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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Apr 4, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Synthetic coolant leaks from power cables in Michigan waters

MACKINAW CITY (AP) — Submerged cables that carried electricity between Michigan's two peninsulas were shut down after leaking about 550 gallons of coolant fluid into the waterway that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, officials said Tuesday.

The fluid is a mineral-based synthetic oil used for insulation that can be harmful if released into the environment, said Jackie Olson, spokeswoman for American Transmission Co., which operates the cables.

It was too early to know what ecological damage might have been done in the Straits of Mackinac, said Joe Haas, district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

No warnings were issued for people to avoid the area, where shoreline areas remain blanketed with ice, said Lt. Rachel Wellman of the U.S. Coast Guard.

"We've confirmed the risk to human health is very low at the greatest," she said.

Michigan's environmental agency advised nearby towns to monitor their drinking water.

The leak was discovered after the two cables tripped offline Sunday evening, the company said. 

Muskegon County nature preserve more than doubles in size

MONTAGUE (AP) — Visitors of a public nature preserve in West Michigan can enjoy more Lake Michigan frontage as the result of a nearly $2 million project.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan recently announced that another 17 acres of Lake Michigan sand dunes has been added to its Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve near Montague, the Muskegon Chronicle reported.

More than 100 private donors and grants helped fund the expansion, which more than doubles the original 14-acre preserve. The area is home to the endangered Pitcher's thistle plant and is visited by the piping plovers, which are endangered shorebirds.

The new land was previously private property that had been for sale for the past two years. An anonymous donor "with a generous gift and a passion to add this piece of property to the preserve" later sparked a $1.95 million campaign, according to a news release from the conservancy.

The original preserve acres were acquired through a similar fundraising campaign in 2012. The campaign raised about $1.75 million to purchase and establish the acreage.

An existing dune trail will be extended in the upcoming months to connect the new parcel and create a lookout over Great Lakes marshland. A public hike and dedication will be held May 19.

Ex-special-education teacher, assistant face abuse charges

ANN ARBOR (AP) — A former Ann Arbor schools special-education teacher and an assistant have been charged after allegations that one student was struck in the head and another in the same classroom was kicked.

The Ann Arbor News reported Tuesday that Lisa Mannor, 35, and Tiffany Massey, 31, each are charged with misdemeanor child abuse.

Mannor taught students with autism at Burns Park Elementary School and Massey was a teacher's assistant.

Police said the incidents occurred in 2016. Mannor and Massey resigned last May.

Mannor was arraigned March 5. She faces an April 16 pretrial hearing.

The newspaper also reported that a warrant was issued for Massey after she failed to attend a February arraignment.

Thumb-area man, 36, charged in slayings of his 2 landlords

WATERTOWN TWP. (AP) — A 36-year-old Michigan man has been charged in the slayings of his two landlords in a possible dispute over unpaid rent.

Adam Balcer was arraigned Tuesday in Tuscola County District Court in Caro on two counts of murder, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment, tampering with evidence and weapons charges.

Authorities said the body of 45-year-old Peter Brodick Jr. was found Friday in a Watertown Township home, southeast of Saginaw. The body of 55-year-old Wendy Brodick was found Sunday near an unused farm silo in Millington Township.

Police said both were believed to have been slain Friday morning. Wendy Brodick was Peter Brodick Jr.'s stepmother.

Balcer's bond was set at $2 million. He has requested a court-appointed attorney. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 16.

No charges after sheriff accidentally leaves gun at school

SHEPHERD (AP) — Prosecutors say no charges will be filed against a county sheriff who accidentally left a loaded service weapon in a Michigan school gym locker room.

The Mecosta County Prosecutor's Office recently made the determination after being asked to review the case by the Michigan attorney general's office. Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main apologized after leaving his backup gun at Shepherd Middle School last month, calling his mistake inexcusable.

Main said he used the school locker room to change from street clothes into his uniform. Main said he believed the gun was in his bag, but a sixth-grader later found it and told a teacher.

The Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant reported the gun was found on a bathroom stall toilet-paper holder.

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