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Board Of Commissioners Approves 2021 County BudgetBoard Of Commissioners Approves 2021 County Budget

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com Through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Livingston County Board of Commissioners has passed their new fiscal year budget. Despite the many uncertainties that coronavirus thrust upon the world for most of this year and looking forward to the future, Livingston County has passed a 2021 budget that is only less than 1% off from their 2020 Revised Operating Budget. The total 2021 budget is just over $95.6-million. County Commission Chairwoman Carol Griffith spoke to this being one budget that county residents should be proud of. She said it is balanced and "mindful of the hardworking taxpayers in the county." Griffith thanked several department heads and officials for the many hours of work and deliberation that they put into it. According to a memo to the Board of Commissioners from Griffith, Commission Vice-Chair Kate Lawrence, and County Administrator Nathan Burd one of main changes between the revised 2020 budget and the upcoming 2021 budget is the General Fund Budget decreasing by $114,000, or .22-percent. $900,000 is scheduled for capital improvements this coming year, with an additional $1.2-million from the general fund being made as an additional payment to the County pension plan. That plan is a “major expense” and represents over 8-percent of all expenses. The Board’s memo claims that Livingston County continues to operate with the lowest county millage in the state and that this budget allows them to maintain high levels of service without an increase in taxes. It concludes that acting prudently and moving forward conservatively is a long term commitment of the Board as representatives of the citizens of Livingston County.

Slotkin Named As Possible Contender For CIA DirectorSlotkin Named As Possible Contender For CIA Director

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin has been mentioned as possibly being under consideration to be CIA Director in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. Slotkin, who just won a second term in Congress, a former CIA officer who worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations, was named in a report in The New York Times as one of several “leading possibilities” to become the next director of the nation’s leading intelligence agency. When asked for comment on the report, Congresswoman Slotkin's spokeswoman, Hannah Lindow, said, “While Congresswoman Slotkin appreciates being named alongside such qualified candidates to lead the CIA, she is honored to serve the people of Michigan’s 8th District, and looks forward to doing so for a second term in Congress.” Also named in the report as candidates were former acting CIA Director Mike Morell, who served in that capacity in the Obama administration, former Obama national security adviser Thomas Donilon, and Sue Gordon, who had served as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence until last year.

Fenton Township Rejects Rezoning Request For Condominium GaragesFenton Township Rejects Rezoning Request For Condominium Garages

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com The Fenton Township Board of Trustees has declined a rezoning request that would allow several garages to be built adjacent to residential property. At their latest meeting, the Board voted 5-0 against rezoning a vacant parcel south of the Gables of North Shore Condominium development on Bowles Road. The land had been targeted by seven people who agreed to purchase it to build garages because they wanted more storage space, according to the Tri-County Times. The group had been working with a civil engineer to develop plans for the units that would have fit the design standards of the condos. Their request was to rezone the parcel, which is R-5 Single Family Residential, to the existing condominium Planned Unit Development. Two members of the Board of Trustees abstained from the vote, including Trustee Christine Reid. Reid lives in a home that is adjacent to the parcel and reportedly spoke against the project at a previously meeting. She said her family bought their property there knowing that it was zoned single family residential. Reid said she also felt adding 7 garages to one lot was inconsistent with the general zoning of the entire township. Clerk Robert Krug agreed with Reid, saying he felt it was inappropriate for that location. Treasurer John Tucker was the other Board member to abstain. Tucker, being an attorney whom the applicant is a client of, cited a conflict-of-interest and recused himself from the vote.

Art Show Seeks To Inspire Environmental ActivismArt Show Seeks To Inspire Environmental Activism

