Category Archives: State & Region

Huron-Clinton Metroparks to raise price of 2020 annual passes


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Dec. 31, 2019

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are raising the cost of their annual vehicle passes in 2020.

The 2020 pass will cost $40, up from $35.

For seniors, a 2020 annual pass will cost $29. ID verification is required, and all senior passes must be purchased in person.

The annual standard pass fee was last increased in 2016 when it was raised from $30 to $35.

The annual passes allow residents to visit 13 Metroparks in the system that cover 25,000 acres across southeast Michigan and are located along the Huron and Clinton rivers.

Metroparks are open 365 days per year and offer visitors variety of outdoor recreation and aquatics.

Locally, the Metroparks are a major attraction for Huron Township residents since three of the system’s parks — Willow, Oakwoods, and Lower Huron — are located within township borders.

The fee increase will help cover the cost of upgrades throughout the aging trail system and is expected to generate between $800,000 to $900,000, according to this report in The Detroit News.

The funding will also aid the park system’s plans for capital improvements.

Metropark officials said the parks began marketing an early purchase discount program via email, mailings and on social media in November, when season passes go on sale.

Those in the know were able to purchase the 2020 passes at the current 2019 rate.

Metropark passes can be purchased online at this link.


 

Detroit Metro Airport achieves third level of Airport Carbon Accreditation program


Posted by The Huron Hub on Dec. 29, 2019 

The Wayne County Airport Authority announced Dec. 18 that Detroit Metro Airport achieved level three of the Airport Carbon Accreditation program.

The program assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions.

Included in the program is a carbon management certification standard for airports across the world developed by ACI Europe, a worldwide association of airport operators.

The announcement was made at the 2019 Airport Council International – North America Annual Conference and Exhibition in Tampa, Fla.

“We are proud to be one of the 47 airports in North America to achieve the Airport Carbon Accreditation,” said Airport Authority CEO Chad Newton. “The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is committed to creating a sustainable airport. By collaboratively working with our internal and external stakeholders, we continue to make strides in decreasing the airport’s impact on the environment and future generations.”

There are four levels of accreditation: Mapping, Reduction, Optimization and Neutrality.

Mapping requires carbon footprint measurement by the airport; reduction requires a reduction in the airport’s carbon footprint and a carbon management plan; optimization builds on the first two levels and engages airport stakeholders in carbon footprint reduction.

The final level, neutrality, includes the previous requirements, along with neutralizing remaining direct carbon emissions by carbon offsetting.

“We have worked for the past three years to achieve Level Three carbon accreditation,” said WCAA Sustainability Program Administrator Sara Kaplan. “We have replaced fluorescent and metal-halide light fixtures with Energy Star certified LEDs throughout the campus, installed electric vehicle charging stations and have made many improvements to our power plant. We have also constructed more energy efficient buildings, and most recently added an all-electric vehicle to our fleet. Our current runway and taxiway construction project will make our airfield operations more efficient, reducing emissions from airplanes.”

The Airport Carbon Accreditation is an independent, voluntary program sponsored by ACI Europe.

The program launched in Europe in 2009 and extended to five additional regions by 2014, which include Asia-Pacific, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.


 

Gov. Whitmer signs bills legalizing internet gaming, sports betting in Michigan

  • The bills legalize internet gaming and sports betting through Michigan’s casinos.

  • Revenue from online gaming and sports betting will support the School Aid Fund and First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Dec. 20, 2019 — 11:00 AM EST

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan bills Friday that legalize internet gaming and sports betting through Michigan’s casinos.

Revenue from online gaming and sports betting will support the school aid fund and First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund, according to the governor.

“My top priority in signing this legislation was protecting and investing in the School Aid Fund, because our students deserve leaders who put their education first,” said Whitmer. “Thanks in part to the hard work and leadership of Senator Hertel and Representative Warren, these bills will put more dollars in Michigan classrooms and increase funding for firefighters battling cancer. This is a real bipartisan win for our state.”

The Michigan Department of Treasury estimates that legalization will bring in $19 million in new revenue to Michigan.

The additional revenue will boost the School Aid Fund by $4.8 million and invest an additional $4 million into the FRPCF, the governor says.

FRPCF provides weekly workers’compensation wage loss and medical benefits to qualified first responders that have developed certain cancers.

The revenue for the coverage fund will be the first time FRPCF has a dedicated funding stream.

The fund helps to treat illnesses firefighters battle due to smoke inhalation and exposure to chemicals while protecting others.

