The Associated Press

Adios, Adidas. Welcome, Nike.
flickr use Anthony Gattine / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

  ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan hired UConn's Warde Manuel as its new athletic director on Friday, bringing back a well-regarded alumnus who once played football for the Wolverines — just like its coach, Jim Harbaugh.

The 47-year-old Manuel, who had been Connecticut's athletic director since 2012, was given a five-year deal by Michigan. The salary was not immediately disclosed.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has unanimously approved $28 million in additional funding to address the lead contamination of Flint's water.

The emergency spending bill includes money for more bottled water and filters and services to monitor for developmental delays in young children. The funds also will help the city with unpaid water bills and cover testing, monitoring and other costs.

It is the second round of state funding allocated since the lead contamination was confirmed in the fall.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  DETROIT (AP) - The head of a Flint hospital where Legionella bacteria were discovered says the Flint River was suspected as the source of the contaminant that causes Legionnaires' disease.

  Don Kooy says McLaren hospital spent more than $300,000 on a water treatment system and turned to bottled water.

  The state says at least 87 Legionnaires' cases, including nine deaths, were confirmed throughout Genesee County during a 17-month period - a major spike. But officials are unsure about a firm link to the Flint River.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office

Gov. Rick Snyder is hiring public relations specialists to help him deal with the Flint water crisis.

Snyder chief of staff Jarrod Agen says public money won't be used. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press say the governor has hired the Mercury firm, where Agen's wife is a senior vice president in the firm's Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, office.

Bill Nowling is also on board. He was the spokesman for the emergency manager who guided Detroit through bankruptcy.

Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After being held for more than four years in an Iranian prison, Amir Hekmati, the former U.S. Marine from Flint, is home. The Flint man was part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Hekmati was arrested in Iran in 2011 while he was visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying.  At one time, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was eventually changed to 10 years. Hekmati and a handful of other Americans were exchanged for seven Iranians held in the U.S. The Iranians were charged with violating a trade embargo. 

We updated this post as he traveled home. You can scroll below and read up to follow the events.

Church pew with hymnal
Bala Sivakumar / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A priest is leaving a Battle Creek parish after some members of the southwestern Michigan diocese became angered to learn that he led a Minnesota archdiocese during a clergy sex abuse scandal.

Pastor John Fleckenstein wrote in a letter Thursday to members of St. Philip Catholic Church that Archbishop John Nienstedt decided to discontinue his work there "in light of the unintended discord that his presence was causing."

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his corruption conviction and 28-year prison sentence.

The request was recently made after a federal appeals court said in October it had no interest in taking a second look at the case.

In 2013, Kilpatrick was found guilty of two dozen crimes, including tax evasion and bribery. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August affirmed the conviction, but Kilpatrick wanted the full appeals court to hear the case.

A 2001 USMC portrait of Amir Mirza Hekmati.
USMC

(Editor's note: See this post: Follow Amir Hekmati's journey home from an Iranian prison to Michigan for updates as Hekmati makes his way home.)

The AP reports the Swiss plane carrying Amir Hekmati and other Americans from Iran has landed in Geneva, Switzerland.

Amir Hekmati is coming home.

User VanZandt / Flickr

The former archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is coming to Battle Creek.

John Nienstedt resigned from the Twin Cities archdiocese last summer, as county prosecutors alleged the church had failed to protect children from clergy sex abuse during his tenure.

St. Philip Roman Catholic Church’s newsletter says Nienstedt once worked as a pastor in Royal Oak and Detroit.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued this written statement:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State emergency center officials say they are working to better understand what has been done and what needs to be done in Flint.  

The governor declared Flint’s lead tainted drinking water a ‘state of emergency’ this week. The city had switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money, and did not reverse its decision until October.

State officials opened the Emergency Operations Center in Lansing to reporters on Thursday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is proposing a rule that would strengthen the ban on sending poor people to jail if they can't afford to pay fines.

Some District Court judges continue to order so-called pay-or-stay sentences, although the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in the 1980s.

The proposed rule says a judge cannot send someone to jail for failing to pay a fine unless the defendant can afford it without significant hardship. Judges could come up with a payment plan or waive all or part of the money owed.

Male deer
coloneljohnbritt / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Department of Natural Resources says another deer killed in the Lansing-area appeared to have chronic wasting disease.

If confirmed through additional tests, it would be the fifth deer with the disease, which attacks the animal's brain and nervous system.

There were no obvious symptoms in the 1 1/2-year-old doe that was killed by an archer in Clinton County's Watertown Township, a new location for the disease. The hunter agreed to have the deer tested.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The police chief in Lansing is defending his officers in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man who was killed after a two-hour standoff, a house fire and an exchange of gunfire.

  Chief Mike Yankowski says, "We have a justified police shooting at this time."

  The victim was identified as Terrozza Griffin of Lansing, who was suspected of a home invasion Thursday night. After two hours, officers noticed a fire and entered the home but were met with gunfire.

CROSWELL, Mich. (AP) - One class at a Michigan high school is so popular even animals are dying to get into it.

  The Times Herald reports  that Kyle Tubbs' taxidermy class at Croswell-Lexington High School has 60 students in two sections, and some students had to be turned away.

  Students must bring in their own animal that they either hunted or found dead. In a recent class, they skinned three deer heads, a squirrel and a mink that was found as roadkill.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering grants for projects designed to prevent food waste.

  It's part of an initiative Gov. Rick Snyder announced in 2014 to double the state's residential recycling rate. Wasted food accounts for more than 20 percent of household trash - more than any other material.

  The DEQ says $250,000 will be distributed. Individual grants could be as much as $100,000, but recipients must match at least 25 percent of the amount they get from the state.