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com An upcoming art contest will try and generate public awareness about environmental protection. The 2021 Our Changing Climate art exhibition is being hosted the Huron Valley Council for the Arts, Environmental Council of Huron Valley, Michigan Rock School, Crossroads Group of the Sierra Club, and Community Unitarian Universalists of Brighton. Organizers say it is intended to act as a, “wake-up call that fosters an understanding of the need to protect the environment and call us all to action.” Tiffany Stewart, founding member of the Environmental Council of Huron Valley, said, “Art has a powerful way of connecting with people. In the midst of our climate crisis, we wanted to find a unique way to bring the community together, highlighting local artwork that speaks to people about the importance of protecting our planet and inspires people to act now.” Submissions for the show start early next year and can either be visual art or musical compositions that must do any of the following; Inspire action, Broaden awareness, Deepen understanding, Convey urgency, Point to solutions or Illuminate the consequences of our planetary climate crisis. There are four visual artist categories: K-5, 6-8th grade, and 9th-12th grade and adults. (Students’ art teachers or homeschool teachers must sign off on the submission form). Musical arts have two divisions for submissions: youth (under 18) and adult (18+). Complete visual art submission details and other requirements are available at www.HuronValleyArts.org, where artwork and music will be submitted online between Jan. 4 and Feb. 26, 2021. Exhibit pieces and musical compositions will be chosen on March 5. Visual artists are responsible for preparing their display-ready artwork and delivering it to one of the gallery locations. All submissions must be original work, not violate copyright and be family-friendly. Organizers say that if in-person conditions permit, the plan will be to display the submissions from April 9-30 at the Huron Valley Council for the Arts and Community Unitarian Universalists of Brighton galleries. People will visit the galleries to cast their votes for the People’s Choice. Otherwise, viewing and voting will take place online.

Green Oak Planning Commission Considers Dove Lake PUDGreen Oak Planning Commission Considers Dove Lake PUD

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com Possible approval for a proposed housing development in Green Oak Township has been postponed until the Planning Commission receives updated site and parallel plans. Applicant Tom Schroder is requesting a planned unit development (PUD) for 37 single family homes to all be located on the west side of Dove Lake, near 12 Mile Road, Dixboro, and at the end of Kensington Court. The site is approximately 108.5 acres with 35 acres of open water. The site is currently zoned “rural estates.” The Green Oak Township Planning Commission had a public hearing and final site plan approval on their latest agenda, but didn’t have an updated site plan for consideration. Project Engineer Michelle Spencer was present for the online meeting and said she has made revisions, but didn’t submit them because she was waiting to see if further requests would be made. During the public hearing portion, one resident of 40 years in the neighborhood said he wasn’t opposed to development, but still had questions about how this might affect him. He worried about traffic impact and 37 lots all being on the west side of the lake. Planning Commission Chairman Lamberto Smigliani noted later in the meeting that the clustering preserves more of the site and minimizes disturbances to nature. Township Planner Paul Montagno noted that the project didn’t meet standards that would require a traffic impact study. Montagno said they were preserving a considerable amount of land- more than 50%, compared to the 40% required. Planning Commissioners pointed out that part of that was a reclaimed gravel pit from decades ago, however, and questioned whether that could be considered a “natural asset.” Commissioners Lary Marshal and Deborah Sellis weren’t sold on the smaller setbacks and lot length to width standards either. Marshal requested parallel plans from the PUD and the project in the sites current rural estates zoning. Montagno recommended postponing action until they see updated plans, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to do just that.

Volunteers Sought For Annual Christmas Bird CountVolunteers Sought For Annual Christmas Bird Count

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com An effort to track the health of the area’s bird population is enlisting volunteers. The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count is the longest running community science bird census in North America. For more than 120 years, birders and volunteers have braved the elements to take part in this early-winter bird census. Audubon officials say that with bird populations in decline since the 1960s, it is increasingly important that scientists and land managers understand all aspects of a bird’s life cycle. Winter bird counts help scientists track bird movements, assess bird population health and guide meaningful conservation action. The only one set specifically for Livingston County will be held in the Hartland Township area on Saturday, December 19th. Participants of all skill levels are welcome and while pre-registration is not required, organizers say it is strongly suggested. You’ll find contact information and other details by Clicking Here. Participants will meet after the count at Mackle's Table and Tap on Old US-23 just south of M-59 to collect results and stay for dinner if interested. Picture courtesy of National Audubon Society.

