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Senate Committee To Hold Hearings On COVID-19 Impact In EducationSenate Committee To Hold Hearings On COVID-19 Impact In Education

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com A local lawmaker is seeking public input with new survey ahead of committee hearings on the impact of COVID-19 in education. The Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee will begin a series of hearings in the coming weeks to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s education system. Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township chairs the committee. In a press release, she commented that “COVID-19, and the state’s response to the virus, have disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, not the least of which being the education of our children”. Now nearly a year into the disruption, Theis said there’s a need to get a better sense of how changes to the educational system are affecting students and parents. She says gathering first-hand accounts, feedback and recommendations will help lawmakers evaluate where things are and help identify what they might need to improve or adjust to ensure Michigan’s children are receiving the quality education they deserve. To coincide with the hearings, Theis also announced a new survey on her website seeking input and feedback from Michigan parents, teachers, and students that will help inform and guide the committee’s work. The survey seeks to ascertain how school districts have responded to the coronavirus in terms of in-person versus remote learning; how effective remote learning has been or not been in student development; and how informed and involved parents have been in school districts’ decision-making, among other questions. Theis is encouraging all parents of pre-K through 12th grade students, teachers and students in Michigan to complete the online survey. The link is provided.

Prosecutors Say Wixom Man Hit Capitol Cops 10 Times w/ Hockey StickProsecutors Say Wixom Man Hit Capitol Cops 10 Times w/ Hockey Stick

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com A Wixom man will remain jailed on charges of striking police officers and others with a hockey stick during the U.S. Capitol riot. At a hearing Monday, a prosecutor said that 30-year-old Michael Joseph Foy of Wixom struck police at least 10 times with a hockey stick during the riot, as he persuaded a judge to keep him locked up. Foy was “among the most violent of all the rioters that day,” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Hank Moon who said Foy “wasn’t there as an idle participant,” noting that he is a combat-trained Marine and that videos and pictures from the riot, including body-cam images from police who were attacked, show he assumed a leadership role in the violence. Foy is charged with five federal crimes in U.S. District Court in Detroit including assault and obstruction of law enforcement. Moon said Foy rushed officers with his hockey stick, “viciously beating them 10 times in the head, face, neck and body areas, even after some of the officers had been dragged to the ground and were not in a position to defend themselves.” He said that Foy subsequently crawled through a broken window into the Capitol. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris said Foy will remain in the custody of U.S. marshals and be transported to Washington where the case was filed. Foy’s attorney said her client has mental health problems but was honorably discharged as a Marine corporal in 2019 after five years and has no criminal record. Colleen Fitzharris said the alleged acts were “completely out of character” and asked that Foy be released to his mother. “Mr. Foy did not go to D.C. in order to commit any acts of violence,” Fitzharris said, adding that the hockey stick was used to hold a flag in favor of President Donald Trump. “Psychological studies talk a lot about the impact of mob mentality and how it causes people who otherwise would not engage in certain conduct to behave completely differently.” But the judge said Foy and the public would be safer if he remained in custody. Foy is the second Michigan man to be charged in the Capitol violence. Karl Dresch of Calumet was ordered held without bond last week.

Contracts Approved For East Clinton Reconstruction ProjectContracts Approved For East Clinton Reconstruction Project

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Contracts for the East Clinton Street reconstruction project in the City of Howell have been approved. Design engineering for the East Clinton and North National resurfacing project was approved by Council in September of 2019. It’s being funded largely through a grant and low-interest state loan. At Monday night's virtual meeting, Council approved two motions related to the project. The first was to approve a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation, as the grant portion of the project is federally funded through M-DOT. Six bids were received and the low bid of $3.9 (m) million was awarded to C&D Hughes of Lansing, which has done work for the City in the past. A separate resolution was approved to tentatively award a contract for water system improvements, which are being funded through the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund program. The project totals around $4.7 (m) million but will be offset by those grants and loans. Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor commented that the project involves a major reconstruction of East Clinton and a piece of North National Street, including water and sewer, being done with roughly 80% state grant funding for the street portion. The water and sewer portion is again through the low-interest loan from the state. Manor said it is a much needed project and he’s looking forward to completion sometime in the fall – further encouraging everyone that either lives on or utilizes Clinton Street to be patient during the work this summer. Mayor Nick Proctor commented that the project falls within Council’s budgetary constraints and earlier mandates that no road construction or rehabilitation be done without at least 80% grant funding because the City doesn’t have money to do anything. He noted the work falls within that criteria and they’re thankful to have been awarded the grant as Clinton Street certainly needs the repair. Construction is expected to commence in the spring. Also as part of the larger project, Council earlier approved the addition of bump-outs at key intersections to help with traffic calming, reduced speeds and safer pedestrian travel. Photo: Google Street View.

