10.31.14:  Michigan, US officials differ on homeless figures


DETROIT (AP) — Federal and state officials differ on the number of people in Michigan they say are homeless.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday the number of homeless in the state is up 700 from last year to 12,227.


Michigan officials say the number is nearly eight times as high, with a total of 92,341.


HUD came up with its number by using “point in time” counts that measured the homeless on one night in late January.


Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness executive director Eric Hufnagel tells the News the federal government’s method vastly undercounts the number of homeless.


Despite the discrepancy, both sets of officials say improvements are being made that will help reduce the number of homeless locally and nationwide.

10.31.14:  Michigan lawmakers consider STEM certification


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are considering approving a certification for high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


The new legislation outlines the requirements for a possible certification on high school diplomas, including six credits of math and six credits of science.


Republican state Sen. John Proos of St. Joseph introduced the bills and says the certifications would help students succeed in competitive job markets.


Michigan STEM Partnership Board of Directors chairman Paul Agosta says state officials need to ensure students can apply practical learning to college study or the work place.


Republican state Rep. Amanda Price of Park Township plans to introduce matching bills in the House. She says certifications would send the message to employers that science and math education is a primary focus in Michigan.


10.31.14:  Appeal hearing set in Michigan’s ‘Baby Kate’ case


LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A hearing is set for December on prosecutors’ appeal of the dismissal of a murder charge against a northern Lower Peninsula man accused of killing his missing infant daughter.


The hearing date of Dec. 5 was set Thursday. Arguments will be held in Mason County Circuit Court.


State and county prosecutors are appealing District Judge Peter Wadel’s September ruling that threw out an open murder charge against 24-year-old Sean Phillips.


Katherine Phillips disappeared in 2011 in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.


Phillips already is serving 10 to 15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of the girl widely known as “Baby Kate.”


Her body remains missing. Wadel says there isn’t enough evidence she’s dead.

10.30.14:  Alert issued after robbery at Western Michigan


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A campus alert has been issued after an armed robbery at Western Michigan University.


The Kalamazoo school says in a statement posted on its website that no one was injured in the robbery, which took place about 9 p.m. Wednesday between Sangren Hall and Sindecuse Health Center.


The school says two students were approached by two males and one of the males showed a revolver tucked in his pants. The students ran and the suspects fled, taking with them a red and black backpack belonging to one of the students. The suspects are being sought by police.


People are being urged to be cautious and to avoid walking alone. Tips are being sought by the school’s Department of Public Safety.

10.30.14:  2 sites dropped from list of Great Lakes hot spots


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say two locations in Michigan are being dropped from a list of 43 highly contaminated sites in the Great Lakes region.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that cleanup work has been completed at White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula.


Both were designated as “areas of concern” in 1987 under an agreement between the U.S. and Canada that pledged to restore toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes watershed. But little was accomplished on the U.S. side until the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative began pumping additional funds into cleanup activities in 2010.


Four U.S. sites have now been dropped from the list, along with three in Canada. EPA says several others are on the verge of removal.

10.29.14:  Michigan, Israel launch business research program


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan and Israel are creating a joint research and development program for local for-profit companies in an effort to enhance their economic partnership.


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Israeli Ministry of Economy announced the program Tuesday. It will initially focus on automotive, cyber security and water technologies projects.


Gov. Rick Snyder says the joint projects that will come out of the partnership will boost trade, investment and research opportunities. Snyder signed a letter of intent with Israel’s economic minister for the agreement during his visit to Israel in June 2013.


Projects accepted to the program may receive funding from a number of existing sources from Michigan and Israel. Organizers will help companies identify potential partners, including research institutions and universities.


Companies can submit applications until Feb. 23, 2015.


10.29.14:  Creationism conference planned at MSU


EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A planned event on creationism at Michigan State University is raising concerns among faculty and graduate students.


The Saturday conference includes workshops such as “The Big Bang is Fake” and “Hitler’s Worldview,” on how evolution influenced the views of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The Origin Summit is sponsored by the organization Creation Summit, which aims to promote creationism in places it feels have banned teaching creationism.


The group’s director Mike Smith says the conference aims to show scientific evidence of intelligent design and won’t promote Bible verses or sermons.


Faculty members and students have contacted university officials to voice their displeasure with the summit.


An MSU spokesman says the public university feels it’s important to allow the event to happen because it encourages free speech and academic freedom.


10.29.14:  Money to help invest in skilled workers


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is planning to spend $50 million to help community colleges buy equipment to train future welders, technicians and others planning to work in skilled trades.


Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday that the state’s 28 community colleges have good training programs to fill in-demand jobs, but their expensive equipment tends to be dated.


The Michigan Strategic Fund Board is authorizing a new $50 million Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program.


A community college can apply for up to $4.8 million if it commits to come up with a 25 percent match. Additional consideration will be given to colleges that collaborate with local school districts and show that businesses are looking to hire.


Snyder says action is needed because the gap is growing between available jobs and workers to fill them.

10.29.14:  Arsenic found in Michigan playground wood chips


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Test results suggest wood chips at a Grand Traverse County playground contain elevated levels of arsenic that initially were believed to be from the soil.


The results come from Department of Environmental Quality testing done Oct. 5. County officials closed the Kid’s Kove playground at the Civic Center in late September.


Previous tests indicated the playground’s soil contained arsenic levels above the department’s limit for residential areas. Parks Director Kristine Erickson says officials used deeper soil samples for the second round of tests, which showed acceptable arsenic levels.


Erickson says the 18-year-old playground will stay closed while officials research the cost of replacing the wood chips. They are awaiting a playground inspector’s report on the structure’s integrity.



10.28.14:   Searching for clues following rocket explosion


ATLANTIC, Va. (AP) —They’re searching this morning for debris from an unmanned rocket that exploded seconds after launch on Wallops Island, Virginia last night.

The rocket from Orbital Sciences Corp. was supposed to deliver supplies and experiments for NASA to the International Space Station.

Today, NASA and officials from the company are hoping debris found will lead to answers to what caused the explosion.

The rocket was carrying 5,000 pounds of experiments and equipment for NASA.


Some of the experiments on the rocket were created by Michigan students.

4 Detroit-area students from Wilkinson Middle School designed an experiment on the effect iodine tablets will have on E. coli bacteria in zero gravity.

Another experiment was made by 4 girls from St. Monica Catholic School in Kalamazoo.


The experiments were part of NASA’s student Space Flight Experiment Program.