Motion Seeks To Drop Charges In Fatal Steroid CaseMotion Seeks To Drop Charges In Fatal Steroid Case

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com One of the two men charged with the deaths of 11 Livingston County residents says prosecutors have not proven his actions led to their deaths. Glenn Chin is facing trial in Livingston County Circuit Court on second degree murder charges filed last year by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for his role in running the New England Compounding Center. His co-defendant in the case is the former part-owner of the NECC, Barry Cadden. According to a motion filed last week, Chin’s attorney, James Buttrey, contends that the prosecution has not identified any act on Chin’s part that caused the deaths of the 11 victims, who were injected with steroids that had been contaminated with deadly meningitis bacteria. Chin was the supervising pharmacist at the facility and previous testimony from employees indicated that tests were skipped and production was rushed in 2012 when the facility started dealing with a mass of orders. One of them, Owen Finnegan, said the frenzy of activity resulted in untested steroids being labeled using older lot numbers that had been tested. He also said that when Chin was told that more time was needed to properly test all of the vials, he shrugged his shoulders and reiterate that the boss, Cadden, wanted the orders shipped as fast as possible. Another former NECC employee, Steven Haynes, testified that he also talked to Chin about the lax state of production and testing, to which he responded, that the company had lawyers to deal with that. Buttrey’s motion, however, contends that testing indicated the steroids were sterile when they left Chin's control and that the contamination must have been caused by other employees who handled the drugs. It also labels the case as one of wrongful death caused by product liability and concludes there is no precedent for murder charges in such a case, asking Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty to reverse the decision of 53rd District Court Judge Shauna Murphy, who found in August there was probable cause to send the charges against Chin and Cadden to trial. Ryan Jarvi, Press secretary of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, declined to comment on the motion and said they plan to respond in court. Chin’s motion to quash the charges is set for this Thursday, December 3rd, while a similar motion by Cadden is set to be heard on December 10th.

Brighton Jeweler Hosts Mill Pond, Great Lakes Art ExhibitBrighton Jeweler Hosts Mill Pond, Great Lakes Art Exhibit

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com A new Michigan-centric art display for holiday shoppers to enjoy is adorning the walls of a Brighton jeweler. Cooper & Binkley Jewelers has collaborated with The Artisan’s Bench in creating an exhibit at the jeweler that celebrates the Great Lakes and local bodies of water. Collin Miller, owner of The Artisan’s Bench recently invited noted painter and printmaker Petrus Martens out to create a travel-style print of Brighton and the Millpond. Miller and Barb Binkley then commissioned Martens’ panoramic view of the Mill Pond as the centerpiece of the new Cooper & Binkley Collection. Binkley said she thought the piece would be special but it turned out to be better than she could have imagined and is “over the moon” with how it looks. Binkley and Miller then worked to create the exhibit with other Martens prints available at The Artisans Bench which is now on display. Aside from the Mill Pond, the collection features artistic prints of each of the Great Lakes, the Straits of Mackinac, and one honoring Michigan’s many inland bodies of water.

EGLE Awards Recycling GrantsEGLE Awards Recycling Grants

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Some area communities and schools will benefit from record-setting infrastructure grants to support expanded recycling. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced a combined total of more than $1.5 (m) million in infrastructure grants awarded to six public agency and nonprofit recipients that will support the largest expansion of recycling in Washtenaw County history. The objective of the grants is to increase processing and collection capacity, improve access to community recycling programs and grow participation among the constituencies they serve by assisting with the purchase of equipment and other items. In addition, officials say several of the projects will have a direct impact on reducing the spread of infectious disease through greater use of automation, which aligns with Michigan’s efforts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. $458,370 was awarded to the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority (WWRA) to purchase sorting equipment and a new truck to increase processing and collection capacity. The Authority is subsidized by five communities that work cooperatively to implement residential recycling programs, including in Dexter Township and the City of Chelsea. $17,608 will go to Dexter Community Schools to expand lunchroom recycling and establish food waste collection programs throughout the district, which serves 3,635 students. The grant will help Dexter schools to recycle more lunchroom items and achieve cost savings due to reduced trash pickups. Michigan and other states are seeing significant increases in curbside recycling due to more people sheltering and working from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Another goal of EGLE’s funding support is to minimize contaminated recyclables from going into bins by providing educational messaging across all municipalities. Officials say common mistakes are making their way into recycling bins - causing problems within the recycling system. Recycling contamination causes extra wear on the equipment, increases the amount of material ending up in the landfill and degrades the quality of recyclable material to be sold to end markets. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state legislators want to double Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually. Michigan’s current 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and ranks among the nation’s lowest.