Additionally, the packages of bills will allow tribal casinos to participate in online gaming and sports betting at an equal level to the Detroit casinos.

HB 4311 creates the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, which allows the Michigan Gaming Control Board to issue licenses for online and mobile casinos games to be offer by licensed Detroit or Tribal casinos if the applicants meet certain criteria.

The bill allows for all current forms of casino games to be offered online or on mobile devices.

HB 4916 creates the Lawful Sports Betting Act, which legalizes sports betting in casinos, online and mobile. This bill specifies that an internet sports betting wager received by a sports betting operator or its internet sports betting platform provider would be considered gambling or gaming that was conducted in the sports betting operator’s casino located in Michigan.

HB 4308 creates the Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act, which establishes the legal framework to regulate fantasy sports contests within the state. It allows for both paid contest at a commercial level and private contest within certain criteria to be legal in the state of Michigan.


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Wayne County closes deal worth $4.9 million on Pinnacle Aeropark Property

Initial site plans, seen here in this rendering, call for two storage or warehouse type buildings totaling more than 600,000 square feet. (Photo courtesy Wayne County)

  • Initial site plans for the property, which sold for $4.9 million, call for two storage or warehouse type buildings totaling more than 600,000 square feet
  • Purchasers have agreed to invest $40 million into the property within five years.
  • Tenants for the proposed warehouses have not yet been secured

By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Dec. 18, 2019 — 12:02 PM EST

Wayne County announced Wednesday that the sale of the Pinnacle Aeropark Property to HS Commerce 275 LLC — a joint venture between Hillwood Enterprise, L.P. and Sterling Group — has been finalized.

The 650-acre property was sold for nearly $4.9 million following inspections.

County officials say even though tenants for the proposed buildings at this point have not been secured, they are hopeful that the location will draw interest.

“Given the proximity to the airport and the expected growth of the logistics industry, we think potential tenants will be as interested and excited about this project as we are,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans in a statement. “We are continuing to leverage assets like Detroit Metro Airport to attract investment, create jobs and expand the tax base.”

Initial site plans call for two storage or warehouse type buildings totaling more than 600,000 square feet, according to the county.

Under the sale terms approved by the Wayne County Commission on October 3, the purchasers agreed to invest $40 million into the property within five years.

Related: Wayne County Commission approves mixed-use development at former Pinnacle Racecourse site

The property in Huron Township was rezoned in August by Huron Township from a Special Purpose District to the Pinnacle Development Area District, which the county says helped clear the way for the project.

The site, which is bordered by Pennsylvania, Wayne, Sibley and Vining roads, includes 350 acres of County-owned land and the 300-acre Pinnacle Race Course site, which was acquired after foreclosure in 2019 via the right of refusal process.

“This property is perfectly situated for mixed use industrial development to drive commercial investment. The fact that Hillwood was willing to move forward with these buildings before securing tenants tells us they expect the property to be in demand and that’s a great sign,” said Assistant Wayne County Executive Khalil Rahal. “We want to thank the local officials in Huron Township for partnering to bring this project to fruition.”

In 2016, structures and debris from the defunct racecourse were removed following an agreement between the County and the property’s then-owner to clear the site.

Photos: Pinnacle Racecourse demolition

Background:

Hillwood Enterprise, L.P. has large-scale global development experience in the industrial and residential sectors and is part of Perot Investments founded by former presidential candidate Ross Perot.

Sterling Group is a Detroit based equity firm.

On June 19, representatives from Hillwood visited the Board of Trustees during an open meeting to discuss their plans.

During the lengthy meeting, the developers laid out a potential plan for the site and took feedback from residents who were in attendance.

On July 29, the Huron Township Board of Trustees approved the development plan.

According to a resolution passed by the township board, protection is provided against industry that does not fit the Township Master Plan.

The resolution also retains Huron Township’s zoning process, which allows the board to put stipulations on the types of developments that buyers can build on the property.

Video: Pinnacle property discussed at July board meeting

To view The Huron Hub’s complete coverage of the Pinnacle property, including the defunct race track through the recently announced proposed development, please visit this archive on HuronHub.com.


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Police in Metro Detroit will be on the lookout for impaired drivers this holiday season


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Dec. 17, 2019 

You know the slogan by now: drive sober or get pulled over.

While the holidays are often fun and busy times for families, friends and coworkers, it is also one of the deadliest times of year for drunk- and drugged-driving fatalities, authorities say.

Law enforcement, in partnership with the Office of Highway Safety Planning, are encouraging safe, sober driving this holiday season.

