Thursday Afternoon State News Summary
Thu, 10 Jan 2013 12:18:19 EST
Together they'll agree on a rate of tax revenue for this year and next, as part of an effort to help the legislature develop a state budget for 2014.
Both the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies have released revenue reports, with the S-F-A and the H-F-A saying there's little if any extra revenue to play with. And the Senate agency even says the school aid fund for next year will have a deficit of more than 200-(m) million dollars.
The H-F-A report says net revenues to the general fund will fall this year by more than four and one-half percent, but will rise just over five and one-half percent next year.
The H-F-A's estimate on school aid also differed from the Senate, in that it was more optimistic about both this year and next.


(Capitol-Pure Michigan Ad)
A full-page Pure Michigan ad in the Wall Street Journal touting Michigan as "the newest Right-To-Work state" has some questioning the Pure Michigan brand.
Democrats and liberal organizations took to social media to criticize Pure Michigan and Governor Rick Snyder for letting the divisive Right To Work issue get a piece of the Pure Michigan brand.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer called on Snyder to explain how much state money was spent on the full page advertisement, when it was approved, who it was approved by and whether there are plans already in place to spend further state resources on additional politically motivated advertisements using the Pure Michigan brand.
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (Grime-uhl) says Republicans feel they must gloat about passing right-to-work by purchasing a full-page ad in a national newspaper while questioning the governors talk about reaching across the aisle to achieve common goals.
But Snyder spokesperson Sara Wurfel said that there was no directive from the Governor's office for this kind of advertisement.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which manages the Pure Michigan brand, has yet to comment.


(Novi-Fire Deaths)
Investigators in Oakland County are looking into the cause of a fire that claimed the lives an elderly Novi couple.
73-year-old Jeannette Hampton and her 79-year-old husband Lewis Hampton were pulled from their burning home at the Novi Meadows Mobile Home Park this morning (Thursday). A woman who cared for the couple says Lewis Hampton suffered from Alzheimer's Disease.
Firefighters say the blaze broke out while the couple was sleeping and they likely inhaled a great deal of smoke. They were pronounced dead at Providence Park Hospital.
The Oakland County Medical Examiner is expected to perform autopsies Friday morning.
(Metro Source/WWJ, Detroit)


---Note Nature---

(Isabella Co-Neighbor Murder Hearing)
A preliminary hearing is scheduled later this month for the Mid-Michigan pastor accused of beating and strangling a neighbor to death to fulfill a sexual fantasy.
55-year-old John D. White is charged with an open count of murder and first-degree premeditated murder in the death of Rebekah Gay on October 31st. Isabella County Trial Court officials today (Thursday) scheduled a January 24 preliminary hearing.
Last week, the ex-convict and pastor of the tiny Christ Community Fellowship church outside of Mount Pleasant was declared competent to stand trial.
White told police that he was engaged to Gay's mother, who was a regular at his Sunday sermons.
He said that after killing the 24-year-old Gay in her trailer in rural Isabella County that he hid her body in nearby woods and then returned to the trailer to dress her 3-year-old son for Halloween.
White told investigators he struck Gay's head with a mallet and then strangled her and stripped her clothes off but does not remember if he carried out his fantasy of having sex with her dead body. Authorities say White led them to Gays body, which was found half a mile from her home in Broomfield Township.
White was released from prison in 2007 after serving nearly 12 years for manslaughter. In the early 1980s he was also sentenced to five years for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl.


(MI-Benefits Challenge)
Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will take the issue of same-sex benefits for state employees to the State Supreme Court.
Schuette is challenging an Appeals Court opinion that lets the Michigan Civil Service Commission grant health care benefits to same-sex partners. He says that the policy violates a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2004 that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Schuette says that the Commission and others have simply reworded the language to get around the violation but in essence are still violating the constitution.
(Metro Source)


(Walled Lake-Barricaded Gunman)
A barricaded gunman who caused the evacuation of a Walled Lake neighborhood this (Thursday) morning after firing shots at a police helicopter has been taken into custody.
The Oakland County Sheriffs Office says officers on the scene worked quickly to control the situation and arrest the gunman, whose name was not immediately released.
The gunman was holed up at a home in a subdivision of upscale condominiums. Multiple shots were fired, but no injuries were reported.
Residents in the neighborhood were evacuated and traffic was rerouted to avoid the area.
Several schools in the area were placed on lockdown, including St. Williams Catholic Schools, Walled Lake Consolidated School, Hickory Wood Elementary, Walled Lake Elementary, Guest Elementary and the Walled Lake Community Education Center.
Reports say the gunman was intoxicated. It wasnt immediately clear what led to the shooting.
Police say an active investigation is ongoing.
(WWJ, Detroit)