Foundation To Purchase Three Howell City Lots For Trades ProgramFoundation To Purchase Three Howell City Lots For Trades Program

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com The Howell Construction Trades program will benefit from a recent property purchase in the City. Council met virtually last week and discussed four offers that were submitted for the old Barnard Center property. The old school building was demolished and three vacant lots were created and put up for sale by the City and listed at $55,000 each. The four offers came from Doyle Homes, a local custom home builder; Allen Edwin Homes, a large scale home builder; SG Savage, the developer of the Clinton Place project that’s nearing completion; and the Howell Education Foundation, which builds homes in the local area through the high school’s Construction Trades program. It was stated all builders could pull off projects and there were different pro’s associated with each. After discussion, Council voted to direct the City Attorney to finalize a purchase agreement with the Howell Education Foundation and create opportunities for students in the Building Trades program to have a chance to experience what it’s like to build in a City as builds have generally been in more rural areas. One home would be constructed each year. A memo states a $300,000 home would be constructed and returned to City tax rolls and hopefully contain a family that would attend HPS. HEF President Don Cortez gave Council an overview of the non-profit and program, saying the lots would give kids a great staging area for the next two or three years. He noted this will be their 16th, 17th and 18th homes constructed. Instructor Todd Millspaugh commented that one of their challenges the last few years has been funding property and lots that works for them. He said they have 70 students coming through the program daily from around county so there has to be room for parking and equipment but also centered in the county or somewhat accessible so kids aren’t driving 30-40 minutes to get to a job site. Millspaugh said the lots would work well and the prospect was very exciting, adding the program is very popular and gives kids a great experience. Millspaugh told Council some don’t fit in to the normal learning system or have problems sitting still and issues being in school so they don’t do well but once in the program actually become some of the best students - even troublemakers who have changed and thrived. He noted that about 2/3 of students typically go directly in to the trades. Millspaugh commented further that the value invested in youth is priceless; saying kids have a lot going against them these days – especially with some of the home lives they endure. Most Council members appeared to be swayed by the educational impact and others stories shared about student success - agreeing while they need to focus on what’s best for city in terms of money to be made off the properties, the intangibles need to be taken into account. It was stated that all built quality structures but the educational aspects of the program needed to be considered. Councilman Bob Ellis commented he liked the idea of the program and looking at more than just dollars and cents but the entire benefit to the community – noting besides just putting the property back on the tax rolls, it can actually help get kids on the right track. Councilwoman Jan Lobur was the only opposing vote. Her concerns were related to City budget challenges and wanting to go with the best offer financially possible. She commented it’s a wonderful program and worthy cause but the city is in a serious financial situation. Lobur expressed some questions about how many students were actually from Howell and enrolled in the building program. It was stated students are split into blocks of about 25 at a time and the majority in the program are from Howell. Councilwoman Jeanette Ambrose recused herself from the discussion and vote, disclosing that she contracted to build a home with one of the applicants. Meanwhile, staff is also working on options for Council to consider to either remove or modify parking areas in front of the property, which would be one of the contingencies of any purchase agreement.

New COVID-19 Outbreak Reported In Howell SchoolsNew COVID-19 Outbreak Reported In Howell Schools

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com More local school districts are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks and cases. Hutchings Elementary was added to the state’s Outbreak list released on Monday. Howell Public Schools Spokesman Tom Gould tells WHMI the Livingston County Health Department notified the district that it determined that two cases of COVID-19 at Hutchings Elementary appear to be linked. He says Hutchings Elementary communicated with their families about the initial case, a staff member on November 12th. Gould says during the time that all individuals identified as close contacts of the staff member were in quarantine, a student tested positive. He says the Health Department believes that contact tracing, quarantine efforts, and mitigation strategies have worked correctly and that the risk for further transmission in the school linked to these two cases is very low. Since the two cases are linked by time and place, Gould says it fits the criteria to be considered an outbreak. Gould says the district is in close contact with the Health Department and will continue to work in partnership with them and follow their advice and guidance to ensure the safety of students and staff. As for other cases in Howell Public Schools – two have been reported over the past week at Southwest Elementary and one each at Parker Middle School and Highlander Way Middle School. Additionally, new cases have also been reported in other local public school districts in the last week. In Brighton Area Schools, there are 15 new COVID-19 cases spread across the district. In Fowlerville Community Schools, there’s one case at the high school. In Hartland Consolidated Schools, there are six total cases – three at Ore Creek Middle School and then one each at Creekside Elementary, Village Elementary and Hartland High School. Finally, two cases are attributed with Pinckney High School. Meanwhile, both St. Patrick's School in Brighton and Cleary University in Genoa Township remain on the state's outbreak list after being added last week. Outbreaks are removed from the list when there are no new confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases identified after 28 days have passed since the last known school exposure from a case.

