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The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There are new efforts in Michigan to crack down on those who hurt people with special needs.

Rep. Frank Liberati, a Democrat, and Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican, have sponsored bills that would increase penalties for assaulting a person with a developmental disability.

Jones says people with disabilities can often have difficulty caring for themselves and protecting themselves. And he contends all Michiganders deserve to live with respect and dignity.

Pixabay

Eating fish is the biggest source of mercury contamination for people, and as Michiganders gear up for the Free Fishing Weekend, there are calls for better protections.

More than 50 Michigan scientists sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette requesting he drop his fight against the Environmental Protection Agency's federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which require power plants to reduce mercury emissions.

user mconnors / morgueFile

Michigan State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, introduced a new bill to ban registered sex offenders from working in organizations that serve sexual assault victims or children.

He drafted the bill in response to recent reports that three registered sexual offenders were found working for The Listening Ear in Lansing. The Listening Ear runs a crisis hotline for sexual assault victims. 

Hertel said he assumed it must be illegal already for the organization to have neglected screening volunteers for being on the sex offender registry, but it was completely legal.

a drinking fountain
Ian Sane / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Drinking fountains in two buildings on Wayne State University's campus have tested positive for lead, according to university officials. In a letter to the campus community, the university said it had tested water in 11 campus buildings, and found lead above the EPA action levels in two buildings – the College of Education Building and the Meyer L. Prentis Cancer Center Building.

The water inlets to the buildings were free of lead. The affected fountains have been shut off, and the University says it will test all other drinking water sources on campus as soon as possible. 

hstreetagent

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan has filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development against Ypsilanti Township. The complaint relates to an ordinance the township passed last year banning government subsidies in a new development. That would exclude tenants with Section 8 vouchers. It is the first time a Michigan municipality has attempted to ban subsidized housing.

morgueFile user kconnors / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

   The state Senate has approved a plan for a financial bailout of the Detroit school system.

The bills not only help pay off a crushing debt burden, they also return control of the district to a locally-elected school board, and give a second, appointed board the power to close low-performing schools – including charter academies.

But the bill package didn’t go far enough to satisfy some Democrats. And the sheer size of the payout - the package is expected to cost more than $715 million - and the control over charters was too much for some Republicans.

Bay City Democrat Closes after 126 Years

Mar 11, 2016
Stack of newspapers.
user Jon S / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Bay City Democrat published its last edition after a 126-year run on Thursday, March 10, 2016. Editor and publisher Wendy Knochel says it was too hard to continue the publication following the death of her mother and co-owner Carol DeVeau in January. Knochel's family had owned the paper since 1980.

Trends of increasing online news and declining print news publication presented challenges for the newspaper. Knochel says that in recent years the paper no longer printed its own editions. It outsourced the printing instead.

Pixabay / News Service

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dropped into Flint yesterday to offer support for residents reeling from the water crisis.

Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Katie Wilson announced residents in Flint who participate in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program can have lead testing done, paid for by the program. She explains the department wants to help families get through the crisis.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has voted to spend $30 million to help pay the water bills of Flint residents who may have lead-contaminated water.

The bill approved 37-0 Thursday goes to the House for its consideration.

The city's water supply became contaminated when it switched its source from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014 and didn't use proper corrosion controls.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Detroit's city council will consider a plan to lower the cost of water for the city's poorest residents. The plan is part of a report prepared by the council's Blue Ribbon Panel on Affordability. The panel will present its report Monday. Among the solutions it offers is a tiered rate system that would charge customers lower rates for lower consumption, and higher rates for higher amounts of consumption.

On Thursday, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith took to Twitter with Reveal to answer your questions about the Flint water crisis. 

If you missed the Q&A with Smith, who produced the documentary Not Safe to Drink, catch up here: 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, with support from the American Federation of Teachers, and several parents filed a lawsuit Thursday against Detroit Public Schools and its state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley.

The suit is asking the court to compel DPS and Earley to repair all existing building code violations, and for the creation of an appropriately funded capital plan that will bring schools up to "21st century standards."

Cory Morse / The Grand Rapids Press

Rockford City Manager Michael Young died Wednesday at the age of 48. According to a release, Young suffered a stroke on Monday and was then hospitalized on Tuesday.  

In the close-knit community of Rockford, Michigan, people were shocked and saddened as the news quickly spread. 

"It's a sad day here in Rockford," Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Southwick told WZZM13,  "We've lost our leader." 

Michigan Radio

Jim Smith, co-owner of Washtenaw Dairy and a treasured member of the Ann Arbor community, passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Affectionately referred to as “Big Jim,” Smith ran the daily operations of the popular Ann Arbor coffee, donuts, and ice cream spot with his business partner, Doug Raab.

