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FBI Agent Injured In Fatal Crash In DexterFBI Agent Injured In Fatal Crash In Dexter

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Update: 18-year-old Tyler Macheske of Chelsea was killed in the three-car crash that happened around 8am on North Territorial Road near Toma Road. He was a 2018 graduate of Chelsea High School and the district sent out an email to parents and students. An FBI agent remains hospitalized following a fatal crash in Dexter Township Tuesday morning. An 18-year-old was killed in the three-car crash that happened around 8am on North Territorial Road near Toma Road. Officials stated a vehicle crossed the center line causing a head-on collision, and then a secondary crash on North Territorial Road between Dexter Pinckney Road and Dexter Townhall Road. North Territorial Road was shut down between Dexter Pinckney Road and Dexter Townhall Road as a result of the crash. The road didn’t re-open until around noon. The agent was said to be on duty and driving to his office in Ann Arbor at the time of the crash. MLive.com reports that on Wednesday, the FBI agent had underwent his first surgery and remained at a hospital with family and FBI colleagues. Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater of the Detroit Division issued a statement and said their hearts go out to the family of the young person who lost his life. The FBI agent reportedly sustained a possible fractured leg and internal injuries. The individuals involved in the secondary crash were believed to be ok. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation. (JM)

Warrant Authorized For 53rd District Court Judge Theresa BrennanWarrant Authorized For 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan

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A felony warrant has been authorized for 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. The outcome of a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission hearing in regards to various misconduct charges is pending. However, Brennan has been the subject of a separate criminal investigation by Michigan State Police. Today, a three count felony warrant was issued for Brennan. She is charged with perjury, tampering with evidence and common law offenses. The charging affidavit is attached. The investigation began after deposition testimony in Brennan’s 2017 divorce proceedings, which revealed she allegedly deleted evidence from her cell phone and lied during depositions. The perjury count in the complaint alleges Brennan testified in a false and misleading manner about a marital asset, her cell phone. The tampering with evidence count alleges the judge knowingly and intentionally removed, altered, concealed, destroyed or otherwise tampered with evidence to be offered in an official proceeding. The third count is related to common law offenses. It alleges Brennan acted corruptly as a judge by delaying the execution of a recusal order after she was assigned as the judge in her own divorce case, and then used the delay to dispose of evidence relevant to the divorce when that evidence was subject to a protective order filed prior to her recusal. Meanwhile Judge William Giovan who presided over the JTC hearing will make a recommendation to the JTC, which will then make a recommendation to the Michigan Supreme Court as to whether discipline against Brennan is warranted. The initial complaint filed by the Commission stems from Brennan’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong. He served as the chief prosecution witness during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which Brennan presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Brennan and Furlong admit to an affair but claim it began after the trial. Testimony and documents from Brennan’s divorce then indicated the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial. Brennan has had her local caseload removed and re-assigned, but technically remains on the bench. (JM)

Donation To Milford Charity To Benefit Cancer PatientsDonation To Milford Charity To Benefit Cancer Patients

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A philanthropic organization recently presented a donation to a Milford-based cancer charity. The Women of the Moose Chapter 2454 of Highland Township presented a $2,350 donation to Five Points of Hope on Tuesday at a holiday gathering of the charity held in Milford. The money represented the proceeds of an October golf scramble hosted by the philanthropic organization at Ironwood Golf Club in Howell. The Women of the Moose is a national fraternal organization with a local chapter in Highland Township. Senior Regent Jaynie Bowler said they love that Five Points of Hope is a Michigan-based charity that started in their own community and helps people in need. Five Points of Hope provides financial assistance to Michigan families facing cancer and mountains of bills related to their diagnosis. Grants do not exceed $500 per patient, per year, and provide financial assistance for expenses such as insurance deductibles, medical equipment, prescriptions and utility bills. When issuing a grant, the non-profit bills vendors directly on behalf of patients. In 2017, the organization granted $51,371 in financial assistance to 118 cancer patients. Photo: Teresa Silver. Volunteers and members of the Five Points of Hope board of directors are in the background, and in the foreground is the check presentation by the Highland Women of the Moose. From left to right are Women of the Moose representatives Linda Flannery, Kellsy Pirozek, Marti Talbott, Josie Bowler, Collin Bowler, Five Points of Hope Board Member Geraldine Acheson-Lupini (receiving donation), Jaynie Bowler (Senior Regent of The Women of the Moose Highland Chapter 2454 presenting the check) and Patty Sullivan. (JM)