  NEW YORK (AP) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling nearly 450,000 SUVs worldwide in two separate recalls that includes the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

  The automaker said Thursday about 353,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs with model years 2011-2012 are being recalled because wiring in the vanity mirror may overheat and create a fire hazard. No injuries or accidents were reported.

cafegulistan.com

A southwestern Michigan cafe owner who the U.S. government says hid his ties to a group labeled a terrorist organization has been granted a 90-day extension of a deferral that has kept him from being deported.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the Department of Homeland Security gave Ibrahim Parlak the extension Wednesday. His two-year deportation deferral was to expire at midnight Thursday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials in Michigan have lifted a statewide ban on poultry exhibitions that was put in place earlier this year as a precaution to a bird flu outbreak across the Midwest.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the decision to remove the ban Wednesday comes after the disease risk and status of the outbreak were evaluated.

Poultry and waterfowl shows were banned at fairs and elsewhere to fight the spread of bird flu. It was aimed at preventing the co-mingling of birds from different locations. It could be reinstated if the disease re-emerges.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

A pediatrician who raised concerns about elevated lead levels in children's blood in Flint, Michigan, says a new study provides the strongest evidence yet of a link between those levels and the cash-strapped city's water system.

In a report released Monday, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children's Hospital and other experts said a more refined analysis shows that areas in Flint with the highest levels of lead in tap water corresponded with where children with the highest blood-lead levels lived.

Two children sitting at a table
Public Domain

Michigan officials say the state is now complying with federal requirements for child welfare and foster care.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration said Monday that Michigan has completed a program improvement plan required by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.

Federal officials determined the state wasn't in compliance in 2009.

Officials say by meeting the federal goals, about $2.8 million in federal penalties have been rescinded.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to look at the case of a man who's on the sex offender list for life, although his conviction was erased nearly 20 years ago.

  The man was 19 when he was charged with kissing and groping a 12-year-old girl in Wayne County. He pleaded guilty, but his conviction was completely erased in 1997 after he completed three years of probation. A law grants certain breaks to young offenders who stay out of trouble.

  Nonetheless, he's on the sex offender registry.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) - Union members at a major Michigan auto parts supplier have approved a five-year contract.

The United Auto Workers says the deal with Nexteer Automotive was approved by 61 percent of workers who cast ballots. The results were announced early Saturday.

  Nexteer makes steering systems for General Motors, Ford Motor and other auto companies. It has roughly 3,000 UAW-represented employees in the Saginaw area, 100 miles north of Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new Michigan law lets arenas, camps and other venues stock epinephrine injectors to treat allergic reactions.

  The measure signed this week by Gov. Rick Snyder permits doctors to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense EpiPens to youth sports leagues, amusement parks, religious institutions and other places. The proposed law also establishes storage and training requirements, and limits liability from lawsuits.

  The law follows a 2013 law requiring every public school to have EpiPens.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says lawmakers could first tackle the Detroit school district's debt and possibly leave until later his call for a new commission to close poor-performing traditional and charter schools.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press in a year-end interview that pending legislation to split the district in two to retire debt and to empower a chief education officer to hold schools accountable could go on "parallel or somewhat separate tracks." Snyder says the more urgent issue in terms of timing is the state-run district's finances.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Authorities have responded to numerous crashes during snow squalls across Michigan, including a pileup involving several dozen cars.

  The Grand Rapids Press reports white-out conditions Friday afternoon on U.S. 31 north of Grand Rapids led to a chain-reaction crash of roughly 50 vehicles. A stretch of the freeway was closed.

John Kivela's office website

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) - A northern Michigan lawmaker has pleaded guilty to drunken driving stemming from an incident in which authorities say he was speeding, swerving and driving with an open bottle of whiskey.

Democratic Rep. John Kivela made the plea to a first-offense charge Friday in a Clinton County court. Prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of operating while intoxicated with a high-blood-alcohol content.

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Body cameras for Grand Rapids police officers have started coming in.

WOOD-TV and The Grand Rapids Press report that 20 officers wore the cameras Thursday night after the city received its first shipment of the equipment.

The department has ordered 298 cameras. A pilot program was held earlier this year.

A number of other Michigan departments and police agencies across the country are considering adding the cameras as a level of transparency during potential clashes with crime suspects or other members of the public.

Side sonar scan of the sunken barge believed to be the "Argo."
Tom Kowalczk, CLUE

TOLEDO, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard says crews have completed an effort to eliminate environmental threats from a sunken barge that apparently sat undiscovered in Lake Erie for nearly 80 years.

Salvage crews recently pumped hazardous, oil-based substances from the barge, though six of the eight tanks onboard were empty. The Coast Guard said Thursday that the mixture of cargo and water removed from the site near the U.S.-Canadian border totaled over 33,000 gallons.

The Michigan Sugar Company shared this aerial photo of sugarbeet piles in Bay City in October of 2015.
Michigan Sugar Company / Facebook

BAY CITY, Mich. - Michigan's sugar beet growers say they have harvested a record crop this year.

The Michigan Sugar Co., a Bay City-based grower-owned cooperative, said Tuesday the total 2015 production was roughly 5 million tons, representing a record-setting yield of 31.6 tons an acre.

Michigan Sugar CEO Mark Flegenheimer credits production increases to technological advances. In a news release, he praised the farmers' ability to overcome severe weather that hit the rural Thumb and Saginaw Valley regions during the growing season.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An environmental group says oil pipelines running beneath the Mackinac Straits could be shut down without disrupting oil and propane supplies in Michigan.

Environmentalists say there is enough capacity on other pipelines skirting the Great Lakes to reroute the crude oil currently flowing through Line 5. 

The report says at least 90% of Line 5's oil goes to Canadian refineries, so it's not essential for the Marathon refinery in Detroit.

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