5.22.15:  Georgia-Pacific plant closing marks end of era in Parchment



PARCHMENT, Mich. (AP) — A southwest Michigan city once known as “Paper City” will see the last of that heritage leave by year’s end.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Parchment officials learned last week that a former paper mill complex there will be vacant for the first time since it was founded in 1909 as the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Co.

Georgia-Pacific is the last manufacturer occupying part of the 90-acre site. Its Epic plant produces food wraps and other items for the food industry.

What’s left of the rest of the property has largely decayed since it was vacated by Crown Vantage Paper Co. in 2000.

Parchment Mayor Robert Heasley says Georgia-Pacific’s announcement “blindsided us.”

He says the departure essentially will mark the end of the city’s paper-making era.

5.22.15:  Michigan reviewing prison food service contract costs



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is reviewing contract costs related to prison food service by Aramark Correctional Services.

Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget says representatives of Florida-based Trinity Services Group have been touring Michigan prison kitchens as part of a “benchmarking review.”

Buhs didn’t release details about any possible changes to Philadelphia-based Aramark’s three-year, $145 million contract.

Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler says: “We respect our clients’ privacy and do not discuss business matters publicly.”

Aramark’s performance has been scrutinized due to allegations of employee misconduct and food contamination. The state fined the company last year. This week, an ex- food service worker was accused of trying to orchestrate the assault of an inmate.

Aramark has said it’s working to correct any issues.

5.22.15:  Grand Rapids fastest grower in Top 10 Michigan communities


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau says Grand Rapids added about 1,300 people in the latest population estimate, making Michigan’s second-largest city the fastest growing among the state’s 10 largest communities.

The bureau said Thursday that Detroit’s population fell about 6,400 in the year ending last July to about 680,000. That’s a 0.9 percent drop.

The bureau says Grand Rapids had about 193,800 people last year, up 0.7 percent.

Warren added about 200 for an estimated 135,100. Sterling Heights had about 131,700 people last year, an increase of about 500.

Ann Arbor’s population rose about 800 to about 117,800.

Lansing is the only other Michigan community with over 100,000 residents. It added about 300 people for an estimated 114,600.

Michigan’s population rose 0.1 percent to 9.91 million.


5.22.15:  New Michigan law will allow electronic eviction notices



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan landlords could send eviction notices to tenants through email or social media under legislation signed by Governor Rick Snyder.

Snyder signed the bill Thursday that requires consent from tenants for electronic notices. Landlords can’t refuse leases to people who do not consent to electronic notices.

Snyder also signed two bills that allow people who aren’t licensed elevator contractors to install residential stairway lifts if they’re certified by the manufacturer. The bills also remove certain regulations on residential lifts that were written for commercial versions.

Snyder says the new laws will expand the pool of contractors who can install residential stair lifts, which will ease the burden on Michigan residents.

5.21.15:  State agencies hold workshops on invasive species grants



MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) — Three Michigan agencies are holding a series of workshops this summer to inform government and nonprofit officials about grants available for fighting invasive species.

The programs take place June 25 in Mackinaw City, June 26 in Munising, June 30 in Hastings and July 7 in Detroit. They deal with the 2015 Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.

The state says that representatives of the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources will be on hand. The workshops are for local, state, federal and tribal government officials and people from nonprofit groups and universities.

The state says it gave out $4 million earlier this year to 20 invasive species projects.


5.21.15:  3 cases of canine flu confirmed in Michigan



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say three cases of canine flu that hit the Midwest earlier this year have been confirmed in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said one case was reported in Macomb County and two cases in Kent County. Department spokeswoman Jennifer Holton says the notification from a lab was made to the state last week.


Veterinarians aren’t required to report the virus.


Experts blame the epidemic on a strain called H3N2 that is seen in Asia and leaves pets feeling lousy for about two weeks. The virus gets passed through the air when dogs sneeze or by people when germs jump on hands or clothing, where they can live for hours.


Canine flu doesn’t sicken people.


5.21.15:  Michigan farmers keep eye on crops amid recent cold weather



TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan farmers are keeping an eye on crops in the coming weeks to determine the extent of damage from a recent round of cold weather.


Farmers in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula are among those taking steps to protect their crops as temperatures drop during the overnight hours this week.


Heidi Friske, general manager of Friske Orchards in Ellsworth, says workers took preventative measures against frost Tuesday night by using large wind machines and irrigation. She says apples and cherries are among the crops with potential damage.


The National Weather Service says overnight temperatures fell to 29 degrees in Traverse City and have dropped into the low 20s in other places.



5.21.15:  Michigan joblessness ties US rate for 1st time in 15 years



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen again and has pulled even with the national rate for the first time in 15 years.

The state announced Wednesday that the seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped 0.2 points to 5.4 percent in April. The U.S. rate fell 0.1 points in the latest month.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says the state’s jobless rate has fallen 2 percentage points from 7.5 percent in April 2014. It says Michigan’s jobless rate now has fallen for 20 consecutive months since September 2013.

The department says the number of unemployed people in Michigan fell 10,000 in the latest month to 257,000, while the state’s civilian labor force shrank by 6,000 to 4.741 million.

5.21.15:  Michigan governor expands program for young lawbreakers



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed bills that will raise the age limit and make other changes to a program aimed at offering a second chance to young criminal offenders.

The legislation signed Wednesday allows offenders under age 24 to have their criminal record cleared if they complete their sentence without incident.

Other changes to the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act will allow courts to require someone in the program to work or attend school.

Snyder says “allowing younger offenders to fulfill their sentence with the promise of a second chance” gives them time to “chart a different course for the future.”

The governor spoke about the program in his special message on criminal justice Monday.

The bipartisan package had broad margins of support through the House and Senate.

5.21.15:   Michigan House OKs bill restricting local wage agreements



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Local governments in Michigan would be prohibited from setting local minimum wages or other requirements for employers under a bill approved in the Republican-controlled House a day after passing through committee amid protests.

The House approved the bill 57-52 Wednesday, with several Republicans joining minority Democrats in voting against the bill.

Democrats offered more than a dozen amendments that failed without a vote.

Bill supporters say the legislation is needed to prevent a patchwork of local ordinances that could create a challenging structure for economic development.

Bill opponents say it would take away local control and the ability for local governments to decide what is best for their communities.


A committee hearing on the bill Tuesday was interrupted several times by protesters.