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Senior Citizens
2:15 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

Playground for senior citizens opens in Ohio

This senior playground is located in a British park
The Royal Parks website

A community near Akron, Ohio opened a new playground last week - one specially designed for senior citizens.
    

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the playground consists of eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed for older adults.
    

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Grand Rapids
10:44 am
Fri November 4, 2011

Report: Gun training continued after stray bullets

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Police reports say Grand Valley State University officers continued firearms training at a West Michigan gun range after a first report that stray bullets may have struck a home about a half-mile away.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Friday that the documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the officers were midway through a training session Sept. 29 when a man drove up saying his house had been hit by two bullets.

The police reports say officers at the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club's rifle range in Grand Haven Township relocated training to an adjacent pistol range.

Later police would learn a contractor working in a nearby development was wounded in the arm.

Allendale-based Grand Valley State University says it's launched an internal investigation.

Militia
11:25 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Guilty plea set next week in Michigan militia probe

Joshua Clough following his arrest.
U.S. Marshals Service

DETROIT (AP) - One of nine people charged in an investigation of a southern Michigan militia apparently has agreed to plead guilty next week.

Records show Joshua Clough of Lenawee County is due in federal court next Tuesday to change his plea, three months before trial. He's accused of conspiring to rebel against the government among other charges, but it's not clear what's in his deal with prosecutors. No details were filed.

It would be the first guilty plea since charges were filed against nine people in spring 2010. Trial for the others is set for February.

Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday with Clough's attorney and a prosecutor.

The government claims members of Hutaree were scheming to kill a police officer, then attack law enforcement.

Politics
12:23 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Michigan rethinking car limit for food stamp clients

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says a state agency is reassessing whether cars and trucks should be counted as assets for people receiving food stamps.

The state Department of Human Services last month began telling applicants with assets of more than $5,000 in bank accounts, second homes or vehicles with market values of more than $15,000 they'd no longer be eligible for assistance.

The Michigan League for Human Services says many people applying for food stamps are recently unemployed and requesting help for the first time.

Applicants say they need their cars to get to school or job interviews so they can get back on their feet financially.

Snyder told reporters Tuesday that criticism of the vehicle limit is a "valid issue" and that DHS officials are reviewing the policy.

Politics
7:37 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Pontiac's emergency manager fires department heads

Pontiac, Michigan
Dave Garvin Flickr

A state-appointed emergency financial manager for the city of Pontiac has fired the city's clerk, attorney and director of public works in what he says is realignment in City Hall.

The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports Lou Schimmel fired the department heads effective Friday. The changes
are part of what Schimmel, who was appointed to the post in September by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, says is an effort to put together his own team.

The clerk's office is being merged with human resources and the law department is being outsourced.

An employee with United Water, which is contracted to manage the city's wastewater treatment facilities, will run the public works department.

Schimmel was appointed to fill the post held for 14 months by Michael Stampfler.

Politics
5:11 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Some Michigan welfare cuts delayed by court order

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's plan to end welfare benefits for thousands of families has been at least temporarily blocked by a court order.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey Neithercut issued a preliminary injunction Monday that would prevent the Michigan Department of Human Services from using a five-year lifetime limit based on federal regulations to end benefits for welfare recipients. Some families were expected to begin losing benefits under that policy in November.

The state filed an appeal Monday afternoon with the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The five-year cutoff was adopted by the state department entering the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It's separate from a new state law that sets a stricter four-year lifetime limit for receiving welfare benefits.

Roughly 11,000 cases would be affected by the five-year limit.

Politics
1:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Snyder says rail service 'vital' to Michigan's future

Railroad trestle in Grand Ledge, MI
user joeldinda Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service is "vital to Michigan's future."

He made the remarks in a statement shortly before giving the keynote address Monday during the Michigan Rail Summit at the Lansing Center.

Top federal and state transportation officials, elected officials and experts also will speak.

Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service "paves the way" for growth in agriculture and manufacturing, enhances property values and stimulates local economies.

He says Michigan is well positioned to become a major transportation hub linking the economies of Canada other Midwestern states "so that the entire region benefits." Nearly 800,000 passengers rode Amtrak trains in Michigan during the last fiscal year, a record.

