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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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    Livingston County’s election chairpeople received training Thursday at the John E. LaBelle Public Safety Complex in Howell. Experienced inspectors were trained Wednesday, and those working in an absentee voter counting board will be trained Monday. Elections Coordinator Joe Bridgman says the training sessions not only prepare inspectors for the upcoming election, but also allow them to renew or achieve certification that is required every two years. Bridgman says as part of that certification, participants are extensively trained on election rules and regulations- an important piece in avoiding voter fraud. Bridgman feels Bridgman says the risk of voter fraud in Livingston County is very minimal, adding the county’s promulgated regulations go “above and beyond” the federal standards. Thursday’s session offered hands-on training on new voting equipment that has already rolled out in Livingston County, though not all municipalities have had the opportunity to use it yet. Patricia Hughes, Deputy Clerk for Hamburg Township, says the municipality used the equipment in the 2017 November election for Precinct 4. Hughes staffed that election with other chairpeople to allow them to get acquainted with the equipment. She tells WHMI the new equipment is much more reliable and "user-friendly", adding the machines have very clear instructions and lets a voter know that their ballot has been counted. Hughes also likes that the equipment works off of a flash drive for internal workers, as the old machines used a memory card that could lose its programming if it had an electric surge when turned on. The upcoming primary election will take place Tuesday, August 7th. (DK)

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    A summer reading contest hosted by a local legislator is underway. Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township is for students in first through fifth grade. The contest concludes September 1st, where the winners will be invited to Lansing to be “Rep. for a Day.” Vaupel says he’s excited to host the reading program for young people in community. He says studies show reading over the summer helps students with learning retention, preparing them for the following school year. Vaupel adds it also provides a great opportunity for local youth to learn about the legislative process and how their government works. To enter, students must fill out a special contest bookmark identifying with ten books they read over the summer. The bookmarks can be found at the Howell, Hartland, and Fowlerville libraries, and there is no limit to the number of entries. The winners will be randomly drawn and invited to Lansing with their families to serve with Representative Vaupel as “Rep. for a Day.” Questions related to the contest or other state issues should be directed to Rep. Vaupel’s office at (517) 373-8835 or via email to: HankVaupel@house.mi.gov. (JM)

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    A local woman was reappointed to the Michigan Board Optometry. Governor Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that Sandra Doud of Brighton Township was reappointed to the Michigan Board of Optometry. Doud is an optometrist at Huron Ophthalmology and also a member of the American and Michigan Optometric Associations. The nine member board oversees licensure requirements and standards for more than 1,600 Michigan Optometrists. Governor Synder says Doud is an accomplished optometrist, and he believes she will be a great asset to the board. The appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate, which is expected. Doud will serve a four year term which runs until June 30th, 2022. Picture from LinkedIn (EO/JK)

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    A budding commercial enterprise that combines agriculture and tourism has prompted some communities to explore the need for regulations. Agritourism speaks to recreational activities, experiences or events held on private agricultural land. Putnam Township Planner Stephen Hannon says these types of happenings are occurring more frequently, as the agritourism trend continues upward. Agritourism often includes events like barn weddings and farm-to-table dinners, and places to pick fresh produce. In addition to providing various entertainment and educational activities, agritourism also serves as a supplemental source of income for the owners of the private agricultural lands. Hannon says a number of communities, including Putnam Township, are considering establishing an agritourism ordinance. The township’s Planning Commission met Wednesday and discussed the issue, taking into account the impact agritourism could have on the community. Hannon says board members want to make sure the ordinance includes standards regarding venue, occupancy, traffic, restrooms and compliance with safety codes. Overall, the majority of the board noted they were in favor of agritourism, though noted they have a lot of work to do in further exploring, drafting and carefully crafting regulations. The board plans to take the issue up again for further discussion at a later meeting. In the meantime, Chris Schell, owner of Schell Family Farm in Pinckney, has begun to develop a vision that would turn his farm into a hub of agritouristic activities. Though it’s still very preliminary, Schell is interested in expanding his farm’s offerings with the idea to someday add a market and winery. He also has ideas for entertainment that would appeal to the entire family, like hay rides, concerts and walking trails. (DK)

