2.11.16:   2 Golf courses to open under bankruptcy protection 



GRAND RAPIDS, MI  (Mlive) – Two West Michigan golf courses will open this spring despite a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed by their ownership group this week, their general partner said on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Wallinwood Springs Golf Club of Jenison and Lake Doster Golf Club of Plainwell will open under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while they seek new financing, according to B. Todd Hartson, general partner for L.D.L.P Limited Partnership.

Although the two courses had their best seasons in a long time in 2015, Hartson said their bankers called in their loans.

The partnership owes First Community Bank more than $880,000, according to the Feb. 8 filing in U.S. District Bankruptcy Court. The partnership also owes more than $50,000 in back taxes to local, state and federal agencies, according to the filing.


The golf industry in West Michigan has been in turmoil in recent years as several courses have closed and redeveloped for housing or agriculture.

In 2015, Braeside Golf Course near Rockford was closed after its bankers took possession of the 116-acre course in bankruptcy court. The bank began marketing the property as a potential housing development after its operators failed to open last spring.

In 2014, the Meijer Foundation closed the 18-hole Grand Rapids Golf Club at 4100 Leonard St. NW and transferred the property to Frederik Meijer Gardens after plans to locate the Southeast YMCA on the property was rejected by the Grand Rapids Township Planning Commission.

In 2013, the Brigadoon Golf Course, a Newaygo County course once considered one of West Michigan’s most challenging public golf courses, was sold in an online auction after failing to re-open.

Also in 2013, the 180-acre Riverbend Golf Course near Hastings was sold and converted to farmland by Larry Haywood, an area dairy farmer whose family sold the land to the original golf course developer in 1963.

2.11.16:  Gov. Snyder’s budget proposal for 2016-17



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed a $54.9 billion budget for the fiscal year set to begin in October, not including supplemental needs he detailed for the current fiscal year. The GOP-controlled Legislature will consider the legislation in the coming months and likely approve a plan in early June.



The governor, who has apologized for his administration’s role in the lead contamination of Flint’s water supply, proposed $195 million more to address the crisis, on top of $37 million previously approved. It includes $25 million to replace lead services lines in the highest-risk homes, $30 million to help residents and businesses with water bills and $50 million that would be set aside in a reserve fund for future needs.




Snyder, who said Michigan’s infrastructure gets a “D” grade, proposed a new $165 million statewide fund to help other local governments upgrade known lead and copper services lines and make other infrastructure improvements. Once a commission makes recommendations, Snyder and the Legislature would decide how the money is split and which communities receive it. It is money Snyder normally would have proposed to add to the state’s savings account.




Snyder proposed a minimum $60 per pupil increase, from $8,169 to $8,229, for districts that get the basic level of funding and a maximum $120 boost for districts receiving the minimum allowance, from $7,391 to $7,511. The increase would range from 0.7 percent to 1.6 percent. The total school aid budget would rise 2 percent to $14 billion.




Snyder proposed spending $720 million over a decade to restructure the Detroit Public Schools, wiping out operating debt and launching a new district. Instead of directly limiting funding for other districts — which Snyder has proposed in the past — his plan would shift the funding from Michigan’s yearly payments from tobacco companies under a 1998 settlement.




Snyder proposed fully restoring the aggregate operations funding for 15 state universities to what it was when he took office. In his first year, 2011, he and lawmakers cut the spending by 15 percent to help resolve a budget deficit. The funding would rise 4.3 percent, or $61 million. Universities could not qualify for the full amount unless they keep tuition hikes to no more than 4.8 percent — a threshold the Legislature may lower in negotiations.




Snyder proposed expanding his “Secure Cities” program so state police troopers patrol in more cities. They currently are based in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw. His plan would spend an additional $1.5 million to add Benton Harbor, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, Highland Park, Inkster and Muskegon Heights. He also called for $18 million to train 85 new trooper recruits and 350 more corrections officers.




Snyder called for providing dental care for all low-income kids in every Michigan county, bringing the total covered to nearly 827,000 — compared to 285,000 who were covered when he took office. He also proposed $135 million for expensive specialty medicines to treat nearly 7,000 Medicaid patients and 340 prisoners with Hepatitis C and 320 children with cystic fibrosis.




Snyder proposed boosting a yearly clothing allowance for children on welfare, from $140 to $200, and extending eligibility to 25,000 more children.




Snyder proposed spending $15 million — including $5 million in local matching dollars — to replace voting equipment. Most machines are more than 10 years old.




Snyder called for $2.8 million to implement an e-filing system to encourage residents to file their Michigan tax returns on the Internet for free. About 80 percent of residents e-file their returns. The initiative is aimed at those who still file via paper.





