Category Archives: State & Region

U.S. Court of Appeals bans opening of gyms amid coronavirus

(Photo/Pexels)


Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | The Huron Hub

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted Gov. Whitmer’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling declaring her order closing gyms in southern Michigan because of COVID-19 should be lifted Thursday, June 25.

“Today three Republican-appointed judges got it right: in the fight against a global pandemic, courts must give governors broad latitude to make quick, difficult decisions. The governor will continue to take the actions necessary to save lives,” Whitmer said.

The court was made up of one judge nominated by President Donald Trump and two judges nominated by former President George W. Bush.

QUOTES FROM THE COURT’S RULING:

“Shaping the precise contours of public health measures entails some difficult line-drawing. Our Constitution wisely leaves that task to officials directly accountable to the people.”

“Enjoining the actions of elected state officials, especially in a situation where an infectious disease can and has spread rapidly, causes irreparable harm.”

“Crises like COVID-19 can call for quick, decisive measures to save lives. Yet those measures can have extreme costs—costs that often are not borne evenly. The decision to impose those costs rests with the political branches of government, in this case, Governor Whitmer.”


Statewide plan to fund grade separations at troublesome railroad crossings passes MI House

In Huron Township, blocked railroad crossings, like this one seen here at Sibley Road, are common occurrences. Crossings in Huron can sometimes be blocked for over an hour at a time, posing an obvious safety risk to the community. (Huron Hub file photo)


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 24, 2020

Relief is in sight for some of the area’s frequently blocked railroad crossings.

Today, House Bill 5861 passed, which is a bipartisan effort between State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown) and Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance).

The bill, according to Camilleri and Sheppard, helps solve some of Michigan’s most critical transportation issues by setting up a statewide fund within the Michigan Department of Transportation to build grade separations at the most troublesome rail crossings in the state.

Inspired by a successful program in Indiana, the program would allow municipalities to apply for state funding and would put up 20 percent of the cost while the state would supply the other 80 percent from the local grade separation fund for approved priority projects.

“Solving the issue at Allen Road in Woodhaven was a huge victory for our Downriver community, but the fact of the matter is there are so many other crossings like Allen Road across our region and our state, including issues in New Boston and Trenton,” said Camilleri, who helped negotiate the funding for the Allen Road underpass in Woodhaven. “By creating this statewide grade separation fund, we will make our communities safer, provide easier routes to schools and hospitals, and unlock economic opportunity for our region.”

Sheppard said Michigan highways have more than 4,000 rail crossings that increase traffic congestion, cause frustration for residents and delay first responders en route to emergencies. This program would pave the way for future projects to separate the crossings and improve the flow of traffic.

“This is about public safety,” Sheppard said. “Every second matters when police, fire and ambulance personnel are responding to an emergency. Lives are quite literally at risk when first responders get hung up by a train blocking the road on their way to a call. Rail grade separations improve public safety by routing the roadway over or under the rail line, eliminating delays.”

House Bill 5861 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.


 

Schools face $1 billion in new costs before safely reopening in the fall, says Tri-County Alliance


Posted by The Huron Hub | June 24, 2020

The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education (TCA) shared cost projections and considerations with Governor Whitmer and legislative leaders that outline requirements and regulations schools will likely need to adhere to in order to reopen safely in the fall. The expected requirements, based on preliminary guidance from federal and local health departments, will add more than $1 billion in new costs for school districts statewide for the upcoming school year. Without additional support, this equates to $665 per-pupil that would be diverted from students’ education.

“We are hearing loud and clear from parents that they want their kids back in the classrooms this fall, and that they will, understandably, demand schools meet or exceed health and safety guidelines in order to do so,” said Mark Greathead, Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools and TCA President. “Schools, as it stands, are not prepared to take on new costs related to COVID-19 and are in critical need of immediate funding from the state and federal government.”

