Tag: LivingstonCountyLaw.com

Statewide Burn Ban Does Not Include Campfires

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

Confusion over the state’s issuance of a yard waste burn ban led one Livingston County resident to seek clarification from county officials.

During last week’s special meeting of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, Brighton’s Mindy Vachow said she was recently “quite harassed” for having a fire in her yard, not knowing there was a burn ban in effect. With April being a traditionally precipitous month, she told the Board, who was conducting their meeting online, this makes her feel infringed upon. Vachow said she didn’t see how having a small recreational fire was a problem, and asked the Board for a directive to allow it.

Livingston County Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte said that small recreational campfires are okay, as long as everyone is practicing proper social distancing. However, the yard waste ban was more for the protection of first responders. Cremonte said burning is usually okay this time of year, but because responders are already stressed with everything else going on with the outbreak, it needs to be in place. She says that even though people may be well meaning, sometimes those types of fires can get out of control and aggravate respiratory problems.

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources clarified the issue and said that while permits for open burning of yard debris remain suspended across most of the state, campfires for recreation and warming, as well as some agricultural burning, are still allowed.

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Brighton Council Approves Civic Events Via Online Meeting

By Tom Tolen/news@whmi.com

The Brighton City Council approved 23 civic event applications at its meeting Thursday night — the first online meeting council it has ever held.

It was prompted by the coronavirus pandemic which has forced local governments all across the country to hold their meetings online. As one of the first items of business, council approved the 2020 civic event applications, with one major caveat. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order banning gatherings of over 50 people, and which prohibits outdoor events involving close contact with others, but only through April 13th.

City Manager Nate Geinzer, in his written report to council, said, “If a subsequent Executive Order is released extending this order, or banning any and all public gatherings or events, then the City will follow that order and advise all applicants that their event will not be able to be held.” For 2020, the cost to be paid by each event sponsor will be one-third of fifty per cent of the City’s total cost, amounting to 17%.

One new event is planned for this year: “Buckaroo! Brighton’s Country Music Festival”, sponsored by the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, on Oct. 3rd, from 3-10 p.m. “Jazz at the AMP”, has been changed to “Jazz Up the AMP”, and moved from Wednesdays to Thursdays.

This year’s Optimists Club Fishing Derby is slated to be the first “Zero Waste” event ever held in Brighton. The Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Council will be assisting the Optimists in working towards the goal. They will have a waste station at the event which will include receptacles for paper or cardboard, metal, glass, plastic, and even used fishing lines. If successful, the Environmental Council will work toward implementing a zero waste approach at other events.

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List of approved downtown Brighton Civic Events:

Farmer’s Market
Cinco de Mayo
Ladies Night Out
Memorial Day Parade
Livingston County Concert Band
Turn Up the AMP
Optimists Club Fishing Derby
11th Annual Hungry Duck Run
July 4th Parade
Independence Day Duck Race
Kiwanis Concert & Car Show at the AMP
Terrific Tuesday Book Reading & Crafts
A Taste of Brighton
Fund A Life 5K
Main Street Wine Art Music Festival
Smokin’ Jazz & BBQ Blues Fest
BAFA 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk
Fund A Life Drive to Survive
Harvest Festival
Brighton Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Buckaroo! Brighton’s Country Music Festival
BHS Homecoming Parade
Crop Hunger Walk
Veteran Day Parade
Holiday Glow
Ladies Night Out

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Brighton Caretel To Accept COVID-19 Patients

By Tom Tolen/News@whmi.com

Starting Monday, Caretel – a chain of assisted living facilities in Michigan – will be accepting COVID-19 patients for an isolated unit at its Brighton facility, located at 1014 E. Grand River.

A spokeswoman for Caretel said Friday that the Brighton facility is the only one of its four centers – in Bay City, St. Joseph, Linden and Brighton, plus the Applewood Assisted Living facility in Midland County – that will be accepting the patients. That’s because the Brighton facility is the only one in the chain in which the health dept. could guarantee that there would be no contact between that wing and staff or patients in the rest of the facility.

According to Lauryn Allison, Director of Communications for the Symphony Care Network, Brighton was chosen because it “was determined to be an ideal facility for this unit due to a floor plan layout and entry points that allow for total separation from other patients.” In addition, the facility promises “total containment of COVID-19 positive patients and the providers who will care for them.” Allison said Caretel has been working in close collaboration with the Livingston County Health Department, state regulatory bodies and Caretel Inns’ medical director to begin the operation. She said further that Caretel is operating in full compliance with CDC guidelines regarding patient placement and isolation, and with health care professionals “assigned to care only for (CIVID-19) patients during their shift.” Allison said that “having a single, centralized unit for treating COVID-19 patients is the safest option for all involved, and allows for better managing the allocation of PPE supplies.

