8.27.14:  After bad winter, new salt costs leave bad taste


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — With temperatures in the 80s, who’s thinking about winter road salt? Road agencies are — and they’re seeing higher prices.


The County Road Association of Michigan says there’s sticker shock out there. Washtenaw County is reporting an increase of at least $500,000 for the next winter. Road Commission operations director Jim Harmon says the “budget hits just keep on coming.”


The Kent County Road Commission expects to pay $66 a ton, more than double the price from a decade ago.


Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association, says it’s a matter of supply and demand, especially after salt reserves were pounded last winter. The association says the average cost statewide will be up nearly 50 percent.

8.27.14:  Replicas of Columbus’ ships make it to Muskegon


MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Replicas of two of 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus’ ships have arrived in Muskegon.


The 65-foot Nina and the 85-foot Pinta made it to town on Tuesday.


They will remain docked at Heritage Landing until Sept. 2, and will be open for tours beginning on Wednesday.


North Muskegon resident Cheryl Eyestone says she didn’t see the replicas when they last visited Muskegon in 2011, but will be bringing her five daughters to see them this time around.


The ships’ Muskegon stop is part of a tour that has taken them to Maine, New York and Ohio.


8.27.14:  Storms packing 60 mph winds hit Michigan


CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms have hit parts of southern Michigan, bringing 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that knocked down trees and power lines and blacked out about 169,000 electricity customers.


The National Weather Service says winds reaching 60 mph in Wayne County’s Canton Township near Detroit and in Washtenaw County’s Pittsfield Township. It says a 2-foot-diameter tree fell in Redford, near Detroit.


DTE Energy Co. says 120,000 of 160,000 affected customers remained powerless Tuesday night. CMS. Energy Corp. says 3,000 of 9,000 affected customers remained out.


Flooding closed parts of some Detroit-area expressways Tuesday evening.


Lightning is suspected in a fire that heavily damaged an apartment in the Detroit suburb of Taylor.


Three people sustained non-life threatening injuries when lightning struck an Ionia County garage.


A lightning strike Tuesday afternoon caused damage to Holland Christian Middle School.  Smoke was seen coming from the roof of the gym but it didn’t take crews long to put it out.  Only minor damage was done to the school as a result.

8.26.14:  Cab driver robbed in Holland Township


The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the robbery of a cab driver Monday afternoon.


The 27-year-old victim said it was just after 2:30 p.m. that he was called to the Whispering Pine Apartments in Holland Township.  When he arrived a man armed with a handgun demanded money.  The driver was not injured.


The suspect was spotted running north toward the Cascade Apartment off 136th Avenue.


Anyone with information is asked to call Silent Observer or the Police Department.


Police say they are looking for the suspect who is described as a black male in his 20′s, around 140 pounds, 5’7″, who was wearing a blue windbreaker, and white sunglasses with the American flag embossed on the lenses.

8.25.14:  Michigan man hospitalized after welding explosion


ORLEANS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Grand Rapids-area man has been hospitalized after his welding project on top of an oil drum caused an explosion.


Orleans Township Fire Chief Leslie Doty says the man was trying to build a lawn roller Sunday and was welding on a 55-gallon drum in his garage.


Doty says sparks from welding ignited fuel residue in the drum, which caused the explosion. The top of the barrel flew through the wooden garage.


The man was burned on his arms and face. He extinguished a small fire on the garage door before authorities arrived.


He was taken to an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.


8.25.14:  Grand Rapids to open $40 million rapid bus system


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids is launching a $40 million rapid transit bus system that connects the city center with southern suburbs.


The 9.6-mile Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit system will kick off this week with free rides to attract commuters. About $32 million came from the federal government, while the state paid almost $8 million.


Transportation planners say the system cuts a typical 45-minute drive to a 27-minute commute. They say it’s the city’s first mode of transportation to compete with cars.


Jeff Steinport from the Kent County Taxpayer’s Alliance says the line is a boondoggle that duplicates existing public transportation routes.


The National Transit Database says city’s traditional bus system had 11.9 million passenger trips in 2012. That’s up from 10.8 million in 2011 and 9.7 million in 2010.


8.25.14:  Man dies testing ultralight being offered for sale


VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities in western Michigan say that a New Mexico man has died while test-flying an ultralight aircraft that was being offered for sale.

Kent County sheriff’s Sgt. Russ Larson says the crash happened about 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Lowell Airport  in Vergennes Township, just north of Lowell.

Larson says the man drove from out-of-state to test the airplane, which an area resident was selling.

Authorities have identified the dead man as 67-year-old Bryan Bowker of Edgewood, New Mexico.

Witnesses say he took off successfully once but crashed while trying a second takeoff.

8.25.14:  Seed company sued by migrant workers in Michigan


CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (AP) — A major seed company is being sued by more than 30 migrant farm workers who say they were underpaid while removing tassels from corn in southwestern Michigan.


The workers are mostly from Texas and were hired in 2012 to work in Cass County. Detasseling is hot, labor-intensive work that occurs while the corn still is in the ground.


The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Grand Rapids, accuses Johnston, Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer and two recruiters of violating federal wage and migrant labor laws. The allegations include poor housing, unsafe transportation to the fields and inadequate water.


DuPont Pioneer was formerly called Pioneer Hi-Bred and is part of Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont Company.


The seed company denies the allegations. A court filing last week says all parties “remain open” to a settlement.


8.22.14:  Pit crew member hurt at Hudsonville Fair


A pit crew member was hit by a pickup truck Thursday evening during the mud runs at the Hudsonville Community fair.


James Silva of Holland was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  James’ brother Rodney was behind the wheel of the truck at the time of the accident.


The brothers had been working on the truck before their mud run.  James Silva was standing on a tire to look under the hood when the truck suddenly started up and lurched forward.

8.22.14:  Woman, 2 men stabbed at Kent County mobile home


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Kent County sheriff’s department says three people have been stabbed at a mobile home park.


According to a sheriff’s news release, the attack happened after 1 a.m. Friday and started with an argument between two men at the Brook Haven Mobile Home Park along West River Drive.


Deputies say the suspect stabbed a woman and two men.


The woman was seriously hurt. She was taken to a local hospital to be treated for a stab wound in her back. The two men suffered minor injuries.


The sheriff’s statement says the suspect was found at a nearby residence and taken into custody without incident.