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DETROIT FIRE-TRAINING CENTER

Detroit fire officials look into blaze at old training site

(Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/)

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit fire officials are investigating a suspicious blaze that damaged the department’s former training center, which may have housed sensitive records.

The Detroit News reports that it took firefighters about 10 minutes to control Thursday’s blaze at the Detroit Fire Department’s old training academy. The department last used the building in 2014.

Detroit Fire Fighters Union President Mike Nevin says he saw paperwork, including payroll information, documents with Social Security numbers and medical information of civilians and employees, at the site.

Second Deputy Chief Charles Simms says the allegations of sensitive paperwork are being investigated. He says staff members have been at the site multiple times this year to review records that were left behind. He says the remaining documents will be removed and destroyed this week.

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ISLAND-PLANE CRASH

1 death reported in Beaver Island plane crash

BEAVER ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — A 72-year-old pilot has died in the crash of a small plane on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.

The Charlevoix County sheriff’s office say an explosion was heard near the island’s airport around 7:45 p.m. Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard assisted authorities in locating the Piper twin-engine plane in a dense, wooded area.

The pilot was identified as Donald Falik of Charlotte, near Lansing. He was the only person aboard the plane.

Beaver Island is off the northwestern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. A ferry operates between the island and Charlevoix.

FORECLOSURE-WINDFALL

Legal windfall or ‘theft’: Top court takes foreclosure case

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — In the new year, the Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether counties can continue to hit the jackpot when foreclosing on properties.

Counties routinely sell real estate when taxes are long overdue. State law allows them to pocket everything — even if the sales price exceeds the amount of debt. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether it’s an illegal government taking under the Michigan and U.S. constitutions.

Because of a mistake, Uri Rafaeli owed less than $9 on a rental property in Southfield. The bill grew to $285 with penalties and interest. Oakland County sold the house for $24,500 but refused to give him a dime, although the sale exceeded the overdue taxes.

In defense, Oakland County says it didn’t take property. Rather, it claims Rafaeli forfeited it.

STOLEN CAR-GIFTS

Public responds after car is stolen with gifts for girls

(Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/)

DETROIT (AP) — The public has responded like Santa Claus to help a woman whose car was stolen with a load of gifts for struggling Detroit-area girls.

Christen Greenwood says she wasn’t concerned about her car, two days before Christmas. But she didn’t know how she would immediately replace books, hygiene products and other gifts purchased for girls at a Detroit nonprofit, Alternatives for Girls. She had collected them from co-workers.

Pleas on social media were swiftly answered. Greenwood tells The Detroit News that she replaced what was lost with even more. People donated cash, toiletries, car seats, toys, coats and baby supplies.

Celia Thomas, chief operating officer at Alternatives for Girls, is grateful. She says, “The need never ends for our participants.”

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Online: https://alternativesforgirls.org

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SNOWPLOW-FATAL

Man dies after car crashes into rear of snowplow truck in UP

ONTONAGON, Mich. (AP) — A man has died in the Upper Peninsula after his car crashed into the rear of a snowplow truck.

Authorities in Ontonagon County have identified the man as 48-year-old Darren Tuomi of White Pine. Police say his Volkswagen Golf rear-ended a county truck Saturday night on M-64.

The sheriff’s department believes speed and alcohol might have been factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.

A similar crash occurred around 4 a.m. Sunday in Wexford County in the Lower Peninsula. The driver had serious injuries and was taken to a hospital.

IRONWOOD FIRE

Cause still unknown in UP fire that killed 3 in February

(Information from: Daily Globe, http://yourdailyglobe.com)

IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) — Investigators in the Upper Peninsula are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that killed three people in downtown Ironwood nearly a year ago.

Ironwood Fire Marshal Brandon Snyder says last February’s fire “remains an active case.” He tells The Daily Globe that investigators have narrowed it to a room in a second-floor apartment. Water and the collapse of the building made it hard to immediately pinpoint the cause of the deadly fire.

Three men died of smoke inhalation and three other people were rescued from the fire, which destroyed two buildings.

Snyder says some of the best investigators in the country have assisted local authorities. Ironwood is in the western Upper Peninsula in Gogebic (Go-GEY’-bic) County, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Lake Superior.

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CHURCH-FIREWORKS

Sunday Mass canceled after man places firecrackers in church

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Police say a man placed fireworks at a Roman Catholic church in western Michigan, broke a chair and attacked another man who was preparing for Mass.

The suspect was arrested after threatening officers who responded to a 911 call Sunday at St. Patrick-St. Anthony church in Grand Haven. Two morning Masses were canceled.

The firecrackers were described as the “M5000 Jumbo.” They were not ignited.

Police say the man is from Newaygo County and might have mental health problems. Public Safety Chief Jeff Hawke says the employee who was attacked inside the church had to fight off the suspect. He’s OK.

Church member Steve Shannon says he didn’t know the 11 a.m. Mass was canceled. He tells WOOD-TV that vandalism is “one thing,” but explosives are a “totally different thing.”

SNYDER-WATERFALLS

Snyder, self-described nerd, will use Excel to plan UP trip

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attention Yoopers: That guy pumping gas might be Rick Snyder.

The Michigan governor released a brief video Sunday about his plans after leaving state government. He says he and wife Sue plan to take an Upper Peninsula “whirlwind waterfall” tour at some point in 2019.

Snyder says most people know about Tahquamenon Falls in the eastern Upper Peninsula. He also mentioned Bond Falls, Angel Falls and Canyon Falls. He says he owes his wife “some vacations” and “another honeymoon period” after eight years as governor.

Snyder, who enjoys calling himself a nerd, says he’ll use an Excel spreadsheet to plan the waterfall trip. He leaves office Tuesday.

OBIT-FITZGERALD

Small-town lawyer who became appeals court judge dies

(Information from: The Argus-Press, http://www.argus-press.com)

OWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan appeals court judge who spent more than 20 years on the bench after a law career in a small town has died.

E. Thomas Fitzgerald of Owosso was 79. His obituary says he died Thursday at Sparrow Health Systems.

Fitzgerald was elected to the appeals court in 1990. In 1994, he was part of the 2-1 majority that struck down, on very technical grounds, Michigan’s ban on assisted suicide.

He opened a law office in Owosso a few years after graduating from law school in 1966. Fitzgerald told The Argus-Press that he won a big case and business “just mushroomed.” He says he would sometimes see two dozen people a day.

Gerald Lostracco, a former Shiawassee County judge and prosecutor, says Fitzgerald was a “fierce competitor.”

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