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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 8, 2018 at 8:30 AM

EPA requests new contamination testing at West Michigan tannery

ROCKFORD (AP) — Federal officials are resuming an investigation into contamination at a former West Michigan tannery five years after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency left the site under state control.

The EPA said new testing will begin this month at the former manufacturing site where Wolverine World Wide used chemicals to waterproof shoe leather, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

The EPA has requested Wolverine conduct extensive soil and groundwater sampling across the Rockford property. The site has been open to the community and used as an event space since 2010.

Officials have found arsenic, chromium and lead at the property over the years. Recent testing found extremely high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, at the site. But the EPA is focusing its probe on contaminants other than PFAS.

The former tannery was considered for the federal Superfund list of toxic sites. But the EPA allowed for oversight by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality after community pushback and extensive lobbying. It's still possible for the site to attain Superfund status.

Man gets life in prison in death of girl, 4

KALAMAZOO (AP) — A man has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for the beating death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, who was found wrapped in blankets and duct tape in southwestern Michigan.

A judge handed down the mandatory punishment Monday for Matthew Longenecker, 35. He was convicted earlier by a jury of charges including murder and child abuse in the asphyxiation death of Desaray Thompson in Kalamazoo.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Longenecker declined to speak at Monday's hearing.

Last month, his girlfriend was ordered to serve between 23 years, nine months and 50 years in prison. Jurors convicted Kelly Ballinger, 34, of child abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

Authorities said the couple restrained Desaray with blankets and duct tape in July 2017. An autopsy found evidence of past abuse.

Police dig, search in wooded area in Macomb County

MACOMB TWP. (AP) — Police using shovels and heavy machinery are digging in a wooded area in Macomb County in suburban Detroit.

The site is in Macomb Township, but police from Warren were leading the search Monday.

Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer declined to explain the reason for the dig, telling the Macomb Daily that information would be released Tuesday.

But Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the search "involves something from many years ago and more than one person."

The area is near where the body of a girl was found in 2008. Thirteen-year-old Cindy Zarzycki had disappeared in 1986. Arthur Ream is serving a life sentence for her murder.

Inmate from Michigan sentenced for possessing child porn in federal prison

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey federal prison inmate already serving a lengthy sentence for trafficking in child pornography has been sentenced to another prison term for possessing a removable storage card that contained dozens of child porn images.

Erik Smith was sentenced to nearly 13 years on Monday. The 36-year-old Iron Mountain, Michigan, man — who is currently serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Dix — had pleaded guilty last November to possessing child porn.

Prosecutors said the memory card contained 263 child porn images, mostly of young boys. Smith admits he downloaded those and other child porn images from a cloud account on behalf of other inmates.

Smith is among eight Fort Dix inmates accused of using storage cards and contraband cellphones to share child pornography inside the prison.

Raccoon family drops through ceiling of Michigan home

SHERIDAN TWP. (AP) — A family of raccoons created a chaotic scene when they fell through a ceiling and into the living room of a Michigan home.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported that a homeowner in Sheridan Township sought help Friday after the raccoons fell from an attic. Police and firefighters easily picked up the four baby raccoons, but the mother eluded capture.

She bit a responder's gloves before hiding in a closet. The Albion Department of Public Safety posted video of the response on its Facebook page.

Police said in a statement that a dog catcher pole was used to collar the raccoon. No people or animals were injured in the incident.

The raccoons were taken away and released into the wild.

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