saginaw

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of Michigan cities are not saving enough to cover their future retiree health care costs.

A new report says more than 300 Michigan municipalities have in excess of $13 billion in unfunded liabilities for health care costs of retired public employees.

Michigan State University researchers found only half of the municipalities are prefunding retiree health care. The rest are setting aside no money despite longer lifespans and rapidly rising health costs.

While the collective bill of funding those benefits is $12.7 billion, the bulk of it, almost $11 billion, is attributable to local governments in a 10-county region of Southeast Michigan including Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The city of Detroit alone will owe $5 billion in retiree health care costs.

But MSU professor Eric Scorsone says cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw also face difficult choices.

“That’s already happening today….these cities…are paying millions of dollars in retiree premiums so it’s already having an effect and it will have an even bigger effect in the future,” says Scorsone.

Scorsone says the new national health care law may help some.   But tax increases, budget cuts or broken promises to retirees are inevitable, unless the state takes action.

dannybirchall / flickr

Unions are rushing to sign contracts before Michigan's right to work law takes effect this month.

But one county is worried Republicans might retaliate.

In Saginaw County, the biggest public union wants to get a 10-year contract signed ASAP.

If that happens before March 28th, it can still require workers to pay for union dues – which will be illegal under the new law.

But county officials say they’re afraid Republicans will yank state dollars from the county as retribution.

County commissioner Michael Hanley says that’s a risk they just can’t take

Saginaw’s Catholic Diocese consolidating parishes

Jan 21, 2013
Chris Pham / Courtesy: Diocese of Saginaw

Because of diminishing membership, Saginaw’s Catholic Diocese is beginning a three-year process to consolidate parishes.

The diocese includes 105 parishes spread across almost 7,000 square miles in 11 counties around Saginaw, Bay City and Midland.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Michigan cities that collect an income tax might soon see a revenue boost.

A state lawmaker wants to increase the tax rate cities can charge.

State representative Andy Schor is looking at lifting the current state cap on city income tax rates.   Four cities (Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Highland Park) are already allowed to collect more than the 1% limit on city residents and  .5% on non-city residents.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Government and religious leaders from Lansing, Flint and Saginaw came together today to call for new federal gun control laws.

All three cities saw an increase in murders in 2012.

The group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, wants the federal government to require background checks for all gun sales.    It also wants a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of gun trafficking laws.

Darnell Earley is Saginaw’s city manager.   He says something must be done to stop what he calls “neighborhood warfare.”

TITTABAWASSEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Mid-Michigan's MBS International Airport has unveiled its $55 million passenger terminal.

The Midland Daily News reports  that political, community and business leaders gathered Friday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the airport in Saginaw County's Tittabawassee Township.

The 75,000-square-foot steel and glass terminal was completed a year ahead of schedule. It's expected to handle its first departing flights on Wednesday.

A screenshot from the cell phone video which shows Milton Hall being shot and killed by Saginaw Police officers.
CNN

Earlier this month it was announced the Saginaw police officers who shot and killed a homeless, mentally ill man would not face criminal charges. 49-year-old Milton Hall was killed by Saginaw Police July 1, after police say he refused to drop a knife. Six officers fired several dozen shots at Hall.

Now we hear that some officers will be disciplined internally by the Saginaw Police Department.

Kate Wells

Justice still hasn’t been done in the case of a fatal police shooting of a mentally ill man in Saginaw this summer.

That was the message at a community forum this week, where some 200 residents came out to express frustration with local law enforcement, and with the county prosecutor for declining to press criminal charges against the officers. 

Among the mostly African American crowd at the forum, the primary question seemed to be: why was so much lethal force used on July 1st, the day Milton Hall was shot by police 11 times?

A piece of aluminum cladding from the World Trade Center is going on display at Castle Museum in Saginaw.
Jeff Schrier / Saginaw News

A permanent exhibit commemorating the events of September 11, 2001 opens today at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, reports Emily Pfund at Mlive.com.

A piece of aluminum cladding about 5 feet long and 4 feet wide is the latest addition to the lobby of the museum, 700 Federal in downtown Saginaw.

taliesin / Morgue File

Two months after Saginaw police fatally shot a mentally-ill man, his family and community are still calling for answers.

On July 1st, Milton Hall was gunned down in a parking lot during a confrontation with police. It was captured on a cell phone video and made national headlines, with some media reporting the officers fired 46 times.

