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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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    An annual fundraiser to help families keep the heat on this winter is coming back to Livingston County, next month. This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency’s Walk for Warmth. It will take place on Saturday, February 23 at the Hartland Educational Support Service Center on Highland Road. Funds raised this year will benefit OLHSA’s Emergency Utility Assistance Program, which helps keep local residents safe and comfortable in their home. OLHSA CEO Susan Harding said that while it is suggested that people use 8% of their budgets on heating, many of their families are spending between 20% and 30%. She says this program can help them from having to make some difficult choices like having to choose between heat, food, or prescriptions. OLHSA can help with natural gas, electricity, propane, and even wood. Registration begins at 8:30am on February 23rd , with kick-off occurring at 9. There will be a quarter-mile indoor loop for those who want to walk as much or as little as they want for the cause, along with lots of family-friendly entertainment like magic, fairy tale celebrities, live music and more. Harding said last year they raised $85,000 and helped 222 Livingston County residents. This year, she’d said OLHSA is hoping to raise even more. Online registration is now open and sponsorship opportunities are available. To register, clock the link below. To get details on becoming a sponsor, contact Elena Steele at elenas1@olhsa.org.

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    The suspect who allegedly killed his father and then led authorities on a multi-county chase that eventually ended in the Howell area has been arraigned. 31-year-old Dane Mathew Steward of Royal Oak was arraigned Monday on one count of 1st degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains jailed in Oakland County without bond. Police found 73-year-old Dennis Steward's body last Thursday inside the home the two men shared in Royal Oak. His hands and legs were bound and an autopsy determined he died from strangulation and had likely been dead for more than a day. His car was missing. Authorities issued an alert for the vehicle and Dane Steward. Later that evening, Gratiot County deputies were called out to investigate a man acting erratically, who allegedly assaulted the deputies and fled – leading police on an hour-long chase through Clinton, Ingham and Livingston counties. Spike strips were eventually deployed and the vehicle became completely disabled on I-96 west of Mason Road near Howell, where Steward was taken into custody. After being hospitalized for minor injuries, he was turned over to Royal Oak Police. Steward still faces charges in Gratiot and Livingston counties for his actions stemming from the assault on deputies and lengthy pursuit. His next scheduled court date is set February 1st in Royal Oak district court. (JM/JK)

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    Brighton Township is looking to participate in a supplemental revenue sharing program through the state. The board met Monday night and voted 5-0 to participate in the state’s City, Village and Township Revenue Sharing or C-V-T-R-S program. Clerk Joe Riker and Trustee Lucille Weaire were absent. Following board approval, the township will be able to submit the application by the February 1st deadline. The township currently receives constitutional revenue sharing but this would be supplemental. Township Manager Brian Vick tells WHMI the revenue sharing program is set up based upon funds the state has earmarked to local governments. He says over the last few years, the township has looked at the program but overall maintained a philosophy of not wanting the state to be dictating how they operate at township hall. After observing it in adjacent communities and those having a few years under their belt now, he says the township explored the topic and has agreed to participate. Green Oak Township is among those participating. Vick says the state, on an annual basis, will earmark a little more revenue for a local municipality so long as it complies with whatever is included in the statute. For the most part, the funds can be used for anything but there is a provision requiring some of the supplemental money to be used to pay down legacy costs. Vick says that could be retiree healthcare, which the township doesn’t provide, or a defined benefit funding gap. That means if the township is not 100% funded, then the supplemental dollars must be used to close that gap first. Brighton Township is currently over 95% funded. Vick noted that all of the information required to receive the program funding is currently available through audits etc. However, it will now be posted in a more prominent location on the township website so it will be compliant with the program requirements. More information about the program is provided through the web link. (JM)

