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UP fire departments grateful for gifts of surplus gear

(Information from: The Daily News,

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP) — Fire departments in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula are benefiting from a surplus of equipment delivered hundreds of miles from the Lower Peninsula.

The Iron Mountain Daily News reports that more than a dozen people unloaded trucks and trailers last week in Iron Mountain. There were air packs, extraction tools, chain saws and other equipment worth roughly $400,000. It’s considered essential stuff, but it’s also expensive for small departments to acquire.

Denny Hughes, a retired firefighter in the Detroit area, organized the effort after an Iron Mountain official heard about his past work in the eastern Upper Peninsula and asked for help. Hughes got the gear from departments that had surplus equipment.

He likes the road trips, saying the “fun part” is “bonding with our brotherhood” around Michigan.



’68 Tiger Bill Freehan is under hospice care, wife says

DETROIT (AP) — Bill Freehan, the catcher who spent his career with the Detroit Tigers, has dementia and is under hospice care in northern Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press says the 76-year-old Freehan cannot speak or walk. His wife, Pat Freehan, says she decided to talk publicly as part of a $5 million fundraising campaign for Hospice of Michigan. She says, “I just love the people who have helped me.”

Freehan is best remembered for blocking the plate and tagging Lou Brock in the fifth game of the 1968 World Series. The Tigers won the series in seven games over St. Louis. An iconic photo shows pitcher Mickey Lolich in Freehan’s arms after the last out.

The Tigers recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ’68 team. Freehan’s World Series trophy is at home on a mantel.


Newspaper: Michigan doesn’t oversee 3K civilian officers

(Information from: Detroit Free Press,

DETROIT (AP) — A newspaper says Michigan has 3,000 civilian officers that operate with no state oversight.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the state hasn’t created training requirements for the reserve officers, has no standards for screening their qualifications and doesn’t have a process for monitoring their conduct.

The newspaper says the civilian officers’ responsibilities range from directing traffic to serving as the partners of licensed officers on patrol. They’re typically unpaid and can sometimes carry a firearm.

The lack of regulation comes despite numerous cases of questionable conduct by civilian officers. The newspaper found that civilian officers have included the former leader of a hate group, a convicted felon and a vigilante group that detained teens at gunpoint.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards says it is unsure when regulations will be put in place since the agency has been overwhelmed by other responsibilities.



Online tools available for Michigan medical marijuana users

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents who use medical marijuana now have online tools to register and get needed certification from their doctor.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says patients without a caregiver can use the internet to apply for medical marijuana registry identification cards.

They also can check the status of their application through a secure online account.

In the future, patients without a caregiver will also be able to go online to renew registry cards, request replacement cards, update their name and address, and withdraw from the medical marijuana program.

Doctors who register with the program for a secure online account will be able to certify their patients’ medical use of marijuana online.


Detroit Zoo-bred endangered frogs released into the wild

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — About two dozen endangered frogs raised at the Detroit Zoo have been released into the wild.

The Detroit Zoological Society says 25 dusky gopher frogs were moved this month to the Ward Bayou Wildlife Management Area in southern Mississippi.

The frogs were bred at the zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center. The Zoological Society says the frogs once were abundant throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but now nearly are extinct.

Dusky gopher frogs are black, brown or gray with dark spots and ridges along their backs. Their skin is covered with bumpy glands that secrete a protective coating that tastes bitter to predators.

The frog spends most of its life underground and travels to ponds only to breed.


AG Schuette, ex-lawmaker Whitmer vie to be Michigan governor

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrat Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan “deserves better” from the next governor — improved schools, smoother roads, healthier drinking water — and her legislative vote to expand health coverage to low-income adults is proof that she can fix long-unaddressed problems.

For Republican Bill Schuette, it is about people’s paychecks — growing them, the economy and the population with what the state attorney general calls long-overdue income tax cut and auto insurance plans that he can deliver.

Not only will the candidates’ contrasting visions and political records help determine the winner of an election that has seen no shortage of negative TV ads and attacks during a pair of televised debates. So too will the political climate, one that has favored the party opposite a first-term president.


Sometimes a ballot issue isn’t really about the issue

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The outcome of one of the nation’s most critical Senate races could come down to an unrelated question: how North Dakota residents feel about blocking noncitizens from voting.

It’s already illegal for noncitizens to vote, but a leading Republican has put the issue on the November ballot in hopes of getting bringing out a flood of conservative voters. The idea is to help Republican Kevin Cramer to victory in his close Senate race with Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

The tactic is also on display in California, where Republicans hope a proposal to repeal a gas tax increase attracts the kind of voter who will help them hang on to some House seats.

In other states, marijuana legalization measures could boost turnout for Democratic candidates.


Woman pleads guilty to murder of homeless man in Lansing

(Information from: Lansing State Journal,

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Lansing woman awaits sentencing after pleading guilty but mentally ill to killing a man at a homeless camp.

The Lansing State Journal reports 26-year-old Amber Kohls entered the plea Thursday in the October 2017 slaying of 53-year-old John Darnell Jr. She’s due to be sentenced Nov. 28.

Police have said Kohls and her ex-husband, 28-year-old Brandon Addiss, both stabbed Darnell and cut his throat. His body was found wrapped in a tent in Sycamore C reek.

Addiss was sentenced to 40-80 years in prison on Wednesday for second-degree murder. A third person, Matthew Ryan Green, was sentenced in August to 18-60 months for accessory to murder for helping hide Darnell’s body.

Green was sentenced in August to 18 to 60 months in prison for helping hide Darnell’s body.



Obama takes aim at Trump, GOP in fiery Milwaukee speech

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump’s tenure in office in a fiery speech that took aim at him and other Republicans for “making stuff up.”

The speech was one of Obama’s sharpest and most direct takedowns of Trump’s presidency, although the former president was careful to never mention Trump by name Friday.

Obama cited a recent Trump comment that he would pass a tax cut before the November election. Obama then told the crowd in a Milwaukee high school gymnasium that “Congress isn’t even in session. He just makes it up.”

Obama’s visit in Milwaukee was to urge people to vote for Wisconsin’s Democratic candidates.

At one point Obama said “everything I say you can look up.”

Obama will be in Michigan later Friday for another rally.


This version of the story corrects the 4th paragraph to say Obama’s visit to Milwaukee, not Trump.


Michigan expands private well testing for toxic chemicals

(Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette,

OTSEGO, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is expanding testing for toxic chemicals.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the agency plans to identify an additional 25 residential wells near a paper factory landfill in Otsego to sample and test for perfluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS. The decision comes after the agency received test results that verified the presence of PFAS in residential drinking wells.

Chris Lantinga is with the department’s Kalamazoo District. He says the agency plans to conduct additional testing, including of soil samples from farms where sludge from the paper factory was applied.

The investigation began this spring after residents voiced concerns about people with cancer and other serious ailments in the area.

Exposure to PFAS has been linked in human studies to cancer, thyroid malfunction and other diseases.