Senate Passes Bill To Name Howell Post Office In Honor Of WWII VeteranSenate Passes Bill To Name Howell Post Office In Honor Of WWII Veteran

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Legislation that would rename an 8th District Post Office in honor of a well-known World War II Veteran from Howell is headed to the President’s desk. The U.S. Senate has passed Congressman Mike Bishop’s legislation to designate the United States Post Office at 325 South Michigan Avenue in Howell the “Sergeant Donald Burgett Post Office Building.” The bill, which passed the House on September 13th, now heads to President Trump for his signature. Bishop says he is proud the legislation is one step closer to becoming law and it’s his hope that naming the Post Office after Burgett “will serve as a lasting tribute and honor the memory of this incredible Michigander for future generations.” Burgett, who passed away in 2017 at age 91, was an Army paratrooper who participated in the opening operations of the Normandy invasion as a member of the 101st Airborne. He served as a rifleman and a machine-gunner with A Company in the 1st Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and fought throughout the European theater, including Normandy on D-Day, the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden, and Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he returned to the United States and lived almost his entire adult life in Howell, publishing four books about his experiences, including the much-heralded “Currahee!” in 1967 which was endorsed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In addition to his writing, he was also an active member of several veterans’ organizations including the VFW, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. (JM/JK)

Newly Purchased CPR Machine Saves Putnam Township Resident's LifeNewly Purchased CPR Machine Saves Putnam Township Resident's Life

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New equipment to the Putnam Township Fire Department is already paying dividends through saving lives. On December 3rd, the Fire Department received a call just after 4:30 in the morning from a Putnam Township-woman who was experiencing difficulty breathing. With firefighters on-route, the woman went silent on the phone, suffering cardiac arrest. Fire Chief Greg Amburgey said the first unit on the scene arrived in 6 minutes, a minute ahead of the ambulance. They started CPR on the woman with a LUCAS Chest Compression System device. The LUCAS device is an automatic CPR machine. Medics arrived and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) twice to try and resuscitate her. It didn’t work the first time, but the second time, through the drugs the medics gave her and their care, she started getting her heartbeat back. Amburgey says the woman is back home from the hospital and doing very well. “To me, it’s kind of a miracle,” he said. Two months ago, having seen LUCAS machines before and being impressed by them, the Fire Chief asked their sales representative to make a presentation to the township Board of Trustees. The Board was equally impressed and authorized the purchase of a system that night, for $16,000. The following morning, Amburgey received news that they would be receiving a second unit from a Firehouse Subs grant. He said he hopes to get a third, soon, so that one will be available on each of their medical units. With Putnam Township’s firefighters all being on-call, the chief said the device is invaluable at helping at times like early in the morning when staff is at their full-time jobs. No longer are 7-10 people needed to do CPR, Amburgey says; just 2 or 3. The chief agrees with Supervisor Dennis Brennan who said as far he was concerned, that it’s already saved a life means its money well spent. Amburgey said he understands the LUCAS machine isn’t a “save-all” tool, but everything little thing helps out in a person’s time of need. (MK)

Brennan Charged With Perjury & Destroying EvidenceBrennan Charged With Perjury & Destroying Evidence

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A Livingston County judge already facing allegations of misconduct has been charged with committing perjury and destroying evidence in her divorce case. The attorney general's office filed charges Thursday against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan. State police say she lied during a deposition about erasing data from her iPhone shortly after her ex-husband filed for divorce in 2016. A message seeking comment was left with Brennan's attorney. It's not clear when she'll appear in court. Separately, Brennan is accused of unethical acts that could lead to her removal from the bench. In response to the news, Livingston County's elected officials offered their thoughts. State Senator Joe Hune said, "While nothing can make up for the heartache that so many of our neighbors have had to endure while Theresa Brennan has been on the bench, I am happy that she may finally be held accountable for her misconduct. As we wait for the Judicial Tenure Commission decision on whether to further discipline or remove her from the bench, I again call for her to resign immediately. It is sad that this situation has come to this point, and all of us would have been better off had Brennan done the right thing and resigned her office a long time ago. Time’s up.” That sentiment was echoed by State Representative Lana Theis, who will replace Hune in January. "I’m glad to see that these charges have been filed,” said Theis, R-Brighton. “It is the beginning of ensuring that justice can be done. The good people of Livingston County should no longer be subjected to her shenanigans and frankly, criminal activity. This has gone on far too long and calls into question the decisions that were made in her court. I echo Senator Hune’s call for her to resign.” State Representative Hank Vaupel also added, "I appreciate the attorney general’s commitment to the pursuit of justice in filing these charges today against Theresa Brennan. If it weren’t evident before, it surely is now: Theresa Brennan must resign immediately. Time has long passed and the people of Livingston County deserve to have honesty, integrity and the rule of law restored to the district court 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. (JK)

