Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST
Whitmer proposes $300M in water funding for communities
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing $300 million in water spending to help local utilities address elevated lead levels, plan for pipe replacement and connect users of contaminated wells to the municipal supply. The governor said Thursday that the funding will expand her $500 million MI Clean Water Plan, some of which has been authorized since it was unveiled more than a year ago. The new funds, which would come from U.S. pandemic relief dollars, will need to be approved by the Republican-led Legislature. She says there’s a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to use the federal dollars to “make lasting investments in our water infrastructure.”
Audit: Michigan unemployment error overpaid $3.9 billion
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A scathing audit has found that in processing 5.4 million unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, shortcomings in the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency Office caused $3.9 billion in overpayments. The audit released Thursday says the state will likely not recoup that money. That is because the fault lies solely on the agency and not the claimants. The mistakes led to 648,100 Michigan residents receiving letters this summer saying that they’d have to reapply for eligibility, according to the audit. Of those claimants 347,437 who had previously been marked as eligible for benefits are now ineligible.
SENIOR CENTER FIRE
Residents evacuate safely while fire destroys senior center
ALGONAC, Mich. (AP) — First responders broke windows to help some residents escape a fire in a building at their housing complex in southeastern Michigan. The fire at Rolling Brook Senior Living in Algonac was reported shortly before noon Thursday. St. Clair County Sheriff Mat King said all of the approximately 24 residents were able to evacuate safely. King says first responders needed to break windows to free some of them. Algonac Fire Chief Joe Doan says the blaze started outside the main entrance in or around a garbage can, and the cause is under investigation. He says the building was destroyed.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-PRISONER RELEASED
Prisoner’s early release over COVID-19 fears is reversed
DETROIT (AP) — A federal appeals court has stepped in and reversed a decision to release a Michigan man from prison because of COVID-19 fears. The court pointed to Roger Sweet’s record of violence against women and abuse of children. The 73-year-old Sweet had seven years remaining on a 21-year sentence for sexual exploitation when a judge ruled in his favor in April. She acknowledged that his crimes were “abhorrent” but said chronic health conditions made him vulnerable in the pandemic. Sweet has finished a state prison sentence for the murder of his first wife but is being investigated for the death of his second wife.
Man arrested in slaying of Detroit mother in her driveway
DETROIT (AP) — A man who had been charged and released on bond in connection with a domestic violence case has been arrested in the fatal shooting of a Detroit mother who had just returned home after dropping her two children off at school. Detroit police said Thursday that the 45-year-old man was taken into custody after being wanted for questioning in the slaying. He has not been charged as of Thursday evening. Police Chief James White said Wednesday that the shooting occurred about 9 a.m. in the woman’s driveway on the city’s eastside. Police said the pair had been in a relationship.
NARCAN VENDING MACHINE-JAIL
Jail vending machine provides naloxone to discharged inmates
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A jail in southeastern Michigan has a vending machine that dispenses kits designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. The Oakland County sheriff’s office says Thursday that naloxone nasal rescue kits are available free of charge to inmates being discharged from its jail in Pontiac. As part of the release process, deputies advise discharged inmates they can take the kits for personal use or for a family member who may be dependent on opioids. Naloxone commonly is referred to as Narcan. The sheriff’s office says the Narcan project is through Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and its Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.
Schools shift learning, take days off to ease COVID stress
DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s largest school district will switch to online learning on Fridays in December in response to rising COVID-19 cases and the need for mental health relief. Meanwhile, some Michigan schools are taking next week off instead of just three days for the Thanksgiving holiday. Muskegon Superintendent Matthew Cortez says even a small break is a good time for “self care.” Schools will also be closed next week in the Galesburg-Augusta, Ravenna and Wyoming districts. Michigan and Minnesota have been leading the U.S. this week in the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.
Judge dismisses body disposal charge against crematory owner
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — A charge of improperly disposing of a body has been dismissed against the owner of a crematory in southeastern Michigan. Washtenaw County District Judge J. Cedric Simpson ruled Monday that state prosecutors didn’t have the evidence to support the felony charge against O’Neil Swanson. Swanson said Thursday that the body was dropped off in March 2019 at Tri-County Cremation Services in Ypsilanti Township — more than a year before the limited liability corporation he was a part of bought the facility. Swanson, who pleaded no contest to two felonies in 2019 in connection to a Flint-area funeral home, says he’s been targeted by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The Associated Press left messages Thursday seeking comment from the state licensing agency.
ANN ARBOR-MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS
Ann Arbor to require free menstrual products in restrooms
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Free menstrual products will be mandatory in restrooms that serve the public in Ann Arbor. The ordinance was approved unanimously this week by the city council and will kick in on Jan. 1. All public restrooms in Ann Arbor, including in bars and restaurants, must offer toilet paper, soap, paper towels, tampons and menstrual pads. Violations can result in $100 tickets. Mayor Christopher Taylor gave credit to a high school student who expressed concerns about some residents having difficulty obtaining menstrual products. Council member Travis Radina says the ordinance will apply to men’s restrooms, too. Churches and other places of worship might qualify for exemptions.
White House offering more aid for winter heat, utility bills
The Biden administration is helping to distribute several billion dollars in aid for winter heating and utility bills. The money comes largely from the administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. It provides an additional $4.5 billion for the government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which typically has funding of $3 billion to $4 billion annually. Aid for renters can also cover utility costs. The White House is hosting a call Thursday for governors’ offices to help release the aid to vulnerable households. Speakers will include the Energy and Health and Human Services secretaries and the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan and Minnesota.