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Groups seek federal help with lead in Michigan city’s water

Advocacy groups want the Biden administration to help provide safe drinking water in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Tests in recent years have shown excessive lead levels in the low-income, predominantly Black city’s water. A petition filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says state and local officials haven’t done enough to deal with the problem. It asks the EPA to help distribute filters and provide free water from alternative sources. The EPA says it’s monitoring the situation. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week called for spending $20 million to remove lead service lines in Benton Harbor.


Whitmer vetoes bill to limit use of threat alert system

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have restricted state officials’ ability to use the Public Threat Alert System to announce new laws or executive orders The Democratic governor says the system has only been activated once in the five years since it was created. The state used a different, federal system last year to send alerts about Whitmer’s stay-at-home and mask orders to wireless devices due to the coronavirus pandemic. That angered GOP lawmakers who said it should only be activated for “immediate” threats. That system would not have been affected by the legislation.


U. of Michigan band plans ‘visually stunning’ Sept. 11 show

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan marching band is performing a halftime show on Saturday that its director says will not only pay tribute to the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, but also will be dazzling in its scope. During the 10-minute performance called “We Remember,” the 400 band members will carry a light — either a high-powered flashlight, a glowing orb, an illuminated umbrella or something else. The show will take place during the Wolverine football team’s night game against the University of Washington at Michigan Stadium, the 107,601-capacity Big House. Saturday marks 20 years since the terror attacks.


Whitmer signs last drunken driving expungement bill

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed the last bill in a package to allow first time drunken drivers to have a chance at getting their criminal records expunged. The bill signed Friday requires those who seek expungement to not apply until at least five years after sentencing, completion of imprisonment, completion of probation or discharge from parole, whichever comes last. Michigan previously offered no opportunity for those with drunken driving convictions to petition a court to get their criminal record expunged.


Most Henry Ford Health employees got COVID-19 vaccine

DETROIT (AP) — A major health care provider in southeastern Michigan said 92% of employees were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by a Friday deadline. Another 3% had their first shot. Henry Ford Health System has more than 30,000 workers. Employees will be suspended if they don’t get at least one dose by midnight or schedule an appointment. They’ll lose their job if they’re not fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. There are some exceptions. Separately, a lawsuit challenging the vaccine policy was suddenly dropped Friday ahead of a hearing in federal court.


Marianne Battani, longtime Detroit-area judge, dies at 77

DETROIT (AP) — Marianne Battani has died at age 77. Battani was a Detroit-area judge who served in local and federal courts for 40 years. U.S. District Court says Battani died Thursday after a lengthy illness. She retired as a federal judge less than a year ago. Battani was nominated to the federal court by President Bill Clinton in 1999, after about 20 years as a judge on the Detroit Common Pleas Court, 36th District Court and Wayne County Circuit Court. A fellow federal judge, David Lawson, says Battani’s “sense of rights and wrong was uncanny.” Lawson says she was a source of wise counsel.


Tornado confirmed this week in Hillsdale County

HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) — The National Weather Service confirms that a tornado with peak winds of 100 mph swept through Hillsdale County during a storm this week. No injuries were reported Tuesday night, though the tornado caused damage at Hillsdale Golf and Country Club. There were uprooted trees, broken limbs and other debris. The six-minute tornado had a maximum length of 5.4 miles and maximum width of 450 yards, according to the Weather Service. Nonetheless, experts described it as “weak.” During the storm, two 1,000-pound hay bales were picked up from a field south of Bankers Road and landed in a ditch and yard on the north side.


Chicago resists putting life rings at risky lake piers

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Park District says it plans to put life rings along the Lake Michigan waterfront, but only in areas that are considered safe to swim. The mother of a college student who drowned off a pier isn’t pleased. Miguel Cisneros drowned a few weeks before his planned departure for college in New York. A vigil for the 19-year-old was held Tuesday night. Rogers Park neighborhood residents have put life rings on the pier where Cisneros died but they have been removed by the Park District. Cisneros’ mother, Maria Diaz, says she’s “infuriated.” A legal expert says the Park District could be exposing itself to liability if life rings are placed in risky areas. 


Michigan hospital leaders renew vaccination plea amid deaths

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health and business officials are pleading with people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They cite hospital workforce shortages, unnecessary deaths and concerns that end-of-summer travel and the return to school may fuel a case surge. Hospitals are operating at near capacity as coronavirus caseloads rise and non-COVID-19 patients seek care they delayed. The 1,300 adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday was well below past peaks. But hospitals say there are fewer employees and that non-COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized for longer. Physicians say there’s a new dimension of stress and sadness on the front lines caring for dying patients who aren’t vaccinated.


Virus claims Black morticians, leaving holes in communities

MULLINS, S.C. (AP) — About 130 Black morticians have died of COVID-19 across the United States. The deaths are particularly notable because of the prominent role that funeral directors have long played in many Black communities. Often admired for their success in business, a number have been elected to political office, served as local power brokers, and helped fund civil rights efforts. Their deaths have left some successors struggling to fill their roles. At the same time, the services they arrange can serve as communal touchstones that draw mourners together. When the pandemic hit, the very closeness that distinguishes Black funerals put morticians at risk.