Category: Legal News

Hundley Encourages Voters To Learn Details Before Voting Absentee

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

With more people than ever voting absentee, a local election official helping share what to expect with the process.

Livingston County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley is working to help voters better understand the absentee-voting process. Because of voter-passed proposal in 2018, all Michigan residents have the opportunity to vote absentee. To do so, voters must sign and submit an application, indicating which elections they are requesting a ballot for. Applications can be submitted in person, by mail, email, or by fax. The local clerk will verify the signature. Ballots can mailed or picked up in-person at the local clerk’s office. When voting, completely darken the box of your choice, using only black or blue ink.

Hundley said the key thing to account for with the August 4th primary is that unlike the March primary where voters had to pick between a Republican or Democrat ballot, both parties will be on the same one. Votes can’t be split between parties for different races, or the ballot will be spoiled. With in-person voting, if a voter accidentally crossover votes, they get a warning and a chance to spoil their ballot and vote again, correctly. With absentee voting, when the ballot is processed on Election Day and receives an error code, the election inspectors will override the error and cast the ballot “as is.” The effect will be that none of the partisan portion of the ballot will count.

After completing an absentee ballot, put it in the secrecy sleeve so the numbered stub is visible. It is very important to remember to sign the return envelope. Ballots can be returned by mail, or dropped off at the clerk’s office, and the clerk will again verify that the signature matches the signature they have on file. All ballots must be returned to the clerk by 8pm on the day of the election to be counted. Finally, the status of an absentee ballot can be tracked online by visiting a link through the Secretary of State. That link is below.

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Fenton Township Approves Trail Grant Application

By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com

Fenton Township is proceeding with a grant application for a potential trail project.

At a recent meeting, the township board voted 6-1 to approve a resolution in support of submitting a grant application for development of the Silver Lake Road Connector Trail. The application is for $997,000 through the Michigan Department of Transportation’s “Transportation Alternatives Program” or TAP grant. The Tri-County Times reports that Clerk Robert Krug was opposed and cited a failed millage vote in Fenton City, Fenton Township and Linden that would have generated funds to develop non-motorized pathways.

The connector trial is part of a larger goal to develop connectivity within the Southern Genesee County communities of the Cities of Fenton and Linden, and Argentine and Fenton Townships. Once completed, the resolution states the trail would eliminate a significant safety concern for pedestrians who walk or bike within Silver Lake Road – a heavily traveled 45mph roadway. The trail would connect existing non-motorized facilities at the northwest corner of Arbor Drive and Silver Lake Road within the City of Fenton with existing non-motorized facilities at the northwest corner of East Broad Street and Silver Lake Road in the City of Linden. The pathway would be constructed along the south side of Silver Lake Road through Fenton Township, the City of Fenton and the City of Linden and effectively connects Triangle Park in Linden with Silver Lake Park in Fenton.

The trail project has already received dedicated funding toward matching contributions from the involved municipalities and Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation in the amount of $15,000 each, the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission in the amount of $441,509 and other parties. The City of Fenton has agreed to accept ownership and maintenance responsibility of the proposed trail in perpetuity.

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Howell’s Fire Chief Reflects On Time With HAFA

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

Howell’s retiring Fire Chief has shared thoughts on his time in the community and the future of firefighting.

Howell Area Fire Authority Chief Andy Pless is retiring after over 35 years of being a firefighter. Pless, who was a guest Sunday on WHMI’s Viewpoint program, came to Howell in 1987 and has served as Chief since 2008. He was named the 2019 Michigan Fire Chief of the Year by the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs. He said it’s been an awesome career for him and a lot of fun. Pless said the profession has changed a lot since the ‘80s. Back then, their runs were mainly fires and accidents, with few medical calls. Now they do a lot of medicals and have greater responsibilities that include assisting with carbon monoxide, hazmat, technical rescues, and more. Pless said he finds the most rewarding part of the job to be helping people. He looked back on big efforts in his time that included a factory fire by the airport and big chemical spills. The Chief said that unfortunately if he’s having a really good day, then that somebody else is having a really bad day, but that’s the job.

Pless is also a proponent of unifying all of the county’s fire departments into one. He told WHMI that the problem with that isn’t so much from the firefighters, but the politicians that won’t let go. Pless said he believes it would lead to better allocated resources and the greater good of the community. He used Los Angeles County as an example, contemplating that if they can do it there, why not here

Pless and his wife, LuAnn, will be staying in the area and plan to move to Lake Shannon in Tyrone Township. LuAnn is the current Oceola Township Treasurer, but is not seeking re-election and will retire when her term is up. Pless’ last day will be August 14th. Deputy Chief Ron Hicks will then take over the department.

