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AP Wire Michigan Headlines

DNR eyes new field office

NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources plans to use mass timber technology to build a $5 million field office in the Upper Peninsula.
The building will replace outdated field offices in Newberry, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Marquette.
Mass timber is sustainable and can substitute for concrete and steel, according to the state agency. Large solid or engineered wood columns, beams and panels are used to create multistory buildings from renewable materials.
Construction typically takes less time than traditional concrete-and-steel building because components are manufactured off-site and delivered for installation.
The new building still is in the design stages. It also will house a DNR customer service center. It will include office and garage space and a community room.

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AP Wire Michigan Headlines

Tracking dog finds cyclist

CASS COUNTY, Mich. (AP) — A search for a motorcyclist who wandered off after a crash ended in a heavily wooded area when a police tracking dog found the man lying in a ditch in a heavily wooded area, authorities in Michigan said.
According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, 28-year-old Travis Herman of Marcellus was riding in Cass County’s Penn Township in southern Michigan on Sunday when he crashed. Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the scene found the motorcycle on Sunday night but were told by a witness that the rider walked away.
A sheriff’s tracking dog, Faust, was brought in to help in the search. The dog found Herman about a quarter mile away lying in a ditch. Herman, who had suffered a head injury, was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

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AP Wire Michigan Headlines

Fewer DNR checks expected

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan wildlife officials won’t be able to check as many deer for chronic wasting disease during the upcoming hunting season.
The state Department of Natural Resources said it’s facing staff and financial shortages as well as challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.
ìWe ask for your patience and grace as we adapt to meet these challenges,î said acting wildlife division chief Dan Kennedy.
The heads of deer taken in certain sections of six counties will be accepted for testing from Oct. 3 to Jan. 4. Those counties are Jackson, Isabella, Gratiot, Delta, Dickinson and Menominee.
Deer heads from Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties will be accepted for state testing only from Nov. 15-18.
Any hunter elsewhere in Michigan who wants a deer tested can submit it to a government-approved lab for a fee, the Department of Natural Resources said. There is information at Michigan.gov/CWD.
The archery season starts Thursday. The traditional firearm deer season starts Nov. 15.

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AP Wire Michigan Headlines

Detroit man arrested after shooting

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit man has been arrested after allegedly shooting a 4-year-old girl and a 22-year-old man, police said.
Detroit Police took Devontae Lamar Berrien into custody late Saturday, they said.
Berrien got into an argument with someone on the city’s west side around 7 p.m. Saturday and fired several shots, police said. Berrien left the scene after the girl and man were hit, they said.
The girl and the man were hospitalized in serious condition.

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Michigan Headlines

Several horses displaced by virus, floods find home at rescue farm

WEST BRANCH, Mich. (AP) — Several horses displaced by the pandemic and flooding across parts of central Michigan have found a new home at a rescue farm.
Amid the COVID-19 virus, caretakers began abandoning their pets or placing them with friends and family, the Midland Daily News reported. Between the pandemic and historic flooding in May that destroyed homes, barns, and fields, the situation became harder for owners to properly care for their animals.
Since then, D&R Acres Hobby and Rescue Farm has received several equines. The 20 acre farm and 13,000-square-foot barn and riding facility is now home to 38 horses, donkeys, mules, ponies and miniature horses.
“We’re kind of the retirement home for horses,” said Dolores ‘Doris’ Harris, chief financial officer and founder of D&R Acres, of West Branch.
Animals come to live at D&R Acres because they have either been abused, their owners have died or the owner feels they can no longer take care of them. Although many animals stay at D&R Acres for the rest of their days, the farm does adopt out equines once the animal adjusts to the situation.
“We adopt one out, we get two in,” Harris said.
Harris explained the key is to pair horses up with two or three others to integrate them gently.
“It’s not just giving them a home. We need to re-socialize them,” Harris said.
This year, Harris plans to create 13 new pastures and plant a rescue garden with fruits and vegetables to help volunteers and horses alike. Harris hopes to grow carrots, squashes, pumpkins tomatoes and peppers.

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Michigan Headlines

Michigan village starts flood recovery, awaits funds

LANSING (AP) — Jenna Hulse was at work out of town as a nurse when she got a message from her brother that a dam three blocks from her house in the Michigan village of Sanford was failing.
Six feet of water entered the home, and though Hulse said she’s lucky that the house she’s lived in most of her life is still structurally sound, many other peoples’ homes were destroyed, ripped from their foundations.
“Things aren’t ever going to be normal again. There will be a new normal, I guess, but there’s so much of the village that’s getting torn down. Eventually, the look and feel of it will be different,” Hulse said. “It’s just unfair and disgusting, watching these houses get torn down that I’ve been looking at my whole life.”
Hulse is among the 859 Sanford residents whose lives were upended when privately owned dams with a history of neglect failed in May, resulting in more than $200 million damage in Midland County.
When the floodwaters roiled the Tittabawassee River, much of the attention focused on the larger downstream city of Midland, home to Dow Chemical Co. But many in Sanford are still scraping up muck and debris as they wait to find out whether any government aid may come their way.
In mid-June, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster, which would open up federal resources and financial support for the area. Michigan has not yet received a response to Whitmer’s request.
Legislation to allocate $6 million in state funds to the Midland area, mostly for housing, is sitting in a committee, with the Legislature adjourned for the summer.
Hulse said that when the floodwaters hit, countless volunteers in the village went to work helping her and families like hers by providing meals and supplies, and removing debris.
“The mud was unbelievable. It was slimy and it left this film on anything,” Hulse said. “A lot of the stuff that you thought, ‘Well maybe I’ll clean this off and keep it,’ you can’t even, you can’t.”
Sanford, being so small, has already spent more than its yearly budget on debris cleanup alone.
Emily Ricards created a Facebook page to organize volunteer work. Although state or federal government aid would be a huge help, Ricards said Sanford could not wait. Midland County has a history of salt and gravel mining, and local excavating companies are helping to clean up the debris.
“If we would have waited we’d still be sitting and in three foot of muck,” Ricards said.

