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Business
7:23 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Investments in Greenville, Walker could bring 900 jobs

“We’re riding a little high now because this is a tremendous opportunity to get back on our feet," says Greenville City Manager George Bosanic.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After years of struggling, the city of Greenville is getting a big economic boost.

The American subsidy of a Chinese aluminum wheel manufacturer plans to invest $140 million in the West Michigan city.

The new plant will employ 300 people when it opens in 2016.

The company is taking over part of the old Electrolux plant, which closed in 2006, taking with it 2,700 jobs.

Greenville City Manager George Bosanic says this is something his community needed.

Arts & Culture
5:31 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

U-M prof receives MacArthur "genius award"

Khaled Mattawa.
Credit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today the selection of a University of Michigan professor as one of this year's 21 recipients of its prestigious "genius grants."

The foundation recognized Khaled Mattawa for his creative translations of the work of highly respected Arab poets – as well as for his own poetry. 

He is the author of four books of poetry, has translated nine books of contemporary Arabic poetry and co-edited two anthologies of Arab-Amercian literature. 

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Politics & Government
5:26 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

"Heat and Eat" cuts mean less food assistance for some in MI

Some families in Michigan will see cuts in their monthly food assistance payments soon.
Credit Liz West / Flickr

Changes to a federal program often called "Heat and Eat" mean about 150,000 Michigan families will soon see reductions in their monthly food assistance benefits.

The cuts will average about $75 a month per family.

The Heat and Eat program offers higher food assistance benefits for families who live in northern states, where heating bills can be high.

But about 20% of the people enrolled in the program actually don't pay for heat.  It's included as part of their rent.

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Environment & Science
4:36 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Here are 10 West Michigan trails to explore this fall

Hiking in Seidman Park in December of 2012.
Steven Depolo Flickr

The days are getting shorter, but don't resign yourself to settling in for a long, lazy season inside.

One of Grand Rapids' greatest assets is the natural beauty that surrounds this mid-size city, with amenities that you won't even find in many big cities. From small pocket parks to epic-sized Lake Michigan, you're never far away from a wooded trail, a mountain bike path, or a gorgeous beach.

As summer turns to fall, Rapid Growth rounded up ten of West Michigan's best hikes, with hidden urban hiking trails mixed in with cross-country paths that lead to the great lake even in the snowiest of months.
 
City hikes
 
Have an hour or an afternoon? Looking for a hike that can happen within the city limits?

Grand Rapids contains more urban paved trails and hidden hikes than we can count. Savvy West Michiganders already know about the bounty of outdoor experiences at Blandford Nature Center, Provin Trails, Meijer Gardens, and the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve around the city's edges, plus favorites like Riverside Park and Huff Park right in the city.

Here are a few more in-town walks and hikes to get you started.

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Sports
1:25 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

University of Michigan to play University of Texas! See caveats below

Michigan Stadium. A large football stadium in the Midwest.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The  football teams of the University of Michigan and the University of Texas have agreed – in principle – to play each other.

In 2024. So don't hold your breath.

U of M has racked up the highest number of total victories; Texas, the third highest.

From the Michigan press release:

The Wolverines will host the Longhorns at Michigan Stadium on Aug. 31, 2024. The return trip by Michigan to Austin will take place on Sept. 4, 2027.

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Stateside
1:21 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

When it comes to new sports stadiums, the media often cheerleads first, and asks questions later

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
Credit User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Two months ago, the Ilitch family's Olympia Development of Michigan announced plans for a new sports and entertainment district to be built on largely vacant land between downtown and midtown Detroit.

The center piece of the development would be a new home for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tomorrow night, the public will get its first look at the details of the new $450 million venue as Olympia officials present the plans at a meeting of the Detroit City Planning Commission.

David Uberti from the Detroit area recently wrote a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review as its Delacorte fellow. He looks at the way reporters cover new stadium constructions not just in Detroit, but across the country. 

And he notes a distinct "cheerlead first, ask questions later" approach.

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Law
1:12 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Meijer to pay $2 million for preventing sale of recalled products

A sign for a Meijer store in Ann Arbor.
Credit user Monika & Tim / Flickr

Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

Opinion
12:16 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Governor Snyder is fighting a losing game in Aramark scandal

Some years ago, I was studying some primitive TV campaign ads. One of them featured candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower being asked by a housewife, "Well, the Democrats have made mistakes, but weren't their intentions good?"

Squinting at cue cards, the nearsighted Ike replied woodenly, "Well, if you have a school bus driver who goes off the road, hits a pole and lands in a ditch you don't say his intentions are good. You get a new bus driver." 

Last night I thought it might be a good idea to send that ad to Governor Rick Snyder, with a note: Think about Aramark.

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Politics & Government
11:57 am
Wed September 17, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possibility of new teachers losing their pensions, the latest in the Detroit bankruptcy trial, and how Aramark is under fire again.


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Politics & Government
10:36 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Michigan lawmakers making progress on human trafficking bills

Teresa Flores speaks at a human trafficking news conference at the state Capitol.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are making their way through more than a dozen bills targeting human trafficking this week.

The bills would provide a safe harbor for victims, allow victims to sue their abusers, and eliminate the statute of limitations on trafficking offenses.

