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Volunteers Sought To Help “Raise The Roof”

Habitat for Humanity is seeking volunteers for its current partner family home build.

The local non-profit works to transform lives by building, affordable quality homes with families in need. The qualifying process to being chosen as the recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home requires 250 sweat equity hours per adult to show their commitment and to act as a down payment. The beneficiaries are then sold the home at a qualified mortgage that’s affordable for them, with Habitat for Humanity acting as the lender so they can set the mortgage to what the recipients can afford.

Resource Development Director Ryan Skomial says they need helping hands for their current build, as well as another starting this spring. She says they currently have a partner build going on in Byron for a single mother from Fowlerville – who Skomial says is an amazing woman. She says they just raised the walls at the build site so from here on out is a lot of volunteer work. Recently, 30 dedicated volunteers braved 30-degree weather for nearly eight hours to get the exterior and interior walls installed at their current partner family home. Skomial says most of their homes, with the exception of some contracted out work, are entirely volunteer builds. She says they have a new construction director who is on site all the time to lead the projects and volunteers so they need as many hands as they can get. Then come spring, Skomial says they’ll also be breaking ground on a second home off Oak Grove Road in Howell Township for a mother and her family. She says that woman came to them through a critical home repair and after being out there, they were able to work with her on some of her finances and budgeting and got her in a good position to qualify as a partner family through Habitat for Humanity.

Skomial says they’re trying to get the current Byron build done as close to April/May as soon as they can because then the woman can start the official mortgage process through Habitat. Once that happens, Skomial says she can officially close on her home and move in, which is really exciting. She says they only have a staff of four and trying to build houses with four people is a lot of work – which is why volunteers are so important.

Skomial tells WHMI It’s a new year and the local non-profit has a first-time goal of constructing two homes in this fiscal year but volunteers are needed to help make it all happen and as many helping hands they can get, the better. Skomial says if people have skills then that’s great but no experience or skills are required, which is why they have their construction director on site, who can lead volunteers and teach them skills for the day. She added it’s great if people do have skills because then they can help lead others but nothing is required. Licensed contractors, as well as those specializing in HVAC or electrical work that would be willing to donate services are also welcomed. All volunteers on the construction site must be at least 18 years of age or older but group teams are also welcomed. For more information about the project and current volunteer opportunities, contact Livingston County Habitat for Humanity or email Skomial at development@livingstonhabitat.org.

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Local Lawmakers Return Office Allotment Back To State

Two local lawmakers have returned their office allotment shares back to state of Michigan – totaling approximately $18,883.

Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township recently announced that she has returned $8,111.31 of her 2019 office budget allotment back to the state of Michigan. Having served as Brighton Township clerk for years before taking political office, Bollin says she knows the importance of serving her constituents efficiently. Bollin added she’s happy to report that her office has been fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars while serving on their behalf in Lansing. Residents in need of assistance with state government or those wishing to express their view on pending legislation is encouraged to contact Bollin’s office by calling (517) 373-1784 or email at AnnBollin@house.mi.gov.

Meanwhile, Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township announced that she returned $10,721.77 that was left over from her 2019 office budget. Theis said she was pleased her office was able to save over $10,000 from last year’s budget and she happily returned it because government should always be respectful of the people’s money. Theis added in work, as in life, she believes it’s important to be fiscally responsible. (JM)

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Plans Finalized For M-59 Pathway In Hartland Twp.

Hartland Township officials have authorized the final details of a plan from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to improve a stretch of M-59 with the addition of a center turn lane.

MDOT is planning left turn lane construction along M-59 from Cullen Road to just east of Hartland Drive. However, the Department will perform additional work for and on behalf of Hartland Township in connection with the improvement efforts. MDOT is constructing a pathway on the south side of M-59 from approximately 250 feet west of Hartland Woods Drive, to easterly approximately 700 feet to the existing pathway at the Oakbrooke property.

