2.12.16: Agencies award $3.6M in grants for invasive species projects



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan agencies have awarded grants totaling $3.6 million for 19 projects designed to prevent and manage invasive species.

The grants were approved by the departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development.

Some will support outreach and education efforts to ward off new invasive species introductions through pathways such as firewood, pet aquariums and ship ballast water.

Other projects will focus on controlling or trying to eliminate invaders that have already arrived.

Technologies such as high-resolution satellite and drone imagery, radio telemetry and environmental DNA will help detect and control populations of European frogbit, feral swine and the shoreline plant known as phragmites.

Grant amounts range from about $35,000 to $350,000. Nonprofit organizations, universities, conservation districts and government agencies were among the recipients.



2.12.16:  Grand Rapids company to help Flint



FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A health information organization is giving $250,000 to connect all health care providers serving residents affected by the crisis caused by lead in Flint’s drinking water.

Grand Rapids-based nonprofit Great Lakes Health Connect said Thursday its donation aims to electronically link all Flint-area hospitals and doctors’ offices so they can provide better, more timely care.

The plan is to securely store patient information that’s immediately accessible to health care providers.

If consumed, lead can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

The money will pay for costs associated with connecting roughly 40 doctors’ offices, building the database and train those using it.

Great Lakes Health Connect is working with the area’s major health systems and Greater Flint Health Coalition.


2.12.16:  Ohio police kill man they say injured 4 with machete



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Columbus, Ohio say four people injured in a machete attack in a restaurant are expected to recover.

Police say a man walked into the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli last night and attacked diners. He was shot and killed by police.

Police are not sure of a motive, but they say the man had been in the restaurant a half-hour earlier, taking with an employee.


2.12.16:  Some dead prisoners still unidentified in Mexico



MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — Prison officials in Mexico have released the names of 40 of the prisoners killed in Thursday’s riot and fire at Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, but they say five of the remaining bodies were charred by fire and four are yet to be positively identified.

Forty-nine inmates were hacked, beaten or burned to death at the facility, where people merely awaiting trial are mixed in with some of the world’s most hardened killers.


2.12.16:  WHO: possible Zika vaccines months away from broad trials



GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says possible Zika vaccines are at least 18 months away from large-scale trials

WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation Marie-Paule Kieny says the U.N. health agency’s response is “proceeding very quickly” and 15 companies or groups have been identified as possible participants in the hunt for vaccines.

She told reporters in Geneva Friday that WHO also believes the link between the mosquito-borne virus and abnormally small heads in some newborn children is “more and more probable.”


The Zika outbreak is spreading rapidly across Latin America.


2.12.16:  FBI thanks evangelist for helping resolve standoff



BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The FBI is thanking the Rev. Franklin Graham for helping convince the last four occupiers of a national nature preserve to surrender peacefully.

The holdouts were the last remnants of a larger group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon nearly six weeks ago, demanding that the government turn over the land to locals and release two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.

At a news conference in nearby Burns, Oregon, FBI Special Agent Greg Bretzing said Franklin Graham had been in touch with the occupiers for more than a week, “helping them work through their issues so they could come to a point where they were ready to leave of their own volition.”

Bretzing said Graham and Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore , who also negotiated with the occupiers, were at the gate of the federal property Thursday morning as the four holdouts emerged from the encampment. At least one of them had requested Graham’s presence.

On Facebook, Franklin Graham thanked God that everyone was safe and said he prays that “their grievances will be heard and addressed through the right channels.”


2.11.16:  Another member of the Kubasiak family passes away



-Last week there was a deadly car accident near Ravenna that claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl.  Now her 16-year-old brother died from his injuries.

3 members of the Kubasiak family were headed to school when the driver lost control on the icy roads and collided with another vehicle.  The accident took place Feb. 4, on Heights Ravenna Road between Muskegon and Ravenna.

Erika was not wearing her seat belt and was killed in the crash.  16-year-old Peter was hospitalized and died on Wednesday.

There are no details yet on funeral arrangements.   A support fund has been set up at ChoiceOne banks in teh family’s name and there is also a GoFundMe page to help the Kubasiak family.


Emily Kubasiak remains in the hospital.


Hundreds of people are supporting the family and hundreds attended a vigil for the siblings the day after the crash.

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.