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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Apr 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM

4 Michigan communities get federal help for water upgrades

EAST LANSING (AP) — Four Michigan communities are receiving federal loans and grants to upgrade rural water systems.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a combined $7.7 million for the projects, which rural development state director Jason Allen said will safeguard water resources in the Great Lakes region.

The city of Fennville in Allegan County is getting a $1.1 million loan for water system improvements, and a loan of $826,000 will help the village of Homer in Calhoun County finance wastewater system upgrades. Houghton County’s Portage Township is receiving a $960,000 loan and a $2 million grant to construct a sewer collection system.

The fourth recipient is the village of Vicksburg in Kalamazoo County, which is receiving $2.79 million in loans to improve water and storm sewer systems.

Communities can apply online for the funding.

Health officials confirm 34 measles cases in Michigan

LANSING (AP) — Officials said 34 cases of measles have been confirmed in Michigan — the most since 65 were reported in 1991.

Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services said 33 are in Oakland County, including four newly confirmed cases. The other case is in Wayne County.

Those infected range in age from 8 months to 63 years. State officials said they are working closely with health departments in Oakland and Wayne counties to identify possible locations where victims were exposed to the measles.

Officials said people may have been exposed last month in Detroit and the suburbs of Oak Park, Southfield and Berkley, including at a synagogue, Jewish educational institutions and grocery stores. The initial travel-related case involved a person who had stayed in New York, where there's a measles outbreak.

Detroit to host Democratic Party presidential debate in July

DETROIT (AP) — The second Democratic presidential debates will be held July 30-31 in Detroit.

The Democratic National Committee announced the location Tuesday. It will be broadcast live on CNN.

Candidates will be assigned randomly to one of the two stages. Each night's debate will have up to 10 candidates who meet certain fundraising and polling thresholds.

Additional details such as the venue and moderators will be announced later.

"Detroit embodies the values and character of the Democratic Party. It's a city of grit and determination,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said. “... With its diversity, its storied history, and its proud ties to the labor movement, Detroit is the perfect place for our party's second debate."

The first debate will be held June 26-27 in Miami.

Grand Rapids' John Ball Zoo announces death of lioness

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — The John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids said Tuesday that an African lioness known for interacting with visitors has died.

The zoo said 12-year-old Bakari took a sudden downturn and died Monday, apparently from lymphoma.

Bakari received 15 weeks of chemotherapy after the discovery of lymphoma in late 2018, the zoo said, and follow-up exams revealed no evidence of cancer.

Bakari was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 2006 and moved to the John Ball Zoo with her sister, Abena, in 2008. Bakari often could be found spending afternoons close to a visitor widow interacting with guests.

The average lifespan of an African lion is 10-14 years.

Wind turbine fire in Michigan’s Thumb draws spectators

ELKTON (AP) — A wind turbine fire in Michigan sent black smoke billowing into the air and drew spectators who watched as flaming debris fell to the ground.

There were no injuries due to Monday's fire in Huron County near the village of Elkton, about 100 miles north of Detroit. The Huron Daily Tribune posted video of the fire.

Jared Schuette, who owns property where the turbine is located, told WNEM-TV it's "a small town and everyone was coming from everywhere to record it and take pictures."

Crews couldn't reach the fire at the turbine's top, so it was left to burn itself out.

Exelon Generation said the turbine is part of its Harvest Wind II project and operators de-energized other Harvest Wind II turbines as a precautionary measure.

Authorities investigate spending by Macomb County prosecutor

MOUNT CLEMENS (AP) — Authorities say they're investigating the handling of asset forfeiture funds by the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office.

Michigan State Police confirmed Monday that the investigation is in its early stages and additional information isn't being immediately released. The Michigan Attorney General's Office said the investigation comes following a request last month by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Prosecutor Eric Smith said in a statement that his office will cooperate with the investigation. He said there's been "a lot of misinformation about the use of these funds and we anticipate that the attorney general will see that these funds were used for legitimate and appropriate purposes."

Several county officials have raised questions about spending of up to $900,000 over several years on expenses including holiday parties, credit card bills and donations.

Upper Peninsula man dies after fall from tractor

COVINGTON TWP. (AP) — An 84-year-old man has died after falling from a tractor and getting trapped beneath it in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Michigan State Police said Thomas Disney was pronounced dead Monday afternoon on his property in Baraga County's Covington Township.

Disney was using the tractor to pull a vehicle that had become stuck when he fell to the ground, police said. Family members found him and called 911.

Covington Township is west of Marquette.

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