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Liquor License Suspended For Fenton RestaurantLiquor License Suspended For Fenton Restaurant

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By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com A Fenton restaurant has had its liquor license suspended by the state for failing to comply with the latest public health order issued that aims to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued citations and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) suspended liquor licenses to establishments in violation of the recent public health order issued on November 15th. The state says it was put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health by establishing restrictions on gatherings, including prohibiting gatherings of patrons in food service establishments. The Meeting Place on Owen Road was among the emergency suspensions issued and was fined $1,000. Others were issued for restaurants in Newaygo, Fremont, Calumet, Sandusky and Lapeer. Licensees’ multiple violations of the order were said to have included allowing non-residential, in-person gatherings, providing in-person dining, failure to require face coverings for staff and patrons and failure to prohibit patrons from congregating. Information was said to be received by MDHHS from local health departments and local law enforcement regarding non-compliance with the order. A virtual hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is scheduled on December 4th for each of the licensees via Zoom to determine whether the summary suspension should continue or other fines and penalties should be imposed. The civil fines are due within 30 days of receipt of the citations. A press release stated that additional establishments are slated to be cited. MDHHS Director Robert Gordon commented the vast majority of restaurant and bar owners are doing the right thing and have temporarily closed their indoor service to help prevent spread of the virus. He added they know this is not easy for anyone but the sooner they can mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the sooner people can get back to doing the things they enjoy. More information is available in the attached press release. Facebook photo.

OLHSA Virtual Trivia Night To Benefit Pandemic ReliefOLHSA Virtual Trivia Night To Benefit Pandemic Relief

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com A virtual trivia fundraiser will allow local residents to show off their smarts while helping a community partner. The Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA) is hosting the online event, Saturday, December 5th, from 7-9pm. That night, a TrivaHub host will guide contestants online through fun and challenging questions with prizes being awarded at the end. Funds raised from this socially-distanced Trivia Night will benefit those facing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include assistance with food deliver, housing needs, and educational resources. The cost for play is $40 per person and includes 2 hours of game time. OLHSA is also looking for event sponsors at different tiers. A presenting sponsor can get their logo displayed on a back drop during the event for $10,000. $5,000 Question Sponsors will get their logo on questions, and Round Sponsors can get a PowerPoint slide or video clip shown before a round begins for $2,500. Register for the event or sign up to be a sponsor at www.olhsa.org/triviafun. (logo- olhsa.org)

Unemployment Benefits Email Scam CirculatingUnemployment Benefits Email Scam Circulating

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Livingston County residents and others across the state are being put on alert about a current scam taking advantage of claimants who are collecting unemployment benefits. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the alert. Claimants are said to be receiving an email from a Gmail account that appears to be from the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) asking for personal information. The scammer is also attaching what looks like an actual communication from the UIA in an apparent effort to strengthen the credibility of the email. Nessel said there’s no government agency, state or federal, that uses Gmail for official purposes. She advises residents to always examine the full email address if the sender is requesting their personal information. Anyone that received email should not respond. Responses to ID verification requests from UIA should only be uploaded through a person’s secure Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account on the UIA’s website. Anyone who has fallen for the scam is advised to immediately Report Fraud or Identity Theft with the UIA. They should also monitor their banking and account information each time they certify for benefits. Screenshots of the bogus email are provided.

County Health Officials Planning For COVID-19 VaccineCounty Health Officials Planning For COVID-19 Vaccine

