Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan governor bans dining out, extends jobless benefits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a sweeping order banning dine-in customers at restaurants and closing all bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The order will take effect at 3 p.m. Monday and last through March. She also ordered that more people qualify for unemployment benefits during the global pandemic. Businesses can still offer food and beverages for pickup, delivery and via a drive-through service. The state reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the Michigan total to 53.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUTO INDUSTRY THREAT

Automakers dodged parts shortage, but virus poses new threat

DETROIT (AP) — The global auto industry handled the first wave of coronavirus pretty well, largely avoiding a shortage of parts when Chinese factories were forced to close. Now it faces fast-moving new problems that may be beyond its control: falling sales and factory workers getting sick as COVID-19 spreads through the United States and elsewhere. Auto companies could be forced to slow or shutter factories, dip into savings and hunker down to make it through the pandemic that could tilt the world into a recession. 

SUPERINTENDENT CHARGED

Who wrote the letters? School chief acquitted at trial

BELLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — A school superintendent in northern Michigan says he feels blessed after a jury acquitted him in an investigation of anonymous allegations of assault against a principal. Terry Starr says his message is: “Keep the faith.” Starr is superintendent in the Kalkaska district, near Traverse City after working in the Elk Rapids district. Starr was accused of sending anonymous letters to Elk Rapids school officials in 2018, accusing a principal of grabbing the buttocks of a cheerleader. No assault occurred. Starr denies making the anonymous allegations. Jurors heard testimony from handwriting analysts who looked at envelopes.

ELECTION 2020-BIDEN-RUNNING MATE

Biden commits to picking woman as running mate if nominated

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden has committed to naming a woman as his running mate if he’s the Democratic presidential nominee. Biden’s declaration in Sunday night’s debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders comes as some Democratic voters have watched with disappointment as a historically diverse field of candidates dwindles to two white men. Biden was responding to a video question from a voter about how he would handle women’s health issues. Asked the same question, Sanders didn’t definitively commit but said, “In all likelihood, I will.” 

COUNCILMAN REMOVED

Flint councilman banned for 30 days getting legal help

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A Flint City Council member who was handcuffed and banned from meetings for 30 days has lined up legal help to try to get the sanction reversed. Eric Mays was escorted from a March 4 meeting, taken to jail and released. Council members say Mays has repeatedly been disruptive for weeks. Attorney Steve Haney acknowledges that Mays is a “polarizing figure.” But he says suspending him from meetings is a disservice to Flint residents, especially during the coronavirus crisis.

SHIP-SEAWALL

Grant from Legislature will protect Bay City ship, museum

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — State lawmakers have approved $200,000 to help build a seawall in Bay City to protect a retired Navy ship and a museum from high water. The USS Edson and Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum are near the mouth of the Saginaw River. MLive.com reports that high water is making it difficult to board the ship and use an adjacent parking lot. The Edson was deployed to Vietnam and was in service during the Cold War. State Rep. Brian Elder says people “from all corners” of Michigan visit to see the Edson.

BUS SERVICE-DETROIT-ANN ARBOR

Pilot commuter bus service to connect Detroit and Ann Arbor

DETROIT (AP) — A pilot express commuter bus service is expected to start Monday between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor. Called D2A2, the service will provide hourly trips from 5:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and limited service Saturdays and Sundays. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority are partnering on the service. It will be operated by Michigan Flyer.Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Chief Executive Matt Carpenter says the service will help connect people to their jobs, entertainment and more. 

CRUISE SHIP-GREAT LAKES

Traverse City-area pier scraps plans for cruise ships

GREILICKVILLE, Mich. (AP) — A waterfront project along Lake Michigan is scrapping plans to pursue the cruise ship business. Discovery Center & Pier previously announced plans to transform a coal dock near Traverse City into a site that ships could use to land passengers. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Discovery Center & Pier CEO Matt McDonough said Tuesday that cruise ships weren’t strongly aligned enough with its mission. McDonough says the long-term goal is transform the area into public park. Viking River Cruises had already been advertising Great Lakes cruises that would include stops there starting in 2022, but McDonough said those ships won’t be coming to the pier.

LAKE MICHIGAN-INDIANA EROSION

Ogden Dunes to spend $150K for Lake Michigan erosion repairs

OGDEN DUNES, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana town along Lake Michigan has approved spending $150,000 for expert input and emergency repairs to protect homes from sliding into the water. To entirely rebuild the seawall, it would take up to $10 million. In the meantime, officials and homeowners in the town about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Chicago are scrambling for a short-term relief. Residents of Ogden Dunes have already filed a federal lawsuit over its battle with shoreline erosion.

INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER-RATE HIKE

Indiana OKs I&M rate increase less than half utility sought

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana regulators have given Indiana Michigan Power approval for a rate increase that’s less than half the amount the utility had sought for its Hoosier customers. The Fort Wayne-based utility said Thursday that the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission had approved allowing I&M to increase electricity rates by 5.7% overall, for an increase totaling about $84 million. That’s about 48% of I&M’s original request. The Journal Gazette reports the newly-approved rate increase will be phased in between later this month and early next year. A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would pay about $10 more per month.