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CHURCH GRANTS

Church spreads the wealth years after getting large gift

CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) — A large gift to a small church continues to provide benefits to people in Shiawassee County. Nearly 10 local organizations got grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 from Juddville United Methodist Church. Angel’s Hands Outreach in Owosso received the largest amount. It provides clothing, household items and services to people in need. The founder, Christial Sierra, looked at the $50,000 check and said, “I’m trying not to cry.” The money comes from the estate of Jack and Ruth Walworth. They left more than $2 million with Juddville United Methodist Church. The Rev. Peter Crawford says the church in turn shares it with the community.

DETROIT BLIGHT

Black-owned Detroit companies get half of demolition funds

DETROIT (AP) — About half of the first demolition funds awarded following a bond proposal approved by Detroit voters have gone to Black-owned businesses based in the city. The city says that, so far, the Detroit Demolition Department, which runs the city’s blight removal program, has awarded $70 million for the abatement and demolition of vacant houses and clearing out structures that will be secured for renovation and sale. Only 10% of all contracts awarded have gone to companies not headquartered in Detroit. Detroit has demolished about 19,000 vacant and abandoned houses since 2014, but most of that work was paid with federal funds which placed restrictions on how contracts were bid and where the structures being torn down were located.

AP-US-ELECTION-REVIEWS-EXPLAINER

EXPLAINER: As Arizona election ‘audit’ ends, new ones begin

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The most closely watched attempt by Republicans to examine the 2020 presidential election came to an embarrassing end this week in Arizona, but efforts to conduct more are cranking up elsewhere. The most recent is in Republican-controlled Texas, where the secretary of state’s office announced it would begin a “full and comprehensive forensic audit” of the 2020 election in four heavily populated counties. These reviews go by various names: “audits” or “investigations,” sometimes with the word “forensic” attached. But their scope is not always well-defined or understood, even by those pushing them. Critics say they have one goal: to validate Trump’s baseless claim that widespread fraud cost him the election, regardless of what they find.

AP-US-CAMPUS-SEXUAL-ASSAULT-PROTESTS

Sexual assault cases spur protests on campuses across US

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Reports of sexual assaults have fueled protests on at least eight U.S. college campuses just weeks into the new school year. Victims’ advocates say more young people are vulnerable this year as they settle into campus life after learning remotely because of the pandemic. They also say students seem more engaged in speaking out against campus sexual assault and adept at drumming up support for the cause social media. Sexual assault allegations have led students to demonstrate over the past month at colleges in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Alabama, Michigan, Massachusetts and Missouri. Advocates say COVID-19 restrictions last year kept some sophomores from fully settling into college life, making them more vulnerable to assaults.

NMU PRESIDENT

Fritz Erickson fired as president at Northern Michigan U.

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — The president of Northern Michigan University has been fired. NMU’s governing board voted 8-0 to dismiss Fritz Erickson, who had led the Upper Peninsula school since July 2014. Trustee Steve Young says “good things” have happened in Marquette but the school “can and must do more.” Erickson was a vice president at Ferris State University before moving to NMU. He also worked at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Eastern Washington University and Michigan Tech University. NMU has approximately 7,600 students. Trustees briefly met by video conference solely to fire Erickson. Erickson later said NMU is a “better place” than when he arrived.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Top Michigan health official Khaldun leaving for new job

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s chief medical executive and a top pandemic adviser to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is leaving state government for a new job in the private sector. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun will be replaced at least temporarily by Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, a senior public health physician in the state health department who oversaw COVID-19 testing strategy. Khaldun was appointed as chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health in 2019. She also is a practicing emergency physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Her new job will be revealed soon. Whitmer has begun a search to select a permanent chief medical executive. 

STATES-CYBERSECURITY-HIRING STRUGGLES

States at disadvantage in race to recruit cybersecurity pros

CHICAGO (AP) — Hiring and retaining people capable of helping fend off a constant stream of cyberattacks and other online threats tops the list of concerns for state technology leaders. There’s a severe shortage of those professionals and not enough financial firepower to compete with the federal government, global companies and specialized cybersecurity firms. The U.S. government and individual states have created training programs, competitions and scholarships in hopes of filling the gap of cybersecurity pros. But those strategies could take years to pay off though. In the meantime, states have turned to outside contractors, civilian volunteers and the National Guard for help. 

MICHIGAN BUDGET-MASKS

Whitmer to nix budget provision that tries to ban mask rules

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office says she will declare unenforceable a Republican-written budget provision that seeks to ban indoor mask requirements for children. The Democrat had been expected to block the language as unconstitutional since $55 billion in spending was passed by the Legislature this week. Spokesman Bobby Leddy confirmed next week’s move Friday, calling the proposed restriction “dangerous.” The provision, which isn’t tied to spending, would prevent the state health director and local health officers from issuing or enforcing orders that require kids under age 18 to wear a mask. Various counties mandate masking in schools to curb COVID-19.

HOMESICK BEAR-MICHIGAN

Bear euthanized after being recaptured in Traverse City area

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A black bear that traveled back to an area in northern Michigan after being removed for raiding bird feeders and trash cans has been euthanized. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the large male bear was recaptured Thursday. Holly Vaughn of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources says the bear was moving closer to downtown Traverse City and was comfortable around humans and in human settings. The department transported the bear in April about 90 miles to the Alpena area in the eastern end of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He was given a lip tattoo, ear tags and fitted with an electronic collar. The following month the radio collar indicated he was back in Grand Traverse County.

CRASH-TROOPER KILLED

Guilty plea in crash that killed Michigan state trooper

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A woman has been convicted in a drunken driving crash that killed a Michigan state trooper last summer. Thomasina Jones pleaded guilty Thursday in Ionia County Circuit Court to second-degree murder, operating a vehicle with a high blood-alcohol content causing death, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and driving on a suspended, revoked or denied license. Police have said that trooper Caleb Starr was driving east of Grand Rapids in Boston Township in July 2020 when a vehicle crossed the center line from the opposite direction and smashed into his patrol car. Another trooper testified in an earlier hearing that Jones’ blood-alcohol level was 0.23, about three times over Michigan’s legal limit.