Lyon Township Planning Commission Approves Culver's Site PlanLyon Township Planning Commission Approves Culver's Site Plan

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com A site plan for a new “fast casual” restaurant in Lyon Township has been approved by the Planning Commission. A new Culvers restaurant could be coming soon at 22700 Pontiac Trail, just north of 9 Mile. The Lyon Township Planning Commission unanimously approved applicant Charles Paisley’s request, contingent on special land use approval at their latest meeting, according to Hometownlife.com. The special land use approval is needed for drive-through service. The site was targeted in 2019 by Burger King, which later abandoned their plans, leaving it to be picked up by Paisley. Paisley already owns 5 Culver’s franchises in the area, including the Green Oak Township and Hartland Township locations. A pair of Lyon Township residents spoke during a public hearing with concerns. One was worried about noise, light pollution, and odors. A second resident wanted a brick wall and additional landscaping to deflect noise, and assurances that access to the site would be limited to Pontiac Trail only, and not the adjacent Kay Street. Planning Commissioners were excited about the prospect of a Culver’s at that location, with many sharing positive experiences about the food and cleanliness of the other nearby Paisley-run franchises. The Planning Commission is sending a recommendation of special land use approval for the site to the Lyon Township Board of Trustees for consideration at a future meeting.

County Officials Consider Declaring Local State Of EmergencyCounty Officials Consider Declaring Local State Of Emergency

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com County officials are considering options for how to hold meetings in 2021 if there isn’t further action from state legislature. At their latest meeting, County Administrator Nathan Burd told the Board of Commissioners that, as of now, starting on January 1st they can only continue holding meetings online if a state of emergency is in effect. Burd said, based on the state of things currently, that he felt like legislature was going to do that, but they haven’t yet, and he’d like to make sure they are prepared in any case. He suggested that the county could declare one locally, and by doing so that would allow them and other local boards in the county to continue virtually. Some members of those 20 Livingston County municipalities have, in fact, been asking him, about what was going to happen. To continue without further word from the state, Burd said they would probably need a resolution by the end of the Commission’s December 14th meeting. Other options for 2021 include going back to in-person meetings, or having hybrid meetings with a quorum present and others being online. Burd said there were problems with meeting in person because that would mean open doors for the public and if many show up there could be health and safety challenges. The decision to be made also affects not just the Board of Commissioners’ meetings, but all of the county committee meetings, as well. Burd told officials this was all something to think about, and in the meantime, he will keep them aware of what’s going on at the state level.