Religion
6:26 pm
Sun October 30, 2011

Warren priest put on leave after sex abuse report

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit says it has placed a 66-year-old priest on leave after finding "sufficient substance" behind a complaint that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor early in his ministry.

The 1.3 million-member archdiocese announced Sunday that the Rev. Gary Schulte went on administrative leave Friday from St. Sylvester Parish in Warren. The Associated Press left a phone message Sunday for Schulte.

The archdiocese says its victim assistance coordinator received a complaint in September. The archdiocese says it "found the complaint to be of sufficient substance" to require restrictions on Schulte's work as a priest, including barring him from celebrating Mass.

Schulte was ordained in 1972 and also has worked at parishes in the Detroit suburbs of Clawson, Beverly Hills, Royal Oak and Madison Heights.

State surplus
2:35 pm
Sun October 30, 2011

State surplus store no longer open on weekdays

MiStore sells all kinds of stuff
State of MI website

The state of Michigan says its surplus store no longer will be open on weekdays and instead will open only on the third Saturday of each month.

The change takes effect Tuesday. MiStore, as it's known, will hold its first Saturday opening Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The state store has a vast inventory of surplus items. Some are property seized by police, while others were voluntarily surrendered at airports.

The store also has property no longer needed by government agencies, such as desks and computers. Among the items for sale are police cars, flat screen TVs, jewelry, cameras, paddle boats, pocket knives and lawn maintenance equipment.

The surplus store is located at 3201 W. St. Joseph St., Lansing, MI, 48917.

Energy
3:46 pm
Sat October 29, 2011

Temporary fix may help more low-income residents get help with their heat bills

Thermostat
user midnightcomm Flickr

A state program that used to provide heating assistance to 95,000 low-income Michigan residents remains in limbo, but a temporary solution may be worked out this week to help more people stay warm.

Rep. Ken Horn says he's hoping a Wednesday meeting between state officials and Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy staff will lead to a fix until another way to fund the program can be found. He'd like to see the two utilities agree to turn on indigent customers' heat and keep it on through winter, then roll the unpaid bills into their next rate increase.

Michigan law forbids utility companies from shutting off heat between November 1 and March 30 to customers aged 65 and older. But others could face being disconnected if they can't pay their bills.

Education
2:51 pm
Sat October 29, 2011

Detroit Schools recalling 89 laid-off teachers

Davison Elementary students
DPS website

Some laid-off teachers in the Detroit Public Schools are being recalled by the district which has enrolled more students this fall than expected.

The district said Saturday in a release that principals at 34 schools have requested more teachers, and that 44 teachers were added to classrooms by October 19.

Twenty-three others have reported back to work and another 22 are expected to return. Some teachers and parents have complained of classes with more students than allowed under the teachers' union contract.

The district says it has 22 classrooms out of more than 4,000 that have exceeded student number limits.

The district ended last school year with about 74,000 students and budgeted for 66,000 this fall. Spokesman Steve Wasko said projections have been exceeded by almost 300 students.

Politics
1:15 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Wayne County's ex-economic development director repays severance

 DETROIT (AP) - Wayne County's former economic development director has returned money she received as part of a controversial severance deal that has led to an FBI probe.

County Executive Robert Ficano announced Thursday that the repayment has been made by Turkia Mullin.

The severance deal was for $200,000. Mullin received $135,900 after taxes last month after she left her old job to run Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

Ficano has fired a part-time employee and placed the county's corporation counsel and a deputy executive on 30-day suspension after an internal investigation into the severance deal. He earlier
defended Mullin's severance deal, but later said protocol was not followed.

Federal agents have since gotten involved, serving subpoenas this month seeking records.

County commissioners are meeting Thursday and looking into the payout to Mullin.

Health
10:02 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Maple Rapids children sickened by E.coli bacteria

MAPLE RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Two children and one adult have been sickened by E. coli bacteria in the state. The Mid-Michigan District Health Department says both children from the Maple Rapids area have been hospitalized, while the adult is recovering. The source of the bacteria is under investigation.

Politics
1:20 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Romney reverses himself, supports anti-union ballot measure in Ohio

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - A day after he refused to endorse an Ohio ballot measure that limits public employee union rights, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he is "110
percent" behind the effort.

While he was in Ohio on Tuesday, Romney seemed to distance himself from anti-union measures that have lost popularity in recent months. Campaigning a day later, the former Massachusetts governor told reporters that he supports the ballot measure aimed at restricting collective bargaining rights for state employees.

