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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM

State school superintendent to take disability leave

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Department of Education said State Superintendent Brian Whiston is taking long-term disability leave to attend to his health.

The department said Whiston informed the State Board of Education on Wednesday he will take the leave in 30-60 days.

Whiston, appointed in April 2015, was diagnosed with cancer late last year. He has been receiving medical treatments since then while continuing to run the Department of Education.

Whiston told the board that he'll continue to lead the department until his leave begins, depending on his medical treatments.

The announcement came after the board gave Whitson a positive annual performance evaluation and extended his contract by one year.

Prison next for union boss who coerced employees for cash

DETROIT (AP) — A Florida man who was a top official at a Michigan labor union has been sentenced to two years in prison for bullying union employees to pay $5,000 in kickbacks.

Federal prosecutors said John Hamilton was an "old school union boss" who enriched himself through extortion. He was business manager at Operating Engineers Local 324, which has more than 10,000 members in Michigan.

The government says the money that Hamilton collected from his own employees was supposed to help promote his management team in union elections. But investigators found that he used a significant portion for his own benefit, including $5,000 as a wedding gift for his daughter.

After losing election in 2012, Hamilton kept $71,000 and gave $35,000 each to two allies. He lives in Ocala, Florida.

4 teens arrested over threat to shoot up SE Michigan school

WHITMORE LAKE (AP) — Police said four teens have been arrested in connection with a threatened school shooting in southeastern Michigan.

Whitmore Lake Public Schools Superintendent Tom DeKeyser received a threat about "shooting up" a school building shortly after classes let out Tuesday, and Northfield Township police officers deemed the threat to be credible. They arrested four suspects, ages 16-18, who were being held in jail or a juvenile detention center.

Police said they also recovered a weapon.

All four suspects are current or past students in the school district, which is about 30 miles west of Detroit. The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reported all schools in the district were closed Wednesday.

Officials confirm 1st measles case in Michigan this year

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first case of measles in the state this year.

The state announced Wednesday that a person in Washtenaw County had been hospitalized after recently traveling internationally and getting sick.

The person, now recovering, was considered contagious upon returning. Officials said anyone in customs or baggage claim in Detroit Metropolitan Airport's north terminal between 2 and 5 p.m. March 6 should seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of the disease.

The state notes measles is a highly contagious illness and vaccinations are an effective way to prevent it. Measles typically will start with a high fever, red eyes, runny nose, sensitivity to light, and eventually rashes on the face and head that move to other parts of the body.

Remains of Korean War POW headed to Michigan for burial

LANSING (AP) — The remains of a U.S. soldier from Michigan who died while in captivity during the Korean War have been identified and are being returned to the state for burial.

The Pentagon's Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said the remains of 22-year-old Army Sgt. 1st Class Harry Harkness of Lansing will be buried Saturday in his hometown.

Harkness was a member of a 1st Cavalry Division battalion that was fighting against Communist Chinese forces in North Korea in November 1950. He was reported missing in action when his unit couldn't account for him.

After the war, officials learned Harkness was captured and died in a prisoner of war camp. His remains were among those of other American servicemen handed over by North Korea and identified by scientists.

Benton Harbor, other cities get grant funding for upgrades

BENTON HARBOR (AP) — Nearly $800,000 is being awarded to Benton Harbor in southwestern Michigan to replace water meters and a fire engine.

The funding is part of more than $5 million in grants awarded by the state treasurer's office to 11 cities through the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program.

Cities can participate in the program if they are experiencing one or more conditions indicative of probable financial stress. The grants fund specific projects, services or strategies — including infrastructure and public safety enhancements — that move a city, village or township toward financial stability.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri said the money "will help improve the services residents depend on every day."

Other cities receiving grants include Ecorse and Melvindale, which will get $720,000 each to replace water meters.

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