In order to implement safe reopening plans while adhering to guidelines from the CDC, state and local health departments, TCA estimates schools must plan to take on the following additional health and safety costs:

  • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Masks: Recommend two per day for every student and staff
      • $14 million – $17 million per month for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $35 million – $47 million per month statewide
    • Gloves: Recommend 100 disposable gloves available daily per school
      • $4 million – $8 million per month statewide
    • Thermometers:
      • $2.2 million for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $6.3 million statewide
    • Cleaning and Sanitization Supplies:
      • $9 million per month for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
      • $25 million statewide
  • Online Connectivity: Equity periods of remote learning means ensuring students are on a level playing field by providing every student with a device on connectivity to keep on pace with peers
    • $125 million – $200 million statewide
  • Continued food distribution if students are not in school all day, every day
    • $24.5 million for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb
    • $67.8 million statewide

Beyond resources and funding, TCA urged the Governor and legislative leaders to allow for flexibility in operations. The student evaluations, requirements and regulations schools traditionally adhere to—such as the third grade reading law, teacher evaluations and how per-pupil counts will be determined—will  likely not reflect how schools will deliver services this upcoming year and will, more than likely, take time and resources away from schools when they are already struggling to meet requirements and costs related to COVID-19. Yesterday, Georgia became the first state to seek federal approval from the U.S. Education Department to waive standardize testing for the 2020-2021 school year. TCA encourages Michigan’s Governor and legislative leaders to make that same request.

“It is our recommendation that certain student and teacher evaluations and related requirements for the upcoming year be suspended or waived in order for schools to focus their efforts on serving students in the manner that best fits the needs of their local communities,” Greathead said. “We also continue to call on Congress to provide additional stimulus dollars and greater flexibility in the funds already provided.”

View the full list of considerations and cost projections for fall 2020 here.

The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education is a coalition of education leaders “committed to fighting for strong K-12 schools across Michigan,” according to the alliance. Comprised of Superintendents from every district in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, they are collectively responsible for educating over 500,000 students.

Article source: The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education


 

Whitmer extends Michigan state of emergency through July 16 amid coronavirus


The Huron Hub
Posted Friday, June 19, 2020

Governor Whitmer on Thursday extended the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic through July 16.

Whitmer joined nearly every state in the country in maintaining a state of emergency to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency allows Whitmer to put orders in place and take actions unilaterally.

It is not the same as the stay-at-home order, which was recently lifted.

The order will allow her to continue taking action to protect Michigan families and workers, the governor said.

“The aggressive measures we took at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have worked to flatten the curve, but there is still more to be done to prevent a second wave,” Governor Whitmer said. “We owe it to the heroes on the front lines to keep doing our part by wearing a mask when in public and practicing social distancing. Now is not the time to get complacent. We must continue to stay vigilant and flexible in order to reduce the chance of a second wave.”

Whitmer said a recent report released by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team shows the aggressive actions taken to protect Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19 have significantly lowered the number of cases and deaths that would have occurred had the state done nothing.

Without intervention, Michigan might have experienced 28,000 more positive cases before June 1, the report stated.

“The data backs it up: The Stay Home, Stay Safe Order undeniably saved lives,” Governor Whitmer said. “Very few states dropped their infection rate as low and for as long as Michigan has, and I want thank everyone who stepped up to do their part to protect our communities.”

With the reduction in COVID-19 case counts, Whitmer has relaxed restrictions over the last several weeks on business activities and daily life.

On June 1, she announced that most of the state would move to Phase 4 of the governor’s Start plan, allowing retailers and restaurants to resume operations. Hair salons and other personal care services followed two weeks later.

On June 10, the Upper Peninsula and the region surrounding Traverse City were moved to Phase 5 allowing for the reopening of movie theaters, gyms and bowling alleys. If current trends continue the rest of the state will be moved to Phase 5 by July 4.


 

Whitmer announces steps for school reopening in the fall

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Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 17, 2020

Governor Whitmer announced Wednesday that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan.

Schools in the state will have to follow strict safety measures for in-person learning.

A statement from Whitmer also announced that on June 30, she will release an executive order and document called “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” that will provide details on what will be required and what will be recommended for schools.

Whitmer said the need for support and flexibility from the federal government will help ensure resources for students and educators.

