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GENEROUS LIBRARIANS

Librarians step up to help people with water bills

KINGSLEY, Mich. (AP) — Librarians in a small northern Michigan town are helping people with more than books. More than $500 in overdue water bills in Kingsley were paid off by librarians. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported the generosity in a year-end story about local good Samaritans. Kingsley village Manager Dan Hawkins says he matched librarians with people who needed help while keeping all identities private. Some water bills were suspended during the pandemic but the debt wasn’t erased. Library manager Amy Barritt said staff will accept donations from the public for water bills or the library.

LAWSUIT DISMISSED

US judge in Michigan tosses gay corrections officers’ suit

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge in Michigan has tossed a lawsuit brought by two gay corrections officers, ruling some of their discrimination claims weren’t sufficiently proven and that statutes of limitation barred others. The Detroit Free Press Friday cited a lawyer for the plaintiffs as saying his clients were “devastated” by the ruling. Michelle Wood alleged in the suit she was regularly singled out for taunts and slurs, then was retaliated against after she complained. Her partner, Loretta Smith, alleged she was demoted to a midnight shift and faced a hostile work environment after Wood complained. Wood retired in 2019 after more than 25 years in the job, saying she was under so much pressure in a hostile environment that her departure felt like she’d been fired.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HOSPITAL TENT

Hospital turns to heated tent to ease COVID-19 crush

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A hospital in western Michigan is using a heated tent as extra emergency space due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The tent at Mercy Health Muskegon was set up a few weeks ago but put into service Thursday. The hospital topped 95% capacity during the week. Dr. Justin Grill, chief medical officer at Mercy Health Muskegon, says he never would have predicted that the hospital would need to use a tent. Someone who is examined in the tent would get the same services found in the regular emergency department. After 11 p.m., all services move inside. 

FATAL STABBING-BOY

Young man who fatally stabbed boy when he was 12 is free

KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) — A young man who was 12 years old when he fatally stabbed another child in the Grand Rapids area has been released from court supervision. Jamarion Lawhorn now is 19. He was at Evart Youth Center, a secure treatment and education site, until last March. He’s done well while living with a family. Probation officer Dan Cory says Lawhorn recently bought his own vehicle. Cory says he’s turned into a “fine young man.” Lawhorn apologized again to the family of a 9-year-old boy who was randomly stabbed at a playground in Kentwood in 2014. At trial, there was evidence of Lawhorn’s stormy childhood, neglect and abuse.

SCHOOL SHOOTING-MICHIGAN

More details emerge about teen in Michigan school shooting

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has denied a request to lower a $500,000 bail set for two parents who with their son are charged in a fatal Michigan school shooting. The judge says James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to turn themselves in when charged with involuntary manslaughter on Dec. 3 and have few ties to the area. The Crumbleys have been jailed since Dec. 4 and unable to meet the bond. They are charged in a shooting that killed four students at Oxford High School on Nov. 30. They’re accused of making a gun accessible to their son, Ethan Crumbley, who is charged separately as an adult with murder and other crimes. Earlier Friday, he waived a key evidentiary hearing. 

FATAL FIRE

2 people likely dead after house fire in Upper Peninsula

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A fire at a house in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula likely killed two people. They were trapped inside the home when fire struck Friday night in Portage Township in Houghton County. One body was found but police still were trying to locate the other Saturday. The cause of the fire was being investigated.

GRAND RAPIDS-POLICE CHIEF

Public forum set for Grand Rapids police chief candidates

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The public will get an opportunity to see candidates who want to become the next police chief in Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan. The Jan. 19 forum will be held in City Commission chambers. The candidates are expected to give brief remarks and answer questions from community members. Residents will be able to participate in an online survey about the candidates following the forum. Chief Eric Payne is retiring after more than 30 years with the department and 2 1/2 years as the city’s top cop. Grand Rapids says 35 law enforcement professionals expressed interest in the job. 

EX-MICHIGAN LAWMAKER-SEXUAL ASSAULT

Ex-Mich. lawmaker denies assault allegation, admits affairs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan legislative leader is denying allegations that he raped his future sister-in-law starting when she was 14 or 15, saying they had a sexual relationship for years but were both consenting adults. Lee Chatfield, a Republican, led the House in 2019 and 2020. His attorney Mary Chartier said Friday that Chatfield has had multiple extramarital affairs, including with his accuser. Chartier says Chatfield will vigorously fight the “false claims.” The 26-year-old woman is one of Chatfield’s sister-in-laws. She filed a complaint in late December with the Lansing Police Department. State police in northern Michigan are also investigating. Michigan’s legal age of consent is 16.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan gets initial small shipment of COVID-19 pills

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has received an initial, albeit small, federal shipment of COVID-19 pills that can be taken at home. The arrival of the oral medications comes as the state confronts record high coronavirus cases and near-peak hospitalizations. The pills cleared federal approvals over two weeks ago and can only be obtained with a prescription. State health officials say supplies are scarce and eligibility requirements are tight. People should still get vaccinated and wear a mask in public to protect themselves. The antivirals have to be taken as soon as possible once symptoms appear.

AP-US-ABORTION-BALLOT-DRIVE

Ballot drive to protect abortion rights launched in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A ballot drive being launched in Michigan would protect a woman’s right to an abortion in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Supporters of the petition that Reproductive Freedom for All launched on Friday say it would amend the state constitution to affirm the right to make pregnancy decisions without political interference, including about abortion. The ballot committee needs about 425,000 voter signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. Michigan still has a 90-year-old abortion ban on its books if Roe v. Wade is reversed. The high court last month heard arguments about whether to uphold Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks, and abortion rights supporters fear it might even overturn Roe v. Wade.