Trust fund awards $28 million for public lands projects

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Services

LANSING— The Natural Resources Trust Fund will award nearly $28 million for public lands projects, including funds for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Parks and Recreation divisions.

Jon Mayes, DNR recreation grants unit manager, said the fund received 149 applications this year asking for $50 million, and 70 of the projects received grants. The fund’s board decided which of them would be most valuable to the public and state.

Among the winners are Bear Lake Township in Manistee County, which will receive a $82,500 grant for a kayak/canoe launch project. It will develop 114 feet of frontage on Bear Lake for a launch facility, according to township Supervisor Vern Best.
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Push underway to expand telehealth services

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—A new federal proposal co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters would expand access to health care, especially in rural areas.

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act would require Medicare to work with local providers to expand their telehealth services.

“Telehealth has revolutionized health care, helping more patients receive life-saving treatment, and we must ensure that people living in rural areas have equal access to the care they need,” Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said in an announcement.
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Child care center wins license appeal

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—The state had suspended the license of a child care facility in Manistee because of complaints and 23 alleged violations found during an inspection.

But the facility won its appeal and will reopen on Dec. 7.

The license of the Manistee Historic Red School House CDC child care center was suspended on Nov.16 and the operator, Suzanne Hamilton, was prohibited from operating any child care center before the results of the hearing.
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Some retired teachers could teach, collect pensions

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—Public school retirees would retain their full pensions and health benefits while going back to work at schools with a critical shortage of teachers in their discipline or as substitutes for teachers and other instructional positions, under a bill before the Legislature.

The House and Senate have passed similar versions of a proposal to change the current law that reduces pension and health benefits for some retirees who are back teaching, depending on their retirement data and the circumstances of their new position.

The measure awaiting final legislative action lays out requirements to determine if a district has a “critical shortage” and if a retiree qualifies.
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Michigan lags in charging stations for electric vehicles

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—Michigan has only 2 percent of the nation’s public charging stations for electric vehicles. Lansing has the most stations–27–and Detroit has two stations less.

There are 11,254 alternative fueling stations, which can charge electric vehicles, and 31,265 charging outlets in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, while Michigan only has 271 stations and 681 charging outlets.

Robert Feldmaier, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology at Macomb Community College, said there is a reason why Michigan doesn’t have many charging stations: “California has a lot, but Michigan doesn’t, because there aren’t that many electric vehicles here, so there isn’t that much demand.”
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State will test more high-speed rails

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—Part of the Michigan passenger rail service goes 110 miles an hour, but not all of it. Next year the state will test additional tracks to support that speed along the Amtrak route between Detroit and Chicago.

“We have three Amtrak trains that run from Michigan to Chicago and the rider shift numbers are continuing to go up,” Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), said.

“And we are improving the rail line. So 110 is our goal to enhance the speed and cut down the time between Detroit and Chicago. Two-hundred-miles an hour is not impossible for Michigan, but that requires a lot of infrastructure change,” he said.
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More line worker jobs to open

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING—Consumers Energy plans to hire more than 50 line workers to expand its electric line workforce next year to respond more effectively to emergencies.

In addition, the company will hire up to 50 apprentice line workers annually for the next several years.

“The goal is to hire more qualified workers to increase the workforce that responds to emergencies, enhances system reliability and restores electric service following storms,” Terry DeDoes, the public information director at Consumers Energy, said.
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Bill would allow liquor sales at senior homes

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING— Residents and their guests would be able to be purchase alcoholic beverages at homes for senior citizens if a recent proposal becomes law.

Currently, Michigan homes for the aged can’t legally sell liquor, because they don’t have the license to do so.

To change that situation, Sens. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, and Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy introduced legislation to authorize the Liquor Control Commission to issue licenses to allow the facilities to sell and serve alcohol.
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State partners with U.S. government on forest management

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING– Michigan has signed an agreement with the U.S Forest Service to boost collaborative management of Michigan’s forest lands.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the Good Neighbor Authority master agreement is “a broad pact allowing the state to supplement the work being done by the Forest Service staff on the national forests.”

The agreement would involve the three national forests in Michigan: Hiawatha, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee.
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Calley calls for improved special ed programs

By YUEHAN LIU

Capital News Service

LANSING—Schools should provide what children need and not expect children to conform to old structures, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said in a report to the state Board of Education, asking it to increase access, scope and quality of special education.

Calley wrote, “I have been traveling the state, holding informal town halls with parents and educators who face the challenges and triumphs of working every day with students in need of special education services. ”

Calley said several hundred people were at some of these events. He also hosted an online survey that had around 2,000 responses.
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