State

7.28.14:  Local soldier lost life in car crash

 

Sgt. Corey Hanson of Grand Rapids died last week in a car crash in Texas.

 

Hanson was driving his SUV when he strayed into the opposite lane and collided head-on with a semitrailer on Highway 43, about 6 miles south of Smithland, Texas.

 

The 24-year-old  is a 2008 graduate of Northview High School and served two tours in Afghanistan for the National Guard.  He was reportedly planning a surprise visit home to the Grand Rapids area to see his family and attend a wedding.

 

Funeral arrangements are pending.


7.28.14:  Man electrocuted while working on home

 

PENN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 43-year-old Chicago man has been electrocuted while doing work at a home in southwestern Michigan.

 

The Cass County sheriff’s department says Michael Koranda was found Sunday afternoon by family members at the home on Diamond Island, which is located in Diamond Lake in Penn Township. The department says he was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Sheriff’s deputies responded along with EMS, the Cass County Marine Division and members of the Penn Township fire department.


7.28.14:  Michigan school chief meets with charter leaders

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s schools superintendent will meet with charter school backers as he works to hold institutions accountable for schools they authorize.

 

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan will hold the first meeting Monday. He invited officials at universities, community colleges and school districts that authorize more than three charter schools. A similar invitation was sent to charter advocacy groups for a meeting Wednesday.

 

Representatives from schools such as Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University are expected to attend Monday’s meeting. They’re the two largest authorizers in the state.

 

Flanagan has said he plans to ban poor-performing authorizers from granting new charters. He says in his email to school officials that meeting attendees will discuss procedures for suspending an authorizer.


7.28.14:  Projects in 5 counties fight blight, boost housing

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state says projects in five Michigan counties are getting a share of more than $2.5 million to help fight blight and create senior housing.

 

The work is planned for Berrien, Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham and Kalamazoo counties. The state announced funding last week.

 

Genesee County is getting more than $396,000 for the demolition of 34 single-family homes; Calhoun County is getting nearly $265,000 for the demolition of 24 homes; and Ingham County is getting more than $155,000 for the demolition of eight homes.

 

Berrien County is getting $119,000 for the demolition of 12 homes. Meanwhile, the Kalamazoo area is getting more than $181,000 for the demolition of 19 homes and more than $1.4 million to create 10 units of senior housing at the Prairie Gardens development.

 

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7.25.14:  Enbridge to add support for pipeline in the Straits

 

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are ordering Enbridge Energy Partners LP to install additional support structures beneath two oil pipelines at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan.

 

State Attorney Bill Schuette and Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant said Thursday the company acknowledges it’s not meeting a requirement that the pipelines have support anchors at least every 75 feet.

 

They say Enbridge agrees to add more supports this year. They say it’s a step toward protecting the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.

 

Enbridge Energy Partners is part of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.

 

Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson says engineering studies show gaps up to 140 feet are safe. She says Enbridge is taking extra precautions and will begin adding steel supports in August.

 


7.25.14:  Michigan elections board torn over minimum wage

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s elections board is torn over whether to certify a voter-initiated proposal to raise the minimum wage.

 

The four-member Board of State Canvassers adjourned for a couple of hours Thursday afternoon after asking secretary of state’s staff to review signatures that opponents of the minimum wage measure say are invalid duplicates. The measure’s supporters say the challenge came too late.

 

In an attempt to head off the ballot drive, lawmakers in May repealed the minimum wage law that would be amended by the proposal and passed a smaller minimum wage hike. The hourly minimum will rise to $9.25 by 2018 with inflationary increases after.

 

The voter-initiated law would increase the minimum to $10.10 an hour over time, with later inflationary increases and a bigger bump for tipped employees.


7.24.14:  Insurers owe nearly $13.2M in refunds in Michigan

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The federal government says more than 184,000 Michigan health insurance customers will benefit from nearly $13.2 million in refunds because of a provision of the nation’s health care law.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the figures Thursday.

The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers.

 

The money won’t necessarily be a check in the mail. Employers can apply rebates in a way that benefits workers or take a discount on future premiums. Individual policyholders owed a rebate will either get a check, a reimbursement to their credit card account or see a reduction in future premiums.


7.24.14:  Statue series grows, to include Betty Ford in 2018

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Grand Rapids Community Legends project has added a sixth statue to a series that will grow to include former first lady Betty Ford four years from now.

 

Organizers on Wednesday unveiled a sculpture of civil rights activist Helen Claytor. It’s part of a series that’s expected to have 25 statues before completion.

 

The project plans sculptures of boxing champion Stanley Ketchel in 2015, businesswoman Anna Sutherland Bissell in 2016 and businessman and politician Julius Houseman in 2017. The Ford sculpture will be installed in 2018, 100 years after her birth.

 

President Gerald Ford died in 2006, and Betty Ford died in 2011. They lived in Rancho Mirage, California, for decades.

 

Their hometown was Grand Rapids.


7.24.14:  Man jailed in fatal stabbing of gas station clerk

 

 

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — Police say they’ve arrested a man in the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old Battle Creek gas station employee.

 

Police answered a call about a robbery and shooting about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and found the body of Nicole Gates of Battle Creek at a Citgo gas station.

 

Detective Sgt. Jim Martens says it appears that an acquaintance stabbed Gates to death before stealing money, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

 

Police say they arrested 30-year-old Shawn Pike of Battle Creek about 10:30 a.m. on first-degree murder, robbery and other charges. Police also have arrested a 21-year-old man, whose name wasn’t immediately released.

 

The men are expected to be arraigned Thursday.


7.22.14:   State child poverty up, teen deaths down

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The annual Kids Count survey finds child poverty rates rising during 25 years of data-gathering while fewer teens are giving birth or dying.

 

The report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Michigan ranks 32nd in overall child well-being nationally, down one slot since last year.

 

Michigan’s lowest ranking was in education, where children have struggled in math, reading and graduating on time. But since 1990, the state has seen significant improvements with its children attending preschool and having a parent or guardian with a diploma.

 

Michigan League for Public Policy says in a statement that “good public policy” has made a difference in some areas. But it’s “not acceptable” that Michigan ranks in the bottom half of the nation and more needs to be done.