The proposed sidewalk has been included in the 2020 M-59 road project and will be constructed at no cost to the Township. At a recent meeting of the Township’s Board of Trustees, officials discussed a resolution that would authorize a contract with MDOT. The agreement specifies that the municipality will assume all ownership, responsibility and liability for the sidewalk upon the project’s completion by MDOT. The municipality’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

Township Manager James Wickman previously told WHMI that MDOT will be carrying out safety improvements along M-59 and that it is usually the Department’s practice when they’re doing a project to search for other ways to add extra benefit to the community. Wickman says in this case, M-59 had an empty gap of sidewalks in Hartland Township and MDOT proposed including that in the project as an add-on. He says that the M-59 pathway project is focused on a stretch between Cullen Road and the Hartland Educational Support Services Center, which is the location of Hartland’s old high school.

MDOT wants to improve the section of roadway that includes a passing lane on the westbound side with the implementation of a center turn lane. Wickman says a number of left turns are made westbound to the south side of M-59 and that drivers trying to pass on the right have led to some unfavorable accident numbers, prompting the improvement work. (DK)

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Assisted Living Facility Celebrates Second Phase Expansion

A $2.5-million expansion that more than doubled the size of a senior assisted living center in Howell Township was celebrated Saturday.

Quality Care of Howell’s 18,000 square-foot expansion added another 20 rooms. Owner and Administrator Nidhal Ghraib said he and his family bought 20 acres of land on Burkhart Road from Howell Township, where they built the original 16,000 square foot facility.

Of the 20 new units, 14 are general living spaces, and 6 will be designated for memory care, with their own dining and gathering rooms. It also includes a movie theater and non-denominational chapel. A third phase for the complex is also planned, with independent living duplexes to be provided. Ghraib said their vision is to build Quality Care into a full senior citizen community, but instead of doing it all at once; they have divided it up into phases. (JK)

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More Than 1,300 Absentee Ballots Already Issued In Brighton

According to the Brighton City Clerk, some 1,365 absentee ballots have gone out to voters in the city who intend to vote absentee this year.

City Clerk Tara Brown says whereas in the past an individual applying for an absentee ballot had to have a specific reason that fit the criteria, under the new rules any resident 18 and older can request an absentee ballot application without having to specify a reason. Until passage of proposal #3 in the 2018 general election, there were only six reasons by which Michigan voters could obtain an absentee ballot — such as being over 60 years of age or an inability to get to the polls.

Brown cautions that for the August 2020 primary, Michigan voters will be required to vote a straight party ticket, and will not be able to “split” their ticket. However, in the general election in November, voters will be able to split their ticket and vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of party.

Residents of Brighton who want an absentee ballot application form but who have not received one may get one at city hall, or call and ask that one be mailed to them. Or, they can fill out the application form on the city’s website under the heading “Forms and Applications”, go to “Clerk” and to “Absent Voter’s Ballot Application”. They may then mail the completed form, which must have a valid and legible signature, or drop it off at city hall. (TT)

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Lawmaker Announces Winter Photo Contest

Livingston County residents are being encouraged to capture winter wonders and submit them as part of a photo contest sponsored by a local lawmaker.

Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township recently announced a photo contest featuring winter scenes of the 42nd District. The District includes Brighton City, as well as Brighton, Genoa, Green Oak, Hamburg and Putnam Townships. Bollin says Livingston County is a beautiful place to live and she invites all to participate in her photo contest and showcase the community over the winter months. Submissions will be accepted via email from through March 20. Winners of the contest will be announced on March 22nd and will have their photo proudly displayed in Bollin’s office in Lansing.

Those interested in submitting a photo can email Bollin at AnnBollin@house.mi.gov. (JM)

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Groups Come Together To Present Van To Prout Family

Community members, organizations and businesses worked together to gift a van to a local family that has inspired many.

17-year-old Larry Prout Jr. of Howell, who required extensive surgeries from birth for various medical issues including spina bifida, arrived with his parents Friday at Brighton Ford, where they were greeted by a crowd of supporters. There the Prouts were presented with a transit passenger van.

