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Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST

ERASER APP

Lawmakers OK ban on FOIA-avoidant apps for state employees

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would ban apps that help state employees avoid public records requests after it was revealed in January that some State Police officers had an app on their work phones that deleted messages. Bill sponsor Rep. Steve Johnson has said the use of an app that erases records interferes with the ability to complete a Freedom of Information Act request. The Detroit Free Press reported on the use of an app called Signal within State Police in January. The department required any officers with “non-standard communications" apps to remove them by Feb. 10. The bill will now go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for approval.

TEEN KILLED

Man sentenced to 75-120 years in slaying of Michigan teen

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — An ex-convict charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl in central Michigan has been sentenced to 75 to 120 years in prison. The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant reports that Isabella County Circuit Court Judge Mark Duthie on Tuesday described Isaiah “Zeke” Gardenhire’s actions as “flat-out evil,” and the worst he’s seen in 20 years in the county prosecutor’s office and 17 years on the bench. The 41-year-old Gardenhire pleaded no contest in September to second-degree murder and other crimes in the fatal stabbing of Adrie Dembowske in June and the assault of the girl’s mother in Union Township near Mount Pleasant. Gardenhire also is charged in connection with two slayings in Ingham County.

MICHIGAN HOUSE

Michigan House leader wants earlier elections to fill seats

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican leader of the Michigan House is urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to immediately schedule special elections to fill what will be four open seats in chamber, the most vacancies in at least 30 years. Whitmer, a Democrat, is considering the request but will wait to decide until after the Nov. 2 election results are certified. The last time there were legislative vacancies, Whitmer set special elections to coincide with regular elections in August and November. House Speaker Jason Wentworth said last week that he wants there to be earlier special elections in 2022 and that he's ready to work with Whitmer to fund them.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MUNSON

Major health system goes 'red' to care for COVID-19 patients

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A major health care provider in northern Michigan says it's putting an emphasis on COVID-19 care and reducing other services after a spike in the region. Munson Healthcare, based in Traverse City, says it moved its pandemic response to a “red” stage in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. Munson had a test positivity rate of 22.2 percent by Sunday. About 100 people with COVID-19 were in Munson hospitals, including 56 in Traverse City. At least 24 people have died since Oct. 26. The Leland school district, north of Traverse City, says schools would be closed Friday. It is encouraging staff and students to get vaccinated.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Biden vax-test mandate covers government workers in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration’s requirement that many private-sector workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, if their employers allow it, get tested weekly also applies to many of the roughly 586,000 government employees in Michigan. That's because Michigan is one of 26 states to operate and enforce workplace safety rules instead of the U.S. government. Federal law requires those states to cover state and local government workers, including school employees. Private and public employers with 100 or more workers must require them to get fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. Employers can instead adopt a policy mandating employees to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

RUNNER DISQUALIFIED-PROFANITY

Profanity at finish disqualifies 2nd place Michigan runner

PARCHMENT, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan high school runner who finished second in a state championship race was disqualified. Garrett Winter's performance was scratched because he expressed four-letter words of joy as he crossed the finish line Saturday. Officials said his profanities at the end of the Division 2 race violated a national rule that governs conduct in high school running. Cody Inglis, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, says there was no wiggle room. He says Winter’s words could be heard 50 yards away. Winter us a senior at Parchment High School. He says he wasn't swearing at anyone but the words came from "pure adrenaline and emotion.”

MICHIGAN-FLINTS CONFUSION

New law could end confusion in Michigan over Flint name

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A new Michigan law could mean a new name for Flint Township, which for years has been trying to show that it's separate from the city of Flint despite sharing a border and a name. Until recently, townships across the state had no authority to change their names, unlike cities and villages. That ended last month when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a law to allow it. The confusion isn't isolated to the Flints, where in recent years the city's lead-in-water crisis has renewed interest in changing the township's name. As many as 352 of Michigan’s 1,240 townships share a name with at least one other township. That number doesn’t include places like Flint Township that share a name with cities or counties.

COLD CASE-FBI

FBI offers reward in 2017 killing of Lansing-area man

LAWRENCE, Mich. (AP) — The FBI is offering up to $10,000 for tips that solve the 2017 murder of a Lansing-area man whose remains were found more than 100 miles away. Jerome Ezell was supposed to pick up his girlfriend. Officers found the car with their baby in a car seat but not the 27-year-old man. Thirteen months later, in 2018, Ezell’s remains were found in a wooded area off Interstate 94 in Van Buren County. Foul play is suspected. Anyone with information can call (517) 898-1285 or (517) 483-7867.

MUSIC-BROTHERS OSBORNE

Brothers Osborne bring message of inclusivity to CMA stage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Brothers Osborne have a message for fans at this year's CMA Awards: You're not alone and it gets better. Their song, “Younger Me," was released after lead singer TJ Osborne came out publicly as gay. TJ Osborne said singing such a meaningful song at the awards show transcends the awards itself. The four-time CMA award-winning duo are up for three awards, including album of the year for “Skeletons." Recording the album felt like a series of hurdles to overcome. Older brother John Osborne had to take time off to deal with his anxiety and depression. They finished recording as the pandemic hit, treating the record like it might be their last.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOLS

Western Michigan district cancels school until Nov. 16

NEWAYGO, Mich. (AP) — A school district in western Michigan is shutting down until Nov. 16 because of COVID-19, other illnesses and staff absences. The Newaygo district is in Newaygo County, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids. It has approximately 1,500 students. Superintendent Jeff Wrights says there weren’t enough substitute teachers to fill the gap. Wright says a school day doesn’t count if a school can’t meet a 75% student attendance threshold. Next Monday was already scheduled as a day off. The lost days will be treated as snow days.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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