Brighton Woman Enters Plea In Sex Assault Of TeenBrighton Woman Enters Plea In Sex Assault Of Teen

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A plea has been entered by a Livingston County woman accused of arranging the sexual assault of an underage girl. 26-year-old Paige Nicole VanCamp of Brighton had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Lenawee County Circuit Court, but court records show she entered a plea this week to a count of second-degree CSC and will be sentenced January 24th. Authorities say that in September of 2016 VanCamp drove a 16-year-old girl to Adrian with plans to have sex with her, another woman and a man. The teen was allegedly plied with alcohol and pressured to have sex with the man, which resulted in her pregnancy. 32-year-old Shane Rodgers, a parolee from Adrian, was originally charged with first-degree CSC for assaulting and impregnating the teen. He pleaded guilty to a reduced count of third-degree CSC and was previously sentenced to five to 15 years in prison. VanCamp also faces up to 15 years behind bars. (JK)

Howell Senior Following His Hoop Dreams Despite Cerebral PalsyHowell Senior Following His Hoop Dreams Despite Cerebral Palsy

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Sam Scroggins is a senior at Howell High School who’s part of one of the top basketball teams in America. He’s part of the Motor City Wheelz, a wheelchair basketball team formerly known as the Michigan Rollin’ Pistons, that is having its first tournament of the season this weekend in Southfield. Sam was born with cerebral palsy, and says he got started in elementary school. "I went to the doctor's and they told me that if you want something to do, play this game. I gave it a try and ten years later I've had a great time doing it." Players must have a permanent disability affecting the lower portion of their bodies to be eligible to play. His cerebral palsy is why Sam, who does not use a wheelchair outside of basketball, is able to play on the team. The Motor City Wheelz are part of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, and Sam plays on the Wheelz varsity team, which uses a regulation-sized basketball court with the rims at the standard 10 feet. The tournament will be held at the Beechwood Recreation Center at 22200 Beech Road, on the corner of 9 Mile and Beech in Southfield. Games start Saturday at 9 a.m., with the championship rounds held on Sunday. (TR)

Hune Offers Jokes, Heartfelt Gratitude During Final Remarks On Senate FloorHune Offers Jokes, Heartfelt Gratitude During Final Remarks On Senate Floor

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With family and friends looking on from the gallery, State Senator Joe Hune wrapped up his legislative career Thursday, offering final remarks on the Senate floor. The Fowlerville-area Republican used his time to thank his wife, Marcia, as well as his parents and family for their support through his 14 years of service in Lansing. Hune began his career in 2002 after winning a Republican primary for State House by two votes, the closest margin in Livingston County history. He is term-limited from seeking another term after spending six years in the House and then being elected to the Michigan Senate in 2010 and serving two terms. But Hune also took time to thank colleagues from both parties, saying the perception of Lansing often doesn’t match the reality. "The interesting thing about the public's perception of this town is that they think we all come together to come to Lansing and hate each other, but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite being a very conservative person, I've always befriended the Democrat leader. Diane Byrum is a dear friend. Governor-elect Whitmer, whom I shared Ingham County with, I consider a dear friend." In honor of Hune’s career, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution (posted below) recognizing his service in the House and Senate. Hune has yet to announce what his future plans are once his term ends December 31st. (JK)

