The Associated Press

Pages

Education
12:44 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

9 states win "Race to the Top" grants, Michigan not among winners

user alkruse24 Flickr

Update 1:10 p.m.

The official announcement was made this morning. From a U.S. Department of Education press release:

Today, the White House announced that nine states—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington—will receive grant awards from the $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge fund...

"In a matter of months, early education and child development experts throughout the country, together with state and local leaders, worked to build comprehensive plans for expanding access to high-quality early learning," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "All applicants showed tremendous dedication and drive to build stronger foundations and create greater opportunities for more children. Their work will help lead the way in ensuring excellent early learning and support for every child."

12:44 p.m.

From the AP:

The Associated Press has learned that nine states will share $500 million in grant money to improve their early childhood programs.

An administration official says the winners to be announced Friday at the White House are California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the winners had not been announced.

The competition is part of the Obama administration's cornerstone education initiative called "Race to the Top." It has states competing for federal education dollars in exchange for changes it favors. Last year, it handed out $4 billion in such grants focused on K-12 education.

The goal of the early learning competition was to get more children from birth to age 5 ready for kindergarten.

Politics
11:00 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Number of judges in Michigan to be cut

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers have approved a bill that will allow for reducing the number of judgeships in the state. An estimated 45 judgeships on district and circuit courts would be
eliminated through the legislation passed yesterday. The measure now heads to Governor Rick Snyder's desk.

Energy
9:34 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Palisades nuclear plant restarts after shutdown

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Palisades nuclear power plant on the Lake Michigan shoreline has restarted after a shut-down caused by a problem with its water pumps.

Operators of the southwestern Michigan plant say it returned to service and reconnected to the electric grid late Thursday night. Both of the plant's feed water pumps automatically shut down
Wednesday afternoon.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. owns the plant, which is in Van Buren County's Covert Township. Palisades is about 35 miles west of Kalamazoo and about 80 miles east-northeast from Chicago across the lake.

Palisades has had several recent operating problems, with two shutdowns in September and one each in August and January.

Politics
4:31 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Michigan governor signs bills affecting state workers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed two bills that will affect some state workers' retiree health care benefits and reduce the future amount the state needs to fund by $5.6 billion.

Workers hired after Jan. 1 won't get state health care coverage when they retire, although they'll get an extra 2 percent match in their 401(k) or 457 retirement plans while working to help them save for future health care costs.

The legislation signed Thursday also refunds the 3 percent contribution toward retiree health care that state workers have been paying for more than a year.

The refunds go out Jan. 19. Workers can choose to receive the money in their paychecks or as a deposit into their retirement accounts. A worker making $50,000 a year should get about $1,500 back.

Culture
12:46 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Survey: Teen pot use rises, alcohol use declines

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new national survey shows more teens are using pot and see it as less of a risk, while alcohol use among that age group has dropped to historic lows.

The findings released Wednesday were based on an annual survey of 47,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

One of every 15 high school seniors reported smoking pot on a daily or near daily basis, the highest rate since 1981. Researchers also noted one of every nine high school seniors reported using synthetic marijuana within the previous 12 months.

Researchers say use of a particular drug drops when teens consider it dangerous. The percentage of teens who see "great risk" in using marijuana generally has dropped in recent years.

Economy
12:03 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Michigan companies closer to part in Iraq projects

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A consortium of Michigan companies says it's eager to oversee the building of a new city near Baghdad that draws on the skills of Iraqi immigrants living in Michigan.

Officials from the National Investment Commission of Iraq were announcing Tuesday that they've signed a memorandum of understanding with the consortium, MICH Development, to plan and
build a new city of 500,000 on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The agreement gives the consortium what it needs to take the next step - raising billions of dollars from banks and private investors to get the project under way by late 2012.

Although much of the building is expected to be done by Iraqi workers, Michigan companies could win as much as $1.5 billion in contracts.

Detroit
10:44 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Bank announces $1.1M in grants for nonprofits

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit nonprofits are getting $1.1 million in grants to help improve neighborhoods, encourage small businesses and train workers.

