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State Briefs

By the Associated Press • Nov 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Judge rules for Thumb township in wind energy dispute

CARO (AP) — A township in Michigan's Thumb region has won a key decision in a dispute over wind energy.

Federal Judge Thomas Ludington said Almer Township in Tuscola County didn't violate the rights of a wind-energy company when it rejected a permit. Ludington last week said the township's interpretation of noise standards was reasonable, even if others might have a different opinion.

Tuscola Wind III is controlled by wind giant NextEra Energy Resources.

After new trustees were elected in 2016, Almer Township rejected a permit that would have cleared the way for 19 turbines. It's part of a larger wind project with 55 turbines in three townships.

The judge said Tuscola Wind can't reasonably argue that Almer Township will have inadequate access to energy without the turbines.

26 go to hospital after Battle Creek carbon monoxide leak

BATTLE CREEK (AP) — Twenty-six people have been treated at a hospital after Battle Creek firefighters found high levels of carbon monoxide at an addiction treatment center.

When firefighters arrived Wednesday morning at the A Forever Recovery center, monitors they carried showed readings of 250-300 parts per million of the toxic gas, compared to acceptable levels of 30-40 ppm.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported people were evacuated to a nearby building and 16 were transported soon thereafter to a hospital, while 10 others sought treatment later in the day. Twenty-four patients were released after treatment, and the hospital said two others were in good condition.

Officials said the leak was caused by a faulty furnace.

Michigan House OKs unemployment changes after fraud scandal

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan House on Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that would cut high financial penalties for collecting excessive unemployment benefits while easing the ability for employers and claimants to report cases of identity theft and other issues.

The eight bills were proposed in the wake of a scandal at the state Unemployment Insurance Agency, which has reversed at least 44,000 fraud cases covering a two-year period after a computer system wrongly accused people of fraudulently receiving benefits. Some claimants were unaware of the allegations.

"I am confident this bill package includes viable reforms that not only solve the current issues of the UIA, but also will help the agency moving forward," said a sponsor, Republican Rep. Joseph Graves of Genesee County's Argentine Township.

A law enacted earlier this year prevents the agency from adjudicating a claimant's case as fraud without human verification and reduces the statute of limitations so it can pursue fraud three years back instead of six. But lawmakers want other changes and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration is supportive of the legislation that was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Higher fares sought for ferryboat rides to Isle Royale park

HOUGHTON (AP) — Federal officials are proposing higher fares for trips to Isle Royale National Park aboard the Ranger III, the ferryboat that carries passengers between Houghton on the Michigan mainland and the park in northwestern Lake Superior.

The National Park Service says raising prices for the first time since 2013 would help maintain the vessel, pay staffing costs and provide services to the public.

Under the plan, the cost of a one-way, low-season ticket for an adult would be $55 next season, up from $53 this year. The one-way, high-season adult fare would rise to $70 from the current $63. For children, the all-season fare would be $35, up from this year's $23.

The changes would take effect Jan. 2.

Park officials are taking public comments on the proposal until Dec. 8.

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