Lake Trust Robbery Suspect ChargedLake Trust Robbery Suspect Charged

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The man accused of robbing a local credit union has been charged. The Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office has announced charges against 28-year-old Warren Charles Gordon of Novi. Gordon is charged with two felony counts arising out of the robbery of the Lake Trust Credit Union in the City of Brighton on Monday, December 10th. He is presently in custody in the Livingston County Jail after being arrested at his home in Novi without incident on Wednesday, where police said he provided investigators locations of key evidence. The credit union, located on West Grand River Ave in Brighton, was robbed around 2pm Monday. Police Chief Rob Bradford said the suspect walked into the bank, slid the teller a note and demanded money. A weapon was implied but never seen and the suspect left with an undisclosed amount of money. Gordon is being charged with Bank Robbery, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. He is also charged with Armed Robbery, based on the allegation that he represented that he was in possession of a dangerous weapon. Armed Robbery is also a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Gordon was to be arraigned today in 53rd District Court.(JM)

Police Report Raises Questions About Vet Committee Chair's ActionsPolice Report Raises Questions About Vet Committee Chair's Actions

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Although no criminal charges will be filed against the current chair of the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee following a complaint filed by a donor, the police report compiled by the Michigan State Police does still raise several questions about his actions in the case. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt announced last week that there was "insufficient evidence to justify any criminal charges" against Hansel Keene after a female donor 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. WHMI has since obtained a copy of the State Police report that was filed in the case. In it, Keene says he and the donor are neighbors and that he had gone to her house in November of 2017 at her request to help with a "minor project" and that after mentioning the plaque to her, she inquired as to the cost and offered to make a donation to pay for it. However, the donor tells WHMI that is not true, and that Keene had expressly asked to come over to discuss something with her and then asked if she would be willing to cover the cost of the plaque. She says he told her to make the check out in his name alongside Livingston County Veterans Services as he was authorized to cash county checks and could more easily deposit it. In fact, Keene is not authorized to do so and when he cashed that check at his personal bank, was in violation of county policy. Keene told State Police he took the check to his bank, cashed it for four $100 bills which he took to Spirit of Livingston to help pay for the plaque. The check is dated 11/18/17. An invoice from Spirit of Livingston is dated 11/17/17, the day before the check was written, and indicates the cost of the plaque and 34 nameplates was $520.46. One of the Spirit of Livingston owners confirmed to WHMI that Keene did indeed come in and pay $400 in cash, although a receipt of that transaction is not included in the report. 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." As to the other donated items, Keene said the floor cleaners were initially in his truck and that he later put them in his barn, where they sat until Smiddy called Keene on Friday, August 24th as he followed up on the donor's complaint. The State Police report indicates that Smiddy recorded his phone call with Keene in which he admitted to keeping the vacuum and floor cleaner, while taking the lawnmower to the scrap yard owned by fellow committee-member Bruce Hundley. As to the check he clearly says he "deposited it" and that "I don't know what to do about that." Again, these actions were in direct contradiction to what the donor says Keene told her, insisting that the items had already been turned over to needy local veterans. She also points out that Keene retained these items for a considerable period of time. The vacuum and floor cleaner were donated in March and April and the lawnmower in June, but it was not until the donor's lawyer began to send letters threatening legal action did Keene finally turn them over to Veterans Services. In the recording, Smiddy advises Keene he needs to provide the donor with a "chain of custody" for the money and the other donations. Keene then says "Actually I put $125 to that, for the plaque, for Spirit of Livingston. Will that work for you?" Smiddy then tells him to bring everything he has the following Monday, to which Keene agrees. But on Monday, August 27th, Keene was one of the committee members who voted to fire Smiddy. Keene also told State Police that the donor only asked for a receipt "months after the donation" and that he made a "sincere effort" to obtain one. Again, the donor says this is untrue and that from the beginning she made clear to Keene that she wanted a receipt for tax purposes and then made repeated attempts over nine months to obtain one, but each time was put off by him. In an emailed statement to WHMI after reviewing the police report, the donor stated, "This situation did not involve just one occurrence of mishandling one donation check. There were multiple items donated, over a significant time span, and all donated items were misappropriated. Anyone who admits to depositing donation checks into their own personal bank account, not turning in donated items, and not issuing receipts for donations, would be terminated whether employee or volunteer." She added that the State Police report, "reveals that this same person admitted he knowingly does not follow county policies and procedures or IRS regulations and laws governing the handling and documentation of donations, and that receipts are not issued for every donation received (which the IRS requires). Yet in spite of these admissions, it still does not appear that oversight is being provided by the county officials responsible for doing so." But not only has Keene not been sanctioned for his actions by the county, he is up for re-appointment to the Veterans Services Committee along with fellow member Joe Riker. Both of their terms expire at the end of the month. Also in the running are former County Commissioner Steve Williams, along with Michael Reeve and Jim Pratt. The Board of Commissioners is expected to decide on the two appointments at their meeting Monday. At stake is the leadership of 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. However, records show more than $600,000 remains unspent and questions continue as to exactly how that money will be utilized moving forward. A request for comment from Mr. Keene has, so far, gone unreturned. (JK)