"I'm sorry if I created any confusion in that regard. I fully support Gov. (John) Kasich's - I think it's called Question Two in Ohio. Fully support that," Romney said after visiting a local GOP office in the Washington suburbs. "Actually, on my website, I think back as early as April, I laid out that I support Question Two and Gov. Kasich's effort to restrict collective bargaining in Ohio."

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Education
12:56 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Head of new education authority talks priorities

user Woodley Wonderworks Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The chancellor of Michigan's new Education Achievement Authority says his office has posted nine leadership positions that need to be filled before the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

John Covington met Tuesday with the authority's executive committee to review what he has done since taking the job last month.

The authority will oversee Michigan's Education Achievement System, announced in June by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The system will include the bottom 5 percent of public schools in Detroit. A few dozen Detroit Public Schools are expected to fall under the new system. It will expand statewide the following year.

Covington says his leadership team will include a deputy chancellor for Instructional Support and Educational Accountability, a deputy for Business and Fiscal affairs and a chief officer for Human Capital.

Education
3:30 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Libyan training program to relaunch, leave Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan State University says a Libya-funded diplomatic and educational program for professionals from the North African nation halted this spring is restarting and participants will move to American University in Washington, D.C.

Michigan State spokesman Kent Cassella says the university learned this week - just before news of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's death - that Libya's National Economic Development Board would relaunch the two-year Visiting International Professionals Program.

Cassella says Michigan State also learned the program would consolidate all students to American University.

Cassella says Michigan State officials and the 19 remaining students are disappointed to lose the program that once included 35. Some returned to Libya and those who remained were provided
housing and other help from the university and community.

Messages were left Friday with American University.

Auto/Economy
1:16 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Ford's credit rating gets an upgrade

 NEW YORK (AP) - Standard & Poor's is raising Ford Motor Co.'s credit rating two notches, saying a new contract with auto workers will allow for continued profits at the car maker's North American operations.

S&P said Friday it was upgrading Ford to "BB+" - one level below investment-grade - from "BB-."

Ford shares are up 45 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $12.15 in late-morning trading.

Education
8:55 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Detroit Schools exceeds target student enrollment

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Public Schools district has exceeded targeted fall enrollment by 137 students.

The district says in a release that 65,971 Kindergarten through 12th graders have enrolled.

Enrollment figures are based on the number of full-time students in the district at the end of the state's 10-day counting period. They do not include 3,000 students in pre-Kindergarten programs and about 4,000 in district-authorized charter schools.

Detroit officials expect the enrollment number to increase during a remaining 20-day period allowed for counting students absent, but excused on Count Day.

Detroit had been losing students at a rapid pace, plummeting from 104,000 in 2007.

The district ended last school year with about 74,000 students. Officials say the drop over the summer has been the smallest "real-number and percentage" decline since 2006.

Veterans
12:12 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Privatization plan at vets home stopped by judge

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A judge has barred the state of Michigan from giving more work to a private contractor at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

The injunction also prevents the layoff of state employees who are health-care aides. Gov. Rick Snyder wants to privatize certain services to save money, but critics say the plan could harm residents.

Ingham County Judge Paula Manderfield signed the order Friday, saying the injunction is in the "public interest." WOOD-TV reports the attorney general's office plans to appeal.

The home has 758 beds for veterans and many of its workers are represented by a union. A doctor last week testified that an abrupt change in personnel would affect the physical and mental health of residents.

Politics
3:59 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

FBI to probe Wayne County severance deal

Turkia Awada Mullin

The FBI is investigating a $200,000 severance deal given to former Wayne County development director Turkia Mullin.

Michigan Attorney General spokesman John Sellek confirmed Tuesday that the FBI is looking into the deal.

Sellek said Attorney General Bill Schuette "has full faith in the FBI to conduct a thorough investigation."

Mullin received the payout after leaving her old job to take over as chief executive of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The county owns the airport in Romulus, 10 miles west of Detroit.

Her new job pays $250,000.

Wayne County faces a $160 million accumulated budget deficit.

Mullin originally said she would not return the money, but changed her mind following a call with County Executive Robert Ficano.

Ficano said last week that protocol was not followed in approving Mullin's severance.

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