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Health
9:13 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Terminal patients in Michigan may soon have a right to try experimental drugs

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Terminally ill patients in Michigan may soon have a new avenue to pursue unproven treatments.

The State House Health Policy committee Tuesday approved "right-to-try" legislation. The state Senate has already approved the legislation, which tries to give patients a better chance of getting drugs or medical devices that show promise, but have not been fully tested.

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Offbeat
9:01 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Life is not easy when you're listed as dead

Flowers in a cemetery.
Credit Daniel Incandela / Flickr

You hear about these mix ups from time to time.

Satori Shakoor, host of the Ann Arbor and Detroit Moth Story Slams, tells a funny story about being listed as a male on her driver's license. But this story goes beyond a gender.

Carol Tilley of Brownstown Township found out this year out that the Social Security Administration listed her as dead.

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Politics & Government
9:59 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Michigan human services director leaving post

Maura Corrigan was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011 to lead the state's welfare agency. She served on the state's high court from 1999 to 2010.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says she'll leave her post at the end of the year.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the former Michigan Supreme Court justice says she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Corrigan was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011 to lead the state's welfare agency. She served on the state's high court from 1999 to 2010.

Corrigan says she told Snyder she'd lead the department for four years.

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Stateside
8:20 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Reflecting on the Armenian genocide, 100 years later

Orphan home in Aleppo, Syria in 1920.
Credit User: George Swain of the University of Michigan / facebook

Next April will mark the 100th anniversary of one of the great atrocities of the 20th Century: the genocide of up to a million and half Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Scholars have acknowledged this to be one of the first modern genocides. 

The beginning of the genocide is considered to be April 24, 1915, the day 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul were arrested.

Men were conscripted or killed. Women, children and elderly went on the death march toward deserts in Syria. 

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Stateside
8:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

This MSU professor is leading the quest for a better potato

Dave Douches poses with his potato memorabilia
Credit User: Betsy Agosta / The StateNews

A salute, now, to the potato.

This is National Potato Month. Many of the potatoes that make their way onto America's dinner plates, into French fries or into potato chip bags come from Michigan. 

There's some pretty interesting research and development happening right now, all focused on the honest, humble potato.

We found out more from the man known on the Michigan State campus as "Mr. Potato Prof."

David Douches heads up MSU's Potato Breeding and Genetics Program. He says young people nowadays are driving some of the changes in potato consumption habits.

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Stateside
7:57 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Michigan to monitor drinking water safety, with help from EPA

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

 

The images of green water in Lake Erie and foul, toxic tap water in Toledo certainly got many of us at least thinking about what's coming out of our taps.

What is Michigan doing to protect our drinking water, the water we get from the Great Lakes system, against cyanobacteria, the toxin that led to a ban on tap water usage in Toledo last month?

Dan Wyant is the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says there needs to be a comprehensive plan to deal with the problems. 

"We all need to work toward improving water qualities throughout not only the Great Lakes, but also rivers and streams," says Wyant.

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Stateside
7:44 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

House report says NHTSA failed to spot GM defect

Credit John F. Martin / Creative Commons

 

A blistering Congressional report came out today on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's handling of a General Motors ignition switch problem.The defect is blamed in 19 deaths. 

David Shepardson is chief of The Detroit News Washington, D.C. bureau. He says the House Energy and Commerce Committee analysis really hauls NHTSA into the "congressional woodshed."

"They had ample information to have discovered this problem in 2007 but, for a number of different failures, didn't do it," says Shepardson.

The report says the NHTSA misunderstood how vehicles worked, lacked accountability, and failed to share information.

* Listen to the interview with David Shepardson above.

Education
5:46 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Can MSU get more low-income kids to graduation?

Half of all college students in the U.S. drop out, according to Michigan State University, and another 25% wind up on academic probation.

It’s part of the research MSU is doing with 10 other big schools to better understand why so many students don’t make it to graduation, and what colleges can do about it.

For low-income and first-generation kids, getting to graduation is harder

Students who are from low income families or the first generation in their family to go to college are more likely to struggle, says MSU provost June Youatt.

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Stateside
5:20 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Transparency lacking as Michigan taxpayers bankroll private development

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.
Credit Flickr.com

 

Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a flexible tool for downtown development authority boards aiming to encourage private investment and increase the taxable value of their municipality.

TIFs enable portions of a city’s regular property tax to be used for economic development, without a vote from taxpayers. There are eight types of authorities in Michigan that can engage in this type of financing.

David Bieri is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.

Bieri explains the good and bad uses of TIFs. In the early 2000s, DDAs from Kalamazoo to Detroit addressed blight through brownfield remitigation. On the other hand, Bieri cites Bloomfield Park, the unfinished mini-city in Bloomfield Hills, as an example of TIFs gone bad: Blight was created rather than mitigated. 

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Education
4:06 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

University of Michigan ranked as best public university in the U.S.

The University of Michigan is ranked as the top public university in the nation by QS World Rankings
Credit Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to public universities in the U.S., the University of Michigan is truly the leader and the best, according to QS World University Rankings.

U of M was named the No. 1 public university in the U.S. In the worldwide rankings, U of M came in at 23. 

It is one of 14 U.S. schools that made the top 30, and, along with the University of California, Berkeley (ranked 27th), is one of only two public universities to make the top 30. 

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