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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Heavy snow is blanketing parts of Michigan that just recovered from an ice storm two weeks ago.

Hundreds of thousands of utility customers spent days, in some cases nearly two weeks, without electricity.

“At this point we’re monitoring, and ready to respond, depending on what weather may come,” says Dan Bishop, a Consumers Energy spokesman.

Statewide, utility officials are closely watching to see if weather conditions may threaten to undo the repair work done over the past few weeks.

Consumers Energy

Power has been restored for most homes and businesses in Michigan after a massive ice storm hit the state last weekend. But there are still thousands who have been without power for a week now.

Last weekend’s ice storm left half a million Michiganders in the dark. Around the clock work by line crews, including help from other states, has much of the power restored for DTE and Consumers Energy customers.  

The Lansing Board of Water and Light says it's getting some help from other utilities and contractors as it continues to repair damage from an ice storm that hit the region a week ago.

The utility says about 3,000 customers are still without power.

BWL spokesman Stephen Serkaian says the crews are working on circuits in the following areas:

Grand River/Edgebrook

W. Saginaw/Carey

Pattengill/Barnes

Chieho/W. Saginaw

St. Joe/Canal

Cavanagh/Pennsylvania

Mt. Hope/Sunnyside

Northeast/Community

Old Lansing Rd/E. Libby

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Now that Christmas is over, Michigan retailers may be hoping that shoppers show more of their selfish side.

The holiday season is a season of giving. But one analyst says now that the presents have all been opened it's time for the "selfish shopper" to take over.

Trae Bodge is a senior editor for RetailMeNot.com. Bodge says being a "selfish shopper" is not necessarily a bad thing.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Today hordes of last-minute Christmas shoppers hit Michigan stores frantically shopping for the perfect present, or at least the best still available.

The checkout lines, all two dozen of them, at a Meijer in Jackson were at least three shoppers deep around noon.

Jeff Bycraft was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping with his fiancé.

“Running a little bit behind this year, but we’re going to get it all done today. You have to,” says Bycraft.

Spotrebice Whirlpool / Creative Commons

Whirlpool is a giant in the appliance world with annual sales around $18 billion.

The Benton Harbor based company says it’s moving production of its commercial front-load washing machines from Mexico to a plant in northwest Ohio this spring. All of Whirlpool’s residential washing machines are already built there. At nearly two and a half million square feet, Whirlpool claims the plant is the biggest washing machine plant in the world.

The freezing rain is causing havoc for Michigan residents and businesses throughout the state.

Utilities report about 200,000 customers were without power at noon today (Sunday) after a heavy icing brought down tree limbs and power lines.

The weather has also affected Michigan Radio transmitters. We are aware that WVGR, 104.1 in Grand Rapids, is off the air and our engineer is working on the problem. We are also operating at reduced power at our two other transmitters. We're still online, though, at michiganradio.org.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan has seen a sharp spike in the number of people paying cash for homes.

Last month, cash sales represented 49% of the home sales in Michigan.  

Nationwide, 42% of home sales in November were all cash.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says investors are trying to gobble up a lot of newer, starter homes

“These investors are seeing a window of opportunity when home prices in many markets have been undervalued, especially compared to rent,” says Bloomquist.

Blast at US Steel plant near Detroit kills worker

Dec 15, 2013
United States Steel Corp. website

ECORSE, Mich. (AP) -United States Steel Corp. says an explosion at a plant near Detroit has killed one worker, and operations have halted while an investigation begins. 

Company spokeswoman Courtney Boone said Sunday that the accident happened overnight at U.S. Steel Great Lakes Works in Ecorse. The plant is about 10 miles south-southwest of downtown Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A $100 million mixed-use economic development project in Lansing is getting a boost from an Ohio developer.

Voters in Lansing approved putting the old Red Cedar park on the market. The plan has been to create a mix of residential, retail and other commercial space on the land which sits on the border of Lansing and East Lansing.

bgottsab / flicker.com user bgottsab

Manpower says slightly fewer Michigan companies plan to hire new employees in the beginning of next year. 

The human resources company surveyed Michigan business owners for its first quarter Employment Outlook Survey.

Manpower says 18% of Michigan companies plan to hire new workers between January and March. That’s down from about 22% in the fourth quarter of this year.

Haley Foydel / LinkedIn

We spend a huge chunk of our lives in school. But the educational system and the real world are two different places.

In school, there are rules. Everyone has a chance to get an A, no matter what you look like. But that idea of fairness changes in the real world.

For people at their first job out of college, it might be a slap in the face to learn that your appearance is often just as important as your abilities.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan air travelers could see some changes with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger creating the world's largest airline became official today.  But the new American Airlines has relatively few flights flying into and out of six Michigan airports.   

Michael Conway is a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.  He says the newly merged airline carries only about 6.6% of passengers flying out of Detroit.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's auditor general says state departments mostly aren't using a one-stop online permitting system designed to help people who want to start, operate or expand a business.

An audit released last week found that Michigan spent $20 million developing and maintaining the Michigan Business One Stop System, but it gets little use. The system was created from 2007-09 to give entities doing business with the state a single entry point and to streamline licensing.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Lottery had record sales in the most recent fiscal year, but profits for schools declined from a year ago.

The lottery on Friday reported nearly $2.5 billion in sales and $734 million in revenue for public schools. It says the contribution to schools was down 5.7 percent from a record-high payment in 2012 because of larger payouts to players.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Fast-food workers in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing and other Michigan cities hit the picket lines today.

They are demanding a big increase in the minimum wage.