Environmental Clean-Up Continues At Old Manufacturing SiteEnvironmental Clean-Up Continues At Old Manufacturing Site

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Environmental remediation work is continuing at a contaminated site in Hamburg Township to eventually make way for new development. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy or EGLE granted the township an extension of a Brownfield Redevelopment grant and loan for the former Hoskins Manufacturing site on Hall Road. At a recent virtual meeting, the township board approved the contract extension. The township has just been facilitating the Brownfield Redevelopment. It was stated that there is no cost to the township involved, which is acting as the necessary facilitator for state money to reimburse the developer for the work they’re doing. During the meeting, Treasurer Jason Negri stated that the owners and developers who have been working on the remediation had somewhat of a falling out with their environmental consultants. He said there were some difficulties and delays and they have switched to new one but everything was delayed longer than expected, thus the state offered to extend the township contract for one year. Negri told WHMI the site has been under remediation for the past 3 years and had an underground storage tank as well as some heavy metal contamination on the surface in some spots. The owners/developers are Lakeland Building Concepts, LLC. He says the one-year extension of the existing contract will allow the developers to finish the clean-up responsibilities they started. The contract runs through February 22nd of 2022.

Padnos Withdraws Lawsuit, Will Enclose Howell Metal ShredderPadnos Withdraws Lawsuit, Will Enclose Howell Metal Shredder

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com A lawsuit filed by a recycling company against the City of Howell has been withdrawn. According to a release from the city, Padnos Howell Inc., a metal recycling company, has agreed to dismiss its appeal filed in Livingston County Circuit Court against the City of Howell regarding its recycling operation at 645 Lucy Road. The suit was filed after the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied two variances, one of which would have allowed the company to operate an open-air metal shredder, as opposed to placing it inside an enclosure. The Howell Planning Commission had previously approved the plans for the operation, including the shredder, subject to the approval of the variances by the Board of Zoning Appeals. The city’s release states that, “After much deliberation Padnos has chosen to comply with City ordinances and dismiss the appeal." Agreed to by a unanimous City Council vote during an executive session at Monday night’s meeting, "the settlement ensures no further cost to the City and its residents.” The decision means Padnos will enclose the metal shredder in a building and pave the site with ordinance approved materials. “Enforcing compliance with these regulations will ensure environmental quality and noise reduction of the site’s operations. Since the appeal, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has approved an application for the air quality permit in Padnos’ favor.” John Boris, President of the Board of Directors at Recycle Livingston says, “We are pleased that an amicable agreement has been reached between the City and Padnos. Padnos is an important outlet for our metal collection and recycling.” The city says the settlement includes “extensive regulations to ensure and protect air quality, and Padnos will have more rigorous state enforcement than any metal recycler in the state." Howell City Council, “feels this is a victory for the community in ensuring compliance with city regulations. While metallic recycling is a crucial part of environmental stewardship, City Council believes that it’s important to do it right, and strictly control the process, thereby protecting the environment.”

Village Of Fowlerville Extends Contract With EDCLCVillage Of Fowlerville Extends Contract With EDCLC

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com The Village of Fowlerville has extended its contract with an area-organization that promotes business growth and talent retention. Through Ann Arbor SPARK, the Economic Development Council of Livingston County works to bring new business into the county while supporting those that are operating. At the latest meeting of Fowlerville Village Council, SPARK Director of Business Development for Livingston County, Marcia Gebarowski shared with Council how 2020 went and a little of what to expect in the coming year. She said the highlight for last year was the RESTART Grant, that brought over $1.5-million to local businesses. 153 businesses in Livingston County received $10,000 each from the grant, including 6 from the Village. Gebarowski said that the surpassed a requirement that one-third of those grants be awarded to women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned buisnesses. This grant funding allowed for 860 jobs to be saved and has seen those that received awards commit to rehiring 230 more workers. Livingston County is also slated to receive $800,000 through the small business survival grant program that began last week that will be distributed by SPARK. Following the presentation, Village Council voted unanimously in favor of renewing their contract with SPARK and the EDCLC for 3 years. Their investment each year will be $2,500. To get to that total, the Village and the Downtown Development Authority will contribute $667 each, with the Local Development Finance Authority chipping in the remaining $1,166.