A dedicated medical response team will work at the center throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. “This approach greatly reduces the risk of cross contamination and offers a higher degree of safety for all staff, patients, and the surrounding community,” Allison stated. Additional medical support services are being provided by Caretel Inns’ medical director, as well as the nation’s largest telehealth platform, to allow for constant medical oversight. And a centralized admission process has been created to work in cooperation with area hospital systems.

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Tele-Town Hall Event Held Friday On COVID-19 Crisis

By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com

A tele-town hall event Friday evening helped shed light on steps being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19.

State Republican Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township hosted the event offering updates on public policy, executive orders, and public health. It featured Dr. Juan Marquez, the new medical director for Livingston and Washtenaw Counties. Other lawmakers participating included local Republican State Representatives Hank Vaupel and Ann Bollin and Democratic State Representative Donna Lasinski.

Among the questions posed were contact tracing for individuals who have tested positive and what the county is doing if they find a positive case in order to inform people they may have been exposed. Another was related to information being released about hot spots within different counties and communities to avoid them. Many people are curious about where actual hotspots are so as to avoid those areas. Information about confirmed cases is being released by county but not specific municipalities.

Dr. Marquez said both departments are working toward trying to identify geographic areas that have more cases but there are some caveats to that. Marquez says one is that they want to do it in a way that’s respectful of people’s privacy because many times geography is actually quite revealing sand they don’t want to reveal anyone’s information by posting something identifiable and they’re working through that. Secondly, Marquez says even though hot spots might be highlighted on a map or in a zip code doesn’t mean people aren’t at risk. He advises that people just act as though the virus is everywhere. Marquez noted one of his concerns is that when people see a map and don’t live in a hot spot, they might not think they need to social distance or stay at home because there isn’t spread in the area. Marquez stressed they believe there will be spread throughout Southeast Michigan. He says there is significant community spread in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and people think just because there’s a map that hasn’t been highlighted they’re not at risk. Marquez says everyone should think they are at risk and take appropriate steps.

Other questions centered on protecting individuals who are in close quarters with confirmed cases. Marquez said if family members take proper precautions, that can cut transmission pretty effectively. He says if a case is diagnosed to stay in their bedroom with other people in a common room, then it’s important to clean all of the high-touched surfaces in places such as the bathroom and kitchen. If the infected person comes out into a common area with other people, then Marquez says they should wear a mask – adding even a cloth mask would be effective to prevent transmission. He says taking those steps will cut the chances significantly but it definitely will not go to zero. Additionally discussed were priority groups for testing, such as first responders and people with underlying health conditions.

Marquez says both health departments are working really hard at contact tracing –which is not a trivial task. He says if someone is diagnosed, a staff member will contact the person and go through a very long questionnaire of symptoms, a timeline and people they’ve been in contact with. Marquez says they then go through and contact every person who is a close contact of that case to make sure they’re doing ok and don’t have symptoms and then ask that they be quarantined. He noted there is a difference between isolation and quarantine – which are basically doing the same things but a little different population. Marquez says for someone who is an initial diagnosed case, they ask them to be isolated and stay away from everybody until they get better. He says someone who has been close to that case would be asked to quarantine – which would be someone who doesn’t have symptoms but is at risk of developing symptoms. Marquez says they ask that person to quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure. That process is then repeated for every single contact the case has been in touch with. Marquez noted it is time consuming but thinks it’s a valuable way to try to break the chain of transmission, especially in clusters.

Several questions were also asked regarding where things stand with the use of hydroxychloroquine in Michigan to treat patients. State Representative Vaupel chairs the House Health Policy Committee. He told listeners that the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has instructed prescribers and doctors to use their best judgment. Vaupel said the LARA letter said professionals should use their own best judgement but not over use it. He stressed it did not eliminate prescribing the drug for COVID-patients – adding what they don’t want is for them to start prescribing so much it would result in a shortage for those that have been suing it or could possibly use it.

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Owosso Company Provides Relief During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com.

An Owosso company is focused on relief efforts and donations during the continuing COVID-19 public health emergency.

Covenant Eyes is a software company focused on “Internet Accountability” and helps equip people to protect themselves and their families from online dangers. The company has donated more than $10,000 worth of hospital gowns and masks to Memorial Healthcare. In addition to donating medical supplies, Covenant Eyes continues to pay its vendors even though they are not able to perform the work at this time. Covenant Eyes President and CEO Ron DeHaas said it’s critical that they support their vendors during this unprecedented situation. The company has paid more than $30,000 in advance for the local companies – which includes printing, cleaning, and food services. So far, 11 companies have been paid in advance. In total, the number of companies paid in advance will be around 15 and the total amount will be more than $50,000.

