3.26.15:  Barry County toddler dies after being struck by small loader


 (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an 18-month-old boy was killed in an accident involving a small loader his father was driving in southwest Michigan.

The Michigan State Police say the incident happened about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at a home in Assyria Township just south of Nashville. Police say the child was struck by a small piece of farm machinery called a skid-steer while the father was performing yard work and was trying to move a dog house.

The State Police say it appears the incident was an accident, but an investigation is ongoing.


3.26.15:  Funerals set for Michigan Marines killed in helicopter crash


WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Funeral services take place this week for two of three Michigan Marines killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash off the coast of Florida during a training mission earlier this month.

Staff Sergeants Marcus Bawol of Warren, Trevor Blaylock of Lake Orion and Andrew Seif of Holland were among seven Marines and four Army soldiers killed March 10 when the helicopter crashed along Florida’s Panhandle in a nighttime training exercise in dense fog.

Bawol’s funeral is Thursday at St. Louise de Marillac Church in Warren.

A funeral for Blaylock is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lake Orion United Methodist Church. On Wednesday, hundreds lined the streets as his body was brought to a funeral home.

3.26.15:  Shipwreck fragment pops up on Lake Michigan shore


EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) — A piece of a shipwreck has reappeared along the shore of Lake Michigan in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

WPBN-TV reports the fragment has made an appearance in Empire with the melting ice and high water levels. It was last seen in 2012, and Sleeping Bears Dunes National Lakeshore historian Laura Quackenbush says it’s never clear when it’ll reappear with changing water levels.

The shipwreck piece is thought to be from the Jennie and Annie Schooner, which went ashore in 1872. Quackenbush says the area was well-traveled and that many ships ran ashore or wrecked without modern navigation equipment.

Sleeping Bear Dunes tracks sightings of shipwreck fragments.

3.25.15:  Cargo shipping season resuming on upper Great Lakes


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — Another cargo shipping season is underway on the upper Great Lakes.

The navigational lock complex at Sault Ste. Marie is scheduled to open today after being closed since January 15 for routine maintenance.

The Soo Locks on the St. Marys River are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They lift and lower vessels so they can move between Lakes Huron and Superior.

Area Engineer Kevin Sprague says there’s still a lot of thick ice on both sides of the locks. He says the Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw is preparing to lead the initial convoy of ships to ports in Lake Superior, where they will pick up loads of iron ore.

Sprague says icebreaking work probably will be needed for another month because of the cold winter.

3.25.15:  Endangered bird species to return to Great Lakes region


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A wildlife expert says one of the state’s endangered species will soon return to Michigan after spending winter in a warmer climate.

Vince Cavelieri of the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service says that pairs of Piping Plovers are expected to return to the dunes and shores of the Great Lakes in the coming weeks. He says the birds typically are spotted beginning the week of April 6.

Piping Plovers were first listed as an endangered species in 1985 and their populations continued to dwindle until 1990.

Now researchers, conservationists and volunteers are working to protect the species by surveying nesting areas and tracking the birds.

About 70 pairs of Piping Plovers currently nest in the Great Lakes region.


3.25.15:  Bipartisan package aims to help domestic violence survivors


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new bipartisan package of bills being introduced in the Michigan Legislature aims to support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The package announced Tuesday would address a range of issues survivors may face.

It would let survivors apply for unemployment benefits if they must leave their job to protect their safety. It also would prohibit a landlord or real estate agent from discriminating against survivors.

It would also urge state colleges and universities to update their policies and procedures dealing with sexual assault on campus.

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University are currently under federal investigation for their handling of sexual violence reports.

3.25.15:  West Michigan County votes to keep sign with Bible verse


GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Commissioners in a western Michigan county have given final approval to the reinstallation of a park sign that quotes the Bible.

The sign from the 1960s carries an excerpt from Psalm 19. It was removed in December from Hager Park in Ottawa County’s Georgetown Township after complaints that public property was being used to promote religion.

The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists has threatened legal action.

The sign has the words, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

The county commissioners tentatively approved the restoration in January and gave it final approval Tuesday. The commission voted to place the sign in a new location within the park.

The sign was installed in 1967 in the 104-acre park, just west of Grand Rapids.

3.25.15:  Grand Rapids asks for Army Corps help to keep out lampreys


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids officials are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend about $10 million for a new barrier to keep invasive sea lampreys from moving up the Grand River.


The new barrier would take over the function of blocking the lampreys’ spread after the planned demolition of a dam as part of an effort to restore the rapids that give the city its name.


The Grand Rapids City Commission voted Tuesday to direct City Manager Greg Sundstrom to apply for inclusion in the Army Corps’ Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration program. The program also is working on a sea lamprey trap in the Muskegon River.


Corps spokeswoman Lynn Rose says the proposal “sounds like a good candidate” for the program.

3.24.15:  Michigan awards $350,000 in grants for dam removal, fixes


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan has awarded $350,000 to four projects that will remove obsolete dams or fix those needing repairs.

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources say the Dam Management Grant Program results in improved fisheries, aquatic resources and public safety. It was established in 2012.

A committee of staffers with the DNR and Department of Environmental Quality staff reviewed the proposals with local fisheries biologists and technical experts.

Grants included $102,050 for the Otsego Dam removal project on the Kalamazoo River in Allegan County; $90,750 for the Pucker Street Dam removal project on the Dowagiac River in Berrien County; $53,800 for the Union Springs Dam removal in the Porcupine Mountains in Ontonagon County; and $103,400 for the Big Creek impoundment repair project in Crawford County.

3.24.15:  Vaccination rates for Michigan schoolchildren edge higher



KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — State numbers say vaccination rates for Michigan schoolchildren are edging higher.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports 92 percent of Michigan kindergartners were fully vaccinated in the fall of 2014 compared with 91.9 percent in fall 2013.

Jennifer Smith, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, says officials have “definitely focused our efforts in the last few years on educating our communities about the values of vaccines.” The state is awaiting numbers from some schools.

State officials have expressed concern about Michigan’s vaccine waiver rate for school children whose parents opted them out of immunizations for highly contagious diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

The state says about 5.2 percent of Michigan’s kindergartners had vaccination waivers in the fall of 2014 compared with 5.8 percent in fall 2013.