say she lied during a deposition about erasing data from her iPhone shortly after her ex-husband filed for divorce in 2016. Brennan will be arraigned tomorrow morning at 9am at the 53rd District Court in Howell. The Supreme Court Administrator has appointed Judge G. David Guinn of the 67th District Court to oversee the litigation. He will appear by polycom (speakerphone) tomorrow. Meanwhile, Brennan is accused of unethical acts that could lead to her removal from the bench. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission says Brennan used staff to perform personal services and failed to disclose a relationship with a police officer during a murder case. Former State Police Detective Sean Furlong was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, over which Brennan presided. Testimony and other evidence that came to light during Brennan’s divorce indicated the pair engaged in an affair before, during and after the trial. They have both denied that and said the affair began only after the trial was over. A special master heard evidence in the case in October and will write an opinion. The Judicial Tenure Commission will then make a recommendation to the Michigan Supreme Court, which could result in her removal from the bench. (JM)

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    A local middle school team is celebrating after their state championship in robotics over the weekend. The Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy Middle School Miners FIRST Tech Challenge team from Brighton won the FIRST TECH CHALLENGE State Championship at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek on Saturday. The Miners (top picture) also set a world record, scoring 442 points during the playoffs. The team was 5-1 in their qualifying rounds during the competition. They were the first pick of the #1 alliance in the Edison Division finals and went on to defeat the winning alliance of the Franklin Division. Ninety-six teams from across the state competed in the State Championship, including Team KAOS from Howell (bottom picture), which finished in second place overall in the state. Michigan has a total of 608 FIRST Tech Challenge teams. The CSPA Miners Team has 12 members and is coached by CSPA teacher Elizabeth Holland and head technical mentor Steve Ambrose with mentorship from members of the CSPA High School Gems Robotics team and many parents. The major sponsors of the team are DTE Energy Foundation and Howell-based ASI Workholding. Thirteen teams from Michigan, including the CSPA Miners and Howell’s Team KAOS, will compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in April at Cobo Center in Detroit. (JK)

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    Two appointments have been made the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee. Terms for committee members Hansel Keene and Joe Riker were set to expire at the end of the month, prompting the county’s Board of Commissioners to make two appointments at their Monday night meeting. Commissioner Dave Domas made a motion to reappoint Joe Riker and to appoint Commissioner Bob Bezotte to the committee. The motion passed unanimously. Chairman Don Parker and Commissioner Kate Lawrence both felt appointing Commissioner Bezotte to the committee would provide a level of oversight that some community members have called for, following controversy over donations made to the committee last year, but mishandled by Keene resulting in a criminal investigation. No charges were ultimately filed against Keene, who served as chair of the committee, but the controversy led to his decision to not seek another term. Despite that, Keene was honored for his service at the county’s meeting. Bezotte feels in Keene’s absence, he will have “big shoes to fill”. Bezotte, who served in the U.S. Army in a combat zone in Vietnam, says he is looking forward to bringing oversight to the committee. Riker, who has served on the committee for approximately a year and a half, says of his reappointment that he most looking forward to putting the situation involving the donation controversy behind the committee and moving forward. Riker says he is also looking forward to re-staffing the office and exploring how the committee will utilize funds generated by the veterans’ millage, one possibility being transitional housing. Michael Reeve, Jim Pratt and former County Commissioner Steve Williams had also been in the running for the appointments; however Williams withdrew his name prior to the board’s vote, saying there had been enough fighting going on regarding the committee. (DK)

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    On a split, 6-3 vote, the Brighton City Planning Commission has approved the preliminary site plan for the proposed $34 million senior housing development at the old Lindbom School site. Holly developer Pat Battaglia plans a 210-unit, 14,000-square-foot senior housing development that would involve both the renovation of the mothballed Lindbom School on State Street and construction of new senior housing. Brighton Village at the Mill Pond, as it is called, would encompass separate centers for independent living, assisted living, a memory care center and an activities center on the 10.5-acre site. Planning commissioners listened Monday to a large number of comments – the majority, but not all - opposed to the project. All live in the northwest city neighborhood where the complex would be located. Sandra Verhelle of Magnolia St., which is on the Genoa Township side of the property, tells WHMI she moved to the area for its peace and quiet, and the development would disrupt that tranquility. Although the preliminary site plan was approved, past planning commission chairman Steve Monet and Susan Gardner, who also sits on the City Council, voted against the development, saying it was out of scale with the neighborhood. However, Battaglia said the proposal was not cast in stone and he would be flexible if the city wanted modifications. Battaglia addressed the issue of the plume of toxic trichloroethylene gas, or TCE, which has contaminated the groundwater in the neighborhood, stemming from an old refrigeration plant on North 5th Street. Battaglia said he would employ mitigation procedures to vent the plume of gas by having vapor barriers installed. Under the name of American Classical Academy Brighton Holdings LLC, Battaglia’s former company initially purchased the school for $1.45 million from the Brighton Area Schools. He proposed a charter school called the Livingston Classical Academy for the site, but the school board turned down his request to be the sponsor. In 2015 he proposed a senior housing complex for the old Lindbom site, but says his financing fell through. His current proposal is virtually identical to the one which was approved by the Planning Commission in 2015. (TT)