Last month, Covenant Eyes transitioned most of its employees to work from home, including its largest department of customer service. More than 60 customer service representatives now work from their residence instead of one of the two Owosso office locations. DeHaas says they need to help those helping others through this trying time – adding those in the healthcare field are on the front lines of the crisis and equipping them with the tools they need is the right thing to do.

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Howell Schools Lays Out Remainder Of Academic Year

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

The Howell Public Schools Board of Education has laid out its plan for the educating students throughout the remainder of the school year.

Yesterday’s executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer ended face-to-face instruction for students, leaving how to finish the academic school year in the hands of individual districts. At a special, online meeting of the HPS Board of Education this afternoon, Superintendent Erin MacGregor and Executive Director of Instructional Services, Elson Liu presented their Continuity of Learning Plan. It was broken down into two sections, with plans for elementary and secondary education.

MacGregor said they have established 3 goals with the plan: connecting with families to make sure they are cared for emotionally; move their curriculum forward, understanding the challenges; and provide opportunities to honor and celebrate the kids.

The plan also laid out assumptions from the district: that engaging a majority of the students (75%) will be challenging; advancing curriculum will create a wider gap when school returns in the fall; HPS students have access to technology tools that support online learning, but HPS families do not have equal access to the internet; and traditional end-of-year events can’t be replicated. Superintendent MacGregor said he feels bad for the outgoing senior class, as many of those year-end events, like prom and graduation, have had to be cancelled.

On both the elementary and secondary education levels, the goal is to keep weekly engagement open between students and teachers, with weekly reporting from principals on how everything is going. Liu said, the expectation for the academic piece on the elementary side will be 8 weeks of education, broken down into for two-week chunks. Each week there will be 2 lessons of ELA and math. Counselors are developing social and emotional learning resources and supports, and specialist teachers will be providing activities for art, music, physical education, and technology.

MacGregor said the secondary side will hold their classes in a similar 8 week structure. But while the secondary students all have been provided technology that can be used for participating online, the district recognizes that some elementary students are without. For those families, paper packets will be made available.

For middle and high school students, the district has adopted a “Do no harm” philosophy with grading. Students will be given the choice at the end of the semester for each class to take a “no mark,” a “pass,” or a letter grade. The “no mark” option will not be used in GPA calculations.

The Continuity of Learning Plan will now go to the Livingston Educational Service Agency for approval. This program for finishing the school year is expected to roll out April 13th.

MacGregror said parents should check their regular Tuesday/Thursday email updates from him for more information.

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Hartland Man’s Business Thriving During Shutdown

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

A local resident says his business is thriving during the COVID shutdown and hopes it will open the eyes of Livingston County officials to get in on the action.

Jerry Millen of Hartland is the co-owner of The Greenhouse in Walled Lake, which sells medical and recreational marijuana. Despite the Governor’s orders to stay home and stay safe, he says they are busier than ever, even after closing their lobby and transitioning to curbside service. Millen says customers can put in an order online, and then they will get a text to alert them when it is ready to pick up in the parking lot. The Greenhouse isn’t the only seller profiting in these times, either. According to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, recreational sales have jumped up 20% and medical sales have risen 27% since mid-March, statewide. Millen says there is such enthusiasm for the product he believes now is the time for Livingston County municipalities to reconsider their stance.

Millen says The Greenhouse sees business from hundreds of Livingston County customers and patients. What may be surprising to some people, Millen said, is that 60% of his patients are elderly, and need it as medicine. He says he is pleading with cities like Brighton and Howell to allow such businesses there, believing there to be great potential for a mutually beneficial partnership. Currently, no municipality in the county has allowed recreational sales of any kind. With a majority of Livingston County voters approving of legalization in 2018, Millen says it’s really just a matter of time before residents’ demand their local officials listen to the will of their constituents.

Millen says today’s cannabis is dosed properly, tested, and much safer than it was in the past. He says his customers use it to relieve stress, anxiety, and get proper sleep. Millen said people can scoff at it or call it Reefer Madness, but until you know someone or have a family member with a medical condition that needs it, it’s best not to judge.

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Names Of Howell City Manager Candidates Released

By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com

The names of finalists seeking the Howell City Manager position have been made public.

Five candidates were selected by the Howell City Council to interview at a virtual meeting held Monday evening. All five accepted interviews, and the list includes one out-of-state applicant.