Three Howell High School Air Force Junior ROTC Cadets Win Prized ScholarshipThree Howell High School Air Force Junior ROTC Cadets Win Prized Scholarship

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By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com Three local high school students are flying high after being selected to receive a prestigious scholarship and opportunity from the Air Force. Three Howell High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets have been selected to receive scholarships and an invitation to attend a private pilot license training program at an accredited aviation university this summer. Those cadets are Lillian Vincent, Clara Jackson, and Grace Fyke. Only 230 scholarships were awarded worldwide, with the Howell trio being selected from more than 1,300 cadets who applied. According to a release from Howell Public Schools, the scholarship each will receive is valued at over $22,000, and is from Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC, Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama. It will cover transportation, room and board, academics, and flight hours required to potentially earn a private pilot license. The scholarship program is an Air Force-level initiative in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address both civilian and military pilot shortages. The Howell students will have the opportunity to get their Private Pilot’s Certification at no cost to them during the 8-week summer course held at a partner university. Lt. Col. Liza Franz is a Howell High School Air Force Junior ROTC instructor. She said that cadets Vincent, Jackson, and Fyke have shown great leadership in the program and that she is excited that they have received this opportunity.

Community Partners Work Help Homeless Of Livingston CountyCommunity Partners Work Help Homeless Of Livingston County

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com A local partnership is helping raise funds to cover the cost of sheltering homeless adult men and women while promoting local awareness about the barriers homeless individuals face on a consistent basis within Livingston County. The Howell Eagle Riders, a chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagle, began supporting the efforts of the Severe Weather Network Livingston County in 2019. Most recently the organization donated $4,000 to secure 80 nights of emergency shelter for the Severe Weather Network’s 2021 season. The Network has been providing seasonal emergency sheltering services to homeless adult men and women since 2015. Currently, operating from a local hotel due to a pandemic pivot from a congregate shelter to leasing individual hotel rooms, the organization has been limited to 10 hotel rooms per night due to budget constraints. The non-profit has been booked to capacity for the majority of this season, having served 25 guests to date. Grant funding and community donations support the program. Case management connects guests with local human services agencies to ensure they’re taking initiatives to improve their situation and follow through on all steps necessary towards securing sustainable housing. Network Co-Chair Diane Duncan said staff and program guests are most grateful for the generosity, support and kindness the Eagle Riders bestowed upon the organization - adding they recognize the fact that both organizations play a key role in helping fellow community members in need. She says they’re excited to partner with the Eagle Riders on future fundraising endeavors that will ultimately, benefit men, women and families within Livingston County. The Severe Weather Network provides sheltering from December 1st through April 30th. Homeless adult men and women seeking shelter can contact the Severe Weather Network at 810-534-7625 to check availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More information is available in the attached press release.

Medical Director: In-School COVID Transmission Very LowMedical Director: In-School COVID Transmission Very Low

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By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com Despite continued debate about resuming in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local medical experts and others say research shows there is not widespread transmission tied to schools. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests there is "reassuring" evidence on the topic. CDC Researchers said “as many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the U.S. as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported, but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission." CDC experts have warned that school sports pose a greater risk. Dr. Juan Marquez serves as the medical director for both Livingston and Washtenaw Counties. He addressed the re-opening of schools during a webinar Tuesday hosted by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce. It was stated during the webinar that as more research is done about the virus, as well as new mutant variants, more is learned but information also changes daily. Throughout the pandemic, Marquez and the Livingston County Health Department have been working with local schools and leadership to focus on ultimate goals in terms of teachers, students and community. In Livingston County, most schools are open for in-person instruction but there is the opportunity for virtual options. A lot of conversations have taken place and Marquez said the fundamental questions they address with schools are their goals and how much uncertainty or risk they’re willing to take - before identifying strategies to mitigate risk and the safest way to achieve their goals. In talking to the local superintendents, he said they really felt that in-person social engagement was the probably the most important part to focus on and measures were geared toward that such as social distancing and changing some schedules. In Livingston County, Marquez said there have been cases in students but they have not seen much in-school transmission - noting there has been a very small number of documented in-school transmission. Marquez pointed out that if the goal was to prevent all disease in a school period, then they would not be open at all and while kids are less susceptible, there is always the potential for kids and teachers to get sick. Marquez added that schools provide more than just education and have a whole series of functions – some can be done virtually and some can’t.

