State Senate Honors Fallen Soldiers
The state Senate has honored nine Michigan residents who died while serving in the armed forces over the last year. The Senate held the 19th annual Memorial Service in Lansing on Thursday. The Senators representing the districts of the nine fallen service members placed an American flag in a basket in their honor.
Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills of Vassar was the keynote speaker. Mills was wounded when he dropped a bag on an improvised explosive device in April 2012, during his third deployment. He's one of only a few servicemen to lose four limbs in combat during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and survive. Mills recalled a few of his friends who died during his tours. Despite his injuries, Mills says he can now walk everywhere and feed himself.
Mills met privately with Governor Rick Snyder before the ceremony and was given special recognition by the House of Representatives.
Mills is pictured at left, giving his address in the Michigan Senate Chambers.
Saginaw Township Police Kick Off "Lock It or Lose It"
Saginaw Township Police are partnering with Saginaw Bay Underwriters and Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance for the third year in a row, for the "Lock it or Lose it" campaign. Saginaw Township Police Chief Don Pussehl says the program aims to reduce vehicle break-ins by encouraging people to take a few simple precautions. Those include removing valuables from your vehicle and locking it, as well as reporting any suspicious activity you might observe.
Pussehl says the campaign has been successful during its first two years, reducing "larceny from motor vehicle" complaints by 45 percent. He says it's also made residents more observant, with many more people calling 9-1-1 if they see someting suspicious in their neighborhoods.
The campaign is kicking off this Memorial Day weekend. Chief Don Pussehl announces the program at Saginaw Bay Underwriters offices in the photo at left.
Bay City Utilty Rates Poised To Go Up Soon
Bay City Commissioners could vote next month on water and sewer rate increases in conjunction with the new budget scheduled to take effect July 1st. Acting City Manager Dana Muscott says Wednesday night's Commission budget review session focused on a series of internal funds like health care savings and insurance plus sewer along with portions of the water distribution fund.
She added the proposed rate hikes put forth by Wastewater Superintendent William Kaiser would amount to nine percent for water plus four and a half percent for sewer. Kaiser says those changes are to cover general budget costs.
The last rate hikes for sewer and water service in Bay City occurred two years ago.
100 Club Honors Exceptional Public Safety Officers
Public safety and political officials along with community members from throughout Saginaw County honored two first responders for recent exceptional work.
The 100 Club of Saginaw County presented a Silver Chalice Award to Saginaw Police Officer Brian Wilson. In April, 2012, Wilson shot and killed an armed intruder who pointed a pistol at him while trying to break into an occupied house on Glenwood. The other Silver Chalice Award went to Birch Run Township firefighter Matt Cabello who spotted a house fire while off duty last August and pulled a bedridden man to safety.
The 100 Club provides both symbolic and monetary support for families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Two Dead In Bridgeport Township Crash
Bridgeport Township Police were investigating after two vehicles collided on Junction near Dixie Highway about 1:00 p.m. Wednesday. The crash left two women dead and another person injured.
Witnesses told authorities one vehicle attempted to turn into a driveway before being struck by the other. Junction between Reimer and Dixie reopened after being closed for just over three hours.
Rescue crews had to use the jaws of life to cut a man out of one vehicle before transporting him to an area hospital for treatment. Authorities say the two women died at the crash site. Names were being withheld pending notification of relatives.
Saginaw Homicide Under Investigation
One person is dead after a shooting in the 700 block of North Woodbridge in Saginaw about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Police have identified the victim as 32-year-old Lamarkus Boyd.
Saginaw Detectives have been interviewing witnesses, but so far have no suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers, at 1-800-422-JAIL.
Midland Church Offers Area Grants
Midland's Memorial Presbyterian Church is offering a new grant program in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Rev. Cathy Chang said the church has money left over from last year's fundraising campaign for its new state-of-the-art organ, and the congregation is looking for opportunities to put those funds back into the community.
"We have been blessed with an outpouring of financial support in order to bring the beautiful Letorneau organ to Memorial Presbyterian Church," Chang said in a news release. "In fact, we received more funds than were needed for the organ, and we are excited to be able to put these funds back into our community."
The church's Mission Fund will provide grants of $50,000 to $150,000 for projects and programs that address basic human needs in the Midland or Great Lakes Bay Region.
"We want to partner with other organizations and projects which will allow our church members to be directly involved as volunteers in our community," Chang said.
More information about the program as well as grant applications are available at www.MEMPres.org
County-Wide Saginaw Transit Voted Down by Board
A proposal adopting county-wide transit in Saginaw was voted down eight to two at Tuesday's Saginaw County Board of Commissioners meeting.
A total of 12 community members attended to speak in favor of the proposed partnership between the county and the city's Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services, including county judges Faye Harrison and Janet Boes as well as representatives from the county Department of Human Services, NAACP and Disability Network of Mid-Michigan.
County resident Edward Bell attended to voice his disapproval on the matter which included his concerns on the potential of forced taxation and a municipality's actual ability to "opt-out" of the services.
Board counsel said legal concerns included the unclear ability of a municipality to opt-out because of "confusing legal language," although it was noted that the option has been tested and allowed in other communities.
Commissioner Chuck Stack, among others, said that although he supports the decision, more education and discussion needs to happen with constituents prior to its approval.