Paul DeBuff is the current Director of Administrative Services and Assistant to the City Manager in the City of Celina, Texas. Prior to that, he served as the senior budget analyst for the Town of Addison, Texas. DeBuff is also a certified Government Finance Officer and brings six and a half years of municipal experience.

Annamarie Reno is the current manager in Richland Township, Michigan and brings over 15 years of management and administrative experience in government, along with extensive community involvement. She is also a past clerk/executive officer of Lyon Township.

Mike Womack is an attorney and the current city manager of Cedar Springs, Michigan where he also serves as the zoning administrator/DDA director. He previously held positions within the Lake Orion Village Manager’s office as well as Eastpointe. Womack noted he’s familiar with the City and also has family in the Howell area.

Rik Hayman served for more than six years as the Chief of Staff in Burton, Michigan. He is also currently a public relations consultant and writer, a book and newsletter editor, and a journalist. Hayman also brings a military background having served in the U.S Army and is working toward becoming a Master of Public Administration.

Tracey Schultz Kobylarz has 15 years of experience in local government, including almost 12 as the current Redford Township supervisor. She also served as a township trustee and on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Prior to her time with the township, Kobylarz held a director of human resources position with The Guidance Center in Southgate.

The public interviews will take place during a special virtual meeting of the Howell City Council on April 15th starting at 9am. Information can be found online through the link below.

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Unprecedented Demand On Michigan Unemployment System

By Jessica Mathews/News@whmi.com

As a record number of Livingston County residents and others across Michigan file for unemployment amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis, many are wondering when they’ll actually receive the benefits.

A huge amount of claims continue to be filed and the website for the state Unemployment Insurance Agency went down Tuesday before being restored. Communications Director Jason Moon with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity says they appreciate the patience Michigan residents have shown with the unemployment system over the last few weeks as they continue to provide emergency financial assistance during this historical and unprecedented demand. A record 311,000 people filed initial applications last week and Moon tells WHMI they typically receive 5,000 claims per week. He added while there has been unprecedented demand on the unemployment system, it does show that the system is working and they’re able to provide emergency financial relief to those who need it most. Moon says a new filing schedule has since been set up for those filing over the phone and online, which is based on the first letter of last names to alleviate some of the bottlenecks on the system itself. He says the online system still moving slower than normal and phone lines might be busy during the day given all of the calls. Moon says they ask people to be patient and if they have a computer and internet access, they want them to file claims online at www.michigan.gov/UIA. He says they want the call center reserved for those who don’t have online access to call 866-500-0017.

Moon says those filing will either be approved or denied immediately and people typically receive a payment in approximately two weeks, through either debit card or direct deposit. Benefits will be good for the next four months and overall benefits for the unemployed has been extended from 26 to 39 weeks. He further assured that everyone who is an eligible worker who needs to apply for benefits, will receive them. Moon says the state has been able to build up the Michigan Unemployment Trust Fund over a roughly ten year period so there is enough to pay the claims.

Moon says people have 28 days to file for unemployment from the last day they worked. He says when they file does not affect the claim amount of when benefits are received as claims are backdated to when someone was laid off. Anyone who lost their job or was laid off as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is encouraged to file. Moon noted that Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order expanding qualifying benefits for those who are sick or quarantined, those who don’t have access to paid leave or time off or caring for a loved one among others. He says the Governor signed an agreement to the federal CARES Act which also now opens up unemployment benefits to self-employed contractors, gig-workers and other 1099 workers. Further Moon says under the Act, everyone who was already receiving benefits or would have normally been eligible will see their weekly benefit increased by a set amount of $600.

Moon says they ask people to continue to be patient due to the demand on system, stressing they’re doing everything they can to keep their promise that emergency financial benefits are available to the people who need it most. That includes hiring additional staff, reallocating resources and adding server capacity among other measures.

A web link is provided to more information and the new filing system schedule.

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Democrats File For Hamburg Board Of Trustees

By Mike Kruzman / news@whmi.com

Two Democrats have filed for seats on the Hamburg Township Board of Trustees.

Marie Joppich is an information technology specialist that tests 3D automated measuring software and small business owner. She says she wants to help Hamburg become a leader in Michigan townships in supporting a clean environment and responding to climate change. If elected, Joppich also wants to make expanding broadband internet a priority, saying the coronavirus crisis is showing just how much people and businesses depend on the internet.

Also running is Cindy Michniewicz, a retired chef and former owner of Anjou Bakery in Brighton. She says the township needs new leadership to face emerging challenges. Michniewicz says Hamburg is a unique community with an abundance of natural resources, and that they need to be protected. She wants to work more closely with the county and state to monitor PFAS findings in the Huron River and Chain of Lakes, keeping residents updated.

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