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    A local talent consortium has been selected for grant funding centered on closing the state’s talent gap while encouraging partnership, innovation and investment. Leaders from the state’s Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education announced the first round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grant awardees. Nine talent consortia, representing 260 entities, were awarded a total of nearly $15 million in grants to start and grow innovative education models. Among the awardees is the Stockbridge High School InvenTeam TM Consortium, which will be focused on training for high-skill, high-demand and high-paying careers in information technology and computer science, manufacturing and professional trades. Skills to be included in training will be communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. The Stockbridge program also integrates financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy into the day-to-day functions of the class. The curriculum is said to be suitable for engineering technicians who could be employed in a variety of fields that include factory automation and manufacturing, electrician, robotics, wind power/energy generation, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Unmanned Ground Vehicles as well as serve as an introduction to engineering for college bound students. State leaders explained that the investment is just the beginning in helping transform Michigan’s ever-changing education model. Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said the Marshall Plan is about building partnerships – it was a call for schools and businesses to innovate and rethink how we go about preparing our young people for the future. Leaders added they are eager to get round two kicked off in January and encouraged those who weren’t awarded today to revise their applications for consideration in the next round. The next round in the process starts Wednesday, January 16th. Michigan’s Departments of Education and Talent and Economic Development will hold a webinar to address questions and help consortia prepare for a successful second round on January 11th.

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    Tyrone Township’s Planning Commission met Tuesday and briefly discussed some suggestions by other township officials to adjust the ordinance. Planning Commission Chairman Mark Meisel says the most common noise complaints are barking dogs, fireworks and firearms. Meisel says one of the issues they are looking into is the Day/Night time table that defines the permitted time frame for certain types of noise, one example being fireworks. Meisel says officials want to clarify whether the time table applies to fireworks alone or all noise. The township also wants to be better define who exactly is the authorized representative for enforcing the ordinance and the process for residents looking to appeal, should they disagree with the representative’s interpretation and application of the rules. There are two kinds of noise that officials are interested in discussing as possibly being excluded from the ordinance; off-road vehicles, as long as they have the appropriate mufflers, and livestock and exotic animals making unamplified sound. Finally, Meisel says another issue that frequently comes up is firearms, specifically as they’re being used for target practice. The goal is to better understand what firearm-related noise can be legally opposed, if at all. Meisel says the Planning Commission may discuss the various items at their next meeting in January or hold a separate workshop. (DK)

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    The Howell City Council met Monday night and approved the purchase of what was referred to as a very important piece of equipment that will boost reliability for the City’s high-end network. Council approved the acquisition of a new network switch, which will replace an old one that is beyond its "end of life" cycle. The equipment is said to be vital to the current network infrastructure as it connects the City of Howell, the City of Brighton, Livingston County and recreation facilities back to the Howell City Hall server room. It provides access to file systems, emails, phones, archive information, data back-ups and the county law enforcement system. The new switch will replace a piece of equipment that is eleven years old. City Manager Shea Charles tells WHMI the typical life expectancy is usually five to six years, so they’ve been pushing it. The new piece of equipment has much greater capacity and Charles says the switch helps begin the transition to ten gigabit speeds in the future. The City is currently running a gigabit network between buildings and will be able to go to ten gigabits. Charles says the greater bandwidth offers enhanced capabilities with some new technologies such as GIS and others and allows for future expansion on IP components. The new machine will be under warranty. It was noted that in the unlikely event of some sort of failure, parts can be found much more easily than the current piece of equipment. Part of the cost is being allocated with the City of Brighton. The City of Howell will contribute $18,940, with Brighton expected to chip in $11,174. The two municipalities have had an IT partnership for the last several years and share an IT director as well as a shared data center, which Charles says allows them to host many servers on one set of equipment. He says the partnership has really helped both communities save quite a bit of money on IT infrastructure over the last several years, providing high quality services at a much lower price. The allocation of cost is determined based on the number of users, and since Howell has a higher number of users, it has a higher allocation. If the Brighton City Council approves the request at this Thursday’s meeting, then Charles says they’ll move forward with the acquisition. (JM)

