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Juneteenth, recalling end of slavery, is marked across US
Parades, picnics and lessons in history are all part of Juneteenth events in the U.S. The day is carrying even more significance after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery. Juneteenth recalls June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Texas. In Detroit, teens repainted a block-long message, “Power to the People.” Officials in Bristol, Rhode Island, unveiled a marker that describes the seaport’s role in the slave trade. A street in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was renamed for civil rights activists Harry and Harriette Moore, who were killed in 1951. A Juneteenth parade was held in Evanston, Illinois, which is offering housing grants to Black residents for past discrimination.
FORMER TEACHER-SEX ABUSE
Ex-Catholic school teacher pleads guilty in sex abuse cases
JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A former Catholic school teacher has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children during his tenure at a southern Michigan school in the 1970s. Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office says 66-year-old Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty Friday in Jackson County to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Nessel’s office charged Comperchio in September with sexually abusing two children and added new charges in October related to two individuals. The charges stem from his work as a drama and music teacher at St. John Catholic School in Jackson, where he taught between 1974-77.
Michigan House approves bills to broaden organ donation
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation that would lift barriers on organ donation has passed the Michigan House. People with a disability or who test positive for HIV would have added protection under state law in the organ transplant process if the bills clear the state Senate and the governor’s desk. One bill reiterates the protections under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by outlawing the denial of a transplant or lowering people’s place on an organ waiting list because of their disability. The other bill would allow patients with HIV to donate their organs to HIV-positive recipients.
Man who had to remove prosthetic leg in jail loses lawsuit
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — A man who says his rights were violated when he was forced to remove his prosthetic leg in jail has lost a lawsuit against an Upper Peninsula county. A federal appeals court notes that Ralph Keller’s meals were delivered to him. Keller also was allowed to use a wheelchair outside his cell at the Chippewa County jail. The sheriff’s office said Keller had to remove his leg because it could be used as a weapon. He was released on his fourth day in custody. Keller also lost an appeal over how his breathing treatments were handled by the jail.
No charges filed against Michigan official who flashed rifle
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general says no charges will be filed against a county commissioner who displayed a rifle during a livestreamed meeting. Ronald Clous of the Grand Traverse County Board showed the weapon on camera Jan. 20, as a citizen on the phone urged the chairman to denounce the far-right Proud Boys. The board was meeting virtually from home during the pandemic. Attorney General Dana Nessel said Friday that Clous’ action was “reprehensible and irresponsible but not illegal.” Some residents of the northern Michigan community had demanded Clous’ resignation, while others said the incident was blown out of proportion.
HISTORIC MILL-RECORD YEAR
Amid pandemic, historic Indiana grain mill saw record year
BRISTOL, Ind. (AP) — A grain mill that opened more than 180 years ago in northern Indiana saw a sales boom during the pandemic after it opened a drive-through for customers eager to buy freshly milled grains. The historic Bonneyville Mill was closed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, like many Indiana businesses. But staff at the 1830s mill just south of the Michigan border converted its original horse and wagon bay that farmers once used to deliver freshly harvested grain into a drive-through for automobiles. The Elkhart Truth reports that allowed the mill to rack up its most profitable year on record for sales of freshly milled flour and other grains.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHERRY FEST
Cherry Fest to return, will offer on-site vaccine shots
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Organizers of a popular festival in northern Michigan that was shut down last year due to the coronavirus pandemic are encouraging people attending this summer to receive free COVID-19 vaccinations on-site. MLive.com reports that masks will not be required at the 95th National Cherry Festival scheduled July 3-10 at Traverse City’s Open Space Park. The Grand Traverse Health Department will offer the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a tent at the park. Michigan will lift all indoor capacity restrictions and mask requirements Monday instead of July 1 as the state’s vaccination rate increases and the numbers of COVID-19 infections continue to decrease.
Snyder-era officials charged in Flint lose court challenge
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge says a group of people indicted in the Flint water scandal has no right to challenge the evidence in District Court. The decision is a defeat for five people who were charged with felonies through indictments. Indictments are rarely used in state courts. People typically charged with felonies are entitled to a hearing called a preliminary exam at which a judge sends a case to trial or dismisses it. But Genesee County Judge Elizabeth Kelly said that’s not the procedure after an indictment. Nine people were indicted by a judge serving as a one-person grand jury in Flint. Former Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with misdemeanors and wasn’t part of the challenge.
TOWN’S BIG BILL
Township must pay $140K in legal fees on $500 verdict
GREENLEAF TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A small community in Michigan’s Thumb region has a large legal bill. Greenleaf Township, population 740, must pay roughly $140,000 in legal fees to a resident who won a $500 verdict in a dispute over Michigan’s open meetings law. An appeals court affirmed the award, which is more than the township’s annual budget. The township argued that the fees were excessive when compared to the small amount awarded to Christina Gibbard. But the court noted that state law grants “actual” legal fees to the winning side in an open meetings claim. Gibbard and Shelly Cook are watchdogs in the Sanilac County township. They sued Greenleaf officials over open meetings violations as well as as First Amendment retaliation and other allegations.
Semitrailer overturns, spills milk along Michigan freeway
HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Milk spilled from an overturned semitrailer shut down traffic for several hours along part of a freeway in western Michigan. The Ottawa County sheriff’s office reports that the truck’s driver drifted about 9:30 a.m. Friday from the roadway of Interstate 196 in Holland Township before overturning. Another tanker from the trucking company was called in to pump the remaining milk from the semitrailer. A county hazardous materials team assisted cleaning the milk from the roadway. The sheriff’s office did not report how much milk the semitrailer was hauling or how much spilled.