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    For the first time in more than 20 years, the Brighton Downtown Development Authority has a different chairperson. At its monthly meeting last week, the DDA Board of Directors elected someone other than Bob Herbst as its chair. The election of Herbst has been almost automatic from year to year, but Herbst says he has been the chair long enough and wanted to pass the baton to someone else. As a consequence, Tim Corrigan of the Corrigan Oil Company was elected to chair the DDA for 2019, while Cal Stone, an event planner, was named vice chair and Lisa Nelson of Hush Intimate Apparel was chosen as secretary. Although Herbst decided to step down from the chairmanship, he will remain a member of the board. Herbst had been the chairman almost since the inception of the DDA about 30 years ago. The first chairman was local realtor Scott Griffith, and Herbst, a now-retired pharmacist and drug store owner, was the second. Herbst says the DDA was started because there were a lot of empty storefronts in downtown Brighton and he wanted the downtown to be vibrant and successful. The Brighton DDA was able to leverage many grants that required local matches. Herbst says even with the recession, which started in 2008, the situation downtown was better than it had been when there was no DDA. Herbst says he doesn’t think the City Council would have been able to accomplish what the DDA has been able to do on its own, since it has to spend the tax revenues all over town, nor could it have been as successful in getting grants for downtown improvement projects. Herbst says his proudest accomplishment as chairman has been the Tridge pedestrian walkway over he and the Mill Pond Walkway, and now the new amphitheater and band shell, which are nearing completion. Herbst says May 4th is the tentative date for the formal dedication of the new amphitheater and band shell, which is costing about three quarters of a million dollars and being paid for entirely with DDA funds. DDAs utilize the Tax Increment Finance Authority, or TIFA, to capture a portion of tax revenues of businesses within the Downtown Development District in order to fund various DDA projects that improve the downtown.

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    A recent brain cancer diagnosis has left a local veteran in need and a fundraiser is planned tomorrow to assist with mounting medical bills. Howell resident Dave Imber is both a veteran and a police officer, but is struggling to make ends meet after being diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor considered a rare cancer with a poor prognosis. Medical costs have put Imber’s wife and two daughters, ages four and 14, in a difficult place financially while Imber is unable to work. To help out, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser hwill be held at the American Legion Post 141 on Grand River in Howell from 3 to 8pm tomorrow. A donation of $8 per plate is being asked and the event will also feature a silent auction. Imber joined the army in 2005 at the age of 24. He spent the next six years serving his country, including a stint in Iraq. After marrying his wife Julie in 2010, he spent time as a corrections officer in Livingston County. In 2017, he joined the Lathrup Village Police Department in Oakland County. For those who can’t attend Wednesday’s fundraiser but are interested in donating, a link to a Go Fund Me page is provided. (JM)

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    Talks over a possible settlement continue between a Hartland-based firearms store that is suing a local township. The lawsuit was filed in November by Oakland Tactical Supply and three potential users of an outdoor shooting range proposed for 352 acres on Fleming Road in Howell Township. The township’s board rejected the plan in November of 2017 citing their zoning ordinance, which does not allow for open-air businesses such as shooting ranges on agricultural residential land. The company argues that’s a violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which they say “secures the right to operate and practice with firearms at a range…” One of the plaintiffs to the suit, Jason Raines of Howell, says that, “shooting sports is one of the few competitive activities” in which he can still engage following, “multiple surgeries due to back injuries…” and there are currently no feasible locations for long-range competitive shooting as traveling takes a toll on him physically. In response to the lawsuit, Howell Township's attorneys argue the Second Amendment is not applicable as neither the township nor the State of Michigan requires training on a gun range to obtain or possess a firearm. They also note there are multiple shooting ranges in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ website lists six gun ranges in Livingston County, although the maximum range is 200 yards. Oakland Tactical had proposed a 1,000 yard range for the Fleming Road property. The township’s attorney also argues the plaintiffs do not have legal standing to sue as they do not own the land where the shooting range would be located. Court records indicate that settlement talks are ongoing between the parties, although a February 1st deadline has been set for a Discovery Plan, in which the parties will details the process by which they hope to obtain evidence to bolster their cases, including a request for documents and depositions. (JK)

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    There’s just a little over a week left to nominate someone for the Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor. The group looks to recognize the achievements and contributions by women in the greater Brighton area, and applications are being accepted through next Thursday, January 31st. The 2019 class of honorees will be announced in March, which is Women’s History Month. 72 women have been honored since the roll’s inception in 2003. Nominee qualifications include being born in the Brighton area, achievement of prominence while living within the area, or having been a resident for an extended period of time. Nominations will detail the candidate’s accomplishments and contributions to society, the community and state. Nomination forms can be picked up at the Brighton District Library, the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce Building or at the Brighton Area Schools B.E.C.C. Building. An online form is also available through the link posted below. (JK)