Brighton Board Ratifies Teacher ContractBrighton Board Ratifies Teacher Contract

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By Tom Tolen / news@whmi.com The Brighton Board of Education unanimously ratified the salary reopener portion of the Brighton Education Association’s three-year contract at its meeting Monday night. The two sides had been at loggerheads on the contract for months until a tentative agreement was reached earlier this month. After the meeting, Board President Andy Burchfield told WHMI that, in his words, “Our teachers are our most valuable asset, and it’s important to us that we provide a fair and competitive wage.” The 325-member BEA had already ratified the contract, and the board was scheduled to conduct its own ratification vote on Nov. 23rd, but the meeting was postponed due to technical issues involving Zoom - the district’s virtual meeting server. Board meetings have all been online since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Again, Monday evening, there were issues with Zoom, with the meeting appearing upside-down on viewers’ home computer and Smartphone screens. Board Trustee Ken Stahl, who has been entrusted with handling the Zoom broadcasts at the board table, said afterward he could have asked at the outset that the meeting be stopped and Zoom rebooted. But Stahl says had he done that, remote attendees at home would have had to be disconnected, plus there was no guarantee that the problem would have been corrected. Under the contract revisions, teachers will get a 2.2% increase over their current salary for the 20-21 school year, retroactive to Sept. 1st. In the following year, teachers will see an increase of 1.5% over their 20-21 pay rate. However, if the state were to decrease the per-pupil funding level by $400 or more, the pay increase next year would only be 1%. Conversely, if per-pupil funding were to increase by $200 or more for 21-22, teacher salaries would see an increase of 1.75% over the 20-21 pay level. Similar to previous contracts, the agreement also provides an additional 2.3% increase for teachers who complete 30 hours of professional development provided by the district over the remaining two years. BEA President Barry Goode said Monday night that although he was pleased the board ratified the contract changes, the negotiations should have gone much smoother and more swiftly. Goode says he is, in his words, “hopeful that next time (the agreement) is not after the start of the school year…It needs to handled better.” Goode says there will be no chance of any missteps or delays next year because the two sides now have a contract that is fully settled through Aug. 30th of 2022. At the meeting Monday board member Bill Trombley asked hypothetically whether the district would be in deficit, if its financially rewarding Shared Services program were no longer around. Superintendent Matthew Outlaw replied that even without the service, the district would not be in deficit, as it had been for several years. In Shared Services, Brighton provides instruction — including certified teachers and course materials — in non-core curriculum classes to smaller schools that, due to size considerations, cannot afford such programs or courses. There remains one sticking point with regard to teachers. Goode says the two grievances the BEA filed against the board over social distancing and sanitation issues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are still not settled. Since the Board of Education denied the union’s Level III grievances, the next step in the process is arbitration. But Goode says he has not yet heard back from the American Arbitration Association, and a date for an arbitration hearing has not been set at this time. Burchfield said that settling the teachers’ contract “has been a difficult process,” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions on the economy, adding that, “This year has brought a lot of unknowns, and it was up to us (as a board) to have a better understanding of those unknowns.” The final Board of Education meeting of the year will take place on Dec. 14th at 7 p.m.

Local Businesses Should Prepare To Apply For PPP Loan ForgivenessLocal Businesses Should Prepare To Apply For PPP Loan Forgiveness

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By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com The Small Business Administration has started approving Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loan forgiveness applications and local businesses are being encouraged to get educated about how to prepare. Lake Trust Credit Union is headquartered in Brighton and processed more than 200 PPP loans for small businesses, which continue to struggle due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 60% of the loans were intended to be used for payroll. The remainder could be used for things like mortgage, rent and utilities. Now, the application period for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness is approaching for businesses that took part in the program. Commercial Services Manager Ken Michalak says they were able to help over 240 commercial members. He says there were two rounds of funding issued – the first in April/May and then another in June/July. Michalak says there has been a lack of clear information available, leading to confusion for many business owners about the application process and timeline for forgiveness. He says depending on what round a business received, they have up to ten months to apply for forgiveness from the date they obtained the funds from their bank or credit union. Michalak tells WHMI it’s really a two-step process – the credit union or financial institution approves the forgiveness once a business applies and then they submit it to the SBA. Companies that received less than $50,000 are able to fill out a streamlined single-page forgiveness application. Michalak says the portal is user-friendly and businesses will need documentation to show the money was spent as required. Businesses that received larger amounts face a more rigorous process, including an 11-page forgiveness application. More information is available on the U.S. Treasury website. A link is provided.

Manufacturing Job Fair Being Held Next TuesdayManufacturing Job Fair Being Held Next Tuesday

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com A virtual job fair will help match up local residents with manufacturing employers. The Michigan Virtual Job Fair will take place on Tuesday, December 8th from 9am until noon, and then from 1pm to 4. More than 40 manufacturing employers looking to hire across the region including in Livingston, Genesee, and Washtenaw counties will be participating in a search to fill over 500 open jobs. This event is being held in collaboration with Lansing Community College, the Capital Area Manufacturing Council, and Capital Area Michigan Works!- a partner with Michigan Works! Southeast. The “Brazen” platform will be used to connect employers and job seekers via text chat and video. A virtual resource booth will also be available. Different employers will be available from the morning to the afternoon, so participants are being encouraged to sign up for both sessions. Jobs seekers can connect to the fair by computer, tablet, or smartphone, and will need a valid email address and electronic copy of their resume. Register for the job fair at https://www.camconline.org/jobs