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    Several Hartland Township entities are working together on ways they can better connect with residents to keep them informed. Leaders from the township, Cromaine District Library, Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce and Hartland Consolidated Schools make up the “Partners in Progress” group. Township Manager James Wickman says the four entities have been meeting for a little over a year to discuss local issues that are of mutual interest and benefit, and how they can work together to further connect with community members. Wickman reports additional help has been brought on by some of the group’s partners in order to focus on more ways to share relevant information to residents. Several of the partners are working to increase their social media presence, while the township plans on purchasing video equipment for broadcasting purposes with funds that have been set aside for the Public Education and Government (PEG) channel. Wickman adds Partners in Progress will also need to discuss whether there is agreement in promoting the township’s brand, “Friendly By Nature”. He says one of the next steps moving forward will be to update their website, hartlandliving.com, as they hope it’ll become a more prominent place residents seek out for township happenings and information. Part of the website makeover is expected to include a more streamlined community calendar. Wickman says the group is set to meet at the beginning of next month to further discuss plans for the initiative. (DK)

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    New classes are opening up for students and graduates looking to begin a career in what is now being called the “professional trades.” Come the Fall 2018 semester, Mott Community College’s Livingston Branch Center will be offering a host of new courses for students preparing to enter the industrial workforce. Welding, Industrial Construction Safety, Computer Numerical Control Lathe and Mill classes have been added to their training curriculum. Site Manager for the Livingston Branch Center, Doris Stromer, said there has been a national shift towards changing the term “skilled trades” into “professional trades” because these aren’t the jobs of old. Stromer says that manufacturing today isn’t like it was in the past. Many of the factories are clean and employers are looking for people with higher degrees, like in robotics. Some students may make $18-$20 an hour after graduation. Stromer said that these classes will help fill a growing demand they are seeing from manufacturers. Mott Community College has been doing a non-credit program for years, but with more companies wanting educated workers, this is an opportunity for students to earn a certificate or associate’s degree in these fields. Classes begin September 4th, but Stromer suggests that interested students should apply as soon as possible. MCC is keeping classes small this first semester, with some having the capacity for only 11 students. Visit the link below for more information. (MK)

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    A town hall event will be held in Hamburg Township this week to inform residents about gerrymandering and a proposed solution. The session will be held Wednesday, July 18th, at the Hamburg Township Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm. The event is being led by Voters Not Politicians; a non-partisan ballot committee seeking to end, “the manipulation of voting maps for political gain.” The group says politicians and lobbyists draw voting maps behind closed doors as a way to favor the political party in power. Voters Not Politicians is working to amend the state Constitution to establish an Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission that would allow voters to draw district lines through a series of open meetings. Wednesday the 18th is also the same day that the Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments by an opposition group; Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution. They sued in an attempt to keep the measure off the ballot, arguing the proposal is too broad to be considered an amendment to the state Constitution. Voters Not Politicians collected over 425,000 signatures to place the proposal on the November 2018 state ballot. The group says ending partisan gerrymandering is “an important first step” in solving issues like education, roads and safe water. Event organizers say the town hall will provide information on the problems caused by gerrymandering and further details on the group’s proposal. Similar sessions will be held in Northville and Canton in August. (DK/JK)

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    Construction is expected to begin next week for a stretch of Hacker Road in Hartland and Oceola Townships. The Livingston County Road Commission (LCRC) advises Hacker Road will be closed from Golf Club Road to Bergin Road beginning Monday, July 23rd. The project, which aims to repair subgrade embankment failure, is expected to be completed August 18th. The project timeline is subject to change as it is dependent on weather adversities and other factors. Officials say the scope of the work will include removing the existing surface and road base to replace it with lightweight material. The LCRC also plans to rebuild the driving surface and restore the disturbed area. Motorists are being advised that the work will have a major impact on traffic, as the project requires a full road closure with deep excavation. There will be no access across the work zone, which begins approximately 800 feet north of Golf Club Road and ends about 300 feet south of Norlynn Drive. Access to area homes will be by way of Bergin Road between Hacker Road and Old US-23.