(St. Joseph Co-Double Fatal)
Two Indiana residents were killed Wednesday morning in a one-vehicle crash in Southwest Michigan.
The St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department says a van driven by 30-year-old Kirk Miller of Keystone, Indiana left Fawn River Road in White Pigeon Township and rolled over several times.
Two of the six passengers in the vehicle were killed in the crash. They were identified as 50-year old Chris Eicher of Portland, Indiana, and 48-year old Danny Graber of Geneva, Indiana.
A third passenger was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
(WLKM, Three Rivers)


(Kent Co-Missing Teen)
A Kent County teenager has been missing for a week and investigators say the girl is off her medication and may be in danger.
Sheriff's deputies say 17-year old Ashley Worthington of Lowell left her mother's home last Thursday and did not return as expected. On Saturday, she left the company of a friend and joined two men who invited her to go with them to Grand Rapids.
Worthington is 5'4", 180 pounds and was wearing black sweatpants, a green shirt and red sweatshirt. The men she left with were described as white males in their early to mid-20's traveling in a newer model yellow Ford Mustang with a black stripe on the lower panel.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ashley Worthington is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff's Department or Silent Observer.
(John C. Smith, WOOD, Grand Rapids)


(Dearborn-Ford Double Dividend)
Ford Motor Company will be paying a dividend of ten-cents per share of Class B and common stock.
The payment is double what the automaker paid per share in 2012 and is a "testament to the Ford One plan" according to Chief Financial Officer Rob Shanks.
In the first three quarters of last year, Ford increased its cash balance by two-billion dollars. The dividend will be paid to shareholders on March 1st.
(Metro Source)


(Allegan Co-Fugitive Returns)
A woman, who was among four people who led police on a multi-state manhunt last fall, is out of a Colorado jail and back in West Michigan.
29-year old Lauralee Grauman was released from the Fremont County Detention Center last month after serving a 90-day sentence on a theft charge.
Her 23-year old boyfriend, Gregory Bradshaw and 32-year-old cousin Kenneth Grauman escaped from a minimum security state prison near Baldwin in late September. The pair then picked up Lauralee Grauman and 17-year-old Brittany Rector in Allegan County and eluded police in Michigan and several other states.
They were caught nearly two weeks later at a motel near Pueblo, Colorado in a stolen vehicle and had an active methamphetamine lab in their room.
The Allegan County Prosecutors Office is considering whether to file charges against Lauralee Grauman for assisting in the mens flight from justice.
Kenneth Grauman and Bradshaw remain behind bars in Colorado on multiple felonies. Their extradition back to Michigan to face charges from their escape is pending.
Rector returned to Michigan in October.
(Help from: WOOD, Grand Rapids)


(Grand Haven-City Lighthouses)
The city of Grand Haven is now the legal owner of the two lighthouses which are located on the city's South pier leading out to Lake Michigan.
City manager Pat McGinnis said the deed from the United States Coast Guard arrived last month.
A recent community-wide campaign raised 99 thousand dollars in 99 days, funding which was used by local volunteers to restore the exterior of the structures this past fall.
The Coast Guard also made some recent channel wall improvements near the entrance light as part of the ownership hand-off.
A formal deed transfer ceremony will take place during the city's Boards and Commissions Dinner which will be held in a couple of months.
(Ron Stevens, WGHN, Grand Haven)


(Cheboygan Co-Sled Dog Race Postponed)
The January thaw has claimed a casualty in northern lower Michigan.
The Mid-Union Sled Haulers sled dog race was supposed to debut in Indian River Saturday and Sunday but the organization
has postponed the event due to warm temperatures. The races have been rescheduled for February 23-24.
The non-profit is still planing to hold the Indian River Sprint Dog Sled Race January 26-27, the same weekend that the city of Indian River will celebrate its 3rd Annual Winterfest on Burt Lake.

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