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    53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan was arraigned this morning on a trio of felony charges including perjury and destruction of evidence. Judge G. David Guinn of Genesee County’s 67th District Court oversaw the arraignment via a videophone and set a $30,000 personal recognizance bond. Brennan's defense attorney revealed to Judge Guinn that she had already surrendered her passport. A probable cause conference was set for January 16th. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office authorized the charges last week against Brennan, which stemmed from testimony that arose during a proceeding held by the Michigan Judicial Tenure commission in October alleging Brennan gave false testimony regarding the data on her cell phone that had been ordered preserved during her divorce proceedings. It is further alleged Brennan failed to recuse herself immediately from her own divorce case and used the delay to dispose erase the data from her phone. If convicted on the perjury charge, she faces up to 15 years in prison. In the meantime, Brennan is also awaiting the of a JTC investigation that accuses her of unethical acts and could lead to her removal from the bench. The JTC says that Brennan used staff to perform personal services and failed to disclose a relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness of the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, over which Brennan presided. Brennan and Furlong claim the affair started after the trial, but testimony during her divorce proceedings and other evidence that has come to light suggest otherwise. Kowalski's son, Jared, has been following Brennan closely through the year's proceedings. He said that while this allegation against Brennan doesn’t directly affect his father’s case, it ultimately shows her character and how she’s acted inappropriately in not just his father’s case, but other cases as well. Jared said today’s proceedings were “a good start” and is continuing to call upon Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt to “do the right thing” grant his father a retrial. State Senator Joe Hune was at the arraignment and called the Brennan case a “travesty.” An impeachment resolution has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives, and asked the State Senate to investigate. In the meantime, Hune says Brennan is collecting $600 a day from local residents and “needs to go.”

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    A man has been bound over for trial on charges alleging he fled from police before crashing into a power pole and fighting with a Livingston County Sheriff’s deputy. 36-year-old Albert Monteza Smith IV of Flint appeared in 53rd District Court in Howell Tuesday and was bound over to Livingston County Circuit Court on seven felony charges. Those include carjacking, 3rd degree fleeing a police officer, assaulting/resisting/obstructing an officer causing injury, resisting/obstructing a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, attempting to disarm a police officer and attempted unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle. The charges are tied to the November 28th incident in which a deputy was dispatched to the area of northbound US-23 near Clyde Road in Hartland Township just after 3:30pm for a report of a minivan ramming another vehicle. Both vehicles were reported to have continued north on US-23 toward White Lake Road. A short time later the deputy spotted the minivan and attempted to stop the vehicle. However, the driver fled eastbound on White Lake Road to try and elude the deputy, but then ran off the roadway, drove through several yards and mailboxes, before striking a DTE power pole and overturning in the front yard of a residence near Carmer Road. The suspect resisted the deputy’s attempts to arrest him, including using a Taser to no effect, but was finally taken into custody with the assistance of Michigan State Police. The suspect and deputy were both hospitalized for non-life threatening injuries and have since been released. Future court dates for Smith have not been set at this time.

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    A local nonprofit will benefit from the Howell Public Schools’ food drive, which amassed more than 40,000 canned goods. Student generosity came through in a big way for the district-wide canned food drive to support Gleaners Community Food Bank. Gleaners helps local families in need by providing access to nutritious food and resources. The food drive, planned by Howell High School’s leadership class, began in November and collected more than 40,000 canned goods, exceeding the leadership classes’ goal by more than 10,000 cans. Hutchings Elementary led the district in donations by collecting 15,291 cans. Tim Moore, Hutchings Elementary principal, said the students worked hard collecting items to help those in need, with some even going to their neighbor's houses to ask for donations while others, “reached into their piggy banks to get out money to purchase canned goods.” Gleaners operates five distribution centers across southeast Michigan, one of which is located in Howell. (JK)

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    An employee locked herself in a closet for protection after being harassed at a fitness facility in Milford. The incidents in question happened earlier this month at the Plant Fitness on Milford Road. A 20-year-old female employee called a manager around 2:30am on December 5th to say she had locked herself in a closet after a man was following her around the gym. Milford Police responded to find the employee visibly upset. She reported that the man had first been to the gym around 11pm December 4th when he had asked for a tour of the facility, which is permitted. He reportedly began following her around while she was trying to clean the floors and kept touching the machine, saying he was going to work with her. She eventually talked him into using a hydro massage chair typically reserved for members and went back to cleaning. When she came out of the women’s locker room, the man was gone but he then returned around 2:30am December 5th. At that time, the employee was cleaning the men’s locker room and he asked to use the chair again. She gave him tokens for the chair but the man allegedly followed her into the men’s locker room and began making inappropriate comments that made her uncomfortable, while reportedly getting really close to her. That’s when the employee left and was able to lock herself in a closet in the women’s locker room and call her boss. Police noted the man signed in to the guest list but introduced himself to the employee with a different name. He apparently tried to scratch his name off the list before leaving but it was still legible. Milford Police Chief Tom Lindberg tells WHMI they identified and found the individual, who has only been identified as a 21-year-old Detroit resident. However, since there was technically no real crime, Lindberg says charges are not expected. The suspect is currently hospitalized in Detroit on an unrelated incident. (JM)

