Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EST

IRON BELLE TRAIL

Michigan agency offers grants for Iron Belle Trail projects

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are taking applications for the fifth round of funding to support work along the Iron Belle Trail.

The Department of Natural Resources says proposals are due March 15 for grants up to $50,000. Recipients will be announced in May.

The trail offers two routes for hiking and bicycling that add up to more than 2,000 miles. Officials say the project is about 70 percent finished.

DNR state trails coordinator Paul Yauk says this year’s funding will focus on segments ready to go into construction this year or next, along with project engineering, design and purchase of trail signs.

Partners, communities and eligible nonprofits can apply for grants. A funding match is recommended but not required.

The department has awarded more than $1.4 million for the project since 2015.

FIAT CHRYSLER-DETROIT-THE LATEST

The Latest: Fiat Chrysler cutting jobs at Illinois plant

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler says it’s cutting about 1,400 jobs at a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that makes Jeep Cherokees — a move the automaker says is unrelated to a major investment in the Detroit area that could add 6,500 workers.

The automaker made the announcement about Belvidere on Tuesday, shortly after announcing the $4.5 billion Michigan investment that includes a new Detroit assembly plant. Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says they are “two separate, distinct actions.”

Tinson says the northern Illinois plant is the global manufacturing hub for Cherokees and “it’s feeling the softening demand of Cherokee in the global marketplace.”

The plant will continue with the remaining 3,760 workers. The company says in a statement it will work to place laid off workers in open, full-time positions as they become available.

GM PLANT CLOSINGS-LAWSUIT

UAW sues General Motors to stop plant closings in 3 states

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The United Auto Workers has sued General Motors in federal court to stop the closing of plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, claiming the company is forbidden from idling plants under its current contract.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio. The plants at which the UAW is trying to prevent closures are in Lordstown, Ohio; White Marsh, Maryland; and Warren, Michigan.

GM in a statement said the company’s November announcement about the closings doesn’t violate the contract and said the company is working with the UAW on “solutions to our business challenges.”

Lordstown assembles the Cruze subcompact sedan. The Maryland site operates manufactures electric motors and drive trains, and the Michigan plant makes transmissions.

UNITED METHODISTS

United Methodist delegates defeat bid to ease LGBT bans

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The United Methodist Church faces a likely surge in defections and acts of defiance now that delegates have rejected a move to ease the church’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy.

The delegates from the U.S. and abroad are meeting in St. Louis to set policy for America’s second-largest Protestant denomination, with 12.6 million members worldwide, including nearly 7 million in the United States.

The vote was taken Tuesday. Delegates are now taking up a competing measure that would tighten enforcement of the LGBT bans and encourage Methodists who opposed those policies to leave the church.

THREATS-MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR

Michigan man arrested for threatening Mississippi governor

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Michigan man has been arrested on charges that he made death threats to Mississippi’s governor.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that 48-year-old Harold Joseph Collins of Detroit has been charged with five counts of cyberstalking for threats made against Gov. Phil Bryant and his office by telephone in January.

MBI Director Lee Morrison says in a statement that Collins made threats of “a very serious and specific nature” against Bryant, a second-term Republican in his final year.

Collins was arraigned Monday in Jackson, with Hinds County Court Judge Melvin Priester Sr. ordering him jailed without bail. Court records show Collins will be assigned a public defender.

In a sworn statement, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent Andre Cartlidge says Collins made threats between Jan. 16 and Jan. 19.

SUBURBAN DETROIT FIRE

Blaze extinguished at suburban Detroit-area plastics plant

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Firefighters have extinguished a blaze at a suburban Detroit plastics plant that sent thick black smoke billowing into the air and was visible from miles away.

No injuries were reported in the fire Tuesday at U.S. Farathane in Auburn Hills.

Fire officials say the blaze occurred in a storage area behind the company’s building and consumed plastic containers holding cardboard.

Company President Andrew Greenlee issued a statement saying the cause of the fire is under investigation and the plant is expected to resume production later Tuesday.

MICHIGAN FIRE

Police: 3 kids dead, 4 family members hurt in Michigan fire

IMLAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — Police say three young children have died and four other family members were critically injured following an early-morning fire in Michigan.

Imlay City police Chief Scott Pike says officers and fire crews were called to the mobile home shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday and found it engulfed in flames.

Pike says a 29-year-old woman was found screaming outside and firefighters got six people, including her 42-year-old husband and their children, out of the home about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Detroit.

Pike says a 3-year-old girl and two boys, ages 5 and 6, died. He says the adults, a baby girl and an 18-month old boy were taken to hospitals.

The cause is under investigation, but Pike says authorities believe the home was having furnace issues before the fire.

GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST-FIRE

Gay rights activist accused of setting own home on fire

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Michigan police say a transgender, gay rights activist tried to fabricate a hate crime by setting his home on fire.

Nikki Joly’s attorney, Daniel Barnett, says the evidence is circumstantial. The 54-year-old Joly was charged last year with first-degree arson in the August 2017 fire that killed five pets. The Detroit News reports that a hearing is scheduled for March 8.

MLive.com obtained the arson investigation report that says gas station surveillance video shows Joly buying gasoline the day of the fire and traces of gasoline was found on his clothes. The report says phone records and witness statements show Joly was home around the time the fire was set.

Chicago police last week charged the black and gay actor Jussie Smollett with disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a racist and homophobic attack.

FOREVER CHEMICALS-MICHIGAN

Michigan releases results of water tests for PFAS chemicals

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Officials say samples taken at 64 water systems around Michigan last year had measurable levels of a class of long-lasting toxic chemicals.

The Department of Environmental Quality released findings Monday from a 2018 initiative to test Michigan’s public water sources for the substances known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS.

The compounds are used in a wide variety of consumer products including non-stick cookware and water-resistant fabrics.

The DEQ sampled 1,114 municipal water systems, along with hundreds of schools, child-care facilities and tribal systems.

Michigan requires cleanups if PFAS levels exceed 70 parts per trillion. The only systems that did so were the city of Parchment and Robinson Elementary School near Grand Haven.

An additional 62 systems had levels of 10 to 70 parts per trillion.