12.22.14:  DNR upgrades Kalkaska County recreational trail


KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says improvements have been completed along the Kalkaska Route, which includes Snowmobile Trail No. 79 in northeastern Kalkaska County.

Improvements to the dual-use recreational trail include constructing 0.5 miles of new trail and installing a bridge over Goose Creek.

The DNR says the project was necessary to replace a narrow and structurally deficient bridge and to move the trail into the woods away from vehicular traffic on a county road.

The project was funded using grants from the recreational trails, off-road vehicle and snowmobile programs.

More information about off-road vehicle and snowmobile trails in Michigan is available on the state’s website.

12.22.14:  78 elk killed during 3 Michigan hunting periods


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State wildlife officials are calling the annual elk hunt a success after 78 animals were killed.


Wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch says hunters got their elk, and the Department of Natural Resources achieved its animal management goals. The elk season consisted of four brief periods in August, September and December.


Thousands of hunters applied for 100 elk licenses. Each animal killed was inspected by DNR staff. A tooth was pulled to determine the age of the animal.


There will be no January hunt because the DNR reached its management goals.

12.22.14:  Council seeks public advice on boosting recycling


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State officials are soliciting recommendations from the public on ways to boost recycling in Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder announced a plan last April to double the state’s recycling rate and formed the Governor’s Recycling Council to come up with ideas. The council has scheduled a Jan. 14 meeting that will include a public comment period.

The Department of Environmental Quality says about $435 million worth of materials in Michigan that could be recycled ends up trashed each year, partly because of weak markets for recycled commodities and lack of access.

Just 25 of the 83 counties make recycling convenient by providing curbside pickup or what the department considers an adequate number of drop-off sites. Among the plan’s goals is providing convenient access statewide by 2017.

“To assist communities beginning a robust recycling effort, the DEQ is offering up to $600,000 during fiscal year 2015″ as part of a pollution prevention grant program,” the Department of Environmental Quality said in a statement. It said that nonprofit organizations, local and tribal governments, local health departments, municipalities, and regional planning agencies may apply, with an April 1 deadline.


The department holds a webinar February 11th ho help applicants.


The council meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. on January 14th in the ConCon room of Constitution Hall at 525 West Allegan Street. Because seating is limited, those wishing to attend must register by January 12th.

12.22.14:  Agents wound armed Canadian on Ambassador Bridge


DETROIT (AP) — U.S. authorities say that border agents shot and wounded an armed Canadian man as he walked toward an inspection station on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol representative says it happened about 3 a.m. Sunday on the U.S. side of the bridge.

Kris Grogan says in a statement that the man “stopped his car before approaching the inspection booth, exited his vehicle and started walking towards the primary inspection lanes waving a handgun.”

Grogan says officers ordered the man to drop the gun, but he refused. Grogan says the officers shot and wounded the man, who was treated at a hospital and then jailed.

Grogan says the man “is a citizen of Canada and has had previous encounters with Canadian law enforcement.”

The statement says that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Internal Affairs and Detroit police are investigating.

12.22.14:  Satanic group puts up display at Michigan Capitol


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Christians and Satanists have put up competing displays on the Michigan Capitol grounds this Christmas week.

The Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple on Sunday morning set up their “Snaketivity Scene.” It features a snake offering a book called “Revolt of the Angels” as a gift.

The snake is wrapped around the Satanic cross on the 3-feet-by-3-feet display. Capitol rules require that displays have to be taken down each night.

Satanic Temple spokeswoman Jex Blackmore says in a videotaped interview with the Lansing State Journal that her group doesn’t worship Satan but promotes individuality, compassion and views that differ from Christian and conservative beliefs.

Word of the Satanic Temple’s plans led state Sen. Rick Jones to erect a Nativity scene on Friday featuring baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary.

The Grand Ledge Republican said he was happy to “represent the light and not the darkness.”

12.22.14:  AAA Michigan: Gas prices fall 24 cents in week


DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says statewide gas prices have dropped about 24 cents a gallon in the last week.