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    A gathering later this week will combine a quick and easy meal with a chance to jump-start some local ideas and turn them into reality. Hartland SOUP, set for 6:30pm on Thursday, July 19th, is a small-scale crowdfunding initiative according to Hartland Cromaine District Library Director Ceci Marlow. "People bring proposals and buy a $5 ticket. You get soup and bread and dessert and then you vote on which proposal gets the money. And all the $5 tickets are the pot that the winning proposal gets. And that's going to be held at the new Settler's Pavilion at the Hartland Township Settler's Park on Clark Road." Marlow says ideas were previously submitted online and can include everything from starting a new community service to beautifying a roadside or an area park. You can get details about Thursday’s Hartland SOUP gathering through the link below. (JK)

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    The Pinckney Police Department is sponsoring a Hunter Safety Education seminar next month. The introductory class will be held Wednesday, August 8th, from 9am to 6pm at the Pinckney Community Library. It will be led by Hunter Safety Instructor Art Joslin, who teaches the same course for local groups including Pinckney Police, Peacemakers Gun Range, and the Howell Gun Club. Joslin says in addition to obviously teaching safety measures, the class covers survival skills, conservation, preservation and laws that a new hunter needs to know to apply for a hunting license in the state of Michigan. Joslin feels the class is very important, in part due to his belief that new hunters are often so focused on the game that they forget there are other components to practicing. He says that includes trespassing and knowing how to find one’s way around. Joslin says the ultimate goal of the class is to reduce the number of hunting accidents. There is a course fee of $10, which covers lunch, snacks and water. A parent or guardian must accompany participants under the age of 10, with a requirement to register in advance. Additional event and registration details can be obtained by contacting Joslin at 810-623-1305. (DK)

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    A New Hudson man will be back in court this week after police say he tried to kill his girlfriend’s infant son so he could spend more time with her. 23-year-old Seth Blumberg is charged with assault with intent to murder and 1st degree child abuse. Police began investigating after the child’s mother brought the infant to the hospital March 29th when she noticed bruising on the child had become more pronounced over the course of a week. An Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy testified Blumberg admitted trying to kill the infant, including trying to choke him, so he could spend more time with the child’s mother. The child’s mother said she dated Blumberg for about a month before moving into a two-bedroom apartment with him and his step-brother on March 1st. She testified there were numerous occasions when Blumberg was being too rough with the infant, including picking the child up by his head. Blumberg remains jailed under a $500,000 cash bond pending a motion hearing Wednesday in which his attorney is seeking to exclude his statements to police from being used at his trial, which is set for July 30th. If convicted, Blumberg could face up to life in prison. At the time of his arrest, Blumberg was on probation from a 2016 guilty plea to charges of possessing child sexually abusive material and two counts of criminal sexual conduct involving someone ages 13-15. (JK)

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    The chances for a Democrat to unseat Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in November have been upgraded by a nonpartisan political forecaster. On Friday, the Cook Political Report changed the designation of the 8th Congressional District from "leans Republican" to “toss up.” Two Democrats are vying to replace Bishop; Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Chris Smith of East Lansing. The district consists of all of Ingham and Livingston counties and the northern tier of Oakland County. Cook's House editor, David Wasserman, writes that while Bishop won re-election by 17 points in 2016, this year, “Democrats will finally have the resources to litigate Bishop's record, and multiple private surveys depict Bishop in weak shape.” Wasserman noted Slotkin's fundraising success, with more than $2.2 million in the bank, and her national security background. Slotkin served three tours in Iraq as a CIA analyst before serving in various Pentagon posts during the Bush and Obama administrations. Slotkin said "Cook's rating change echoes what we already know here in the district -- we have significant momentum; people are tired of the vitriol in Congress and are ready for a change. I'm proud that we're running a grassroots-powered campaign. We've raised more than Rep. Bishop without taking corporate PAC contributions, and we've got over 1,000 volunteers signed up -- many of whom have never been involved in politics before." However, Bishop’s campaign consultant Stu Sandler points to The Detroit News endorsement of Smith over Slotkin in the August 7th Democratic primary. "Mike Bishop is in a strong position to win the district that he serves and where he has been a lifelong resident. Being that Elissa Slotkin just moved to the district, doesn't own a home and hasn't voted there yet, it's not a surprise that Elissa Slotkin finds herself in a tough primary against a Democrat opponent which the Detroit News finds to have 'more depth'. Coastal elites from New York, Massachusetts, and California are funding DC insider Elissa Slotkin’s campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Voters in the eighth districts are smart enough not to let coastal elites and DC insiders buy this seat.” That’s a point the Cook Political Report noted, saying that the label of her being a “carbetbagging elitist” is “Slotkin's most glaring vulnerability,” noting that she hadn't been registered to vote in Michigan since she left for college. But despite that, it said, “her cash advantage means she'll likely get to define the terms of debate just as much as Bishop” and that, “In this environment, it's a Toss Up.” (JK)