The funding was announced Tuesday by Chase, the U.S. consumer and commercial banking brand of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Chase says the two largest grants are $245,000 to Southwest Solutions and $230,000 to Vanguard Community Development Corp.

Those grants aim to help Detroit neighborhoods and improve foreclosure counseling efforts.

Politics
6:52 am
Tue December 13, 2011

March to Gov. Snyder's home planned for MLK Day

Critics of a law that puts managers in charge of distressed Michigan cities say they will march to the home of Gov. Rick Snyder.

A coalition of pastors and civil rights activists says the law seems to target black communities. The march is expected to include a protest at Snyder's home in Superior Township, east of Ann Arbor.

Organizers say it will be on Jan. 16, the public holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit schools. Detroit's finances are also under scrutiny, the first step to a manager possibly being appointed at city hall.

The Snyder administration says race isn't a factor. It says it's simply assigning managers to cities that have poor finances.

Politics
4:40 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Michigan Legislature OKs domestic partner benefit ban

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature have approved a bill aimed at blocking the offering of taxpayer-paid health insurance to domestic partners living with
some public employees.

The main bill in the package passed by 63-45 vote Thursday in the House. It's headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

Read more
Education
11:16 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Detroit schools report progress on math, reading

Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Public Schools district says its students are making improvements on math and reading testing.

The state's largest district on Wednesday released details of its students' performance on National Assessment of Educational Progress testing. Detroit says it was one of six urban districts nationwide to show improvements in 2011.

The district says scores for its students trended up in all grade levels and both subjects. Still, for example, 66 percent of fourth graders scored at a below basic level for math and 71 percent of eighth graders were at a below basic level.

The district's emergency manager Roy Roberts says he's pleased with the progress.

In 2009, Detroit students ranked the lowest in the nation of participants on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math test.

Militia investigation
2:25 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

FBI report sheds light on Hutaree Militia

Photo taken from Hutaree website

DETROIT (AP) - The FBI says the strange name of a southern Michigan militia was made up and has no meaning.

Eight people accused of belonging to Hutaree (hoo-TAR'-ee) face trial in February. A defense lawyer wants to know the names of informants who infiltrated the group. A 2008 FBI report that requested an investigation was filed in court this week as part of the request.

The report says Hutaree was a name created as a joke by a son of leader David Stone. The government claims members were scheming to kill a police officer, then attack the funeral. One pleaded guilty Monday to a weapons charge.

The report first detailed by the Detroit Free Press quotes Stone as saying the government creates disasters so the public will thank it for restoring order.

Arts/Culture
10:14 am
Tue December 6, 2011

ArtPrize adds $100,000 juried award for 2012 event

"Nessie" floats in the Grand River during the 2009 ArtPrize. More prize money is being added to next year's contest.
Steven Depolo Flickr

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The annual ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids is getting a new $100,000 juried award and trimming how much money the top two publicly picked winners each get.

Organizers on Tuesday announced the creation of the ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize for the 2012 event, which is scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 7. The new award makes the total prize money for the 2012 event $550,000, up from nearly $500,000 in 2011.

Next year, the artist winning the public voting will get $200,000 instead of the $250,000 that was awarded in 2011. The prize for second place will be $75,000, down from $100,000. Prizes for other juried awards will be $20,000.

Artist and venue registration for the fourth annual ArtPrize event will be announced later.

Schools
1:53 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

2 schools in Traverse City locked down

Update 1:53 p.m.

Police in the Traverse City area have located the person described as suicidal.

From the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office:

Grand Traverse Sheriff's deputies located Shahbaht Anderson at a residence in Grawn.  The  shotgun was also located at the residence.  Deputies took Anderson into custody  without incident on a warrant out of Leelanau County on an unrelated charge.  Anderson will be lodged at the Leelanau County jail.

The Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department is continuing their investigation into the incident which occurred in Blair Township and will forward the report  to the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office for review when completed.

10:41 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Two schools in Traverse City are locked down as police look for a person described as suicidal.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department says the person was in the area of Blair Elementary School on Monday morning. The department says there's no direct link between the person and the
school.

