Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EST

HEALTH DIRECTOR-WHITMER

Whitmer names testing exec, ex-Obama official to lead DHHS

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An executive with the nonprofit that owns the SAT will lead the largest department in Michigan government.

Robert Gordon was named director of the Department of Health and Human Services by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday. He’s senior vice president of finance and global strategy for The College Board.

He previously worked in the Obama administration, in the Education Department and Office of Management and Budget. He also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Gordon, who has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale University, starts Monday and will make $175,000 annually.

Whitmer says Gordon brings a “unique set” of skills and will work to improve public health and deliver essential services to residents. The appointment stands unless rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate.

HUMAN WASTE SPILL-FREEWAY

Freeway closed after human waste spills from truck

ERIE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A freeway in southeastern Michigan just north of the state line with Ohio has been closed after a truck hauling human waste rolled over and spilled its contents along the roadway.

The crash happened about 9:40 a.m. Thursday on northbound Interstate 75 near Monroe County’s Erie Township.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan State Police Sgt. Rod Goss said the spill initially was “reported as tar, then it was reported as human waste.”

Crews have been called in to clean up the mess.

One of the freeway’s three lanes had been reopened by noon.

CONVICTIONS VACATED

Judge erases convictions of 2 men after years in prison

DETROIT (AP) — A man who spent more than 20 years in prison cried as a judge erased his conviction for sexually assaulting a child.

Kevin Lackey publicly thanked his family for “never giving up” on him and believing in his innocence. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office asked that his 1993 conviction be thrown out after concluding it was based on unreliable evidence from a police tracking dog.

A judge on Thursday also threw out the second-degree murder conviction of Michael Powels, who has been in prison since 2008. Prosecutors say a key witness gave false testimony.

Lackey was released from prison in 2014. Lackey and Powels could be eligible for compensation from the state.

Separately, prosecutors say Lackey faces gun and assault charges in a new case. His lawyer couldn’t immediately comment.

FORD-EUROPE

Ford to shake up European business, cut jobs

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ford Motor Co. says it is cutting jobs in Europe in a wide-ranging restructuring as it focuses on its most profitable models and shifts production towards electric cars.

In a statement, the company said Thursday that “structural cost improvements will be supported by a reduction of surplus labor,” both hourly and salaried.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based company didn’t reveal how many jobs would be cut and said reductions would be achieved as far as possible through voluntary departures negotiated with unions and employee representatives.

The move follows plans announced last year to reduce white-collar jobs across the company’s global business.

INFORMATION BREACH-MICHIGAN

Breach exposes some Michigan patients’ personal information

MEMPHIS, Mich. (AP) — Officials say a security breach at a Michigan provider of HIV/AIDS care services and substance abuse treatment has compromised some patients’ personal and medical information.

Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center says a “limited number of patients” were notified about the breach linked to a phishing scheme that affected an employee’s email account last April. The organization says affected information included Social Security numbers, full names and addresses.

Letters were recently sent to affected patients.

Those with Social Security numbers that were compromised are being offered free credit monitoring and identity theft-restoration services. Sacred Heart says it’s working to ensure that a similar breach doesn’t happen in the future by adding more employee training and security measures.

SNOWMOBILER DEATH

Missing snowmobiler found dead in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

(Information from: WLUC-TV, http://www.wluctv6.com)

MCFARLAND, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a snowmobiler who had been missing since the weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been found dead.

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt tells WLUC-TV that the body of Dennis Pellinen of Ishpeming was found Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies at the scene of a crashed snowmobile.

The station reports deputies determined Pellinen was last seen in the Delta County community of Rock early Sunday. His disappearance prompted days of searching after he didn’t show up for work Monday and family members filed a missing person’s report. Heavy snow made the search more difficult.

The crash is being investigated by the Delta County sheriff’s office.

___

FORMER FUNERAL HOME-COLLEGE

Michigan funeral home to turned into college campus

(Information from: Grand Haven Tribune, http://www.grandhaventribune.com)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan community college plans to hold classes in the fall at a renovated funeral home.

The Grand Haven Tribune reports that Muskegon Community College purchased the Clock Life Story Funeral Home building for $378,000.

The college’s Grand Haven campus is currently located at the Grand Haven Community Center. College President Dale K. Nesbary says the college pays nearly $8,000 a month to lease part of the facility. The campus opened in 2012 and serves about 1,000 students each year.

Nesbary says officials searched for more than six months for a building the college could own and invest in. He says there will likely be about $300,000 in renovations before classes begin in August.

Nesbary says the new location’s proximity to the Grand Haven High School may lead to an increase in early college enrollment.

___

PET CEMETERY FUTURE

Lawsuit seeks to keep Michigan property as pet cemetery

(Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com)

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) — Several people whose pets are buried at a shuttered Michigan pet cemetery are suing to make sure remains of an estimated 74,000 animals there won’t be disturbed.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports attorney Mike Olson filed the civil lawsuit Tuesday on their behalf in Livingston County Circuit Court. They’re seeking more than $25,000 in damages and an emergency restraining order to prevent any change to the property, which is for sale .

Olson says those with pets buried there were “tricked” and “feel betrayed.”

The Associated Press sent a message seeking comment Thursday to Shari Pollesch, an attorney representing Carol Street Park Ridge LLC, which is listed as currently owning the property.

Heavenly Acres pet cemetery in Livingston County’s Genoa Township closed after its lease expired Sept. 30.

___

DRUG LISTING

Michigan lists pain drug Gabapentin as controlled substance

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is listing a drug commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures as a controlled substance, a step intended to fight the opioid epidemic.

The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, can have potentially harmful effects when combined with other opioids.

A number of states have designated it as a controlled substance. The Michigan Board of Pharmacy supported the move.

The Michigan licensing department also is revising training standards for those who prescribe and dispense opioids and other controlled substances.

They will be required to learn about matters such as alternative pain management treatments and counseling patients on the effects and risks associated with opioids.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES-MICHIGAN

Michigan approves Consumers Energy EV charging program

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Public Service Commission has approved Jackson-based Consumers Energy’s PowerMIDrive electric vehicle charging program.

The three-year, $10 million pilot program supports the state’s growing electric vehicle market through new rates, rebates and customer education.

The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage drivers to charge their electric vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residential drivers who sign up for the nighttime rate will be offered a $500 rebate for each electric vehicle. Consumers Energy also will offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas such as workplaces and multi-unit dwellings.

Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Mark Nabong says the “program can help more people access electric cars as a clean, cheaper alternative to gasoline cars.”