Brighton Ford contributed two year’s worth of maintenance for the van and an additional $1,500 check. Mugg & Bopps convenience store gave the Prouts a year worth of free gas while the Scully Monroe Agency is providing coverage for the van. The van itself was funded by donations by a Brighton family that wished to remain anonymous and Fund A Life; an area nonprofit that supports individuals facing major life-altering circumstances. Founder Mark Howell says Fund A Life was contacted by the Von Voigtlander Foundation with the understanding that there was a need for a vehicle for the Prout Family in order to transport Larry’s medical equipment. Howell tells WHMI the various groups and community members that made the gift happen were all touched by the strength of the Prout Family.

Larry Jr. says he and his family are incredibly thankful for the gift and those that continue to rally around them. (DK)

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Junge “On The Radar” Of National GOP Committee

A Republican Congressional candidate hoping to replace 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin has been acknowledged for his campaign’s organization, potential, and ability to hit benchmarks.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, placed Candidate Paul Junge “On the Radar” in their Young Guns program. According to a press release from Junge’s campaign, Junge reached that status at his first available opportunity and is the only GOP candidate in the 8th District to reach that level as he seeks to replace Slotkin.

Junge says his campaign is “gaining momentum” as they share his experience in business, as a prosecutor and in the Trump Administration “fighting illegal immigration.” He says that is preparation for him to be a strong conservative leader in Congress “who will put America first.”

According to Junge’s campaign, the Cook Political Report and Politico rate Congresswoman Slotkin’s re-election prospects as a “toss-up”, placing her among the most vulnerable Democrats in the country. In Michigan’s 8th District, President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 7% in 2016. (DK)

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Grease Obstruction Forces Sewer Backup In Howell

A sewer back-up occurred late Thursday afternoon that affected Yorkshire Apartments. It’s on the sewer system in a section of town that drains to Howell Public Schools, the Livingston County jail and county complex and Medilodge of Howell.

Howell Interim City Manager Erv Suida says prior to going to the lift station there was an obstruction in the pipe which caused the back-up. Crews tried to get the obstruction out but couldn’t, so they had to pump the sewage from a manhole into a lift station wet well to alleviate some of the rpessuere. Once that was done, crews were able open up the blockage which appeared to be a mixture of grease, non-flushables, rags, wipes and other things that shouldn’t be in the system. Suida says everything was opened up and flowing as of around 9pm and working fine. However, some lower units in Yorkshire Apartments did have some flooding and mainatence crews were taking care of that.

Suida says crews cleaned the sewer line after the obstruction was removed but they’ll do additional inspections to make sure nothing else is there, although he says they’re pretty confident it was mostly grease. Suida says they’ll continue looking into why there was so much grease in the line and will be reaching out to some of the commercial kitchens in the area, along with the county jail to make sure grease traps are being properly serviced. (JM)

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Dems Pick Whitmer For Trump State of Union Response

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address – promoting criticism from Livingston County Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made the announcement Friday. They praised Whitmer for her efforts to ensure clean drinking water in communities across Michigan, which was scarred by the 2014 Flint water crisis. The State of the Union address will be delivered on February 4th. The Chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, Meghan Reckling, says its obvious by their choice that Michigan will once again be a battleground state in the presidential election. Reckling says that “unfortunately they’re so distracted by their hyper-partisan impeachment efforts that they have failed tomrealize Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not even been able to unify her own party since her election.” Reckling asserts that Whitmer could bot even convince a member of her party to sponsor her gas tax hike proposal – which she says Democratic leaders labeled as “extreme”. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes released a statement saying Whitmer has been a “fierce leader who has always stood by the side of Michigan’s working families”, adding she’s proud Whitmer was chosen to take a stand and highlight how Donald Trump’s “broken promises have devastated the state.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas will deliver the Spanish-language response to Trump’s address. Escobar, of El Paso, attended a protest rally in August ahead of Trump’s visit to the city after anmass shooting at a Walmart that killed 22 people. Police said the gunman specifically targeted Mexicans. (JM)

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