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JUVENILE OFFENDERS

Michigan Senate votes to try 17-year-olds as juveniles

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A push to no longer automatically try 17-year-olds as adults is gaining momentum in Michigan’s Legislature.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a 14-bill package Wednesday to put 17-year-old offenders in the juvenile justice system, with an exception for violent felony cases. The House plans to pass a similar plan Thursday.

Michigan is among just four states whose default is to treat 17-year-olds as adults in criminal proceedings.

The bills’ supporters say 17-year-olds could receive age-appropriate rehabilitation services that are unavailable in the adult corrections system. They say it is unfair to treat 17-year-olds as adults when 18 is the minimum wage to vote and serve on a jury.

FLINT WATER-DOCTOR’S BOOK

Flint pediatrician’s book selected as ‘Great Michigan Read’

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A book by a Flint pediatrician and public health expert who helped expose the city’s lead-contaminated water crisis has been selected as this year’s “Great Michigan Read.”

Michigan Humanities announced Wednesday Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s “What The Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City” was chosen for the program that kicks off in September and runs through fall 2020. Organizers say the effort aims to connect residents and deepen their understanding of the state, society and humanity through reading and discussion.

The book, selected by six regional committees, has been chosen for similar programs in Maryland and Rhode Island.

Michigan Humanities CEO Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki says in a release she hopes the “book will increase opportunities for civil discourse in our state.”

TRAFFIC DEATHS-MICHIGAN

Report: Michigan traffic deaths dipped below 1,000 last year

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say Michigan traffic deaths dipped below 1,000 in 2018 for the first time since 2015.

The Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center announced Wednesday that Michigan traffic deaths totaled 974 in 2018, down 5% from 1,028 in 2017 .

The total number of injuries, crashes and serious injuries also all declined. The percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities decreased by 12% to 315 in 2018 from 359 in 2017.

Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning , notes in a statement that there is “still a long way to go” to reduce the number of deaths and injuries. He says the office and its partners “will pursue effective countermeasures, such as education and enforcement.”

BACKPACK SEARCH

Michigan court tightens legal standard on car searches

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has tightened the legal standard for searching people during a traffic stop.

The court ruled in favor of a car passenger who said his rights were violated when police in Jackson County searched his backpack without his consent.

The backpack held marijuana and methamphetamine. But in a unanimous decision Monday, the Supreme Court says the search was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says Larry Mead had a “legitimate expectation” of privacy.

Mead was a passenger in a car stopped by a sheriff’s deputy. The deputy looked in Mead’s backpack after the driver said the car could be searched.

McCormack compared it to someone using a ride-sharing service. She says police can’t search a passenger based on consent from a driver. Mead served nearly three years in prison.

EASTERN MICHIGAN-PROFESSORS

E. Michigan agrees to contract extension with professors

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Eastern Michigan University and the union representing its professors have agreed to a two-year contract extension.

The Ypsilanti school says the agreement covers about 650 tenured and tenure-track faculty. It was approved Tuesday by the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents after being ratified by the EMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors last month.

The agreement is effective Sept. 1. It includes salary increases and changes to health care benefits.

Rhonda Longworth, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, says in a statement the agreement “signals an exceptionally strong commitment to collaboration.”

EMU-AAUP President Judith Kullberg tells The Ann Arbor News that the agreement allows those involved to “save a lot of time and expenses on both sides and also avoid possible conflict.”

SAPLINGS STOLEN-SCHOOL

Saplings apparently stolen from school; replacements planted

(Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer, http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com)

SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Officials say 10 fruit tree saplings that were to be planted by students at a school in southern Michigan to celebrate Earth Day were apparently stolen before they could be put in the ground.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the trees that cost about $200 had been placed outside Battle Creek Montessori Academy in Springfield on Friday in preparation for Monday’s scheduled planting. When Jessica Eldridge, the head of the school, and others went out to get them they were gone.

As word of the apparent theft spread, parents and businesses donated money and replacement trees. Those trees were planted Monday.

Eldridge says they anticipate the school “will have a really good orchard in a few years.” Students will learn to care for the trees and eventually harvest fruit.

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TOXIC CHEMICALS-MICHIGAN

Air Force official to discuss community’s water pollution

OSCODA, Mich. (AP) — A Pentagon official is scheduled to visit a northern Michigan community where toxic chemicals from a former U.S. Air Force base are polluting drinking water.

Air Force Assistant Secretary John Henderson will hold a public forum Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Oscoda.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan says the program will provide updated information about efforts to clean up contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS.

The toxins are used in a wide variety of stain- and stick-resistant household products. They’re also a component of firefighting foam used at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and many other military installations.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is pushing the Air Force to step up treatment of polluted groundwater in the area.

FORD-ELECTRIC VEHICLE INVESTMENT

Ford to invest $500M in electric vehicle startup Rivian

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is sinking a half-billion dollars into electric vehicle startup Rivian in a deal that has the companies working together on a new generation of Ford vehicles based on Rivian underpinnings.

Ford will become a minority partner in Rivian, which is based outside of Detroit and recently rolled out a new electric pickup truck and an SUV that will go on sale late next year.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett says in a statement that the partnership will bring a fresh approach to Ford’s intelligent and electric vehicles. He says Rivian will benefit from Ford’s manufacturing expertise and resources.

Rivian will remain an independent company. But Ford President of Automotive Joe Hinrichs (HIN-ricks) will get a seat on the startup’s seven-member board.