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    Members of the South Lyon Community Schools Board of Education have sent a proposed budget amendment back to the finance committee in an effort to save jobs. The board room was packed with roughly 80 teachers, students, and parents for Tuesday night’s regular meeting. Chief among attendees’ concerns were proposed deductions in the district’s budget by the SLCS’s finance committee. Members of the community late last year came to believe there was a $700,000 accounting error in the school district’s budget that was going to cause staff cuts. SLCS Board Member Anthony Abbate stated that while transactions were mistakenly not reflected properly, no money is missing or lost. However, the projected fund balance percentage is still lower than the board’s policy allows, and so cuts were proposed to bring them into compliance. SLCS’s current projected fund balance percentage is just over 7%, well below the state average of 13%. Tuesday’s proposed amendments would have brought it to 8.2%, which is on the low-end of what the Board’s temporary policy allows. Board President Randy Clark said that many refer to the fund balance as a “rainy day fund,” to which it’s not. Required by the state for several reasons, Clark said aside from helping with general ups-and-downs of the economy and guaranteeing payroll, that it can act as an emergency contingency in the case of major equipment or roof failure, or in the instance a natural disaster strikes. It also affects bond rating. Among those suggested cuts were two restorative practice facilitators and two hall monitors. During public comment, testimony was given by parent, school employees, and members of the South Lyon Education Association on the importance of these jobs and the roles they play in keeping students safe. Andrea O’Keefe is one of the facilitators and said she is losing her job this Friday. She said she works in three elementary schools and is constantly invited into classrooms to help. She said the teachers have made her feel like she is part of something special, and that the elimination of this job is a disservice to the kids. Casey Cope is a former student in South Lyon, and said his dad is one of the hall monitors being laid off. Cope wanted the board to understand the impact this was having on his family, especially with the notice of his dad’s lay off arriving in the mail on Christmas Eve. Cope asked them to explain why his family has to struggle because of the errors of the school district. A hall monitor who was safe from losing her job spoke, lamenting the loss of her friend (Cope). She also shared how important extra eyes and bodies are in the halls right now with vaping getting out of control in the high schools. These concerns did not fall on deaf ears. During the budget review period, Vice President Margaret Fallow said she is not for cutting people, and that they’ve worked hard on safety issues in the past year and this could compromise their efforts. Board Trustee Eric Kennedy said it is clear that those jobs are needed in the building and that he can’t support a budget with those cuts. Trustee Jennifer Urtel recognized the vaping issue, and said she didn’t think they could get rid of the hall monitors. Board Treasurer Craig Dashner said that most of the district’s expenditures are people and that while it’s hard to find cuts that don’t affect that, it’s a puzzle they have to figure out. The Board agreed to send it back to the finance committee to try and find another solution. Clark was asked how this desire to save jobs would affect those already scheduled to be laid off this week. He told WHMI, “I don’t have a good answer for you right now on that… The board sets policy and approves budgets. It’s actually the administration that institutes and follows those policies and budgets. I think some administrative actions had been taken in anticipation of some events taking place on the budget side. We’re going to have to evaluate that and see what happens.” Clark was then asked, if the cuts aren’t coming from personnel, then where would they come from? He said, “I think the emphasis tonight was, ‘Let’s try not to affect the people who are doing the everyday jobs that are so important in our individual buildings.’ Maybe we can defer some technology or make some administrative cuts. That’s what we’re going to have to look at. There’s always ways if you go in and dig down…maybe in the way we handle fleet repair in our buses. We’re going to have to look at all these different options to see if we can find the revenue to keep some of our direct student-contact people employed.” Clark said revenue-wise, South Lyon Community Schools are the lowest funded in the state. Superintendent Melissa Baker said that while homes are springing up all over the district, a disproportionate few have been built by families with school-aged children. She said if they had Novi’s level of funding, SLCS would have an additional $3-million each year. Board Member Abbate said they can’t promise a perfect result, but they do promise to work on it. Clark said he expects new amendments will come before them 1 or 2 more times before they are satisfied enough to vote. The Board of Education meets next on February 4th. (MK)

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    Community members will brave icy waters this weekend for the annual Michigan Law Enforcement Polar Plunge. The event is held annually to raise money for the Special Olympics of Michigan, which provides free sports programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities in Livingston County. Local individuals and teams have already begun fundraising for the event, which will be held this Saturday, January 26th. Participants of the Livingston County Polar Plunge will jump into Leith Lake, located behind Brighton High School. Special Olympics Michigan will host 30 Polar Plunges in 2019, and over 200 athletes in Livingston County will benefit from the Brighton event. The pre-plunge party, registration, 50/50 raffle and family friendly activities will be held inside the school’s gymnasium. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. The parade of costumes and awards will begin at 1:30 p.m. A link to more information and registration details can be found through the link below. (JK)

