11-21-14  Thanksgiving Travel Expected to be Heavy

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA says nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan plan to travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

The auto club says the Michigan travel estimate is nearly 5 percent higher than 2013 and the highest volume for the holiday period since 2007.

AAA says that nearly 90 percent of Michigan travelers will travel by personal vehicle. About 2 percent will go by air and the rest will take other means of travel.

The holiday comes as the average price for gas in Michigan is $2.92 per gallon, down 35 cents from the $3.27-per-gallon average a year ago

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Nov. 26 through Nov. 30.

11.20.14:  Michigan Christmas tree farmers lack cheer in snow


ALLEGAN, Mich. (AP) — Frigid temperatures and heavy snow are posing challenges to wholesale Christmas tree growers in Michigan as they try to ship out their final tree orders.

Michigan Christmas Tree Association director Marsha Gray says most growers in the state are dealing with “long hours and cold employees.”

Ken Wahmhoff of Wahmhoff Farms Nursery in Gobles says his employees were working in more than a foot of snow Wednesday. He says this week is “all about shipping trees” but about 20 people skipped work and a truck didn’t show up.

An owner of Badger Evergreen in Allegan says the nursery is far behind schedule. Trucks have had trouble reaching the farm’s loading yards in the snow.

Some tree retail lots open this weekend, but most sales kick off the day after Thanksgiving.

11.20.14:  3 children hurt in school bus crash


INVERNESS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say three children were hurt after a school bus slid off an icy road in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.

The crash happened Wednesday afternoon in Cheboygan County’s Inverness Township. The bus ended up in a ditch. Police say the students were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. In all, 27 students were aboard the bus.

Police blamed extremely icy road conditions for the crash.


There were other school bus crashes on Wednesday as snowy weather hit the state. Police in Battle Creek say two children were injured when a pickup truck slid into a school bus.

In Saginaw, police say a school bus loaded with children collided with two other vehicles. Police say the children weren’t injured.

11.19.14:  Nativity scene proposed for Michigan Capitol lawn


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are considering whether a Christian Nativity scene and a counter-display from a secularist group should join the state Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn this holiday season.

The State Capitol Commission on Monday agreed to contract with the Michigan attorney general’s office for a part-time staff attorney over six months for $37,000. The attorney would advise the commission on various issues, including the request to place a representation of the birth of Jesus at the state Capitol.

Commission member John Truscott says he expects the office will approve the Nativity with the same conditions as demonstrations that are frequently held on the grounds. He declined to say who made the request.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin, said Tuesday it would request a counter-display if the Nativity is approved.

11.19.14:  3 die when van ignores gate, hit by Amtrak train


OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — State police say three people in a minivan were killed when the driver went around vehicles stopped at a railroad crossing in western Michigan and into the path of an Amtrak train.

First Lt. Dale Hinz says the crash happened Tuesday afternoon in Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township, near Kalamazoo.

The crossing gate at 11th Street was down and the lights were flashing.

The crash killed all three people in the van, who are believed to be in their late teens or early 20s. Their identities weren’t immediately released.

The passenger train was traveling about 80 miles per hour.

T the train was eastbound from Chicago to Detroit when the crash happened about 4:15 p.m. No one aboard the train was hurt.


11.19.14:  Obama hosts Utica, Godfrey-Lee school chiefs


UTICA, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education says that two Michigan school superintendents will participate in a forum with President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

The department says that the Michigan participants are Christine Johns from the Utica Community Schools and David Britten from the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.

The Utica district is in suburban Detroit’s Macomb County and has about 29,000 students. The Godfrey-Lee district is in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming and has about 1,700 students.

Wednesday’s program is titled “ConnectED to the Future.” The Education Department says it grows out of the plan that Obama announced in 2013 to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet and to put more technology in the hands of teachers.

11.19.14:  Safety agency to push for national air bag recall


DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators are demanding that automakers expand a recall of cars with driver’s air bags made by Takata Corp. to cover the entire nation.

Previously, cars have been recalled only in areas along the Gulf Coast with high humidity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s basing the decision on a recent incident that happened outside of those areas.

Air bags made by Takata can explode with too much force, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

The safety agency says if Takata and automakers don’t agree to the recall quickly, it will use its legal powers to make sure the inflators are recalled.

The owner of a 2007 Ford Mustang recently complained to the government about suffering an injury when an air bag malfunctioned in North Carolina.

11.18.14:  Deadline extended for flood, storm damage help


DETROIT (AP) — Federal officials have granted Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for an extension for Michigan residents seeking assistance after summer flooding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has added 20 more days to the application period. The new registration deadline is Dec. 14.

Snyder announced the extension Monday in Detroit.

He declared a state of disaster for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties after the Aug. 11 storms. Some areas received more than 6 inches of rain which flooded basements, streets and freeways. Damage and cleanup costs have been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

More than 115,000 residents have already registered for help. FEMA has approved more than $119 million in individual assistance.

Snyder says some people could receive help with temporary housing, repairs or low-cost loans.

11.18.14:  Severe weather brings Michigan flight cancelations


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Severe weather in Michigan is prompting flight cancelations and delays at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

At least four flights were cancelled Tuesday morning and three flights had been delayed from departing the Grand Rapids airport.

All arrivals were listed on time. The cancelations and delays come as heavy lake-effect snow hits parts of western and northern Michigan.


11.18.14:  Car strikes police officer, woman amid snow


MATTAWAN, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a car has struck a police officer and a 74-year-old woman he was helping along a southwestern Michigan roadway.

The Van Buren County sheriff’s department says Mattawan Officer Brian Matyas and the woman were struck about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday. Matyas was treated and released from a hospital with superficial injures and bruising. The woman was hospitalized in stable condition.

The department says Matyas had found the woman in the snow and was helping her before they were hit. The department says it was 18 degrees and snowing at the time.

The car was being driven by a 25-year-old Mattawan woman. The crash is under investigation, but prosecutors are expected to review the case.