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AP-US-FLINT-WATER

Year later, Flint water criminal cases move slowly in court

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge has heard arguments from lawyers for Michigan’s former health director who wants involuntary manslaughter charges dismissed in the Flint water crisis. It’s been a year since former Gov. Rick Snyder and others were charged for their alleged roles in the switch of Flint’s water source and subsequent lead contamination. There also was a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The cases are moving slowly, bogged down by disputes over millions of documents and even whether a Flint court is the proper venue. Water from the Flint River was used in 2014-15 without it being treated to reduce the corrosive effect on aging urban pipes.

MICHIGAN STATE POLICE-TRAFFIC STOPS

Michigan state police disproportionately stop Black drivers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The leader of the Michigan State Police is pledging changes in conjunction with the release of an independent report finding that troopers disproportionately pulled over Black drivers in 2020 traffic stops. African American motorists were more likely to be stopped than expected under a series of benchmarks, according to the research done by the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. The review also says Black and Hispanic drivers were significantly more likely than White motorists to be searched or arrested after traffic stops. Col. Joe Gasper outlined a five-point plan to better understand and address the disparities.

SCHOOL SHOOTING-MICHIGAN

Not-guilty plea entered for teen in Michigan school shooting

A Michigan teenager charged in a mass shooting that left four students dead at his high school and others wounded has made his first appearance in trial court. Fifteen-year-old Ethan Crumbley was arraigned Wednesday in Oakland County Circuit Court via video from the jail where he’s being held on first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and gun charges. Crumbley is charged as an adult in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School. Crumbley’s attorneys on Friday waived his preliminary examination, moving the case toward trial. Through defense attorney Paulette Michel Loftin, Crumbley stood mute Wednesday and entered a plea of not guilty.

NO RAISE-LAWSUIT

Traverse City-area official loses lawsuit over raise

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a 71-year-old elected official in the Traverse City area who blamed a lack of raises on age discrimination. Peggy Haines is the register of deeds in Grand Traverse County. She claimed county commissioners targeted her after she opposed a plan to merge her job with the county clerk. Haines said she was excluded from a raise in 2020 when commissioners gave raises to the county administrator, the elected clerk and themselves. But Judge Jason Elmore says a lack of evidence doomed Haines’ discrimination claim. He also says a state civil rights law doesn’t cover her position. Haines and other county employees did receive a recent pay raise.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan projects COVID-19 surge won’t peak for some weeks

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s record high  COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations could peak in late January or early February before beginning to drop. State health officials gave the outlook Tuesday while urging residents to help control the height of the crest. Health leaders, who are reluctant to reinstate restrictions, have implored people to voluntarily be vaccinated, get a booster shot if eligible, wear a well-fitting mask in public and avoid large gatherings. The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends that residents upgrade to an N95 mask or wear two masks that fit well.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-DETROIT SCHOOLS

Detroit expects return to classrooms by end of January

DETROIT (AP) — Students in Detroit’s public schools could return to their classrooms in about two weeks. The district says in-person classes are expected to resume by Jan. 24 or Jan. 31 at the latest. The district switched all schools to virtual learning last week due to increasing COVID 19 cases and the city’s poor vaccination rate, and about 2,000 laptops were given out by schools in Detroit. The district says most students have a learning device at home that was provided last year or this year. About 58% of the district’s 50,000 students attended class virtually last Thursday. On Friday, attendance rose slightly to 61%.

AP-US-BOOKS-GRANT-HILL-

Hall of Famer Grant Hill’s memoir ‘Game’ coming out in June

NEW YORK (AP) — Grant Hill’s path to the NBA Hall of Fame had plenty of pain along with all the highlights. Hill has a deal with Penguin Press for the memoir “Game,” scheduled for June 7. It’s billed by the publishers as a full, frank story that covers both the pinnacle of success and the depths of personal trauma. Hill will tell about helping Duke University win back-to-back NCAA titles and his achievements with professional teams like the Detroit Pistons. He will also discuss the ankle problems that plagued him for years and the health struggles of his wife, Tamia Hill.

HARASSING CALL-GOP

Flint-area Republican leader gets probation for harassment

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The leader of the Flint-area Republican Party has been placed on probation and ordered to write an essay about the effects of bullying. Matthew Smith admits making a harassing phone call to a Democratic official in the Upper Peninsula who was being challenged by his buddy in the 2020 election. But Smith denied that he threatened to poison Jennifer Kelly’s dogs. Kelly is the elected clerk in Houghton County. Besides leading Genesee County Republicans, Smith is a school board member in Davison. The controversy has led to a recall effort against him. Smith must perform 240 hours of community service and pay $650. His record eventually will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble.

STATE OF STATE

Whitmer plans virtual State of the State speech on Jan. 26

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — For the second straight year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her annual State of the State address to lawmakers and the public virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The speech is set for Jan. 26. The Democratic governor and Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth announced the format and date Monday, saying they agreed the address should be held remotely “to ensure everyone can safely partake in this time-honored event.” Additional details will be announced soon. The governor typically addresses legislators inside the Michigan House chamber, summing up the prior year and outlining a policy agenda in remarks that are broadcast.

AP-PET-RESCUES-LEFT-BEHIND

Special rescues help ailing owners find pets’ next home

NEW YORK (AP) — Who will take your pet when you die? The question often doesn’t have an easy answer. That’s especially true for ill or older people headed to residential nursing care or assisted living. Specialized rescue, advocacy and adoption services run by volunteers are trying to fill the void. Leaders in the small movement say the pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to the need for making a plan for pets. The number of pets surrendered to shelters due to caretaker health or death is up from 7.3% in 2009 to 10.2% during the pandemic. That’s according to the Best Friends Network of thousands of public and private shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations.