Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan governor ties eased restrictions to vaccine rate

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to tie the lifting of coronavirus restrictions to the state’s vaccination rate, setting four benchmarks to return to normal. She says as more people get shots Michigan will allow in-person work for all business sectors and lift indoor capacity limits. About half of residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, but the state has become a national hotspot for COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Under the “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, indoor capacity limits at restaurants and other venues will be lifted once 65% are vaccinated. At a 70% rate, the gatherings and face mask order will go away unless unanticipated circumstances arise.

POLICE SHOOTING-DOG ATTACK

Michigan sheriff’s deputy bitten by dog kills animal, owner

READING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — State police say a sheriff’s deputy killed an attacking dog and the animal’s owner in southern Michigan. The incident occurred Wednesday night in Hillsdale County’s Reading Township. State police say the deputy was responding to a call about a dog on the loose. The deputy told investigators that he shot the dog after it bit him as he entered the premises. The deputy then shot Oscar Herrera, the owner who was upset and confronted him with a knife. The deputy was treated for dog bites. His name hasn’t been released. State police detectives have been assigned to investigate the incident.

SECRETARY OF STATE-APPOINTMENTS

Appointment-only visits to secretary of state here to stay

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents who visit secretary of state offices will need an appointment even after the pandemic ends. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Thursday that she is making permanent a change that was done to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Gone are the days when a person could walk into a branch and wait in line. Benson called the old way an “antiquated, inefficient, take-a-number system that nobody liked.” She says appointment slots will be increased by 10% in the near future, with tighter scheduling that will enable the government to serve roughly 35,000 more residents per month.

JUVENILE LIFER-COP

Man who killed cop as teen in ’83 gets new shorter sentence

BURTON, Mich. (AP) — A 54-year-old man who killed a police officer when he was a teenager will get a chance at parole after a Flint-area judge reduced his life sentence. Shane Richey was entitled to a new hearing as a result of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that stopped automatic no-parole sentences for teens. Richey was 16 in 1983 when he shot Burton Officer Terry Thompson, who was responding to a burglary alarm at a store. Judge Celeste Bell sentenced Richey this week to a minimum term of 40 years in prison, which means he’ll soon be eligible for parole. Richey expressed remorse and says he thinks about the officer’s family every day.

DETROIT EX-MAYOR-CRONY

Detroit ex-mayor’s pal wins release from prison years early

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit contractor who got millions of dollars of city work through extortion will be released early from prison. A judge is citing Bobby Ferguson’s health. But the judge also says it would be unfair to keep Ferguson locked up when former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was released by President Donald Trump. In 2013, Ferguson and Kilpatrick were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, extortion and bribery. Evidence showed Kilpatrick went to bat for his buddy and punished other contractors who didn’t make room for Ferguson on excavation projects. Ferguson has been in prison for eight years of a 21-year sentence. Kilpatrick served more than seven years.

BKH-ALL STATE-DIVISION 1

Ty Rodgers wins Michigan AP Division 1 Player of Year award

Grand Blanc junior Ty Rodgers led Grand Blanc to its first boys basketball state championship. A panel of 11 sports writers from around Michigan rewarded him by voting him the Division 1 Player of the Year. The three-year starter is the nephew of former Michigan State and NBA star Jason Richardson, who won Michigan’s Mr. Basketball Award in 1999 while playing for Saginaw Arthur Hill. Rodgers’ college offers include Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Florida and Houston, Ohio State and Syracuse.  

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HEALTH DIRECTOR

Ex-health chief: I quit after Whitmer wanted ‘new direction’

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s former health director says he resigned in January after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told him it was “time to go in a new direction.” Robert Gordon’s statement to a legislative committee Thursday confirmed what the governor’s office had refused to say publicly despite his $155,000 severance deal — that he was ousted after two years on the job. Gordon, with Whitmer’s support, issued COVID-19 restrictions in the fall and winter after the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law that underpinned her orders. The House Oversight Committee hearing is ongoing. The governor has not said why she replaced Gordon.

POLICE ACADEMY-MARIJUANA

Old Flint police academy could become marijuana nursery

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A site where Flint police officers blossomed could become a home for budding marijuana. The city administration is proposing to sell the old Flint police academy to Evergrow LLC, which grows marijuana. Evergrow is offering $500,000 for the 4-acre property. The building has been empty for years; the last police academy class graduated in 2010. Flint council member Santino Guerra says it’s “kind of ironic” that a training site for police could become a marijuana grow shop. Council member Eric Mays says the city should move quickly. Mays says, “I don’t want to blow a deal.” 

AIR POLLUTION

People of color more exposed than whites to air pollution

Across America, people of color are exposed to more air pollution than whites from industry, vehicles, construction and many other sources, a new study has found. Using government air pollution and census data, researchers found that disproportionate numbers of non-white people were exposed to potentially hazardous fine particle pollution from nearly all major U.S. emission sources, regardless of where they live or how much money they make. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, also found that Blacks were the only group disproportionately exposed to each of the pollution sources examined.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FEDERAL RELIEF

Michigan House: Give unemployed $1,000 if they find job

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Unemployed people who find a job would get $1,000 as part of $12.7 billion in proposed COVID-19 relief spending advancing in the Michigan Legislature. The “return to work” grants would cover up to 400,000 residents. They are included in supplemental budget bills that advanced from or took a step forward in the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, but are a ways off from being enacted since there is no deal with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. All but $1 billion in funding would come from federal coronavirus packages that were approved in March and December.