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Local health officials say planning is underway for when COVID-19 vaccine distribution is possible. The Livingston County Health Department has been in conversations internally and externally with hospital partners in anticipation of vaccines being distributed nationwide and across Michigan. That’s more than likely sometime in December. At a recent virtual event, Medical Director Dr. Juan Marquez stated the two vaccines to likely be rolled out first are from Pfizer and Moderna, which involve new technology and have showed promising results with around 95% effectiveness for each. However, both are said to have a lot of logistical challenges associated with them because of the nature of the vaccines. Pfizer’s needs to be stored at subzero temperatures, but both need to be administered in two doses. Marquez said Pfizer’s must be kept at negative 70-degrees Celsius in a super cold refrigerator. He said there are some challenges with duration after removing it from the super cold temperature and their team is working to figure out how to best work through some of the logistical challenges. Marquez said the other vaccine can be kept at a more reasonable temperature but there are other issues, noting both are two-dose vaccines. One is 21 days and another 28 days so Marquez said it will be a challenge finding out how to remind people to get their second dose. As for the ability of local hospitals to handle the super cold Pfizer product, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell was said to be investigating the ability to do so. Even without the specialized equipment, Marquez commented that the vaccine can still be safely stored and distributed. Marquez said even if hospitals don’t have one, the vaccine can live for two weeks in the shipping container it comes in, packed with dry ice. He said there are certain complications related to how many times the container can be opened on any given day but noted it is stable for almost three weeks through a combination of dry ice and refrigeration so if hospitals don’t get a super cold freezer, it is still possible to use in a safe manner. Marquez said any vaccine would be distributed in three phases due to limited supply. He said they’re working very hard in partnership with local healthcare systems to meet that Phase 1 prioritization to get the top-tier and highest risk vaccinated. Marquez said it’s a very complicated process with a lot of moving parts but they have a very strong team working on planning and logistics. Phase 1 is geared toward healthcare workers and those providing care for people with COVID-19 such as emergency department workers, ICU doctors, workers in skilled nursing facilities and public health staff providing COVID testing or vaccines to the general public. Marquez noted there will be a close partnership with hospitals and public health to make sure everyone in that category can get vaccinated. Phase 2 means there’s more of the vaccine but not enough for everybody. It would be provided to those who are not directly exposed to the virus but are providing essential services, as well as others who are at high risk for complications or immune-compromised and over the age of 65. Phase 3 would mean the vaccine is widely available in any doctor’s office, pharmacy, health department or hospital. That’s expected sometime next year.

Local Pool Supplier Aims To Build Third Livingston County LocationLocal Pool Supplier Aims To Build Third Livingston County Location

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com A temporary site plan for a potential expansion of a Livingston County-based business into Howell Township has been tabled until the Planning Commission can see a full long-term plan. Howell Township Planner Paul Montagno said told the Planning Commission at their latest meeting that an applicant was requesting the temporary placement of 2-3 railroad shipping containers on the 4390 W. Grand River property near Warner Road while a pole barn was built on the site. The issue was, neither Montagno or the planning commission knew what the long term plan for the site was. The applicant, Roman Tafelski, was present and said it was for a third Livingston County location for his business, Roman’s Pool Supplies and Services. Tafelski said they had run out of room at their other locations, and were looking to open a small retail showroom in Howell Township with a covered area in the back to store supplies. This location, he said, would allow them to begin doing more of their own pool installations. Tafelski said he has been working with an engineer to come up with a full commercial site plan, and this temporary one would be to allow for shipping containers to hold storage until the building was built. Montagno said he was doing some quick research, and the planning commission may want to request more information. He said retail is okay in that neighborhood service commercial district, but he wasn’t certain about a contractor’s yard and the running of jobs out of it. He suggested that may be something to consult the Zoning Administrator about. Commissioner Glen Miller said he wasn’t adverse to Tafelski having temporary storage, but to allow it before approving what would be there long-term felt like putting the “cart in front of the horse.” Tafelski said he understands, and doesn’t want to spend $4,000 - $6,000 on shipping containers if they don’t get approved. After confirming that he was comfortable waiting until next month’s meeting when he would have the full site plan submitted for consideration as well as the temporary, the planning commission voted to table their discussion.

BAS Board Of Education To Consider Teacher ContractBAS Board Of Education To Consider Teacher Contract

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The Brighton Board of Education will meet Monday night to dispense with some unfinished business caused by the cancellation of an earlier meeting. The board was to meet this past Monday, but the virtual meeting on Zoom had to be cancelled due to technical issues. Other online meetings around Livingston County had to be cancelled as well that day due to Internet problems. At Monday night’s meeting, which starts at 6pm, the board will act on the tentative agreement between the board and the Brighton Education Association, which represents about 325 Brighton teachers, on salary and other annual re-openers in their 3-year contract, which is in its second year. The teachers’ group has already ratified the contract, according to BEA President Barry Goode. Among the agreement’s terms are that teachers would receive a 2.2% increase over their current salary for the 20-21 school year, retroactive to Sept. 1st. Next year, teachers would get an increase of 1.5% over the 20-21 pay rate. However, if the state decreases the per-pupil funding level by $400 or more, the pay increase would only be 1%. On the other hand, should per-pupil funding increase by $200 or more, teacher salaries would see an increase of 1.75% over the 20-21 pay level. It would also provide an additional 2.3% increase for teachers who complete 30 hours of professional development provided by the district over the remaining two years. The lack of a contract when the new school year began caused a tense atmosphere in the schools. On several occasions, teachers assembled outside the BECC building, where the school board meets, demanding the contract be settled. The BEA also filed two Level III grievances against the school district regarding sanitation and social distancing matters related to the coronavirus pandemic. The grievances were ultimately denied.

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.
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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.