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MICHIGAN MINIMUM WAGE

Michigan’s minimum wage rising 20 cents to $9.45 an hour

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s minimum wage is rising by 20 cents an hour.

The increase takes effect Tuesday and makes the minimum $9.45, up from $9.25. The boost comes amid political wrangling that’s expected to continue into court.

The $9.25 minimum wage had been set to rise by an inflationary amount this April. But a ballot drive gathered signatures for an initiative to set it at $10 Tuesday and ultimately $12 in 2022.

Republican lawmakers adopted the citizens’ initiative only to recently scale it back with outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder. To address business’ concerns, they landed at $9.45 and delayed the $12 minimum by years.

The One Fair Wage ballot committee says it’s evaluating legal options and “will keep fighting until the rule of law is respected and the democratic process is upheld.”

WHITMER-INAUGURATION

Whitmer set to become Michigan’s 49th governor

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is set to become Michigan’s 49th governor.

The 47-year-old former state lawmaker from East Lansing will take the oath of office Tuesday in a swearing-in ceremony outside the state Capitol building. The inaugural theme is “Building Bridges Together.”

Whitmer, who will be Michigan’s second female governor, is expected to highlight “kitchen table” issues she campaigned on such as fixing the roads and improving residents’ job skills.

Others being sworn in include Garlin Gilchrist II as lieutenant governor, Dana Nessel as attorney general and Jocelyn Benson as secretary of state. The last time Democrats jointly assumed control of the top four offices was 32 years ago. The event is free to attend.

The celebration will continue Tuesday night with a gala at Detroit’s Cobo Center. Tickets cost $150.

ATTEMPTED THEFT-BUILDING RAMMED

Worker foils theft after pickup rams Detroit business

DETROIT (AP) — A theft at a northwest Detroit business was foiled when an employee fired shots toward three people who used a pickup truck to ram a hole in the building.

Detroit police say the pickup’s driver backed the vehicle into the building about 7 a.m. Sunday and was preparing to strike it a second time when the employee inside started shooting.

The pickup sped away while the other two thieves who were outside the building also fled.

Police were not sure Monday if anyone was struck by the gunshots. They say the thieves were dressed in all-black clothing and wore ski masks and gloves.

The type of business and its name were not released.

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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