Local Register Of Deeds To Serve On Electronic Recording CommissionLocal Register Of Deeds To Serve On Electronic Recording Commission

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Livingston County’s register of deeds has been appointed to serve on a state commission. Livingston County Register of Deeds Brandon Denby was chosen by Governor Rick Synder to serve on the Electronic Recording Commission for a two year term beginning January 1st, 2019. The commission sets the Electronic Recording Standard for the State of Michigan. Denby says it’s an important time to be involved with the commission with new laws being enacted in 2019 regarding electronic notaries as well as remote notaries. Denby enters the assignment with over 20 years of real estate, mortgage and title insurance experience. Meanwhile also in 2019, Denby will also be serving as 3rd Vice President and Legislative Co-Chair to the Michigan Association of Register of Deeds. Denby says it’s an honor to be appointed by Governor Synder and he looks forward to representing his fellow registrars on the commission. (JM)

Pinckney Schools Fills Vacant Board of Education SeatPinckney Schools Fills Vacant Board of Education Seat

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The Pinckney Community Schools Board of Education has appointed a new member. The Board interviewed three candidates at their meeting Thursday, seeking someone to fill a vacant seat. Board members asked questions regarding the applicant’s motivation for applying, qualifications and their thoughts on challenges and highlights in Pinckney schools and the state’s public education as a whole. After the interviews, board members, excluding Superintendent Rick Todd for protocol reasons, voted to appoint James Velasco Sr. to the seat. Velasco is retired with a background in mortgage consultation, skilled trades and the automotive industry. There are six children that live with him, four of whom are his own, and all attending Pinckney Community Schools. Speaking of students and the need to involve them further in their own education, Velasco says they will always amaze you if given the tools to find motivation within. He finds that important, touching on the need to encourage “self-evaluations” instead of viewing standardized assessments as tests, adding that the outcome of those assessments have an effect on multiple levels. Velasco says, "...when you sit down to take that self-evaluation, which we're calling M-STEP...I think that the measurable that we have in place, in that particular regard, do not necessarily show the knowledge that our students do have of the subject matter. It means a lot when you're comparing school to school and district to district, and grading teachers on something they didn't even have a hand in a lot in teaching these kids in the first place...we need to realign our curriculum and keep the curriculum changing as needed." When it comes to making an impact, Velasco says he’d like to see more evening and afternoon school programs, more community involvement at board meetings and teaching kids how to learn with organization and executive functioning skills. Velasco will serve his term through November 2020. (DK)

11th Annual Matching Money Monday Deemed Great Success11th Annual Matching Money Monday Deemed Great Success

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A special fundraiser from the Livingston County United Way that allows local residents and businesses to make more of their charitable dollars has been deemed a great success. Donations to the Livingston County United Way on the 11th Annual Matching Money Monday raised a total of $245,000, pending the final audit process. Donations from area residents, students, sports clubs, small businesses and companies were matched by big-hearted local sponsors, who made the day possible. All proceeds raised through the event will help struggling local families with nutritious food in local pantries, utility and shelter assistance, and keeping families from being evicted. Gift-giving for “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of”, or year-end tax-deductible donations can still be made by visiting www.lcunitedway.org or calling 810-494-3000. (JM)

Brighton Township To Hold Public Hearing On Pot OrdinanceBrighton Township To Hold Public Hearing On Pot Ordinance

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The Brighton Township Planning Commission met this past Monday night and discussed general and zoning ordinances related to recreational marijuana. The township board has already held a first reading on an amendment to general ordinance allowing the municipality to “opt out” of allowing recreational marijuana. Like most local communities, the township is waiting for the state to potentially identify regulations and rules. The ordinance, which prohibits marijuana facilities and the sale or consumption of marijuana in public places, will be up for a second reading and public hearing at the board’s meeting this coming Monday, December 17th. It was suggested the board also incorporate language into zoning ordinance so proposed language was passed along to the Planning Commission for review and comment. Commission Chairman Steve Holden says the board has a proposed ordinance. He says their recommendation to the planning commission was to review both general zoning and specific zoning to see if there is some language in that, which also meets what the board would like to proceed with. Holden tells WHMI the Planning Commission with work with the township planner on crafting formal language. If approved at the Planning Commission level, it would then be sent to the township board for potential approval. Holden anticipates language to be taken up in January. (JM)

