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Flint

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The house flipping market appears to be cooling off in metro Detroit.  But it is heating up in other parts of Michigan.

Home flipping is where someone buys a home, fixes it up and sells it again quickly for a profit.  Hopefully. 

Michigan is not one of the hotter flipping markets.  But Daren Blomquist, with real estate tracking company Attom, says it’s getting warmer.

“We still saw nearly 1500 properties being flipped in the state during the quarter and that’s the ninth highest of any state nationwide,” says Blomquist.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress has approved a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint's drinking water. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Commercial water customers in Flint who haven’t paid their bills could be shut off next week.

On Thursday, the city posted shutoff notices at businesses that are delinquent on the water and sewer bills.

Businesses, including two apartment complexes, have been told to pay up by next Thursday or lose water service.   Local charities are making arrangements to assist tenants of the apartment complexes find new places to live if their water and sewer service is cutoff.   Water service was part of the rent people living at the apartment complexes were paying. 

At PechaKucha 20x20, speakers have to tell the audience "Why Flint?" using 20 images and 400 seconds.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Congress is moving forward with millions of dollars for the Flint water crisis.

The House approved $170 million to help Flint replace pipes and deal with health issues tied to the city’s lead-tainted tap water. 

The money is part of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes funds for many infrastructure projects across the U.S.

But it’s Flint’s ongoing drinking water crisis that drew the most attention to the legislation.  

“Flint needs action,” says Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, “this bi-partisan legislation delivers that.”

Jan Worth-Nelson told us that high-quality writing and photography have always been staples of "East Village Magazine."
Courtesy of East Village Magazine

This year marks the 40th anniversary of East Village Magazine.

The nonprofit magazine has been bringing community news to people in Flint since 1976, a labor of love for its founder, the late Gary Custer.

East Village Magazine has hung in there to become one of the nation's oldest community media outlets. 

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

A federal appeals court may weigh in this week on a lower court order that directs the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to start delivering water to homes without a working filter.

The city’s is still dealing with a public health crisis after it was found tap water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead. Recent tests by researchers with Virginia Tech show significant improvement in lead levels, but the use of filters is still encouraged.

Many Flint residents still rely on bottled water.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A federal judge says the state must start weekly deliveries of bottled water to Flint residents who do not have properly installed or maintained filters.

Recall organizer Alex Harris (right at podium) could not convince a panel of Genesee County officials to approve his petition language against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (left)
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An effort to recall Flint’s mayor has been derailed.

It didn’t take long for the Genesee County Board of Electors to dispatch the petition, maybe two minutes.

The extremely short meeting ended after recall organizer Alex Harris admitted he didn’t have evidence of his first claim against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver that she didn’t pay her water bill.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the Genesee County Election Board  will decide whether to approve language for a recall petition against Flint mayor Karen Weaver.

Organizer Alex Harris has run recall efforts against two previous Flint mayors, Woodrow Stanley and Don Williamson. Stanley was recalled.  Williamson stepped down before a recall vote.

Harris himself has run unsuccessfully for seats on the Flint city council and school board.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan officials are fighting a court order to start delivering bottled water directly to some Flint homes.

But local activists say that water is needed now, even as the case is appealed to a higher court.

Earlier this month, federal judge David Lawson ordered the state and the city of Flint to deliver cases of bottled water to homes without working water filters.  The filters are needed to screen out lead in the drinking water.

McLaren Hospital
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County has recorded its 15th case of Legionnaires Disease of 2016.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the latest case of the serious respiratory disease was reported in a male patient at Flint’s McLaren Hospital.

A Genesee County health official says the man is recovering from major surgery unrelated to Legionnaires. 

None of the Legionnaires cases in Genesee County reported this year have been fatal.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, delinquent residential water customers in Flint are facing a choice: pay up or their service may be cutoff.

The city of Flint has had some success getting commercial water customers to pay up past due accounts using a carrot and stick approach. Pay up and continue to get a state credit on their bills or risk losing water and sewer service. More than ¾ Flint commercial water customers are now up to date on their water and sewer bills. There are a few, including two apartment complexes, that are facing shutoffs.

Claressa Shields from Flint celebrates a victory by decision in her professional boxing debut on November 19, 2016 in Las Vegas.
Screen grab from YouTube / HBOBoxing

(Watch a replay of the entire fight below)

After racking up a 77-1 record and becoming the first U.S. boxer to win two Olympic gold medals, Flint native Claressa Shields accomplished all she could as an amateur fighter. On Saturday night, Shields began her quest to conquer the professional boxing world with a win by unanimous decision in her debut. 

National Guardsmen delivered bottled water in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking for a stay of a federal court order that bottled water be delivered to Flint homes.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson issued an injunction last week directing the state of Michigan and city of Flint to begin delivering cases of bottled water to city residents without working water filters.     

Courtesy Nan Palmero / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

On Monday, federal authorities approved federal and state funding to help with led abatement in Flint. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a Michigan State Plan Amendment (SPA) aiming to reduce and eliminate hazardous lead in homes in or near Flint — according to a press release.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is warning its delinquent commercial water customers that it’s time to pay up or risk being shut off.

City workers were out Friday posting shutoff notices on commercial properties with past due accounts.   Apartment complexes are among those getting the notices.