The auto club says the average price per gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $2.23 on Sunday. That’s about $1 less than a year ago.

This is the sixth week in a row that the statewide average price has fallen. Statewide prices remain at their lowest level in more than 5 years.


Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys fuel costs at 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily. It says the cheapest price was about $2.07 in the Flint area. The highest price was about $2.46 a gallon in the Marquette area.

The auto club says the Detroit-area average has fallen for the 16th week in a row, to about $2.25 a gallon.


12.22.14:  NKorea refuses to attend Security Council mtg


UNITED NATIONS (AP) —North Korea is angry again, refusing to participate in today’s United Nations Security Council discussion about the reclusive nation’s human rights record.

The discussion is to be the first of its kind concerning North Korea, which is also on the defensive now over a U.S. accusation of hacking Sony.

A sprawling U.N.-backed inquiry of alleged crimes against humanity warns that young leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable. North Korea calls people who aided the commission of inquiry “human scum.”

Now the 15-member Security Council is being urged to refer North Korea’s human rights situation to the International Criminal Court in the boldest effort yet to confront Pyongyang over the issue it has openly disdained in the past.

North Korea accuses the United States and its allies of using the human rights issue as a weapon to overthrow the leadership.


12.22.14:  Alleged cop killer no stranger to justice system


NEW YORK (AP) — Police say the man who killed two New York City police officers was not a stranger to the criminal justice system.

They say 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley had at least 19 arrests in Georgia and Ohio, spent two years in prison for gun possession and had a troubled childhood so violent that his mother was afraid of him.

Police say before the two officers were killed Saturday, Brinsley allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend at her home in Baltimore. She’s expected to survive.


Among other things, New York City investigators are trying to find out if Ismaaily Brinsley had taken part in any protests over the deaths of black men at the hands of police before he fatally ambushed two NYPD officers and killed himself.

Meanwhile rank and file officers are being warned to wear bulletproof vests and avoid inflammatory posts on social media.

12.22.14:  Michigan plans park hikes to kick off New Year


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring free, guided hikes in Michigan parks around New Year’s Day as part of a nationwide outdoor effort.


The hikes are part of the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative. DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson says in a statement that the hikes “are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories.”


Michigan state parks are calling their events “Shoe Year’s Hikes.” They include a Dec. 31 hike at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Jan. 1 hikes at Yankee Springs Recreation Area in Barry County and Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County.

A Jan. 2 hike is planned at Mitchell State Park in Wexford County. Events on Jan. 3 are planned for Bay City State Recreation Area, Brighton Recreation Area, Maybury State Park in Wayne County, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Ludington State Park.


A Jan. 4 hike is scheduled at Sterling State Park in Monroe County.

The National Association of State Park Directors is involved in the effort, which organizers say was expanded last year to park systems in all states. Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park involved.


Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed online by the DNR and the National Association of State Park Directors.


12.22.14:  Grand Rapids to reimagine Grand River floodwalls


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids is reimagining its flood protection system along the Grand River after years of resistance to calls by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to boost floodwalls.


The city is studying 16 sites along the river where it might build multi-purpose floodwalls that double as public access points. The plans come amid efforts to restore rapids to the Grand River and improve recreation.


The idea could replace some traditional concrete floodwalls with a stepped embankment that people could go up and down to launch a kayak or visit the river when water levels are low. When the river floods, water would rise and submerge the steps.

Engineers working with Grand Rapids, call it a “flood protection system,” not floodwalls. He says the city has “an opportunity to do it right” as it looks at what’s needed along the river.


The river came close to breaching the flood walls in April 2013. Water flowed in torrents, causing millions of dollars in damage throughout Kent County and causing flooding that forced hundreds of area residents to leave their homes for higher ground.


Since then, Grand Rapids and FEMA have come to terms on a compromise that won’t require the walls to go 3 feet above the 100-year flood level. A draft report on what exactly Grand Rapids needs to do to get its walls certified is expected to come from FEMA later this month.