Threats Reported at South Lyon School, Lyon Twp. BusinessThreats Reported at South Lyon School, Lyon Twp. Business

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Police investigated a shooting threat at a school in the City of South Lyon and a bomb threat at a business in Lyon Township on the same day, though the threats appear to be unrelated. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says the Lyon Township School Resource Officer (SRO) was notified Thursday evening of a possible threat of a shooting at Centennial Middle School in the City of South Lyon to occur on Friday. The SRO was advised by the South Lyon Police Department of a nonspecific threat, which had been conveyed through multiple people. Detectives identified and located the 13-year-old suspect at her residence. The juvenile was interviewed in the presence of her mother and admitted to making the threat. She was found to have no access to weapons and was released pending further investigation. The school’s staff was advised, and the girl was suspended from school pending the outcome of the investigation, which is ongoing. In a separate and seemingly unrelated incident, a bomb threat was made via email against NOF Metal Coatings North America in Lyon Township. Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lyon Township substation and detectives responded to the scene just before 3:30pm Thursday. The building had already been evacuated prior to their arrival and surrounding businesses were evacuated as well. An Explosives K9 from the Bomb Unit was brought in and conducted a search for the device with negative results. The Sheriff’s Office says the email was found to be consistent with reported incidents in other municipalities where the suspect, who remains unknown, demanded $20,000 be transferred via Bitcoin or the device would be detonated. In a Facebook post Friday, the Sheriff’s Office reminded citizens “if you see something, say something”, encouraging community members to contact 911 if they feel that something isn’t right. (DK)

Annual American Legion Christmas Day Dinner Will Honor Event FounderAnnual American Legion Christmas Day Dinner Will Honor Event Founder

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An annual Christmas Day dinner will once again serve the community with food and fellowship; however this year’s event will also honor its founder, who passed away just last month. The yearly gathering is hosted at the American Legion Devereaux Post 141 in Howell Township and begins with the delivery of Christmas Dinner for the Senior Nutrition service, Meals on Wheels, and other shut-ins throughout Livingston County. Nearly 500 meals were served last year. After delivered meals have been sent out, a free traditional Christmas dinner is served from noon to 4pm at the American Legion Post to anyone who wishes to join. The event was founded by Dale Harter, who was a past post Commander and past club manager. He came up with the idea 37 years ago as a newly divorced man who felt there must be others in the same boat as him, alone on a holiday. That day he cooked a dinner, invited friends who otherwise would be alone to join him, and pledged to make it an annual event. Harter wanted the day to be filled with food and fellowship for those who needed a boost of Christmas spirit and a hot meal. Sadly, the dinner and Post lost Dale Harter this year, following his passing in November. Event organizers say true to his initial goal, the dinner will live on to bring cheer on Christmas Day. Community members looking for that comradery are encouraged to join the American Legion on Christmas Day, whether it is as a guest or volunteer. Organizers say gift cards or certificates are also always welcome to help support the event. Those looking to make a reservation or meal delivery request are asked to contact the Post at 517-546-2534.

Red Carpet Gala Kicks Off New Movie Theater In HartlandRed Carpet Gala Kicks Off New Movie Theater In Hartland