“What these landlords are doing is wrong,” Mayor Karen Weaver says. “Some owners haven’t paid the city of Flint for utility services since 2015.”

The city is trying to avoid shutting off water service which would force renters out.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A U.S. District judge is ordering the government to ensure that every Flint household has safe drinking water. That means home delivery of bottled water.

Federal judge David Lawson issued his order Thursday.

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out,” writes Lawson in his order. “Relief is intended to provide a rough substitute for the essential service that municipal water systems must furnish: delivery of safe drinking water at the point of use.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Flint and Lansing approved renewals of their public safety millages.

Flint police chief Tim Johnson says renewing the millage will help expand the number of officers on Flint’s streets.

“For the last probably four or five months, I’ve really been stretching the Flint police officers across the board and I don’t want them to hit no burnout stage,” says Johnson, “but I can see that coming if we don’t get some more officers in there.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials want more of a say in the state’s investment priorities in their city.

It’s been nearly a year since a state of emergency was declared in Flint because of lead contaminated drinking water.  

State officials point to millions of dollars spent during the past year to help Flint recover from its water crisis, including economic development projects.

But Flint leaders question the state’s spending priorities.

“People have seen us do a ribbon cutting at the Capitol Theater but we still don’t have a grocery store,” says Mayor Karen Weaver.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The deadline for Flint’s commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills was today.

Flint’s commercial customers owe the city more than a million dollars.   The city may start the process of cutting off their water service next week.

On Friday, the owners of two apartment complexes paid nearly $30 thousand each to bring their accounts up to date.    

“We’re glad that these account holders have stepped up and done the right thing,” said David Sabuda, Flint’s Interim Chief Financial Officer.

Earlier this year, volunteers from Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Flint unload fresh produce and boxes of food from a mobile food bank.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many kids in Flint were exposed to elevated levels of lead in their drinking water during the water crisis. One way people are helping to curb the effects of lead exposure is by providing healthy food options to the community.

It's being done, in part, through a mobile food pantry created via Flint's Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"So far Flint residents have received more than 2 million pounds of food through these mobile food pantries," says MDHHS Communications Manager and Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds a majority of households in Flint say they have suffered health problems in the wake of the city’s water crisis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services asked the federal Centers for Disease Control to conduct a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER. Researchers visited 182 Flint households.

The last pipes for the KWA were laid earlier earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Federal, state, and Flint officials sat down behind closed doors at city hall on Monday to discuss ways to respond to questions about the city’s planned switch to a new water source.

Possibly next year, the city will connect with the recently completed Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline.   The city is committed to switching to the KWA pipeline as its new primary source of drinking water. 

water going into cup from faucet
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint-area charities are concerned that hundreds of people may be forced out of their apartments as the city tries to get commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills.

Flint is under pressure from the state to get more of the city’s water customers up to date on their bills.

The city has put many commercial customers on notice that their water could be cut off soon. That includes large apartment complexes.

The United Way’s Jamie Gaskin says charities may have trouble finding enough places for displaced tenants to stay.

Flint's next phase of the Fast Start program will target 788 homes during the next two months.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor hopes to replace the city’s one thousandth lead service line by the end of the year.

Mayor Karen Weaver says phase 3 of her Fast Start pipe replacement program will target nearly 800 homes in the next two months. That’s on top of the more than 200 pipes replaced to date.

Pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains are a prime source of the lead contamination in Flint’s tap water. The city has enough money to replace another 4,000 pipes next year.

But Weaver says Flint needs more help, especially from the federal government.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s congressional Democrats sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice today asking for a review of a legal provision. The provision seemed to prevent the city of Flint from suing the state of Michigan without the state’s approval.

But it appears the state is prepared to strike that provision anyway. If it does, that could allow Flint to sue the state over the water crisis.

Garbage truck in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As expected, the Flint City Council last night approved a multi-million dollar, one-year contract for the city’s trash pick-up.

The city’s state oversight board is expected to give the deal its approval. The contract would pay Republic Services $3.7 million, and carries an option for an additional year.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver wanted to use a different company, Rizzo Environmental Services for the city's trash pickup. Councilman Scott Kincaid fought against Weaver to keep Republic Services on the job.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to vote on a new trash pick-up contract Monday.

For weeks, two competing garbage hauling companies have been emptying Flint’s trash cans.   

Flint’s mayor and city council spent months arguing over which company should get the contract. A majority of the city council wanted to keep Republic Services. Mayor Karen Weaver insisted her choice, Rizzo Environmental Services, had a lower bid.

After weeks of court ordered negotiations, city leaders agreed to give Republic Services a one-year contract.  

For almost eight months, the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Crisis has been meeting, taking testimony, and struggling to find solutions.

Two days ago, they released a major report aimed at preventing further disasters. Unfortunately, they did this the day of the final presidential debate, which meant it got less than full attention. 


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city leaders have reached a tentative deal to end their trash dispute.

Two companies have been picking up Flint garbage for weeks, as the mayor and city council disagreed on which company should have the multi-million-dollar contract.

But last week, the mayor’s choice, Rizzo Environmental Services, was linked to a federal corruption investigation in southeast Michigan. While not named in the indictment handed down against a Clinton Township trustee, newspaper reports claim an official with Rizzo bribed the township official to get its garbage contract.

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