2.11.16:  New Baptist Church in Battle Creek area



BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A Battle Creek couple has started a new Baptist church in that city.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports  that John and Stephanie Boyd began holding services this week with their Love in Action Community Ministries. The services are held in the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The two say that when they were young, going to church was an important part of their lives, but as they got older, they drifted away from religion. They have since rediscovered the spiritual life.

They see their new ministry as the next step as they helping others understand God.

Services are held Sundays and Tuesdays. They have about 35 members in their congregation.



2.11.16:  Michigan resources panel to discuss 2017 spending plans



DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is scheduled to discuss a range of topics at its February meeting, from the condition of the state’s elk herd to spending priorities for the next fiscal year.

The commission meets Thursday at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

It begins with a Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee session to review a management plan for Ludington State Park and a proposed master plan for the Muskegon Sports Complex.

The wildlife and fisheries policy committee will get an update on this year’s elk survey.

The Department of Natural Resources will present its fiscal 2017 budget plan. Afterward, the commission will take public comments.

Also, DNR Director Bill Moritz is expected to approve updated regulations on captive game animals and announce decisions on several land transactions.


2.11.16:  Flint fire chief suspects corrosive water damaged trucks



FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint’s fire chief says he suspects corrosive water from the Flint River contributed to damaging his department’s trucks.

Chief David Cox Jr. says one truck was put into use a year-and-a-half ago but already has rust around an intake valve and rubber seals that were damaged. He says such wear typically doesn’t happen for several years.

Cox says the issue hasn’t impacted the department’s ability to fight fires. He says they test trucks daily to ensure they’re working properly.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water wasn’t treated properly and the river’s highly corrosive water scraped lead from pipes and fixtures.

Flint has since moved back to the Detroit system.


2.11.16:   Dead cougar found along road had been snared



REITUNG TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a male cougar that was found dead along a road in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula had been caught in a snare.

First Lt. Pete Wright of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the cougar’s carcass should have been taken to a DNR office. Instead, officials say it may have been thrown from the back of a vehicle. Investigators want to know whether it was caught accidentally or on purpose.

Under state regulations, snares may be used to catch foxes and coyotes on private land from Jan. 1 through March 1. Cougars are an endangered species in Michigan.

The frozen carcass was found by a woman walking her dog Feb. 1 in Dickinson County’s Breitung Township, about four miles north of Iron Mountain.


2.11.16:  Officials warn of thin ice for Michigan free fishing weekend



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials are warning anglers to use caution when going out onto frozen lakes and rivers for the state’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend.

Anglers may fish Saturday and Sunday without a fishing license.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says recent warm temperatures and snowfall have undermined ice in some areas.

The DNR’s Sgt. Mike Hammill, whose district includes Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties in the Upper Peninsula, says some lakes have heavy slush covering ice. Hammill says people shouldn’t drive cars or trucks onto the ice under current conditions.

With the exception of the license requirement, other fishing regulations remain in effect for Winter Free Fishing Weekend, including daily bag limits. Recreation Passports also aren’t required this weekend for entry to state areas where fishing is available.


2.10.16:  Many schools closed for day after snow dumps on Michigan



GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Many schools are closed for the day in Michigan after some areas saw heavy snowfall.

The National Weather Service says more snow is forecast in parts of the state on Wednesday. A winter storm warning is in effect along the western part of the state near Lake Michigan. Schools in Holland, Zeeland and Grand Haven were among those closed. reports schools in Bay County and the Flint area shut after a storm dropped 4 inches to a foot of snow across the region. Many closings were reported in St. Clair County as well as across the state’s Thumb region, which saw a foot of snow in places.

Snow lead to hazardous road conditions in parts of Michigan, with crashes reported around the state on Tuesday. Roads remained slippery Wednesday.


2.10.16:  Michigan officials confirm first child flu death of season



PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Health officials in suburban Detroit say a child who died of influenza is the state’s first pediatric flu death of the season.

The Oakland County Health Division said Tuesday the death was confirmed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. No further information about the child was released.

County health officials recommend a flu vaccination for everyone over the age of 6 months.


2.10.16:  Michigan governor proposes $195M more for Flint



FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday will propose an additional $195 million in state spending to address Flint’s water emergency, including $25 million to potentially replace lead-contaminated pipes.

If approved by lawmakers, the state will have allocated $232 million toward the crisis this fiscal year and next.

Spokesman Dave Murray said Tuesday that Snyder also will call for a separate $165 million to fund infrastructure needs across the state, including upgrades to old water pipes, natural gas lines and wastewater treatment facilities.

Flint is under a state of emergency because state regulators allowed the city to switch its water source in 2014 without adding anti-corrosion chemicals.

Snyder is due to present a $54.9 billion spending plan for the 2016-17 budget year.