Hall reportedly held a knife, though the video appears to show he was several feet away when police opened fire.

user Filiford / MorgueFile.com

Oakland County health officials say they've received Michigan Department of Community Health confirmation of West Nile virus in a 44-year-old man, the first such case reported in the state this year.

Today, the Oakland County Health Division announced that the man was hospitalized earlier this month after showing symptoms and he is now at home recovering.

On July 3, the MDCH announced it detected the virus in a mosquito pool sample in Saginaw County, and a wild turkey in Washtenaw County.

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) - Demolition has begun on one of downtown Saginaw's oldest buildings.

Crews started work this week to bring down the 145-year-old former Yak's Deli to make way for a new work force services center.

It's one of the last remaining structures on the approximately 2-acre plot that's scheduled to be used for a one-story, 20,000-square-foot Michigan Works center.

Office of the Governor

During a press conference in Flint today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder outlined points from his "Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety." A press release from the governor's office quotes Snyder:

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan should fight crime by arresting more criminals while also steering youths toward school and jobs and sending some of the accused to drug and mental health courts.

In remarks prepared for Wednesday in Flint, Snyder says the state needs a system of "smart justice" that includes prevention and intervention.

That means making sure those who commit crimes get punished, whether they're involved in retail theft, drug trafficking or murder.

But he says it also means giving inner-city youths a chance to work in parks and receive job training. Under Snyder's public safety plan, ex-cons would get help with literacy and job skills.

Snyder also wants to require that all school-age children attend school in order for their families to receive welfare benefits.

(courtesy of policemag.com)

 Governor Rick Snyder is expected to call for spending $15 million to improve police departments in some of Michigan’s most dangerous cities.    The governor will lay out his plan on Wednesday in Flint.

The FBI ranks Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw among the ten American cities with the highest violent crime rates. 

Gerald Cliff is the Chief of Police in Saginaw.    He knows what he would like to hear the governor say..

Dow Chemical

John Flesher of the Associated Press reports Michigan environmental regulators have reached a deal with Dow Chemical to clean up around 1,400 residential properties in Midland. The soil in these areas is contaminated with dioxin.

From the AP:

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday it agrees with the company on cleanup plan framework. Dow will fill in the details and submit them to the state for review next month.

Dow has acknowledged polluting 50 miles of rivers and floodplains in Michigan with dioxin for much of the past century. Negotiations and studies with state and federal agencies on how to fix the damage have dragged on since the mid-1990s.

The Midland agreement follows a deal reached last fall on cleansing a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near the plant.

The company issued a statement about the agreement noting they will also offer a land purchase program to around 50 land owners near its Michigan Operations manufacturing site in Midland.

The properties are in the area where Dow and the state agreed to the clean-up and remediation deal.

A map of the affected properties is show above.

From Dow's press release:

Dow is offering this incentivized property purchase program to give property owners in the immediate area north and east of Michigan Operations (see map) the option to move out of an industrial/commercial area to a residential area, if they so choose. The program will also offer relocation support for those who rent their homes, if the property owner participates in the program.

"We see this as an opportunity to address land use near our manufacturing site and give people still living in this industrial/commercial area the choice to move elsewhere," said Rich A. Wells, vice president and site director for Dow's Michigan Operations.

Dow says they will donate the acquired the properties to Midland Tomorrow, a "nonprofit economic development entity serving Midland County."

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to close two women's clinics that provide abortions in Saginaw and the Lansing area.

Schuette's office filed a complaint Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve Health Care Clinic Inc. in Delta Township and Women's Choice Clinic Inc. in Saginaw. The attorney general's office says an investigation included evidence of improper medical records disposal at the clinics owned by Richard Remund.

The Associated Press left a telephone message Monday for Remund. A person answering the phone at Health Care Clinic declined comment.

Schuette asks state health officials to review evidence suggesting improper records disposal and that at least half of procedures performed at the clinics were abortions. Schuette says the second would put the clinics under more stringent regulations.

General Motors officials say the company will invest $215 million in the GM Saginaw Metal Casting Operation to tool the plant to build components for future GM vehicles. 

The plant makes engine blocks and cylinder heads for GM vehicles, including the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu.

GM says the investment will create or maintain 275 jobs at the plant, which currently employs 630 people.