"We need this system, but the education has to be done throughout the county," he said. "The education here (in board meetings) was great, and I fully 100 percent would support this, but . . . there has to be some guarantee . . . and the education has to be much greater."
Commissioners Cheryl Hadsall and Robert Woods voted yes, and Commissioner Carl Ruth abstained on ties to the STARS board of directors.
Residents, Union President Urge 'No' on Saginaw Budget
Several Saginaw residents addressed City Council at its meeting Monday to express concerns on the future of public safety as well as last week's decision on retiree healthcare changes.
The residents included Doug Wortley, union president of the Saginaw Police Officers Association of Michigan, and retired police officer Arnie Burns, who said he has been on both sides of the negotiations table in his career.
"People retire under such contracts - knowing what they will receive - and expecting no more, and expecting no less," he said. "Signatures from both sides are everyone involved, making a promise, that all will live within the limits of that contract."
"To do anything else is deceitful, dishonorable and an outright lie."
Wortley urged council to vote 'no' on the city's proposed fiscal year budget which includes about $1.7 million dollars in cuts to its public safety department in order to balance an estimated $3.3 million dollar structural deficit.
He asked on behalf of the Saginaw POAM that the parties find a financial solution for the remaining six of the 61 employed city police before the proposed budget's July 1 deadline.
"I'm here tonight to ask the council to vote no on the proposed budget," he said. "At the current time, we are down to 61 police officers. We have lost over 30 officers in the past year alone."
Wortley said he spoke with the city's personnel director as recently as Monday regarding negotiations between the two parties, including additional union concessions.
"We're willing to negotiate, but it has to be a two-way street," he said.
Saginaw's firefighters and police officers will be reduced to 35 and 55 respectively under the plan, which also includes the closing of two city fire stations.
City Manager Darnell Earley, Assistant City Manager Tim Morales and City Controller Carl Johnson, who is contracted to the city through Plante Moran and said he manages several communities under emergency financial management, all spoke to the need of passing a balanced budget.
Changes can still be made, Johnson said, but if a plan does not balance, the city may lose control of its own financial decisions.
"Whatever they (an EFM team) sees fit to do, they will do," Johnson said. "It gets out of your hands at that point."
Council met impasse on the budget's passage by a four-to-four vote and set a special meeting to continue discussion for Wednesday, May 29, ahead of its May 31charter-mandated approval deadline.
Bay County Garage Fire Causes Major Damage
Authorities in Bay County's Bangor Township are investigating the cause of a garage fire at 3337 West Douglas Drive near Gregg. Fire crews responded to the blaze just before 11:40 a.ml Tuesday. It spread into the attached home and also scorched the siding of two neighboring houses. The garage itself and a pickup truck inside were both described as total losses. No dollar figure on the damage was available and no injuries were reported. Fire officials said two families would have to find alternative housing. at least for a night.
Bangor Township firefighters were assisted by fire crews and equipment from the Monitor and Kawkawlin Township Fire Departments and spent about three hours on site.
Deadlocked Council Delays Saginaw Budget Approval
Approval of the city of Saginaw's nearly $130 million dollar fiscal year proposed budget was postponed on Monday.
Following weeks of discussion on the budget which City Manager Darnell Earley said balances a $3.3 million dollar structural deficit - discussions in part stemming from cuts reducing city public safety funding as well as police and fire department staffing levels - council denied passage by way of a four-to-four vote.
Denied by the same deadlock was an amendment proposed by Mayor Greg Branch - referred to by members of Council as "sequester-like" - that included 15 percent non-union wage cuts and twice-monthly furlough days if an agreement between the city and local unions on its current fire and police officers was not met by the end of June.
The amendment also included appointment of a mediator for the groups which he said the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce volunteered to pay for.
Branch said his addendum was to "give teeth" to the need for success in these negotiations.
"I've said for a year now that I can't support a budget with 55 police officers - I simply can't," he said. "So I think that there's going to have to be some kind of give-and-take somewhere. I just don't know what that will be at this point."
Council set a special meeting next Wednesday afternoon in order to continue discussion before a charter-mandated approval deadline of May 31.
Mayor Pro-Tem Dennis Browning was absent from the nine-member council's meeting.
Police Across Michigan Looking for Those Not Buckled Up
Police across Michigan are helping doctors try and stop a treatable disease they call "Buckle-phobia". The common symptom is not taking two seconds to Buckle Up. The most common side effect is a $65 ticket.
Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning Spokesman Jason Hamblen says seat belt usage in the state is down from previous years. Last year, more than 750 people died in traffic crashes, about one half did not wear a seat belt. Among the 225 people not buckling up who died, about 100 might be alive had they buckled up.
Based on traffic surveys, this year's "Click It or Ticket" campaign is focusing on men, between 18 and 34 years of age, the most likely to drive or ride without buckling that seat belt. Officers from 155 police agencies in 26 counties will be setting up well marked seat belt enforcement zones, looking for those who do not buckle up. The enforcement period runs until June 2nd.
State and local agencies in Genesee, Ogemaw and Saginaw Counties will be participating, with extra patrols paid through state and federal grants.
Click on this link to see a television commercial highlightin the "Click It or Ticket" campaign