Ann Arbor will remember Jim as an immensely generous, fun and friendly man who created a community within his small ice cream and donut shop. 

Protests over Flint's drinking water crisis have been going on for nearly two years. A rally marking the 2nd anniversary of the switch to the Flint River is planned for this afternoon at 3pm at city hall.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials say the city’s water utility could run out of money by the year’s end as more and more Flint citizens skip paying bills amid the crisis with lead-tainted water.

City Administrator Natasha Henderson told city council members at a meeting Monday that the public health emergency is driving down collections on water bills. She says it's an "imminent concern" and it is leaving the city in a "very precarious situation."

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The legal team representing one of the class action lawsuits stemming from the Flint water crisis served subpoenas for records today on Governor Snyder, the Governor's Office and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

The documents will be delivered to class counsel by Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 11 a.m.

Steven Depolo / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Water donations flooding into Flint means a lot of empty plastic bottles.

That's why a local environmental company is offering to recycle residents' water bottles, starting today.

Young's Environmental Cleanup, Inc. is an emergency response and environmental remediation provider with offices in Flint and Grand Rapids.

The company will act as a collection point and has partnered with Averill Recycling and Great Lakes Recycling of Flint to recycle the bottles.

University of Michigan - Flint
User acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

 The University of Michigan will use $100,000 in research funding to address the Flint water crisis.

The announcement is part of a series of efforts led by the University of Michigan’s three campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn to address problems caused by lead-contaminated water.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Several schools around the state closed Monday in response to threats made on social media over the weekend.

Four schools closed for the day, and one school has heightened security as a result.

University Prep Academy, University Prep Science and Math, Lake Orion High School, and Lincoln High School all closed Monday as a result of threats. Cass Technical High School in Detroit received a threat, but remained open as officials investigate.

Izumi Japanese Restaurant / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Business is slower than usual for some restaurants in Flint, and owners say it's because of the water crisis.

Scott Ellis is the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars, restaurants and taverns.

He says he has heard concerns from many restaurant owners about the impact of the ongoing emergency.

"First of all, business is down," Ellis said. "They're using Flint water, they're afraid if all the precautions were taken to make the water clean."

Wikimedia Commons

The past year has been a turbulent one for the University of Michigan’s Greek life community.

One year ago, members of former UM fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu, along with other Greek life members, caused about $430,000 in damages to Treetops Ski Resort in Gaylord, Michigan — stirring national news and creating a conversation on campus about the value of Greek life.

Wikimedia Commons

The second University of Michigan Student Sexual Misconduct Annual Report, released this morning, revealed that there's been an increase in the number of sexual assaults reported to internal campus investigators.

According to the annual report, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 there have been 172 incidents of sexual misconduct reported to the university’s Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) compared to 129 incidents reported during the previous year.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Officials say lead has been found in water at a building on the Michigan School for the Deaf 's campus in Flint.

In a letter to the parents and guardians of the school's students, Principal Cecelia Winkler and Administrative Manager Mark Bouvy confirmed that the water in Stevens Hall, one of the school's dormitories, is tainted with lead.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Stress, frustration, and depression may be among the feelings that Flint residents are experiencing right now. Tragedies and disasters like the Flint water crisis often bring out strong emotions.

Crisis counseling is immediately available for people affected by the ongoing emergency.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling.

User VanZandt / Flickr

A child sex abuse scandal from Minnesota has made its way to Michigan – and the Battle Creek community isn’t happy.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the former leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, started working at St. Philip Catholic Church in Battle Creek last week.

Nienstedt volunteered to step in while the current priest undergoes treatment for epilepsy, according to the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

As Governor Rick Snyder begins his State of the State address tonight, audience members will be listening closely for what he says about Flint.

So what could Snyder actually do for the people in Flint, besides promise money?

Here are three actions people have been asking for:

1) Create a "Future Fund" for those kids who were exposed to high levels of lead

user jonballard / Flickr

Seven months after an executive order from President Barack Obama called for the removal of militarized vehicles in cities across the country, 14 Michigan police agencies could receive new armored vehicles from the federal government.

These agencies expressed interest in getting the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles as of Dec. 21, 2015 with the 1033 program, which is led by the Defense Logistics Agency in the Defense Department. The program provides support to the country’s law enforcement with military surplus supplies.

Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Collection

What’s unique about your town?

Maybe it’s that little coffee shop down the road, which has inhabited the place for decades. Or that one bar everyone gathers at on Fridays. What about that spooky ghost story that’s based off a true event that happened in your town?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We recently got this question on Twitter: 

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A coalition of business and community leaders continues to push for reform and repair of Detroit's education system.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children's co-chairs held a press conference today to discuss the current state of the Detroit education landscape, and to renew a call for action to lawmakers.

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