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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jun 14, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Michigan unemployment rate falls to 4.6 percent in May

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in May, its lowest level since the same percentage was recorded last August.

Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan's jobless rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 3.8 percent last month and two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state's May 2017 rate of 4.4 percent.

The agency said total employment increased by 10,000 during the month and the number of unemployed in Michigan fell by 5,000.

Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer said that following a sluggish April, payroll jobs in Michigan rebounded during May to reach their highest level this year at 4.91 million.

Ex-nature center director ordered to repay embezzled funds

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A former nature center director in West Michigan has been ordered to repay money embezzled from the facility or face a potential 90 days in jail.

David Andrew Kieft, 36, was given a deferred jail term Tuesday at his sentencing for embezzlement, the Grand Rapids Press reported. Kieft apologized and said he is working two part-time jobs to help repay the funds.

Kieft, who resigned as director of the Howard Christensen Nature Center near Kent City in August 2017, also was ordered to complete three years of probation and serve for 200 hours on a work crew.

Kieft estimates he owes about $4,000, but nature center volunteers say it's about $16,000.

In a statement to the judge, the nature center board's treasurer said the embezzlement has threatened the center's existence.

Michigan gets $1.25M from feds to upgrade shooting ranges

LANSING (AP) — A federal agency has approved $1.25 million in funding to help Michigan improve its shooting ranges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the funding over a five-year period under a program that levies an excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and hunting licenses.

It supports wildlife management, habitat improvement and hunter education in addition to shooting ranges.

Ranges chosen to receive the funding must provide a 25 percent match.

Grants have been awarded to Michigan Technological University in Houghton for its indoor shooting range and the Ogemaw Hills Sportsmen Association for development of an archery park in West Branch.

Lansing man dies after falling into lake while fishing

ORANGE TWP. (AP) — A Lansing man has died after falling into a lake at a mid-Michigan campground.

The Ionia County Sheriff's Office said 47-year-old Pedro Lira was fishing with a friend when he fell into the lake. A pre-existing medical condition might have caused Lira to experience distress, police said.

The incident occurred at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Lakeside Resort and Campground in Orange Township.

The Lansing State Journal reported bystanders pulled Lira from the lake and began administering CPR. Paramedics continued life-saving measures, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Auto workers union picks Gary Jones as new president

DETROIT (AP) — Members of the United Auto Workers union have elected regional director Gary Jones as the organization's new president.

Jones was picked in a roll-call vote Wednesday at the union's 2018 constitutional convention in Detroit.

He'll take over a 400,000-member union that's facing a federal investigation in a corruption scandal involving a worker training center run jointly by Fiat Chrysler and the union. The UAW also has had trouble organizing at factories in the South run by foreign-based automakers.

But its finances have stabilized under President Dennis Williams, who is retiring.

Jones is a certified public accountant and was director of the UAW's regional office in St. Louis, Missouri. His four-year term begins today.

Ray Curry, a regional director from Tennessee, was named secretary-treasurer.

Current Vice President Cindy Estrada was re-elected. She'll be joined by new vice presidents Rory Gamble and Terry Dittes. Gamble was a regional leader in Michigan, while Dittes led a regional office based in New York.

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