Fowlerville High School To Remain Online-Only Through Next WeekFowlerville High School To Remain Online-Only Through Next Week

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com Fowlerville Community Schools’ Superintendent laid out a plan for when high schools are able to return to in-person learning. Fowlerville Superintendent Wayne Roedel shared the district’s plan for potentially bringing high school students back to the building with the Board of Education during their online meeting, Tuesday. Current orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have in-person learning for high school students suspended until December 9th. Roedel said, for planning purposes for both teachers and students that they don’t have a lot of guidance going beyond that date yet. As such, the decision has been made to keep high school students online-only for all of next week. Roedel said they will plan for students to come back on Monday the 14th, though that could change depending on new orders or other circumstances. The district had 15 students under self-quarantine as of Tuesday. With many people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday last weekend, the superintendent said if its anything like how Halloween went, he expects an increase in exposures and quarantines at the end of this week and early next week. Roedel said so far he believes the district’s mitigation strategies have been working as they haven’t seen cases spreading between students and staff in buildings. The cases they have seen have largely been parents getting sick at work and bringing it home. Roedel complimented the parents, though, in being phenomenal for keeping the district aware of potential cases and keeping their sick students home. He called that a key to their success at this point.

Whitmer Calls On Legislature To Pass COVID Relief PlanWhitmer Calls On Legislature To Pass COVID Relief Plan

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Governor Gretchen Whitmer is again calling on the Legislature to work with her during the few remaining session days left to pass a $100 (m) million Michigan COVID Relief Plan. The Governor hosted an afternoon press conference Tuesday, the same day Michigan recorded a record number of 190 COVID-19 deaths. 5,793 new cases were reported. Whitmer stated that for weeks, the nation’s Governors have been urging Congress and the White House to pass a bi-partisan relief bill to provide for families, protect frontline workers, help restaurants, support educators and give small businesses a hand. She said leaders at the federal level have failed to agree on a plan and that’s why they need to take action at state level. Whitmer said it is that crucial lawmakers come together and pass a targeted state-based economic stimulus plan that will provide direct financial support of up to $100 million dollars to families, those on the front line and small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. On Tuesday, a bi-partisan group of federal lawmakers introduced an emergency COVID relief package. 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin is a member of the bi-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which joined with a group of Senators from both parties in unveiling the package and urging House and Senate leadership to pass a relief deal before the winter holidays. Her statement is attached below. The proposal totals around $908 (B) billion and has been described as a stop-gap plan with no stimulus but money for state government, unemployment, PPE and distribution of vaccines. Governor Whitmer said she was encouraged that people on both sides aisle are engaging in dialogue to help get through this moment. While it might not be the long term solution everyone wants to see, she said the help would provide much needed support for those struggling and the spirit of the plan gives her hope. Whitmer further urged the Legislature to pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits, which expire at the end of the year for thousands of unemployed workers. Meanwhile, Whitmer said it's too early to say if a three-week order that prevents high schools from offering in-person instruction, prohibits dine-in service at restaurants and closes various entertainment businesses will be extended past December 8th. She said case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are dangerously high already and they expect to see numbers increase in the coming weeks and months as more people travel for the holidays. She warned the next two months will be hard and urged everyone to come together as Michiganders. It was stated that any increase in cases from the recent Thanksgiving holiday won’t be reflected in data for another two or three weeks. As for the impact on the restaurant industry, Whitmer said she understands the frustration and fear – adding none of the decisions that have had to be made over the past ten months have been easy and all weighed heavily. The Governor said she wants to see restaurants succeed and help them through these tough times, which is why she has called on the legislature and federal government to take action. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is currently suing the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in regard to the recent ban on indoor dining. No ruling has been issued yet. Should that lawsuit prove unsuccessful and the ban is extended, the owner of Andiamo restaurants recently issued a letter to fellow restaurateurs urging them to willfully defy the state health orders and re-open. When asked about the possibility of some restaurant owners coming together to defy state health orders, Whitmer commented that she would strongly discourage anyone from willfully breaking the law – adding people need to give one another a little empathy and grace and recognize the gravity of the situation.