Later today, Nexteer is expected to announce a large capital investment in its Saginaw operations. 

Governor Rick Snyder will attend both events today.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Flint is being called “the Most Dangerous City in America.”   The FBI released a report today that shows Flint had the highest violent crime rate in the nation last year among cities with 100,000 or more people.   

Flint recorded a record number of murders in 2010.  Other violent crimes also increased, as budget cuts forced the city to reduce its police force.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A major cleanup project along the Tittabawassee River is moving into its final planning stages. It’s a project that presents several challenges.   

Dioxin contamination has been the subject of many cleanup projects in the Tittabawassee River. This new project will focus on other dangerous chemicals, like arsenic, dumped into the river in the past.

(Michigan State Police)

A Michigan state police trooper died early this morning when his cruiser rolled over during a chase in Saginaw County. The Associated Press reports Trooper Jeffrey Werda of the Bridgeport Post was on his way to help Saginaw County  sheriff's deputies chase a motorist early Wednesday when he apparently lost control and crashed.

USDA Forest Service

The emerald ash borer is native to eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea. It turned up in Michigan in June of 2002, most likely from wood used in packing materials in international cargo ships.

Since its arrival, the bug has led to the death of tens of millions of ash trees.

Removing these trees can be expensive and while some cities have seen the financial bite come and go, others are still feeling it.

Eric Dresden writes in the Saginaw News that the city is unsure how it will pay for the removal of hundreds of dead ash trees. From the Saginaw News:

Of the 6,000 ash trees lining the city’s streets, Simeon Martin expects thousands could be dead by the end of this year.

The cause: an emerald ash borer infestation brewing for at least nine years.

“When spring comes out, that will be the tell-tale time,” said Martin, chief foreman of the city’s streets division.

Last year, the city found 400 dead trees, and this year could be a lot worse, he said. Those trees were removed, and the city is continuing to take down infested ashes, Martin said. This year, he said, the infestation is expected to grow faster than crews can take down the trees.

Dresden reports the city has no money set aside for the removal of dead and dying trees, and when the trees are removed, no new trees are being planted because the city doesn't have the budget to maintain them.

A group of artists in Saginaw has been spray painting the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel's bittersweet song "America" onto vacant buildings in Saginaw.

NPR has more on a story we posted earlier. The man spearheading the project, Eric Schantz, says he can relate to the song's lyrics:

Jack Abramoff testifying at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing
U.S. Senate

Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who bilked millions from several Indian tribes including Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, has officially been released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Associated Press reports Abramoff spent the last several months of his four-year prison sentence on home confinement with an electronic monitoring bracelet. The halfway house he was assigned to set Abramoff up with a job at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore.

The AP reports that Abramoff worked at Tov Pizza, "a modest kosher pizzeria in a heavily Jewish section of northwest Baltimore. Abramoff, 51, is an Orthodox Jew and wore a yarmulke to work."

Freighter on the Saginaw River
flickr user ifmuth

The Bay City Times reports the tug boat sank early Monday spilling 800 gallons of diesel fuel.

It's reported that Grand Rapids-based Young's Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Mt. Clements-based HM Environmental Services are working to contain and clean up the spill.

The cause of the sinking won't be known until the tug is pulled from the river. Paul Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, the company that owns the boat, said:

"We won't know until then and anything before then would just be speculation."

A crane will pull the tug from the water once the diesel spill is cleaned up.

Gus Burns | The Saginaw News

Someone is writing Paul Simon lyrics on walls in Saginaw.   Why?  We don't know.    Why is this unknown Banksy wannabe quoting lyrics from Simon's song "America"?  We don't know that either.  But the song does mention Saginaw. 


Here's the story in the Saginaw News:

Cranes life a wind turbine blade
Stephanie Hemphill / MPR

The Detroit Free Press reports that a large scale wind turbine manufacturer plans to locate in Saginaw.

Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vt., intends to use a facility in Saginaw to manufacture its next-generation large wind turbines, expected to be the first ones built in the U.S. using 100% American-made parts.

Building wind turbines has been touted as a way to diversify a manufacturing base built around the automobile. Many auto suppliers in the state are also building parts for wind turbines. No report yet on how many jobs will be created.

But the future of wind power is uncertain. Tax credits and grants to develop wind energy are expiring at the end of the year. And with an ethic of austerity moving into Washington, there are little signs that they'll be renewed.

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