Site Plans Approved For New LACASA HomeSite Plans Approved For New LACASA Home

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By Mike Kruzman /news@whmi.com Site plans have been approved for a new home for LACASA. LACASA is a local non-profit organization that aids and advocates for the victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. Representatives and engineers from Schafer Construction were before the Howell Township Planning Commission, Tuesday night, seeking preliminary and final site plan approvals for a proposed development on 20 acres off of Tooley Road. They are seeking to build a 50,475-square foot single story building that will house their administrative offices, counseling facilities, and shelter. The facility will be accessible by the driveway which will be across from the county EMS building. They will provide 202 parking spaces, more than satisfying the minimum required by the township parking ordinance. LACASA President and CEO Bobette Schrandt feels it is an ideal location, offering a tranquil environment with walking paths for staff and survivors that will give space and time for healing. Its close proximity to the hospital and Sheriff’s Office is also a positive. The biggest concern the planning commission expressed was with the needed removal of 359 of the sites 748 marked trees. A representative from the construction group, though, explained that there were 500-600 trees in the south and east sections not identified on the plan because they weren’t identified by the arborist. The proposed detention pond will serve as a source of on-site soil needed for the project. When asked if they could move the pond location to save trees, it was explained that it is “phenomenally more” economical to mine on-site soil versus bringing it in, which is what they would have to do if they move the pond. The Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of approving both site plans. Planning Commission Chairman Andrew Sloan said that LACASA provides the county a wonderful service and that he is very appreciative that Howell Township can host their new site. Trustee Matthew Counts seconded that, saying he was impressed with Schafer Construction’s thoroughness with the plans. LACASA’s Gerie Greenspan said this project has already generated a lot of positive donor support and she suspects these approvals will help fundraising pick up even more momentum.

BAS Budget Currently "In The Red"BAS Budget Currently "In The Red"

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By Tom Tolen / news@whmi.com The Brighton Board of Education got an update on the state of the district’s finances at its first regular meeting of the new year Monday night, and the picture was far from rosy. However, the board was assured that by no means is the picture all "gloom and doom." School districts are required by the state to provide mid-year budget updates each year. The district finds itself in a different position than it has for the past several years, after ending the 2019-20 fiscal year with $7.4 million fund balance, which itself was down from an over $9 million balance before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Michael Engelter told the board that Brighton is not at the break-even point in the 2020-21 fiscal year, with its overall budget of about $80 million. He said that for the current year the district is $362,000 in the red. “It changes daily," Engelter said. "Everything in this budget is in a state of flux this year,” he said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, newly-installed Board President Roger Myers told WHMI after the meeting that the revenue picture is a lot better than it would appear at first glance because the district and state are expecting additional revenues from the economic stimulus package plus other funding enhancements that are still in the planning stage. Engelter said revenues are down because of some additional expenses due to Covid and revenue declines that would have been unheard of before the coronavirus hit. For instance, the district has lost huge sums in the community education and food service (hot lunch) programs due to hundreds of students switching to the online program offered through the Brighton Virtual Academy, as well as the occasional “pauses” in face-to-face learning ordered by the state. Engelter said it cost the district about $4 million to establish the Brighton Virtual Academy last fall, in large measure due to the necessity of hiring teachers and other start-up expenses. He said the cost of the Virtual Academy will decline in ensuing years since the one-time costs have been paid and it is now an established program. Despite all the upheavals caused by the pandemic, Myers said he still is optimistic that Brighton will have a healthy fund balance exceeding $7 million at the end of the current fiscal year, the fund equity having been built up in the last several years before the pandemic hit. “This year is a unique situation,” Myers said, adding, "(The district’s financial picture) is more of a moving target.”

South Lyon Father Shot Inside Home Dies From InjuriesSouth Lyon Father Shot Inside Home Dies From Injuries

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By Jon King / jking@whmi.com A South Lyon man, who had been hospitalized since he was shot inside his home, has succumbed to his injuries. 43-year-old Kevin Stamper passed away Tuesday after being hospitalized in critical condition following the December 30th shooting that killed his 17-year-old son Dylan. An autopsy is planned later this week, at which point authorities will consider amending the charges against the two suspects jailed in the shootings. 19-year-old Fadi Zeineh of Ann Arbor is charged with ten felony counts, including murder, assault and armed robbery, while 27-year-old Anthony Porter, also of Ann Arbor, is charged with multiple counts of armed robbery and felony firearms. They are both due back in Oakland County District Court on February 10th for a probable cause conference. South Lyon Police say that Zeineh entered the Stamper’s the Liberty Street home at about 9pm the evening of December 30th. A short time later, he opened fire, killing Dylan Stamper, and critically wounding Kevin Stamper. Police say Porter remained in the suspect’s vehicle outside. Dylan Stamper and Zeineh knew each other, but the extent of that relationship, nor a motive for the shooting, has been released by authorities. Meanwhile, Stamper’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.