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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 13, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Disasters declared in 17 counties, 2 cities hit by flooding

LANSING (AP) — Disaster declarations have been made for 17 Michigan counties and two cities hit hard by recent flooding from heavy rain and melting snow.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office said Monday's declarations make state resources available to those areas, including grants of up to $100,000 for reimbursement of local response costs to the Feb. 19-21 flooding.

The state police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is coordinating damage recovery efforts and working with local emergency management agencies in the areas affected by the flooding.

Disaster declarations were made for Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Clare, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa and St. Joseph counties. Declarations also were made for Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Body found in Grand River that of missing kayaker, police say

LANSING (AP) — Police said that a body recovered from the Grand River in Lansing is that of a missing kayaker.

Police identified the body Monday as that of 24-year-old Devon Christmas of Bath. They said the medical examiner has ruled the death a drowning.

The submerged body was located Saturday morning.

Christmas fell into the water Feb. 27 near the Brenke Fish Ladder in Lansing, police said.

Woman whose body found in Grand Rapids alley identified

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — Authorities have identified a woman whose body was found this past weekend in a Grand Rapids alley.

Grand Rapids police said medical examiners have identified the woman as 26-year-old Hillary Ann Schihl of Grand Rapids.

Police said an autopsy on Monday found no signs of trauma on the body, but the cause and manner of death cannot be determined until toxicology results are completed.

Officers found the body at about 8 a.m. Sunday.

Election to replace convicted Michigan state senator set

LANSING (AP) — The special election to replace a Michigan state senator convicted of theft has been set.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday that residents of Michigan's 2nd Senate District can vote during a special primary election on Aug. 7 and a general election on Nov. 6 — the same days as regularly scheduled elections.

The deadline to file for candidacy is April 24.

Earlier this month, former Sen. Bert Johnson resigned after pleading guilty in federal court to conspiring to steal money. The Democrat from Highland Park was convicted of funneling $23,000 to a no-show employee on the state payroll. He will be sentenced in August.

One-fifth of municipalities have underfunded retiree plans

LANSING (AP) — Michigan says more than one-fifth of the state’s local governments have an underfunded pension plan, retirement health care plan or both.

The Treasury Department on Monday issued the results of an initial round of reporting required under a new law. More than 110 out of 490 locals units of government that responded will undergo further review. The tally will grow once local governments with fiscal years ending later report in coming months.

Plans identified as underfunded can get a waiver if they are addressing the underfunding. Otherwise, they will submit corrective action plans to a new board appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The board will first meet in May.

Deputy Treasurer Eric Scorsone said Michigan is collaborating with communities to help ensure that benefits are delivered and to maintain communities' fiscal health.

Authorities looking for the cause of fire that killed 3 children

EASTPOINTE (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine the cause and origin of a house fire this past weekend that killed three children in suburban Detroit.

Eric Keiser, Eastpointe's acting director of public safety, told The Associated Press on Monday that an initial investigation hasn't shown signs of arson, but that extensive damage has complicated investigative efforts. He said fire officials didn't find working smoke detectors in the home, which caught fire early Saturday.

Found dead in the home were two boys, 8-year-old Zyahir Swain and 9-year-old Brendon Mahone; and a girl, 4-year-old Madison Adams. Keiser said two women who were the mothers of the children lived there but weren't home at the time.

Keiser said authorities are interviewing relatives and neighbors, adding that it's "a very emotionally charged, very tragic event."

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