Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST

WINTER WEATHER-MICHIGAN

Storm drops heavy snow on northern Michigan; caution urged

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — A storm dropped more than a foot (1/3 meter) of snow on parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, creating hazardous driving conditions and keeping some students home from school.

The National Weather Service says the largest snowfall totals Monday were observed in the central and eastern Upper Peninsula and across the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Officials are urging people to be cautious when driving.

Lake Superior State University says its main campus in Sault Ste. Marie is closed Tuesday due to weather conditions, including blowing snow. The school says only essential personnel should report to work. The university says it plans to reopen Wednesday.

MLive.com reports weather including freezing rain led to school closings in parts of mid-Michigan, including some schools in Clare and Gladwin counties.

U OF MICHIGAN-LAWSUIT

U of Michigan to pay $300K to settle employee lawsuit

(Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a former employee’s whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuit.

MLive.com reports Tuesday that the school, through its attorney, signed a settlement agreement on Dec. 3 that was later released following a Freedom of Information Act records request by the news organization.

Amy J. Wang’s complaint said she was asked by her boss to lie to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services officials about the duties of another employee — a non-U.S. resident — who she says shouldn’t have been working in a permanent, managerial role.

The university didn’t admit liability in the settlement. Wang agreed to never again work for the school and cleared the university of any new claims related to her termination.

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GREAT LAKES-ICE BREAKING

Coast Guard commences annual ice-breaking operation

SAULT STE MARIE, Mich. (AP) — An annual ice-breaking effort is starting on waterways in and around northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie says Operation Taconite commenced Monday in response to expanded ice growth in commercial ports along western Lake Superior and the St. Marys River in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Operation Taconite encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, northern Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan.

The Coast Guard says that various commercial waterways may close in the coming weeks after due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment and the safety of island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges to get to and from the mainland.

WAYNE STATE-HISTORIC HOUSE

Wayne State University to move 19th-century Detroit house

(Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/)

DETROIT (AP) — Wayne State University plans to move the 19th-century Detroit home of its founder to make way for a campus development project.

Matt Lockwood, Wayne State’s director of communications, says February’s move of David Mackenzie’s former home will make room for an expansion and renovation to the neighboring Hilberry Theatre. The Detroit News reports the $65 million project will convert the Hilberry into a complex for theater, music, dance and arts-related events.

Harry Wyatt, Wayne State’s associate vice president for facilities planning and management, says the 1895 Queen Anne-style home will be moved around the block to property currently occupied by a parking lot. He says the new location still is near “the main part of the historic part of Wayne State.”

The house is part of a historic district.

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FIGHTING BLIGHT-MICHIGAN

Michigan Land Bank announces blight elimination grants

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Blight elimination funding is available for land banks and governmental units in Michigan counties with fewer than 50,000 people.

The Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority says the Michigan Rural Community Demolition grants are designed to help communities remove vacant and abandoned structures from neighborhoods to prepare the areas for developments that spark business investment and provide good jobs.

The maximum award per proposal is $50,000 and can be used toward dealing with vacant and abandoned, blighted commercial or residential structures.

Proposals will be evaluated based on their anticipated impact in promoting public safety, enhancing economic development, public and private investment in the project and alignment with the community vision or other place-making efforts.

Applications will be accepted until 2 p.m. on Feb. 15.

PET CAT’S TRAVELS

Missing Michigan cat found 2 months later in Florida

DETROIT (AP) — A cat from suburban Detroit decided to take a break from the winter cold, and he turned up in sunny Florida.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Dearborn resident Judy Sanborn was shocked when she received a call in December from a pet hospital more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) away in Tampa, Florida.

Staff told her they had her 2 1/2-year-old tabby named Bandit. The cat had been missing for more than two months.

Staff told Sanborn that a local resident had found the cat, who’d been identified through his microchip.

It’s unclear how Bandit made the cross-country trek. Sanborn guesses he hitched a ride on a moving vehicle or was found by someone in Michigan on their way to Florida.

Bandit is set to catch a return flight to Michigan this week.

NEW LAWMAKER-SCHOOL

UP school honors teacher as he leaves for the Legislature

(Information from: The Daily Mining Gazette, http://www.mininggazette.com)

BARAGA, Mich. (AP) — A choir sang the national anthem, and a band played “America the Beautiful.” A new lawmaker is heading to the state Capitol after a star-spangled tribute in the Upper Peninsula.

Greg Markkanen, a teacher at Baraga (BEAR’-uh-guh) High School, was elected to the House in November. District 110 covers many counties in the western Upper Peninsula.

The high school held an assembly for Markkanen last week. The Mining Gazette says he took the oath of office from the head of the Baraga school board and a judge from the Keweenaw Bay tribal court. Students walked up to Markkanen to congratulate him.

He says he’ll return when he can.

A student, Zach Sackett, is excited for Markkanen, saying “not many people” get an opportunity to serve in the Legislature.

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ATM ROBBERY-MICHIGAN

3 arraigned in theft of $99,000 from Detroit-area ATM

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Three people have been arrested in the theft of $99,000 from a Detroit-area bank’s ATM.

The Macomb County sheriff’s office says 22-year-old Davon Perry, 22-year-old Lorenzo Burks and 21-year-old Gisselle Delacruz were arraigned Monday.

The sheriff’s office says a service technician told investigators he was working on the ATM Wednesday in Harrison Township when a masked man with a gun demanded money from it.

Perry is charged with armed robbery, conspiracy and using a firearm during a felony. Burks is charged with conspiracy. Delacruz is charged with accessory after the fact.

They were ordered jailed on bond. Probable cause conferences are scheduled Jan. 16.

Only Perry has an attorney. The Associated Press left a message Monday seeking comment from his lawyer.

KALAMAZOO SHOOTINGS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Gunman’s family laments ‘senseless tragedy’

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Relatives of a man who pleaded guilty to killing six people in southwestern Michigan say their “hearts are broken” by the suffering of his victims.

Jason Dalton’s family and former wife released a statement Monday, expressing condolences to the victims and their families. Dalton’s family says “nothing that we can say is adequate.”

Dalton pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder, suddenly ending jury selection at his trial in Kalamazoo. He randomly shot eight people while driving around for Uber in February 2016. Two people survived.

Dalton faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison on Feb. 5. His family calls the case a “senseless tragedy.”

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FLINT WATER

Another misdemeanor deal in Flint water investigation

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s former drinking water regulator has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in the Flint water investigation.

It’s a break for Liane Shekter Smith, who was facing felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter , in an investigation of Flint’s lead-tainted water and a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Smith pleaded no contest Monday to disturbance of a lawful meeting and agreed to testify against others, if necessary. Special prosecutor Todd Flood praised her “candor and truthfulness.” Defense attorney Brian Morley says the case likely will be dismissed in six to 12 months.

Seven people now have resolved their cases with misdemeanor pleas.

Flint’s water was contaminated with lead when the city switched sources in 2014 and didn’t treat water to reduce corrosion. A former state health director and a state doctor are awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges related to a Legionnaires’ outbreak that was blamed on the water.