The national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign runs from Dec. 18 – Jan. 1.

During that time, increased enforcement, along with statewide messages about the dangers of impaired driving, aim to drastically reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries on the roadways.

“The holidays should be an enjoyable time to spend with loved ones,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “It’s important for people to drive sober this holiday season – and every day. If you’re impaired by any substance, you shouldn’t drive.”

To reinforce this message, OHSP aired a new ad titled “Toe Tags” emphasizing the dangers of drugged driving.

In 2018, one person was killed every 50 minutes by a drunk driver on our nation’s roads, according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning.

In Michigan, of the 905 fatal crashes in 2018, 31.7 percent involved alcohol.

During last year’s Christmas holiday, there were 13 fatal crashes, with nine crashes involving alcohol.

Over the New Year’s holiday last year, there were nine fatal crashes, with one crash involving alcohol.

Officers during this campaign will be on the look-out for motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Impairment of any kind while driving is illegal.

If a person chooses to drive while impaired, they can be arrested for a DUI and could face jail time and hefty fines.


 

Michigan House votes to ban cell phone use for drivers under 18


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Dec. 12, 2019 

The Michigan House passed legislation Wednesday that bans drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones while driving.

The bill defines cell phone use as the act of initiating a call, answering a call or engaging in verbal communication through a phone and bans distracted driving.

The law would not apply to individuals who are reporting accidents or other emergencies.

The current law only applies to individuals with learner’s permits or restricted licenses.

State Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) spearheaded the bill.

“This is a matter of life and death,” said Manoogian. “Every year, distracted driving causes thousands of crashes in our state, resulting in preventable injuries and loss of life. As lawmakers, it is up to us to enact laws that keep Michiganders safe and this bill does just that. Our young drivers are the most vulnerable to accidents and we need to do everything we can to protect them.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauded the Michigan House of Representatives for passing the bill.

“As a mom, there’s nothing more important to me than the safety of my kids, and I know every parent in Michigan feels the same way,” Whitmer said. “That’s why Rep. Manoogian’s legislation is so important. We don’t just need better roads, we need safer roads. This bill will help us put an end to distracted driving, protect our kids, and ensure the safety of Michigan drivers. It’s my hope that the Michigan Senate will do the right thing and pass this bill so we can protect Michiganders everywhere.”

View House Bill 4181 here


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Secretary of State replacing ‘unreliable kiosks’ with new self-service stations

In addition to Secretary of State branch offices, many of the new stations will be in grocery stores such as Kroger and Meijer, meeting customers where they already are doing business.


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Posted Nov. 27, 2019

Say goodbye to the old, unreliable relics of the past usually located near the entrance of your local Secretary of State office.

Secretary Jocelyn Benson said she is replacing “unreliable, hard-to-use kiosks across the state with new, user-friendly self-service stations.”

Benson said she is also increasing the number of stations by more than 60 percent.

Following a one-month pilot phase completed this involving a dozen new self-service stations and thousands of customer transactions, the project will expand to replace all 93 existing kiosks by the end of January and add 57 more, for a total of 150, by the end of April.

Additional stations are also being discussed.

In addition to Secretary of State branch offices, many of the new stations will be in grocery stores such as Kroger and Meijer.

“We’ve already seen a significant increase in customers using the new machines,” Benson said. “During the pilot phase, the number of transactions increased significantly on three-quarters of the new machines compared to the same period the previous year. In some locations, the increase has been as much as 57 percent.”

Like the previous kiosks, self-service stations will offer renewals for automobiles, motorcycles and watercraft.

The stations can print auto and motorcycle tabs. Watercraft tabs will be mailed to customers.

The new stations will add numerous driver-related transactions once the Michigan Department of State completes the second portion of its computer system upgrade in March 2021.

The Department of State is partnering with vendor Intellectual Technology Inc. (ITI) on the new stations, which are being provided at no cost to the state, according to Benson.

Customers will pay a technology service fee of $3.95 for every vehicle renewed at a self-service station. Transactions normally take less than two minutes.

Many of the new machines will accept cash — previously not an option at the old kiosks. The new stations also accept American Express credit cards, in addition to the Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards the previous kiosks accepted.

Residents don’t need to have their renewal packet with them to renew their registration at a self-service station. Eligible vehicles can be renewed with only the plate number and the last four digits of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Many stations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For an up-to-date listing of locations with the new self-service stations, visit Michigan.gov/SOSSelfService.