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    While 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan awaits a court hearing following her arraignment Tuesday on felony charges, a resolution introduced by local lawmakers calling for her impeachment has yet to make to the House floor during the lame duck session. Republican State Representative Lana Theis of Brighton Township is the primary sponsor of House Resolution 399, which was referred in September to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. It has multiple co-sponsors and describes different things that have been done that would warrant a judge being impeached. The bill has not yet made it to the floor and remains in Committee but House of Representatives Communications Director Gideon D’Assandro tells WHMI that Theis has not given up and wants to move forward with the impeachment process. Judge Brennan’s caseload was removed and reassigned to a visiting judge months ago but she continues to collect a paycheck at the expense of taxpayers. Theis has said if Brennan won’t resign, then it’s time for the House to move forward with the impeachment process. D’Assandro affirms that remains Theis’ priority. If the bill doesn’t make it to the House floor by the time the lame duck legislature is anticipated to adjourn on Thursday, then the bill will have to be taken up next year. That could potentially happen in the Senate, as Theis was elected in November to the seat vacated by term-limited Senator Joe Hune of the Fowlerville area. Theis earlier stated that if the House Judiciary Committee supports the impeachment resolution, it will go before the full House, where only a simple majority is needed to advance it to the Senate for an impeachment trial. If convicted, Brennan would then be removed from office. The trial, however, could not occur until after the Senate’s final session adjourns. Theis and other lawmakers took action to potentially pursue impeachment while investigations were being conducted by the Judicial Tenure Commission and Michigan State Police, as many felt they were not moving fast enough. However, in the meantime, a three-count felony indictment was filed by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office alleging perjury, misconduct in office and that she lied about destroying evidence from a cell phone during a deposition in her divorce case. Brennan was arraigned on those counts Tuesday. A probable cause conference is set for January 16th. Further, Brennan is awaiting the results of a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission hearing alleging unethical acts that could result in her being removed from the bench. That investigation was launched in the wake of an affair with Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which Brennan presided over. Kowalski is currently serving life in prison. (JM/JK)

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    A Lansing man charged with robbing a local bank more than two years ago is finally heading to trial. 34-year-old Brian Dewayne Ali Jr. was in Livingston County Circuit Court Monday for a motion hearing in which his attorneys argued that their client was wrongly picked out of a photo lineup after the April 2016 robbery of the PNC Bank located on West Grand River in Genoa Township. Police say Ali disguised himself by dressing as a woman and wearing makeup and a wig. They say he then entered the bank brandishing a handgun and what appeared to be a bomb and announced a robbery. Afterward, he fled in a blue Ford Mustang with an undisclosed amount of cash. He was later arrested in Lansing. Judge Michael Hatty ruled that the photo lineup was proper and ordered the case to proceed to trial. However, a date was not set as there is still an evidentiary hearing in the case set for January 7th. Ali is charged as a habitual offender and faces five counts of armed robbery, four counts of bank robbery and four counts of unlawful imprisonment. He is also facing ten federal charges connected to six armed robberies that occurred in Oakland and Macomb counties between December 2015 and February of 2016. A trial in those cases is set for April in U.S. District Court in Detroit. (JK)

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    Last Saturday all four of the Livingston County Area Fire Departments worked together and took over Red Kettle locations across Livingston County. Saturday, December 15th marked the 18th year that the Brighton Area Fire department has been taking over kettles for The Salvation Army of Livingston County, making a huge impact on the donation totals. This year firefighters rang at 8 of the 15 kettle locations, ringing for a total of 64 hours, bringing in $10,693.11 in donations, $2600 more than last year. As of Tuesday, The Salvation Army has raised a little over $199,000 which is 56% of their overall goal of $385,000. With only one week remaining for bell ringing, The Salvation Army is asking the community to help reach their goal. Officials point out that at this time last year they were at 64% of their goal, almost 10% more than today, but that if every person in the county put only one more dollar in the Red Kettles, they would reach their goal by Christmas. The Red Kettles will be out through 4pm, Monday, December 24th, taking monetary donations. The Salvation Army’s Corps Community Center, located at 503 Lake Street, Howell, will be open through noon on Monday and then again Wednesday through Friday next week, accepting donations as well. Those unable to make a donation in person can make their donations online through the link below. (JK)

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