“Our students and educators have made incredible sacrifices these past few months to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, those who have done their part to flatten the curve, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall. Schools must make sure to enact strict safety measures to continue protecting educators, students, and their families. I will continue working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and leaders in health care to ensure we get this right, but we also need more flexibility and support from the federal government. This crisis has had serious implications on our budget, and we need federal support if we’re going to get this right for our kids.”

The Return to School plan will align closely with the MI Safe Start Plan, she said.

Whitmer said districts, students, staff, and families must be nimble and be prepared to move backwards if there is evidence of community spread of the virus.

“The most important thing we can do when developing a return to school plan is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I will continue to work closely with Governor Whitmer and the Return to Learn Advisory Council to ensure we continue to put the health and safety of our students and educators first. This is a big step, and we will remain flexible to protect everyone who steps foot in a Michigan school.”

The Roadmap will set the minimum health and safety requirements, although districts may choose to enact more aggressive ones in consultation with local public health officials.

These minimum requirements will apply to all schools, including traditional public, charter, private, and parochial schools.

On May 15, Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-88 creating the COVID-19 Return to School Advisory Council.

“The Advisory Council was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school, and to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school. The Council will act in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the COVID-19 Task Force on Education, and will develop and submit recommendations to the COVID-19 Task Force on Education regarding the safe, equitable, and efficient K-12 return to school in the Fall,” a statement from Whitmer said.

Related: Here is an end of school year update from Huron School District superintendent 


 

For the Love Bakeshop to host pop-up shop in Flat Rock June 26-28

For the Love Bakeshop & Café offers an inviting space accommodating a wide variety of dining preferences from grab and go, to a place to meet up with friends and socialize, and even offers a private dining section for parties, meetings and events. Photo courtesy Michele Bezue.


For the Love Bakeshop & Café, a vibrant new bakery cafe opening in July at the corner of Telegraph Rd and East Huron River Dr, is the latest on a growing list of eateries and small businesses revitalizing the downtown Flat Rock community. The shop is driven by a sense of purpose around fresh, local, real food. For the Love offers an inviting space accommodating a wide variety of dining preferences from grab and go, to a place to meet up with friends and socialize, and even offers a private dining section for parties, meetings and events. 

For the Love will host a pop up shop June 26–28, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily ahead of their upcoming July opening. Space is limited due to current COVID-19 regulations and guests will be served first come, first served.

The creators of For the Love hope to do more than just serve great food. From its beginnings, the shop has been designed to nourish the community in both body and spirit every hour that they are open. From staff whose mandate is to treat all neighbors with familiarity and love, to the authentic and natural food that is served, just as they would serve to their own families. Additionally, The For the Love of Neighbor program was an integral part of developing the eatery and offers a generous opportunity for guests to pay it forward when they can. Neighbors can support their fellow community members in need, by purchasing a Breakfast Break or Lunch with Love Benefit that a guest can use to pay for their meal whether they simply forgot their wallet or truly don’t know where their next meal will come from. The business will even share in the cost by offering a discount for any neighbors who choose to share the love. 

“It’s definitely something that’s close to home,” says Nichole Kahl, For the Love’s General Manager, “It’s a great feeling paying your bills on time, but sometimes your food runs out before your next check and that’s ok, it happens.  Our FTLON benefit is there to help those who are in need, in any way!”

For the Love uses Ingredients that are local whenever possible and always the highest quality and the fare is multicultural, based on the creators’ life experiences around the world. The menu includes a variety of breakfast, lunch and bakery items, handcrafted fresh daily. Gourmet sandwiches, refreshing salads, indulgent bakery goods including cakes, brownies, pastry, cookies and more are just some of what you will find on the counter and in the pastry case. An elevated coffee program includes coffee from several metro Detroit roasters, including the new Flat Rock roaster, Hooked on a Bean. For events and meetings, For the Love offers a full catering menu, which can be served in-house, picked up or delivered to your office or home. 

Menu favorites include the, always popular, Black Velvet Cake with Bruleed House-made Marshmallow and Double Cocoa Brownies that your mouth just will not believe. For breakfast, there is an unforgettable variety of bread and muffins in flavors like Morning Glory Banana and Lemon Thyme, as well as savory favorites like Bacon and Egg Brioche Buns and Kale Cheddar Sausage & Egg Muffins. The lunch menu boasts a variety of individual pizzas, scratch-made soups and sandwiches and baked treats like beef bourguignon pot pie and more.