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Ozeone Action Day Declared For 2nd Consecutive Day

By Jon King / jking@whmi.com

Monday is the second straight Ozone Action Day, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, or SEMCOG.

According to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) meteorologists, a stagnant air mass remains due to higher humidity and light winds. The combination will make conditions right for formation of smog pollution with high levels of ozone. SEMCOG says that the long-range forecast will keep the region in the same hot, humid air mass until the end of the week. While ozone acts as a protective layer in the upper atmosphere, at ground level it has a negative effect, causing a variety of health problems, particularly for the elderly, children, and people with asthma or other lung diseases. Consequently, residents are being asked to drive less during this time and either ride a bicycle or walk to their destinations. You’re also asked to delay mowing your lawn until evening or the next morning, as gasoline exhaust from lawnmowers and other lawn and garden equipment help form the noxious, non-reactive gas. You’re also asked to not fill your car’s gas tank during this period as the fumes contribute to ozone formation, and therefore, air pollution. Finally, you’re asked to reduce electricity use by turning your thermostat up a couple of degrees.

You’ll find additional details through the link below.

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County Commission District 2 Candidates Square Off

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

Two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for 2nd District County Commission took part in an online campaign forum last week.

Livingston County District 2 includes all of Deerfield and Oceola Townships and Hartland Township Precinct 2. Bill Green currently holds the seat, but is not running for re-election. The two Republicans hoping to replace him, former Judge Carol Sue Reader and real estate agent James Bruney, recently squared off in an event hosted by Livingston County Republicans. Bruney said that even though the current board is mostly Republican, he sees some divisiveness and wants to be a unifying voice that invites the community’s involvement. Reader said she is running to serve the people, and believes it is very important to establish transparency in the government.

When asked which areas of county government do they consider their forte, Reader leaned on her experience behind the bench. Reader said she puts public safety first, having served as a judge. She expressed a desire to serve those that have little, like the mentally ill and others who can’t take care of themselves. Reader said she wants to pursue grant opportunities to help those people.

Bruney said he has learned a lot knocking on doors and found residents had frustration with common problems that couldn’t be solved. He pointed at infrastructure with a belief that the county can’t be reactionary with potential problems and needs to get on top of them.

Candidates were asked about the funding of employee pensions and how would they ensure proper management and funding. Bruney called it the biggest issue that doesn’t get talked about, and said that while the popular thing is to kick the can down the road until later, he thinks it’s imperative to tackle the subject. Reader said they lost their pensions as a judge a while ago, and while you learn to adjust, you don’t want to take pensions away from people who have earned them. She said it takes a village and that people are going to have to bring their heads together on this.

Voters in District 2 will decide on August 4th who moves on to the November general election, where they will face Democrat Jennifer Garcia.

A full video of the forum can be seen on the Livingston County Republicans Facebook page.

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Trinity Health, St. Joe’s Laying Off 1,000 Workers

By Michael Kruzman / news@whmi.com

A second wave has hit a local hospital system, but it’s of layoffs, not COVID-19 patients.

Trinity Health Michigan, which includes the St. Joseph Mercy Health System and Mercy Health is laying off or reducing the schedules of 1,000 full-time workers or their equivalents. In April they furloughed 10% of their workers, totaling about 2,600, but had since called back 1,200. The health system saw a 50% drop in patient activity in March and April which caused a $134-million operating loss over those two months.

Trinity Health CEO and President Mike Slubowski said in a memo to staff last week that they must restructure, resize, redesign, and reduce their costs with this lower revenue base. He noted that they are losing millions of dollars per day as the COVID-19 situation continues and evolve and again increase in some regions across the state. Spokeswoman Laura Blodgett told The Detroit Free Press that Trinity Health has a plan to try and achieve just over break-even financial performance for the next year. She said this announcement on staff reductions and restructuring is a part of a plan that includes non-labor expenses and a potential revenue opportunities.

One emergency tech who was laid off told the Free Press that she was worried about finding a new job with so many health systems laying off workers recently. She said everyone talks about health care workers and how they are heroes and have their support, but when it comes down to it, they’re still being laid off.

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Lyon Township Hall To Undergo Renovation/Expansion Project

By Jessica Mathews / news@whmi.com

A renovation project at the Lyon Township Hall is in the works.

At a recent virtual meeting, the Planning Commission recently granted unanimous site plan approval for the partial renovation and expansion project at the existing municipal center located off Grand River, west of Milford Road. The current building is 8,140-square-feet and the proposed expansion is 5,905-square-feet, which would result in a total building size of 14,045-square-feet. The addition would feature a new conference room, new kitchen, elevator, more basement space and multiple offices. Plans also call for an expanded parking lot, associated stormwater management facilities and landscaping. The additional space is said to be needed to keep up with growth in the community. The township is looking to hire a full-time in house planner, an elections coordinator, possible bookkeeper and more DPW workers. This would be the second renovation to the township hall, which is 20-years-old. The South Lyon Herald reports officials didn’t want to speculate on the potential project cost prior to receiving bids. That’s expected in a few months as township board approval is needed first.

