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

SEXUAL ASSAULT-PLANE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Man gets 9 years in prison for plane sex assault

DETROIT (AP) — A man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman during an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Detroit. He was jailed after being accused of molesting a woman on an overnight flight in January.

The 23-year-old victim says he unzipped her pants, unbuttoned her shirt and molested her with his hands while she slept.

Investigators say Ramamoorthy was in a middle seat sitting next to the victim, and his wife was sitting next to the aisle. Prosecutors called it a “brazen” assault.

Ramamoorthy is a native of India. He came to the U.S. on a work visa in 2015 and will be deported after the prison term.

DETROIT DEVELOPMENT-MONROE BLOCKS

Monroe Blocks project breaks ground in downtown Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Ground has broken on a mixed-use building project on a mainly vacant, high-profile piece of downtown Detroit.

Officials attended the event Thursday for the development dubbed Monroe Blocks. The project encompassing two city blocks facing Campus Martius Park is owned by Bedrock, whose chairman is businessman Dan Gilbert.

The project will be anchored by a 35-story office tower and includes a 17-story residential building. Plans also call for retail areas and roughly an acre of open space.

The work is scheduled to be finished in 2022.

Michigan’s economic development board this year awarded $618 million in tax incentives to Bedrock for $2.1 billion in Detroit developments that include Monroe Blocks. Another project is what’s expected to be Michigan’s tallest building on the site of the former J.L. Hudson department store.

DEER STERILIZATION

Michigan lawmakers OK ban on deer sterilization until 2022

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation heading to Gov. Rick Snyder would prohibit the sterilization of deer but let Ann Arbor proceed with its program to control what city officials say is an overpopulation problem.

The House voted 67-42 for the bill early Thursday. It would bar the state Department of Natural Resources from issuing any permit for the sterilization of game until April 2022 while allowing Ann Arbor’s research to continue via a permit that was granted to White Buffalo, a company contracted to remove deer ovaries.

The measure would let the state establish special zones in or near to urban areas where a higher number of deer could be hunted. Local governments also could allow hunters to shoot deer closer than 150 yards away under certain circumstances.

___

Online:

House Bill 5321: http://bit.ly/2PA5Ea2

SCHOOL GRADES

Michigan House approves A-F letter grades for public schools

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan would create a letter-grading system to evaluate public schools under legislation that has narrowly advanced in the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

The House voted 56-53 for the bill early Thursday during a marathon lame-duck session. The measure moves to the Senate for consideration next week.

The state Department of Education would be tasked with giving each school a grade in several areas. But there would be no overall single grade for a school.

The Republican sponsor says Michigan needs a “kick in the pants” to improve education, while Democratic critics say the bill would do “nothing” to help students or teachers.

NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDER-MICHIGAN

Michigan gets confirmation of 2nd case of paralyzing illness

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan has its second confirmed case this year of a mysterious paralyzing illness called acute flaccid myelitis .

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday it was notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the state has a confirmed case in a child in Oakland County. An earlier case was included in adjacent Wayne County , which includes Detroit.

The state says nine suspected cases in Michigan are under investigation.

Officials have said this year’s count nationally could surpass the tallies seen in similar outbreaks in 2014 and 2016 .

It’s not clear what’s causing some children to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. Symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness.

SIU CHANCELLOR

Interim leader approved for SIU’s Carbondale campus

(Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com)

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — A former administrator at Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus has been approved as its temporary leader while the university conducts a search to fill the position.

The university says its board of trustees voted Thursday to name John Dunn interim chancellor, a role he held in 2006-07.

SIU Interim President J. Kevin Dorsey says he sought an experienced administrator who could serve for 18 to 24 months following the death of Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno in October.

Dunn was the SUI’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs from 2002 to 2006. He later became president of Western Michigan University until retiring in 2017.

Dunn begins as interim chancellor on Jan. 1. His appointment continues until the end of 2020 unless a permanent chancellor starts before then.

___

MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE-LAME DUCK-THE LATEST

The Latest: Michigan House OKs bill to limit ballot drives

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lame-duck bill that would make it harder to organize ballot drives has passed in the Michigan House as it advances in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The House approved the legislation late Wednesday on a 60-49 mostly party-line vote. It would impose a geographic threshold for groups proposing constitutional amendments, initiated bills and referendums. They would be limited to collecting no more than 15 percent of their signatures from a single congressional district — a change from a 10 percent threshold passed earlier by a House committee.

Critics oppose the bill as unconstitutionally hampering the ability to pursue ballot drives. But business groups supporting the legislation say it is needed.

The Republican-led Senate could vote next week before adjourning the Legislature’s two-year session.

SPELMAN GIFT

Spelman board member, husband give $30M to school

(Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com)

ATLANTA (AP) — Spelman College has received $30 million, its largest single gift from living donors, to be used for its new Center for Innovation & the Arts.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the donation, announced Thursday, was made by Spelman trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston.

Stryker is the director of the Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Johnston is chairman of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.

Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell says Stryker’s gift “ensures that Spelman students will be prepared to tackle the challenges of our changing world through innovation, creativity and the dynamic intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”

Officials say the contribution is one of the largest ever to a historically black college and university.

___

LAKE MICHIGAN SHIPWRECK

Waves, shifting sands reveal Lake Michigan shipwreck

WHITEHALL, Mich. (AP) — The remains of what could be a shipwreck from 1878 have emerged through sand along Lake Michigan in western Michigan.

Experts say the wood ribbing might be a section from the LC Woodruff, a schooner that sank near Whitehall while carrying corn 140 years ago.

Allan Dake, a researcher at the Muskegon Heritage Museum, says the shipwreck didn’t wash ashore. He tells MLive.com that the wreck has stayed in place but now is exposed because of waves and currents. It also happened in 1942 and 1974.

People have been visiting the site after seeing photos on social media.

Valerie van Heest of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association says the wreck won’t be visible for long. She tells WXMI-TV that it “may be gone with the next storm.”

HOLIDAY TRAVEL-MICHIGAN

AAA: Nearly 3.6M Michigan residents to travel for holidays

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA projects nearly 3.6 million Michigan residents will travel more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home this holiday season.

The estimate released Thursday by the auto club says that’s up by 4 percent from the holiday period a year ago. Most will drive, with the rest going by air, rail, bus or other means.

AAA Michigan notes that motorists will see lower gas prices . Wednesday’s state average of $2.31 per gallon is 30 cents less than what drivers paid roughly a year ago.

The holiday travel period runs from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1. That’s a day longer than last year, since Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Tuesdays this year.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting by research firm IHS Markit.