Nov. 7, 2014 Budget

Nov. 7, 2014 – Week 9

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From: Eric Freedman & Sheila Schimpf

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HERE’S YOUR FILE:

DEEPFREEZE: The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has increased its assistance by $1.6 million to assist more than 30 communities in the U.P. and Northern Lower Peninsula pay for last winter’s repair of infrastructure, such as sewer lines and roads. That brings the total grans to $7.6 million. Recipients include Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Ishpeming and St. Ignace. We hear from MEDC, St. Ignace and Marquette officials. By Ian K. Kullgren. FOR CHEBOYGAN, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, ST. IGNACE, SAULT STE. MARIE. MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS & ALL POINTS.
w/DEEPFREEZETABLE: Northern Michigan communities receiving Michigan Economic Development Corp. grants.

ONLINECOURSES: A new system will allow students anywhere in the state to take online courses from any of the state’s 28 community colleges. We hear from the Michigan Community College Association and Alpena Community College. By Jordan Bradley. FOR ALPENA, MICHIGAN CITIZEN & ALL POINTS.

UKRAINE: The victory of pro-European parties in the recent parliamentary election in Ukraine is inspiring hope among Michigan’s Ukrainian residents that the country will eventually join the European Union. The Communist Party won’t have a seat for the first time since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. We hear from Ukrainian-Michiganians in Troy and Warren and an MSU expert in Eastern European history. By Amanda Proscia. FOR ALL POINTS.

COMMUNITYCOLLEGEINTERNATIONAL: For international students, the state’s community colleges can improve English-language proficiency and provide academic courses at affordable tuition to prepare them to transfer to four-year institutions. They also expose local students to global perspectives. We talk to the Michigan Community College Association, Northwestern Michigan College and Oakland Community College. By Qing Zhang. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN CITIZEN, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, MANISTEE, CADILLAC & ALL POINTS.

DAMFAILURES: The recent failure of a DNR-owned dam in Emmet County puts a spotlight on the rest of the state’s aging inventory of water control structures. Eighty-eight dams in Michigan have received “high hazard” status following inspections. Four high hazard dams are owned by public agencies: Otsego and Trowbridge dams in Allegan County; Hamilton dam in Flint; and Boardman dam in Grand Traverse County. DNR experts explain. By Amanda Proscia. FOR PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, TRAVERSE CITY, HOLLAND, CADILLAC, MANISTEE, CHEBOYGAN & ALL POINTS.

BATMANHELPSBATS: Hollywood superstar Ben Affleck and other members of the crew making “Batman v Superman” took time from their Michigan filming schedule to make a public service announcement about the threat facing bats from white-nosed fungus. A big bat die-off could add billions of dollars a year to farm expenses for pest control. They worked with the Bloomfield Hills-based Organization for Bat Conservation. By Kevin Duffy. FOR ALL POINTS.
w/BATMANHELPSBATSPHOTO: Credit: Organization for Bat Conservation.

ENVIRONMENTALCRIMES: A Detroit man’s 27-month prison term for Clean Air Act violations reflects growing worry among federal agencies that the state’s economic recovery may lead to more environmental crimes. Ironically, that’s because the improved economic climate is spurring more projects involving demolition of old structures and redevelopment of contaminated industrial sites. Other recent prosecutions came in Bay City, Allegan County and Metro Detroit. EPA and Justice Department officials explain. By Eric Freedman. FOR DEADLINE DETROIT, MICHIGAN CITIZEN, HOLLAND, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
w/ENVIRONMENTALCRIMESPHOTO: Terry Williams, sentence to prison for mishandling asbestos in Detroit demolition project. Credit: Michigan Department of Corrections

CITYATTORNEY: A federal appeals court has refused to reinstate a racial discrimination suit by the former Inkster city attorney, who is white. The predominantly African-American city successfully argued that the new outside law firm is more experienced and submitted a lower bid. Municipal law experts say local governments are increasingly seeking bids to save money on legal services. By Eric Freedman. FOR MICHIGAN CITIZEN, DEADLINE DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

CNS

Money coming to help erase winter’s damage in Northern Michigan

By IAN K. KULLGREN

Capital News Service

LANSING — As winter approaches, the Michigan Economic Development Corp.(MEDC) is pouring an additional $1.6 million into the effort to assist communities still reeling from damages sustained during last year’s deep freeze, bringing the total to $7.6 million.