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    The Board of Ethics for the City of South Lyon has determined that a city councilman has violated the municipality’s ethics ordinance by making inappropriate comments about another council member. The city’s Board of Ethics, which was established last month, met at South Lyon City Hall Tuesday night to discuss inappropriate behavior that was committed against City Councilwoman Mary Parisien by Councilman Carl Richards. Parisien was contacted by a local business in October and was told that the 72-year-old Richards had been there bragging about looking into the windows of her home before describing the interior in detail. Richards is also said to have made comments about Parisien’s person, her body and her sexuality, insinuating she was a "topless dancer at a gay bar." An Oakland County judge granted Parisien a Personal Protection Order, or PPO, as a result; however the incident was still referred to the city’s Board of Ethics to determine if Richards violated the ethics ordinance and whether that warranted punishment. Prior to discussion Tuesday, Parisien implored the board to “look at the facts” and Richards’ admission to being on her property. Parisien says there are people who are trying to discredit her and that those people are victim-shamers with their own personal agenda who do not respect women and are not representing the community. The three-member board all agreed that Richards did violate the ethics ordinance, citing components of the ordinance that call for council members to have qualities of integrity, including “high standards of morality”. Board of Ethics Chair Dan Beagle noted among those were principles that called council members to “safeguard public confidence” by being “honest, fair and respectful”. After agreeing that Richards did violate the ethics ordinance, the board decided to work on drafting a report of their findings, what supported their conclusion and what action they recommend should be taken against Richards, if any. The board plans to meet again on February 5th. (DK)

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    Livingston County’s Central Dispatch will be receiving an additional salaried employee this year. The Livingston County Public Safety and Infrastructure and Development Committee, which is a subcommittee of the County Commissioners, approved the addition of a 911 Operations Manager position during Tuesday night’s meeting. The job, which was removed from the organizational structure in May of 2017, is coming back after it was determined the need for the position had returned. The duties had been redistributed to the Deputy Director and Operations Supervisor, but the extra duties were causing a significant strain on both the administration of the 911 department and the operations center. The new hire, which will be a salaried position, will not cost the county any additional funds, as there is currently room in the budget for the job. Central Dispatch Director Chad Chewning told WHMI that with demand continuing to increase, the workload was becoming far too much for just two people. “Our volume of inbound calls and dispatches has gone up over 15,000 a year which is causing more workload for our center. So, in doing that, we need more administrative people besides just two to try to manage the large volume we’re taking in and giving out to the public safety responders.” The committee, which is made up of commissioners Kate Lawrence, Doug Helzerman, Carol Griffith and Dennis Dolan, approved the resolution unanimously. Helzerman told WHMI that is was clear how important this position is to Central Dispatch. “They really have a heavy workload and the workload is increasing. They did a good job in trying to economize and get along without it, but they found it really was a very important position.” Both Chewning and Deputy Director Joni Harvey were in attendance and left pleased with the committee’s decision. (AV)

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    Two special assessment districts are moving forward in Brighton Township and appeared on the agenda at Monday night’s meeting. A revised petition has been submitted by residents on certain portions of School Lake for the management and control of aquatic plants, fish, wildlife and related services. The petition has met and exceeded the required threshold 72.36% of the total acreage within the boundaries. However, it was noted during the meeting that the total is actually closer to 85% if vacant properties are not included. The School Lake district has not been formally established yet as the first step was for the board to accept the petitions and set a public hearing on the project. That will take place during the February 25th meeting. Meanwhile, a public hearing was held on the separately proposed DeMaria West special assessment district in which more than 2/3 of property owners signed the petition. That item will also be back on the board’s February 25th agenda. During Monday’s meeting, a group of residents detailed the very poor condition of roads in the subdivision. They stated the roads are terrible and the rate of deterioration is only accelerating - which makes running and all other activities nearly impossible. They expressed the time is now to fix the roads based on low interest rates, good asphalt prices and the hope to attract more homebuyers to the area and strengthen property values. (JM)