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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jan 31, 2018 at 9:00 AM

MSU official says John Engler to be named interim president

LANSING (AP) — Former Gov. John Engler will be named the interim president of Michigan State University amid the fallout over sexual assaults committed by former sports doctor Larry Nassar, a high-ranking school official involved in the Board of Trustees' plan said Tuesday.

The official told The Associated Press that the board will vote to hire Engler today. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been publicly announced.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon and Athletic Director Mark Hollis quit last week, and the board named Vice President Bill Beekman as acting president.

Engler, a 69-year-old MSU graduate, served as Michigan's Republican governor from 1991 through 2002 and later led the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. He will head the school as it confronts civil lawsuits filed by more than 100 women and girls, and investigations by the state attorney general, the NCAA and Congress.

His selection was greeted positively in official circles but criticized by a victim who is widely credited with playing a major role in bringing down Nassar. Rachael Denhollander said Engler is a "deep political insider" when the school needs outside accountability.

Engler is expected to serve while the elected board of four Democrats and four Republicans searches for a permanent president.

Michigan bar to get diversity training after MLK Day gift

MASON (AP) — A Michigan bar will undergo mandatory diversity and sensitivity training following an incident involving a watermelon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A biracial employee of Darb's Tavern and Eatery in Mason received a watermelon from her co-workers and boss on the holiday, the Lansing State Journal reported. Kelly Martin Aimery, the employee's mother, posted on Facebook saying the words "Happy ½ MLK" and "Happy black day" were written on the watermelon.

"I've sat and stewed on this and am furious about this," she wrote in the Saturday post. "This is awful on so many levels."

The bar's owner and manager, Rob Hearit, issued a statement Monday that said the action was meant to be a "friendly joke," but was in "poor taste and offensive."

Hearit said he will undergo diversity and sensitivity training along with his staff.

Aimery declined to comment to the newspaper. Her daughter couldn't be reached for comment.

Kalamazoo man sentenced in slaying of elderly neighbor

KALAMAZOO (AP) — A southwestern Michigan man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2013 beating death of his elderly neighbor has been sentenced to 15-20 years in prison.

The punishment handed down Monday for Todd Maneke, 45, of Kalamazoo followed a plea agreement last month.

Alfred Minka was found dead in August 2013 at his Kalamazoo apartment. Maneke was charged three years later. Forensics experts testified the 88-year-old Minka had been hit in the back of the head several times with a hammer or similar object.

Maneke was on trial in September 2017, but a judge declared a mistrial because she learned several jurors had researched the case outside of what was presented in court.

Maneke's new trial had been scheduled to start this month before the plea deal was reached.

Ex-Flint mayor ousted in water crisis seeks state House seat

FLINT (AP) — The former mayor of Flint who was ousted by voters in 2015 amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water is seeking a seat in the Michigan House.

The Flint Journal reported that Democrat Dayne Walling announced his plans Monday. The Flint-area seat is opening up due to term limits.

In 2014 and 2015, Flint was being run by state-appointed emergency managers when it didn't properly treat corrosive Flint River water. As a result, lead in old pipes contaminated the water.

Walling and other officials initially told residents the water was safe. They eventually blamed state and federal agencies for the problems.

Two other people have formed campaign committees for the Michigan House seat: Lashaya Darisaw, who is the Flint organizing director for Michigan United, and John Cherry, who has worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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