Committee Takes Testimony On Unsubstantiated Election Fraud AllegationsCommittee Takes Testimony On Unsubstantiated Election Fraud Allegations

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By Jessica Mathews & Jon King / news@whmi.com The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee took testimony for nearly seven hours Tuesday regarding alleged, but still unsubstantiated, claims of fraud in November’s election. Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township said the Committee heard testimony from dozens of individuals who gave firsthand accounts of what happened during the tabulation of absentee ballots at the TCF Center in Detroit, but gave no indication there was evidence that the outcome of the election was somehow fraudulent. The Detroit Free Press reported that dozens of people who spoke were Republican poll challengers that worked at the TCF Center. It noted that no Democratic poll challengers and no one who works for city of Detroit testified. Theis commented that as a member of the committee, it was insightful to hear about what they experienced. She said after listening to their testimony, "I have no doubt that there were numerous irregularities related to Michigan’s Nov. 3 election and, specifically, issues that occurred in Wayne County. Every citizen deserves to have faith in the integrity of the election process and its outcome. It is our responsibility, as elected public servants, to assure the people of Michigan of the process’s integrity through complete transparency and the faithful investigation of any allegations of wrongdoing, fraud or abuse." Theis added that she and her colleagues, "have already called on the secretary of state to conduct an independent and thorough audit of the election, and over the coming weeks, I will continue to seek any and all avenues possible to ensure that an independent, forensic audit of the Nov. 3 election is conducted. Over the next few months, I will be working with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to seek further legislative changes to ensure the integrity of future elections in our state. I am committed to taking every possible step to ensure that all Michiganders, and all Americans, have confidence that the state of Michigan conducts its elections with integrity and accuracy." The Michigan Democratic Party released a statement saying that holding an in-person hearing with no opportunity to testify virtually during a global pandemic was "reckless and irresponsible" yet the GOP-controlled Michigan Senate did exactly that – even with another state legislator testing positive for COVID-19. Chair Lavora Barnes says the, "False claims of illegal actions at the TCF Center have been debunked by the court system and the lawsuits have been withdrawn or dismissed. The vote has been certified, Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes." With just one month left of the legislative session, Barnes called it "unconscionable that the Michigan Legislature is spending their time allowing conspiracy theorists to call into question the integrity and security of the elections system." The unproven allegations of election fraud are similar to those being made by the Trump campaign in an attempt to overturn and undermine the results of Michigan’s election. Simultaneously on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that the Justice Department has not uncovered any evidence of widespread voter fraud and has seen nothing that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working diligently to follow up on specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would affect the final results. Trump's attorney and presidential campaign scoffed that they hadn't seen “any semblance” of an investigation of his complaints by the Justice Department. Photos - Michigan Senate TV

Salvation Army Seeking Volunteers For WeekendSalvation Army Seeking Volunteers For Weekend

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com With kettle ringers out already for the season, the Salvation Army of Livingston County is looking for help in creating a special weekend that will extend donated dollars. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is one of its largest events, responsible for supporting roughly one-third of the Livingston County branch’s budget. Money raised helps serve thousands in-need locally through programs that include mentoring and education for children, shelter for the homeless, utility assistance for the elderly, and food for the hungry. This Saturday, they are asking for help with what could become the organization’s first ever day for having 100-percent of their kettles manned by volunteers. Normally, kettles that aren’t being stationed by a volunteer will be handled by paid help. More volunteers ensures more of the money brought in goes to supporting their services. Lt. Robert Leach of the Livingston County Salvation Army said they have implemented precautions for the pandemic. Those who help will need to wear a mask and gloves, with winter gloves being okay. They will also ring 6-feet from the kettle to provide social distancing. To help make the weekend more successful, the Livingston County Realtor’s Association has volunteered to help cover kettles on Friday. Limited spots in 2 hours shifts are still available for both days. Interested parties should register by midnight tonight for a Friday shift or midnight Thursday for a Saturday one. Sign up to help at www.RegisterToRing.com, or call the local corps at 517-546-4750 ext 347. Donations may also be made on their website, www.salvationarmylivingston.org.
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