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Livingston County movie-goers can now head to Emagine in Hartland to see their favorite films after the theater held its grand opening Friday night. The 10-screen theater, located on the northeast corner of U.S. 23 and M-59 in the Hartland Towne Square Shopping Center, features heated reclining seats, a full service bar, hand-crafted pizza, specialty popcorn and cuddle chairs. The sold out grand opening on Friday brought over 400 guests to the theater, which donated all tickets proceeds to Gleaners Food Bank and LACASA. $15,000 was raised for each charity. Emagine Chairman Paul Glanz told WHMI: “The premise behind feeding Gleaners and LACASA is this: whenever we go into a community we endeavor to feed local charities as a means to demonstrate our commitment to the community. We like to do it in the form of not a soft opening, but a hard opening where we can show off the venue to potential benefactors for those charities.” Saturday was the theater’s first day open to the public. Tickets for any movie before 6 p.m. costs $6, while tickets for shows after five o’clock cost $10. Glanz told WHMI that he believes the viewing experience at the theater will be better than watching movies at home. “I think there are a number of things that will help bring people out of their homes to enjoy Emagine Hartland," Glanz said. "First and foremost among them is the beautiful, sedate and upscale décor, it’ll be the hospitality that’s exhibited by our teammates and it’s the creature comforts, the heated seats, the ability to recline fully in your seats, it’s really about combining all those things together along with some really awesome food and beverage items.” Emagine Hartland also features an EMAX auditorium, which is a floor to ceiling screen with immersive sound, and is the first theater in Michigan to have 100 percent laser projection systems. EMAX tickets cost $12 after 6 p.m. and $8 before five. In addition, the theater offers a screening room that can be rented out for parties or other events. More information and pricing can be found through the link provided. (AV)

Brighton Council Explores Ways to Erase Potential ShortfallBrighton Council Explores Ways to Erase Potential Shortfall

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The Brighton City Council has reached a consensus regarding recommendations made by a task force that was charged with coming up with ways to create new revenue. With a new budget year coming next July, the city is being hard-pressed to meet its statutory obligations of providing services to residents while maintaining a balanced budget. According to City Manager Nate Geinzer, the City Council Fiscal Realities Task Force was given the daunting task of coming up with creative ways to fill a $2 million funding gap for investments in streets and other infrastructure. The city took a hit in August with the defeat of the Headlee Amendment millage override, which was earmarked for improving the city’s streets, by the relatively slim margin of 128 votes. The override would have totaled 4.35 mills and would have generated an estimated $1.85 million per year over 10 years. Mayor Jim Muzzin appointed council members Jim Bohn, Jon Emaus and himself to the task force, which looked at city operations, infrastructure and other capital needs, pension and retiree health care costs, cuts in city services and overtime, cuts to community groups, revenues from new and increased fees, economic development, disposing of city property, paid parking and other ways to save money. The task force came to the conclusion that the way to correct a $2 million revenue shortfall for the coming fiscal year was through a combination of service and staff reductions of one-half million dollars, another $500,000 coming from new non-street related millage revenues and a new street-related millage of 2.5 mills which would generate about $1.1 million. This would necessitate a voter-approved, 2.5-mill tax levy over 7 years in a May election. The 2.5 mills would mark a 40% reduction from the Headlee override defeat last August. The proposed reductions would include a laundry list of items totaling half a million dollars such as eliminating one police officer position through attrition, cutting senior center funding, reorganizing administration, and contract concessions by city staff totaling $350,000. In addition, the task force lists another $500,000 in new revenues, including $250,000 from economic development, $150,000 in increased DDA contributions, $60,000 in civic event reimbursements and $40,000 from increased cemetery fees. The civic event reimbursement portion, coming from increased fees charged to local businesses which sponsor the events, was a point of contention at last week’s City Council meeting, event organizers saying they can’t afford the proposed new fees. Geinzer says the long-term goal of these steps is to put Brighton on a sustainable path and allow it to continue to provide quality services, improve the infrastructure and weather the next fiscal challenge. (TT)

Marion Township Receives High Marks On AuditMarion Township Receives High Marks On Audit

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Marion Township has received a passing grade on their fiscal year-end audit review. The township received an unqualified opinion from auditors Pfeffer, Hanniford, and Palka during their regular meeting Thursday night. An unqualified opinion is the best a township can be given. Over the past year, the township brought in roughly $1.5-million in revenue, while spending approximately $2-million. Marion Township Supervisor Bob Hanvey said that a great chunk of that 2-million, around half of it, actually, went to roads for the benefit of residents. Township officials had been saving for that specifically and were prepared for the hit. The biggest area for improvement pointed out by the auditor was in the sewer fund. With an operating loss and decrease in equity, it was suggested that officials look at sewer rates so that they can prepare for handling aging infrastructure. Hanvey said that sewer rate discussions likely need to wait until funding details for improvements to the City of Howell’s treatment plant are settled. As for the general fund, it is still over $2-million, half-a-million-dollars over the state recommended level for the township. Hanvey planted seeds for other members of the Board to consider thinking of ways they might possibly use the excess for the benefit of residents. (MK)
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