Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST
DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-MICHIGAN STATE-THE LATEST
The Latest: Michigan State president says he’ll quit Jan. 23
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University’s interim president says he’s stepping down in a week in response to a request from the school’s governing board.
John Engler sent an 11-page letter Wednesday to Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of Michigan State’s Board of Trustees. It makes no mention of recent criticism of his remarks about victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar. Instead, he lists what he considers to be his accomplishments in his one year of service and says the university is a “dramatically better, stronger institution.”
Engler says he’s in Texas attending a service for his late father-in-law. He says his resignation is effective on Jan. 23.
The former Michigan governor was hired as interim president a year ago as Michigan State was dealing with sexual assaults committed by Nassar, who worked on campus.
SCHOOL BAND DISPUTE
Court plays a sad tune for musical instrument store
COOPERSVILLE, Mich. (AP) — A legal dispute over school band instruments has ended with a sour note for a western Michigan company.
West Michigan Band Instruments claims its rights were violated when the Coopersville district excluded it from a 2017 event where students and parents could choose instruments. But a federal appeals court rejected the argument Wednesday and said the district was free to name its own tune.
West Michigan Band sells and rents instruments to students in the region. The Coopersville district selected a competitor, Meyer Music, to be the exclusive vendor at band night.
Coopersville told the appeals court that too many vendors would be distracting for families when they’re trying to get information about school band opportunities.
SHUTDOWN-RIVER RAISIN BATTLEFIELD
Some services to resume at River Raisin battlefield park
MONROE, Mich. (AP) — Officials say basic services that were interrupted by the partial federal government shutdown are being restored at River Raisin National Battlefield Park in southeastern Michigan.
The National Park Service has begun using revenue from recreation fees to provide crews for tasks such as plowing snowy parking lots, cleaning grounds and removing trash.
Superintendent Scott J. Bentley says outdoor areas of the battlefield will remain accessible in coming days. But the visitor center in Monroe is closed, like visitor centers at other parks around the nation. Other services such as ranger talks and programs are canceled.
Annual commemoration activities will take place Jan. 18-19, hosted by the River Raisin National Battlefield Park Foundation, Friends of the River Raisin Battlefield and the city of Monroe. They will be held on city property.
BC-OK- BODIES DISCOVERED-OKLAHOMA
Bodies found in Oklahoma believed to be missing Texas couple
OKEMAH, Okla. (AP) — Police in Texas say the bodies of a woman and man found in shallow graves in rural Oklahoma are those of two missing central Texas residents.
The Temple Police Department says in a statement that a preliminary investigation indicates the bodies are those of 28-year-old Jenna Scott and 32-year-old Michael Swearingin. Police say their families have been notified.
The bodies were recovered Tuesday from clandestine graves in Okfuskee County, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City.
Officials say the two friends were reported missing Jan. 4 and that on Jan. 9 they obtained new information about the friends’ disappearance.
Authorities say the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Oklahoma will make positive identification after autopsies.
ACLU: Government mistakenly wanted to deport US veteran
DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers say a U.S.-born Marine veteran was held for three days for possible deportation after pleading guilty to a disturbance at a western Michigan hospital.
The American Civil Liberties Union says Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was held for three days at a detention center in Calhoun County. He was released on Dec. 17 after an attorney explained that he’s a native of the U.S.
Ramos-Gomez was born in Grand Rapids. The 27-year-old was given awards for combat service in Afghanistan.
The ACLU says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which was a factor in the Grand Rapids hospital incident. Ramos-Gomez was accused of trespassing and damaging a fire alarm in November.
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement says he could respond to media inquiries because of the partial government shutdown.
Michigan board lets 70 medical pot business reopen
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is letting about 70 medical marijuana businesses reopen temporarily through March 31 without it being a risk to their licensure.
The state’s medical marijuana licensing board on Wednesday agreed with the recommendation and others proposed by regulators. The move is geared at ensuring patients can still access marijuana at a time a new regulatory system gets off the ground and there are supply shortages.
The temporarily operating facilities had been told to close as of Dec. 31.
The board also agreed to continue to not discipline licensed dispensaries that source their marijuana product through caregivers, under certain conditions. The reprieve also helps licensed growers or processors that buy marijuana from caregivers or temporarily operating facilities.
The board approved five more operating licenses Wednesday, bring the total to 104.
AIRBORNE WHEEL FATALITY
Airborne wheel strikes truck, kills Kentucky woman on I-65
CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — State Police say a motorist died on a southern Indiana highway after a wheel that came off another vehicle went airborne and struck her pickup truck.
Police say 18-year-old Olivia Kustes of Rineyville, Kentucky, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 65 just north of the Ohio River in Clarksville.
Police say the rear diver’s side wheel came off of a southbound pickup driven by 51-year-old Peter Gaetano of Covert, Michigan, and crossed over a median wall into the northbound lanes, where it struck Kustes’ truck.
Police say a commercial vehicle driver, 45-year-old Alvin Logan of Chicago, maneuvered his semitrailer in front of Kustes’ truck to slowly bring it to a stop.
Michigan unemployment rate rises to 4.0 percent in December
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment rate rose by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent in December.
Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show that while Michigan’s jobless rate was rising, the U.S rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point during the same period to 3.9 percent. Michigan’s rate last month compared with a December 2017 rate of 4.7 percent.
The agency says total employment in Michigan last month edged up by 1,000 while the number of unemployed rose by 4,000, resulting in a monthly labor force gain of 5,000.
Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says Michigan’s labor market showed continued improvement during 2018, with the unemployment rate falling for a ninth straight year.
State’s watchdog over judiciary says judge shouldn’t be paid
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state’s watchdog over the judiciary has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to suspend a Livingston County judge without pay amid allegations of misconduct.
The Livingston Daily Press & Argus and WHMI report the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission made the request Tuesday to the state’s high court regarding District Judge Theresa Brennan, who separately was charged last month with perjury and destroying evidence in her divorce case.
Brennan was barred from hearing cases in June after the commission issued its formal complaint .
A commission official wrote “the public’s confidence in the judiciary is eroded when a judge continues to enjoy the perquisites of her office after having admitted to engaging in felonious conduct.”
The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment from Brennan’s attorney.