For the Love Bakeshop & Café is located at 28773 Telegraph Rd in the former Premion building, newly rehabbed and home to several new and exciting Flat Rock businesses. The shop will open for carryout and delivery plus limited seating and events in July from 11 am – 6 pm. Keep up on progress and Grand Opening announcement at www.forthelovecafe.com and on social media on Facebook and Instagram as @forthelovecafe. Contact For the Love at 734.210.0290 and email at info@forthelovecafe.com.

Article submitted by: Michele Bezue


 

Expect occasional lane closures on I-94 between I-275 and Huron Street through fall


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 12, 2020

 

Drivers should expect occasional lane closures on I-94 between I-275 and Huron Street in Ypsilanti through fall.

MDOT says it is investing $7 million to repair 9.5 miles of I-94 from just east of Huron Street in Washtenaw County to just east of I-275 in Wayne County.

The work includes pavement repairs on the freeway and ramps, joint repairs and resealing, drainage clean-out, diamond grinding, and replacing the truck weigh scale at the Belleville Rest Area.

The work will being Thursday, June 18 at 8 p.m.

TRAFFIC DETAILS:

Eastbound and westbound I-94 will remain open with lane closures varying during days, nights and weekends.

All lanes will remain open during morning and afternoon drive times.

Single-lane closures may occur on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Up to two lanes may be closed during weeknight work from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Weekend work will occur from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday, with one lane open.

MDOT says the road construction project is essential. Transportation workers in the field follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to limit their risk of getting sick.


 

Whitmer signs bill into law allowing roadside drug testing for controlled substances

(MSP file photo)

Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 12, 2020

Governor Whitmer on Thursday signed Senate Bill 718 into law, amending the Michigan Vehicle Code to allow for roadside drug testing for controlled substances.

The bill establishes a one-year pilot program of roadside drug testing in five counties to be selected by the Michigan State Police.

The Michigan State Police also received authorization to conduct a second one-year pilot program involving more counties at the conclusion of the original one-year pilot program.

MSP subsequently expanded the pilot program to all 83 counties in the State. SB 718 was sponsored by Senator Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford.

Related: Michigan State Police launch second phase of oral roadside drug testing pilot program


 

Michigan drivers now have a choice in amount of personal injury protection medical coverage


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 9, 2020

Under a new auto insurance law, Michigan drivers will now have a choice in the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) medical coverage they purchase on policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020.

PIP medical coverage pays allowable expenses for medical care, recovery, rehabilitation, and some funeral expenses, and typically represents almost half of an individual driver’s premium.

Michigan is the only state where unlimited PIP medical continues to be an option.

“This is a time when Michiganders need to see rate relief, and I am pleased that these reforms will result in savings even greater than the law’s requirements,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement. “It’s important that drivers talk to their insurance agents or attend upcoming town halls to make sure they understand the changes coming this summer so they can make the best choices for their families and budgets.”

According to the state of Michigan, aggregated data shows that the average statewide PIP medical reductions exceed the statutory requirements, which use the average statewide rates on May 1, 2019 as the baseline. (Images are courtesy state of Michigan)
 
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The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services says it contracted with outside independent analysts to review all filed rates to confirm compliance with the law.

DIFS rejected PIP filings that used any rating factors not permitted under the new law, such as sex, marital status, home ownership, or zip code, and required companies to resubmit filings with the prohibited factors removed, the department said.

In total, DIFS said it approved 321 personal and commercial auto filings related to the law change.

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“DIFS has worked hard in extraordinary circumstances to review and approve auto insurance rates so that drivers can see the benefit of this law starting this summer,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “We are also working to educate Michiganders so they can be ready to review and make decisions about their policies and ultimately save money.”

Auto insurance premiums are individual to each consumer and may vary on driving record, miles driven, coverages selected, and other factors.

Informative resources, instructional videos and a schedule of virtual town hall events are available for drivers to learn more about the new law at Michigan.gov/autoinsurance.