The Planning Commission review and approval was required for parking lot construction as it involved the addition of 25 or more spaces and for expansions of existing uses of over 1,000 square feet.

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Separate Livingston County Crashes Take Two Lives Friday

By Tom Tolen / news@whmi.com

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two separate fatal crashes that occurred Friday.

The first was a 2-vehicle crash that occurred at around 6pm Friday evening in Howell Township, taking the life of a West Michigan man. According to Sheriff Mike Murphy, the 33-year old Zeeland man was headed east on Grand River on his 2000 Harley Davidson motorcoycle when he approached the intersection of Highland Road and was struck by a westbound GMC Canyon pickup truck driven by a 39-year-old resident of White Lake Township in Oakland County. Deputies at the scene say the White Lake man failed to stop at the intersection, whereupon the truck he was driving struck the motorcycle.

The motorcycle rider was pronounced dead at the scene by Livingston County EMS, while the truck driver was not injured. The intersection of Grand River and Highland Road was closed for about three hours after the mishap. Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Howell Fire Dept., Michigan State Police of the Brighton post and Livingston County Ambulance.

The second fatal accident was a one-car crash that took the life of a Redford woman. According to Sheriff Murphy, the 28–year-old driver was westbound on I-96 east of Fowlerville at 11:42pm Friday when the 2008 Honda Accord, going at a high rate of speed, was observed weaving in and out of traffic. The vehicle then went out of control into the freeway median and rolled over several times. The driver, who was the lone occupant of the vehicle, was thrown from the car and was pronounced dead at the scene by Livingston County EMS. 
 
Murphy says drugs and speed both appear to be factors in the second crash. I-96 was closed for about two hours while sheriff’s deputies investigated.  They were assisted at the scene by the Howell Area Fire Department, Livingston County Ambulance, Fowlerville Police, the Fowlerville Fire Department and Department of Homeland Security. 

Both crashes remains under investigation by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Division.

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Sunday Is Ozone Action Day

By Tom Tolen / news@whmi.com

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, known as SEMCOG, is asking people to avoid mowing their lawns over the next few days to keep ozone levels down.

Sunday is an Ozone Action Alert Day in Southeast Michigan. Ozone acts as a protective layer in the upper atmosphere, having been formed by the action of UV light and electrical discharges within the Earth’s atmosphere. Its highest concentration is high in the ozone layer of the stratosphere. Since it absorbs most of the Sun’s UV radiation, it has a beneficial, protective effect on people, animals and plants. But at ground level, ozone has a negative effect, causing damage to mucous and respiratory tissues above concentrations of about 0.1 parts per million. Consequently, you’re asked to drive less during this period and either ride a bicycle or walk to your destination.

You’re also urged to delay mowing your lawn until evening or the next morning, as gasoline exhaust from lawnmowers and other lawn and garden equipment help form the noxious gas. You’re also asked to not fill your car’s gas tank during this period as the fumes contribute to ozone formation, and therefore, air pollution. Finally, you’re asked to reduce electricity use by turning the thermostat on your air conditioner up a couple of degrees.

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Whitmore Lake Holds Virtual July 4th Parade

By Tom Tolen / news@whmi.com

If there is no 4th of July parade to go to today due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s always the virtual one that you can watch on the Internet.

According to Whitmore Lake Kiwanis Club President Jacki Otto, after sponsoring an Independence Day parade for 26 years, they weren’t about to skip it completely this year just because of a measly pandemic. As a result, she and others organized a virtual 4th of July parade instead. The advantage of this is that people don’t have to deal with wearing a mask or observing social distancing. The virtual parade, as with the actual parades in prior years, was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Whitmore Lake. Otto, who is also a Northfield Twp. trustee, tells WHMI that even though the inescapable decision was made to cancel the 4th of July parade, Kiwanis members felt that the community needed something to celebrate – even if it was in their own homes and not outdoors.

The majority of the video is of the Whitmore Lake High School commencement ceremonies which took place on June 26th. There are also a bagpiper, patriotic songs and other aspects to the 11-minute video. Otto says she has received many positive comments is hopeful that the actual 4th of July parade, and not a virtual one, can resume next year.

You can access the virtual parade by going to the Northfield Township website at twp – northfield.org and clicking on “Recent Twp News” on the left side of the screen.

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