The funds will partially reimburse more than 30 communities in the northern Lower and Upper peninsulas for repairing damaged roads and water mains, and to wrap up construction before the cold weather sets in.

“It’s really the first time we’ve seen that scale,” said Lisa Pung, manager of the MEDC community assistance team. “There are some projects that are being addressed now and some that will have to extend into the winter and spring seasons.”
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Community college online classes soon available statewide

By JORDAN BRADLEY

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Michigan Community College Association, or MCCA, is working on a system that will give people students in remote areas of Michigan access to all online online courses available at community colleges in the state.

Residents in sprawling Michigan’s sprawling areas, like much of the Upper Peninsula, have larger distances to travel to reach a community college’s campus.

“Fifty percent of the land mass in Michigan is not in a community college district—that means within 30 to 40 miles,” Michael Hansen, president of the MCCA, said.
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Former city attorney loses appeal in Inkster discrimination case

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — A federal appeals court has rejected a racial discrimination suit by the former Inkster city attorney who claims officials in the predominantly African-American city replaced him because he’s white.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Milton Spokojny — who upset city council members by falling asleep at their meetings — failed to produce sufficient evidence that race was the reason he lost his long-time contract to provide legal services to Inkster, a city with a 73 percent black population.

He was city attorney for 29 years until 2011 when Inkster solicited bids and chose Allen Brothers Law Firm, a Detroit firm with an African-American attorney who became the city attorney.
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Ukraine supporters hope election leads to EU

By AMANDA PROSCIA

Capital News Service

LANSING — The victory of pro-European parties in the recent election in Ukraine is inspiring hope among Michigan’s Ukrainian residents that the country will eventually become a member of the European Union.

The Communist Party won’t have a seat in the new parliament for the first time since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

“The results are a strong statement,” said Vera Andrushkiw of Troy and vice president of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in Washington, D.C.
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Environmental violators go to jail in crackdown

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – A Detroit man’s 27-month prison term for Clean Air Act violations reflects growing worry among federal agencies that the state’s economic recovery may lead to more environmental crimes.

Ironically, that’s because the improved economy is spurring more projects involving demolition of old structures and redevelopment of contaminated industrial sites.

That means more chances for unscrupulous property owners, demolition companies and asbestos abatement contractors to commit crimes that threaten public and worker health, officials say.
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Holy noses, Batman! A fungus is killing bats

By KEVIN DUFFY

Capital News Service

LANSING – Hollywood superstar Ben Affleck is switching on the bat-signal for one his favorite species: the bat.

The star of the forthcoming movie “Batman v Superman,” the film’s director Zack Snyder and the rest of the crew took time out of their long shooting schedule in Michigan to join the fight against white-nose syndrome.

spawningreef

Save the Bats. Credit: Organization for Bat Conservation


It’s a fungal disease that threatens the survival of insect-devouring bats that support a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry. Without bats, U.S. farmers would pay an annual $3.7 billion for pest control, according to a study by university and U.S. Geological Survey researchers published in Science.
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Dams may be removed before they can fail

By AMANDA PROSCIA

Capital News Service

LANSING — The recent failure of a northern Michigan dam puts a spotlight on the rest of the state’s aging inventory of water control structures.

The dam on Big Sucker Creek in Emmet County’s Bliss Township forced the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to draw down the water of O’Neal Lake to investigate the cause of the failure. That left dry areas of the lake once used for fishing, canoeing and boating.

O’Neal Lake dam’s failure raises questions about dams that inspectors have labeled “high hazard.”

Eighty-eight dams in Michigan previously received “high hazard” status following mandatory inspection.
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Michigan’s community colleges recruited 2,780 international students

By QING ZHANG

Capital News Service

LANSING — A low admission threshold and low costs at community colleges can benefit international students who lack English language proficiency or find tuition at four-year institutions too expensive, experts say.

There were 2,780 international students enrolled in Michigan’s 28 community colleges in fall 2013. That’s roughly 1.3 percent of the student population at these colleges, according to the president of the Michigan Community College Association, Michael Hansen.

Diana Schack, an international student advisor at Oakland Community College, said, “We require a really low score” in language proficiency for prospective international students. They only need to get 3 on IELTS (the maximum score is 9) or 25 on the Internet-based TOEFL (the maximum score is 120).
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