In Lansing, a small group of protesters chanted and waved signs outside a Pizza Hut.  

Tina Ervin has worked at the pizza joint for the past year. She says she’s having a hard time supporting herself and her three children on $7.40 an hour. Ervin is hopeful the national campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will succeed.

Allegiance Health

The head of Jackson's Allegiance Health says a planned affiliation with the University of Michigan Health System will be good for patients, the community and employees.  

The 400-bed facility is the closest hospital for people in several counties.

Allegiance Health CEO Georgia Fojtasek says the UMHS affiliation will allow the hospital to expand patient services, including cardiovascular, neuromuscular and trauma care.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The judge’s decision to let the city of Detroit pursue Chapter Nine bankruptcy protection could have an effect on the municipal bond market.

Municipal bonds have long been viewed as one of the safest investments out there. But bond holders may be among the biggest losers in Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Newspapers aren’t what they used to be. 

Newsrooms are smaller and big stories are being missed.

Case in point: The Flint Journal apologized recently for not informing voters that a city council candidate was also a convicted murderer until a day after he won the election.

So how will people stay informed as newspapers and their staffs are shrinking?

Governor-elect Rick Snyder at the Michigan Farm Bureau in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The big, yearly meet up of Michigan farmers is this week in Grand Rapids. The annual Michigan Farm Bureau meeting helps cement policy stances important to agriculture.

There’s dozens of issues up for discussion. Some, like immigration reform and road funding aren’t new issues.

In fact, the poor condition of Michigan’s road was the issue that brought the MFB to fruition back in 1919.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, many people will switch from shopping at brick and mortar stores to shopping at online stores.

And, that means many will do Cyber-Monday browsing from their office cubicle.

Robert Half Technology surveyed employers and found 29 percent block access to online shopping sites.    That’s down from 33 percent last year.

Karen Wilson is with Robert Half.    She says allowing employees to shop online could actually improve productivity.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Critics say proposed legislation in Congress could hurt many home buyers in Michigan and the nation.

The bills would allow exceptions to new limits on bank fees for mortgages. And it would become easier to give borrowers loans they can't afford.

Gary Kalman is with the Center for Responsible Lending.

He says the so-called "Mortgage Choice Act" would undermine what he calls a fair and balanced compromise.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s tallest building will come crashing down close to Christmas.

Officials announced today, the 19-story Genesee Towers building will be imploded on December 22nd at 10am. 

Built in 1968, the building suffered decades of neglect. The office tower has sat mostly empty for more than a decade.    The city eventually condemned the building.   A judge ordered the city of Flint to purchase the 45-year-old building in 2007.

The city sold the Genesee Towers for a dollar earlier this year, clearing the way for the building’s demolition next month.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Lansing company has announced a major expansion.

Niowave plans to build a $200 million production facility at the Capitol Region airport.

The facility will produce radio-isotopes for use in medical testing.

Terry Grimm is Niowave’s president. He says locating the facility at Lansing’s airport will help with national and international distribution.

“[With] Close proximity to the airplanes. We can quickly get them to the hospitals and processing facilities around the country and even around the world,” says Grimm.

Tory.me / Creative Commons

You know Spartan Stores – Family Fair, D & W, VG’s – they’re known by different names.

This week the grocery store chain merged with Minneapolis-based grocery distributor Nash Finch. It’s a lot bigger than Spartan. It’s the largest food supplier to stores on military bases.

The new company, now known as SpartanNash, is worth more than $7 billion.

Birgit Klohs is President and CEO of The Right Place. The economic development group worked with the state to offer almost $2.75 million in grant money to keep the headquarters in Michigan.

Heritage Sustainable Energy / heritagewindenergy.com

When Heritage Sustainable Energy built its first wind farm in 2008, almost all the money was funneled to companies in Europe.

Compare that to the Big Turtle wind farm the company is building now. More than half the materials, turbine parts, engineering, and labor will come from Michigan. That means half of the roughly $40 million project will go to Michigan companies.

Rick Wilson is the company’s vice president of operations. He says they want to build a wind farm that’s "pure Michigan."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The announcement this week that an Alabama company plans to build a pipe factory in Flint could help spur further investment in a former General Motors site there.

The 235 acre Buick City site is being marketed by the Racer Trust. The trust was set up to sell off abandoned General Motors properties. American Cast Iron Pipe is the first company to invest in Buick City.

Elliot Laws is with the Racer Trust. He says they’ll be blasting news of American’s plans to build in Flint to other potential investors…

Idandersen / Morgue File

Michigan microbreweries would be able to produce twice as much beer every year under legislation that cleared the state House Thursday. The bills would also allow more brew pubs and tasting rooms.

State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) sponsored one of the bills. He says current limits on brewers are “arbitrary” and out-of-date.

“I think we can all really be proud of the microbrewery industry we have in Michigan,” said Cotter. “And this will allow them to continue to grow, get the government out of the way.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Median housing prices in Metro Detroit are up 42 percent over last year, according to the Realcomp real estate listing service.

Prices have been rising steadily for the past ten months.

The report showed an increase in housing prices from last October. Realcomp surveyed 13 areas in Michigan. There was a 40% increase in prices overall. Macomb County saw the greatest increase, jumping from a median price of $82,000 to $119,900. Lapeer County saw the smallest increase, at 6 percent.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There's a big announcement tomorrow on a major development in Flint.

The announcement is expected to involve Flint’s old Buick City site.

The 235 acre Buick City site has sat unused since General Motors closed the assembly plant in 1999.

The trust set up to sell off old GM properties has been looking for buyers for all or part of Buick City.

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