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State Briefs

By the Associated Press • Nov 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Survey: Michigan communities struggle to find poll workers

ANN ARBOR (AP) — Nearly half of local officials in Michigan's large municipalities report struggling to find enough people with the necessary skills to work at the polls on Election Day.

The figure is included in a survey of more than 1,100 cities and townships released by the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy on Monday.

When smaller municipalities are included, the number of officials reporting trouble recruiting skilled poll workers is almost 30 percent.

Nine in 10 officials are "very confident" that their jurisdictions can administer elections accurately.

Two-thirds of local officials support legislation to let voters cast an absentee ballot without needing an excuse. The same number of respondents opposes allowing same-day voter registration on Election Day.

About a quarter report experiencing equipment failures at the polls.

Michigan's first black female federal judge dies at age 84

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan's first black female federal judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, has died at age 84.

Taylor's death was announced Monday at the Detroit federal courthouse. She died Saturday at an assisted living center in Grosse Pointe Woods following a brief illness.

Taylor was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. She was chief judge in Michigan's Eastern District in 1997 and 1998. She retired in 2011.

In 2006, Taylor made headlines when she said an eavesdropping program without court oversight by the Bush administration was unconstitutional. An appeals court overturned the decision, saying the American Civil Liberties Union didn't have standing to sue.

Taylor is survived by her husband, former utility executive S. Martin Taylor. In 2005, Crain's Detroit Business listed them as a Detroit power couple.

Lawsuit threatened against federal agencies in mine dispute

MENOMINEE (AP) — Opponents of a planned zinc and gold mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula say they'll sue the federal government unless it takes charge of determining whether the company will get a permit to fill wetlands.

Aquila Resources Inc. has received three of four permits it needs from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to build the mine near the Menominee River. The DEQ is considering the company's application for a wetlands permit required under the federal Clean Water Act.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the environmental law firm Earthjustice say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be dealing with the wetlands permit, instead of state officials. They say they'll file suit in 60 days if the federal agencies don't take control.

Two held after dozens of guns stolen from West Michigan store

CEDAR SPRINGS (AP) — Authorities said two people have been taken into custody after dozens of guns were stolen from a store in West Michigan.

The Kent County Sheriff's Department said it has recovered at least 13 of 89 guns taken Saturday morning from Family Farm and Home in Cedar Springs. The department said Sunday that two people were held for receiving and concealing stolen property.

Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young told WOOD-TV that sheriff's investigators are working with Grand Rapids police on the case. Authorities are seeking tips from the public.

Maggots found in Michigan prison food last summer

JACKSON (AP) — Maggots were discovered in food at a Michigan prison during three incidents last summer.

The Detroit Free Press reported that they're the first discoveries since Trinity Services Group was hired to supply food in 2015. The newspaper cited documents obtained by a Corrections Department employee.

Prisons spokesman Chris Gautz said any food problems typically are related to a lack of experienced staff. Trinity Services didn't respond to a request for comment.

A corrections officer, Sgt. Michael Demps, said he saw four or five "worm-like bugs" still moving on a prisoner's tray at the Cotton prison, near Jackson, on July 26. Records show "crunchy dirt" was found in a potato dish.

Trinity replaced another contractor that had problems. Gautz said it's not known if Trinity's contract will be extended next year.

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