FILE – In this May 21, 2020 file photo, Sanford resident Connie Methner, owner of CJ’s Hairstyling, bows her head as she copes with the damage after water flooded her salon to its ceiling in Sanford, Mich. Sanford village, with a population of 859, is pulling together after the devastation of two dam failures in May. Volunteers are still clearing muck and providing supplies to those whose homes were destroyed since there’s no telling when major state and federal help will come. (Jake May/MLive.com/The Flint Journal via AP File)
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Michigan Headlines

Boat at bay bottom to be removed

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A sunken boat must be removed from the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan, according to state officials.
Federal and state authorities said Thursday they are working to arrange the salvage operation for the 33-foot-long vessel that sank last month, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy spokesman Nick Assendelft said officials “don’t want that left in the water.”
The boat took on water June 19 and sank. The 10 people on board were rescued by the Coast Guard.
The boat’s owner, Todd Elsenheimer, said he has insurance on the lake cruiser and his plan all along has been to remove it from the bay.
The sunken boat continues to be monitored and it does not appear any of the 70 gallons of fuel believed to be on board has leaked, according to the Coast Guard.

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Michigan Headlines

Whitmer calls for end to chokeholds, other police reforms

LANSING (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Monday for an end to the use of police chokeholds and limiting no-knock warrants.
The recommendations come as states have been considering ways to prevent racial bias and address police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The move follows efforts earlier this month to expand a commission that sets policing standards.
The Democrat’s plan calls for categorizing racially motivated 911 calls harassing individuals as hate crimes, requiring ongoing training for law enforcement to maintain a license and directing state health officials to recommend best practices for police when dealing with a person with mental illness, according to a news release.
“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said, adding her plan would ensure police “treat all Michiganders with humanity and respect.”
Earlier in June, Whitmer added civilians and the director of the Department of Civil Rights to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

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Michigan Headlines

Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms

DETROIT (AP) — A 60-year-old U.K. citizen drove into a Detroit parking garage on a recent afternoon, lowered the window of her SUV to swear an oath, and left as a newly minted American.
It took less than 30 minutes.
Anita Rosenberger is among thousands of people around the country who have taken the final step to citizenship this month under COVID-19 social-distancing rules that have turned what has long been a patriotic rite of passage into something more like a visit to a fast-food restaurant.
“It was a nice experience in spite of the fact that I was in the car by myself with a mask on,” said Rosenberger, a sales manager for an electronics component company from suburban Detroit.
“And I will say that I will remember this.”
Similar drive-thru ceremonies are being held around the country, but perhaps for not much longer. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says a budget crisis could force the agency to furlough nearly three-quarters of its workforce, severely curtailing operations as tens of thousands of people wait to become citizens.
That could have potential political consequences, especially in states such as Michigan and Florida where the number of newly naturalized Americans already exceeds the narrow margin of victory for President Donald Trump in 2016.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you have several hundred thousand people who are not in a position to vote in this election but would have been if business had been progressing normally at USCIS,” said Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute. “That’s been everyone’s concern.”
The citizenship agency has not detailed publicly how it will operate if it doesn’t get $1.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress before Aug. 3. It said in a written response to questions that “all USCIS operations will be impacted by a furlough” that covers more than 13,000 workers.
USCIS derives nearly all its $4.8 billion budget from fees it charges to people who apply to live or work in the country. Revenue was already in decline under Trump, whose administration has imposed a number of immigration restrictions. The agency says COVID-19 caused it to drop by half.
“The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are long reaching and pervasive, leaving few unscathed in its wake,” Acting Director Joseph Edlow said.
In written responses to questions, the agency says it would pay back the money it receives from Congress with a 10% surcharge on fees.
While the agency cites the pandemic for its budget woes, immigration experts and a USCIS employee union say other factors include administration policies of devoting more resources to vetting applications and searching for fraud.
The administration has also halted a number of programs — including a recent freeze on H-1B visas for skilled workers — that provide an important source of revenue for USCIS.
“The agency has really moved away from its mission and become more of an enforcement agency that carries out the agenda of the Trump administration,” said Diego Iñiguez-Lopez, policy and campaigns manager for the National Partnership for New Americans, an immigrant advocacy organization.
USCIS typically swears in 15,000 new citizens per week.
The agency said there were about 110,000 people waiting to take the oath when they shut down in-person operations in March because of the virus. It said it expects to work through the backlog by the end of July, thanks in part to ceremonies like the one held at the federal building in Detroit or similar ones outside a minor league baseball stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, and a community recreation center near San Diego.
Some in Congress have pushed to allow virtual swearing-in ceremonies, but the agency has refused.

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Michigan Headlines

State leaders agree on shortfall

LANSING (AP) — An agreement to address a $3.2 billion shortfall in Michigan’s 2020 budget was announced Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders to respond to deep budget shortfalls brought on by the pandemic crisis.
The agreement includes reductions in funding and also provides federal COVID-19 relief funding for schools, universities, community colleges and local governments, businesses and workers, Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement.
“In this time of crisis, it is our responsibility to come together and build a budget that reflects a bipartisan commitment to the things we value most as Michiganders,” their statement said. “This agreement provides crucial funding for Michigan families, schools, and communities grappling with costs incurred as a result of the virus.”
They said would work together to address shortfalls in next year’s budget and asked for congressional help in the next budget. The current budget year ends Sept. 30.
The agreement still requires approval by the full Legislature.