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The Latest: Michigan family devastated by fatal crash

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The death of a Michigan family of five in a vehicle crash in Kentucky has devastated their relatives and friends.

Habib Abbas of Dearborn, a cousin of the father, told The Detroit News that when he first heard about it he didn’t believe it and went about his day.

He says: “I thought it was a rumor or something and then saw it again and called his sister. She and the family are even more in denial.”

Authorities identified the family members as 42-year-old Issam Abbas and Rima Abbas, 38 and their children, a boy Ali Abbas, 14 and girls Isabella Abbas, 13, and Giselle Abbas, 7.

Abbas says Issam Abbas was a lawyer and that Rima Abbas was a doctor and devoted mother to their children. He says the extended family was close and his cousin led a “beautiful life.”

He added: “You don’t expect a whole family to get wiped out. You think to yourself ‘What’s the worst case scenario?’ and that’s it.”


New tests of southwestern Michigan wells find no dioxin

OTSEGO, Mich. (AP) — Officials say another round of testing at private residential wells in southwestern Michigan found no presence of dioxin in most of the wells that previously tested positive for the contaminant.

Michigan and Allegan County officials on Monday announced the results of retesting at 21 private residential wells in Otsego. They say only one showed trace amounts of dioxin, but those were below drinking water standards.

The wells were retested in October after some results from a July sampling tested positive for the harmful manufacturing byproduct. It was later determined the July results were invalid due to laboratory testing equipment contamination.

Residential well tests near a paper factory landfill also came back negative for per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, known as PFAS . Soil samples will next be tested for dioxins and PFAS.


Michigan: Initial inventory of state forest roads complete

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An initial inventory of state forest roads maintained by Michigan’s Natural Resources department is complete.

The state says it spent two years mapping and reviewing the conditions of the network of roads. Computer mapping technology was used to consolidate previously mapped roads into a single, comprehensive database.

The work has led to a compilation of interactive maps that show where off-road vehicle use is allowed on state forest roads.

Forest Resources Division chief Deb Begalle says “forests roads are a resource to help people get out and enjoy Michigan’s public forests.”

Roads in the southern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula were inventoried last year. Northern Lower Peninsula roads were inventoried during 2017.


AAA: Michigan gas prices rise 5 cents to $2.09 per gallon

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are up about 5 cents in the past week to about $2.09 per gallon.

The Dearborn-based auto club says Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded is 54 cents less than a year ago. AAA Michigan says prices are at their lowest start to the month of January since 2016.

The state’s highest average was about $2.14 a gallon in the Jackson area. The lowest was about $2.04 in the Detroit area, where it was down about 3 cents from a week ago.

AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.




New nature preserve planned in southwestern Michigan

(Information from: The Herald-Palladium,

CHIKAMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A new 108-acre (44-hectare) nature preserve is planned in southwestern Michigan that will be open to the public.

The Herald-Palladium reports Elizabeth Leonard Rould recently donated the property in Berrien County’s Chikaming Township to Chikaming Open Lands .

The land will be named The Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve. It consists of mature woodland, wetlands and agricultural land. Rould and her late husband, Ed Leonard, lived on the property for more than 30 years. She says she spent much of her time there walking the woods with her dogs, observing the wildlife.

She says it’s “very important to me to know that other people, young and old, will be able to walk through it and really enjoy it just as I did.”

The new preserve is near other protected properties.



Official: Makeshift mannequins part of prison escape attempt

(Information from: Detroit Free Press,

NEW HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Two prisoners at a Michigan correctional facility could face attempted escape charges after officers found makeshift mannequins in their bunks.

The Detroit Free Press reports that an officer in a tower at the Macomb Correctional Facility northeast of Detroit spotted the men walking toward a fence Saturday evening as other prisoners headed to a chow hall.

Officials conducted an emergency prisoner count at the facility in New Haven and found the mannequins in the cell 24-year-old Chakaris Loury shared with 27-year-old Darious Culpepper. Loury is serving 25 years for assault with intent to commit murder. Culpepper is serving eight years for armed robbery.

State Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz tells the newspaper that sheets may have rolled up in the bunks to appear as people.



Lawmaker wants to continue Indiana Dunes national park plan

(Information from: The Times,

PORTER, Ind. (AP) — A congressman from Gary wants to continue the push to turn Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore into America’s 61st national park.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky says efforts will continue with the new Congress.

The U.S. House approved proposal failed to advance from a Senate subcommittee and expired Thursday when the 2-year term of the 115th Congress ended.

Visclosky said renaming Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a national park may help grow the regional economy and provide the 15,000-acre lakeshore along Lake Michigan “with the recognition it deserves.”

National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith told a U.S. Senate subcommittee in August that the Trump administration wants to limit that designation to sites with a variety of resources and encompassing large land or water areas.



Judge won’t face new charges for misconduct in murder trial

(Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus,

BRIGHTON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge won’t face any additional criminal charges after being found to have concealed a relationship with a detective involved in a murder trial she presided over.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday declined a last-minute plea to charge Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan with crimes involving concealing the relationship. Attorneys say the statute of limitations in the case expired Friday.

The attorney general’s office filed charges last month against Brennan for allegations that she committed perjury and destroyed evidence in her divorce case.

The relationship with the detective was brought to light in December after a misconduct complaint commission found Brennan in violation of the state’s code of conduct for judges and campaign finance rules.



Public invited to meetings on natural resource management

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Meetings are being held this month that allow Michigan residents to give input on policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities.

A Natural Resources Commission work planning session is scheduled Wednesday at the Ramada by Wyndam in Lansing. The commission’s regular meeting follows Thursday at Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

A Board of Foresters meeting also will be held Thursday at the DNR’s Gaylord Customer Service Center.

On Jan. 16, the Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council is to meet at Baraga Lakeside Inn in Baraga.

Belle Isle Park’s Advisory Committee will meet Jan. 17 at Belle Isle Nature Center in Detroit.

The Pigeon River Country Advisory Council will meet Jan. 25 in Corwith Township Hall in Vanderbilt.