9.1.14:  Michigan doing good job on child support


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan government audit of $2.6 billion in child support payments says that the office in charge of collecting the money is doing an effective job in making sure that parents pay what they owe and care-givers get what’s coming to them.


The Michigan Office of the Auditor General released a report Friday on the handling of payments from June 1, 2012, to March 31, 2014.


The state Department of Human Services says the audit concludes that its Office of Child Support “is effective in ensuring that child support collection and distribution is accurate and timely.”


The audit says that a private contractor distributing the money did so with 99.9 percent accuracy during the 21-month period.

9.1.14:  Labor Bridge Walk brings thousands


ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) — Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in the Labor Day walk across the Mackinac Bridge — and they’ll be joined by one robot.


Gov. Rick Snyder will lead the annual trek Monday across the 5-mile-long bridge linking Michigan’s two peninsulas. His office says he’ll walk alongside a robot constructed for the occasion by the FIRST robotics team from Macomb International Academy in the town of Armada.


FIRST is a program that encourages young people to learn about science and technology.


Several of the program’s students, teachers and mentors will join Snyder and the robot, which can travel up to 10 mph and is known as “The Pi Guy.”


The bridge walk begins at 7 a.m., although walkers are allowed to start as late as 11 a.m.

8.29.14:  Chicago-bound Amtrak train hits car in Michigan


OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a Chicago-bound Amtrak train hit a car that got stuck on tracks in southwestern Michigan, destroying the car.


No injuries are reported following the crash about 10 p.m. Thursday in Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township. Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Kelly says the car had tried to use a crossing that was closed for maintenance when it got stuck.


Kelly says two people in the care got out before the train, which was traveling about 60 miles per hour, struck the car.


Kelly says there were roughly 190 people aboard the train. He says the driver likely will face a misdemeanor charge and could be forced to pay for damage.


8.29.14:  West Nile Virus found in Michigan horse, turkeys


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have confirmed the West Nile Virus has been found in a northern Michigan horse and a mid-Michigan turkey flock.


The state Agriculture and Community Health departments said Thursday an 8-year-old horse from Grand Traverse County tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus this month. It was euthanized after it didn’t respond to treatment.


The disease affects humans and animals. Symptoms in horses include stumbling, tremors, facial paralysis, impaired vision and seizures.


Officials say there hasn’t been a human case of the virus this season.


They say turkeys in a small flock in Ingham County were infected with the disease and were dying at a high rate.


A state veterinarian says people should be diligent about vaccinating horses, using bug repellent and keeping water troughs clean.

8.29.14:  Consumers Energy updates Michigan utility meters


JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Consumers Energy is speeding up its plan to update electric meters for homes and businesses across Michigan.


The CMS Energy Corp. unit says it plans to update 1.8 million electric meters and 600,000 natural gas meters by the end of 2017. That’s two years earlier than it originally scheduled. The new meters let customers track their energy use online.


A Consumers Energy vice president says growing customer interest caused the company to shorten the timeline. He says it has started updating meters in western Michigan and will be updating meters in other regions by the middle of 2015.


It also plans to launch a new system for outage notifications in 2016.


More than 275,000 western Michigan residents and small business owners have gotten meter updates since summer 2012.

8.28.14:  Michigan peach crop suffers after harsh winter


DETROIT (AP) — Michigan peach farmers are harvesting a significantly smaller crop than usual this year after an especially severe winter.


The U.S. Agriculture Department forecasts that the state’s crop will be down about 50 percent from last year. Extreme cold wiped out most peach buds in Macomb, Oakland and Lapeer counties last winter.


The state harvested 41 million pounds of peaches in 2013. The USDA projects Michigan will drop from the fourth to the eighth state in the nation for peach farming this year, with 20 million pounds of the fruit.


A Michigan State University Extension fruit educator says it’s been decades since the losses were so bad. He says not one of the 60 peach growers in his area have peaches.

8.27.14:   Marshall teen found safe


A 14-year-old Marshall teen that had been missing since the weekend, was found safe late Tuesday afternoon.


The family of Hannah Amaro, says the last time they saw her was on Saturday.  The parents reported her missing on Monday.


Authorities were able to track the girl down Tuesday at a hotel near Atlanta, Georgia.


Hannah was with a 29-year-old man that she reportedly met on the internet.  She is being returned to Michigan.



8.27.14:  After bad winter, new salt costs leave bad taste


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — With temperatures in the 80s, who’s thinking about winter road salt? Road agencies are — and they’re seeing higher prices.


The County Road Association of Michigan says there’s sticker shock out there. Washtenaw County is reporting an increase of at least $500,000 for the next winter. Road Commission operations director Jim Harmon says the “budget hits just keep on coming.”


The Kent County Road Commission expects to pay $66 a ton, more than double the price from a decade ago.


Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association, says it’s a matter of supply and demand, especially after salt reserves were pounded last winter. The association says the average cost statewide will be up nearly 50 percent.

8.27.14:  Replicas of Columbus’ ships make it to Muskegon


MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Replicas of two of 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus’ ships have arrived in Muskegon.


The 65-foot Nina and the 85-foot Pinta made it to town on Tuesday.


They will remain docked at Heritage Landing until Sept. 2, and will be open for tours beginning on Wednesday.


North Muskegon resident Cheryl Eyestone says she didn’t see the replicas when they last visited Muskegon in 2011, but will be bringing her five daughters to see them this time around.


The ships’ Muskegon stop is part of a tour that has taken them to Maine, New York and Ohio.


8.27.14:  7 Michigan health care centers to split $1.7M


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Seven Michigan health care centers will split a federal award of nearly $1.7 million to support construction and facility improvements.


The money will allow the centers to adopt a primary-care set-up using teams of medical professionals to treat all of a patient’s health needs. That model is a focus of the nation’s health care law.


Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell says the funding will be used to provide higher quality services, treat multiple needs of patients at once and increase access to care. She says Michigan residents should have access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay.


More than $35 million was awarded to 147 health care centers throughout the U.S. The funding will support 21 new construction projects and 126 renovation projects.