But as a precaution, officials moved Blair Elementary's students and staff to Traverse City East and West Middle Schools.

In a phone message to parents, school officials say Blair and Traverse City West are locked down.

 

*Clarification - The Associated Press reports the police say "there's no direct link between the person and the school." But Peter Payette of Interlochen Public Radio reports that "school officials say the man was related to a student at the middle school. "

Mail
2:55 pm
Sun December 4, 2011

Postal Service will announce changes

Change is 'a-coming to mail delivery
freefoto.com

Financial problems are mounting at the U.S. Postal Service, and that's going to have repercussions on Americans' daily lives. For one thing, you won't be able to assume - or even hope - that a stamped letter will arrive at its destination the next day.   

That's because the Postal Service is looking for ways to save money, even as it awaits possible assistance from Congress.

Read more
Military
4:29 pm
Sat December 3, 2011

Michigan Guard members get ready to depart

More than 150 Michigan Army National Guard members are preparing to head to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before leaving for a one-year deployment to Kuwait.   

The 1462nd Transportation Company will be sent off by family and friends Saturday at Parker Middle School in Howell. The soldiers will serve in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.   

More than 1,150 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are deployed across the globe in support of the war on terrorism, nearly five percent of the entire state force.   

More than 95 percent remain in Michigan to respond to a state emergency, including a terrorist event.

Politics
1:14 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Michigan retirees call for repeal of new retirement income tax

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Organizations representing retiree groups say they want the Michigan Legislature to repeal an unpopular tax on pensions, or lawmakers will pay the political price in the 2012 election.

The AARP and groups representing public employee retirees called for a repeal Friday before the new tax plan takes effect in January.

The groups say they haven't ruled out filing suit in federal court to try and block the changes, but they are focused on getting lawmakers to take action.

Auto/Economy
3:02 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

General Motors willing to buy back Volts

GM says it will buy the cars back if consumers fear fires as a result of a crash.
staff GM MEDIA

NEW YORK (AP) - The top executive at General Motors says the company will buy back Chevrolet Volts from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire.

CEO Daniel Akerson told The Associated Press Thursday that the cars are safe. But he says GM would buy back the vehicles to keep customers happy. Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by a federal safety agency. The fires happened seven days to three weeks after the tests.

Akerson also says that GM could recall more than 6,000 Volts now on U.S. roads, if necessary, and fix them once the company and safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.

GM says no Volts involved in real-world crashes have caught fire.

Politics
12:36 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Michigan House panel OKs bill to allow more charter schools

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A proposal designed to allow more charter schools or public school academies in Michigan has taken a step forward.

The Republican-led House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would end some numerical and geographical limits on charter schools. The bill passed by an 11-6, mostly party line vote and advances to the House floor.

The measure narrowly passed the Republican-led Senate in October.

The state has roughly 250 charter schools. Supporters say more should be allowed to boost educational options in public schools.

Environment
2:32 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Marquette selling forestland for sand mining

Forestland in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
user {inercia} Flickr

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - The city of Marquette is selling 100 acres of forestland for use in sand mining.

The Mining Journal and television station WLUC report the City Commission voted Monday to approve the sale of part of the former Heartwood Forestland property to the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority for $180,000.

The city bought the 2,400-acre property in 2005. The authority plans to use the sand at a landfill that serves the city in an effort to cut costs.

Education
3:34 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Secret admirer gives $7 million to MSU geology department

The Natural Science Building at MSU. The Geology Department received $7 million from an anonymous donor.
MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University says a secret admirer has donated $7 million to expand its geology department.

The East Lansing school announced the gift Tuesday. The university knows the donor, a Michigan State graduate who prefers to remain anonymous.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon says the money will pay for endowed professorships and endowed graduate fellowships.

The university says the search for three early career faculty members for the new endowed professorships is expected to start next year. Part of the money will complement funds from an earlier
anonymous donor and will endow graduate fellowships.

Michigan State says another part of the gift completes funding for the Thomas Vogel Endowed Chair in Solid Earth. It was established in 2006 in honor of the retirement of longtime geology professor Thomas Vogel.

Pages