Grand Haven Tribune: State Briefs

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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Apr 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Razor blades found in Michigan gas pump handle, police say

COLOMA TWP. (AP) — Police are warning people to pay close attention while pumping gas after razor blades were found in the handle of a gas pump in southwestern Michigan.

Coloma Township Police Chief Wes Smigielski said a newer blade and a rusty one fell from a pump handle Monday while a customer was filling up. No one was hurt.

Smigielski said the blades were in the area where a person would squeeze down to pump gas. He said six more blades were found atop the pump.

The chief said investigators reviewed hours of gas station security footage, but they weren't immediately able to determine when the blades were put there.

Police are seeking tips from the public, but they said no similar reports have come in from the township or the surrounding area.

Officials confirm 2 more measles cases, new exposure sites

LANSING (AP) — Health officials are reporting two more measles cases in the Detroit area and say one of the people may have exposed others in mid-Michigan and West Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the new cases of the highly contagious disease were in Oakland County and Detroit, bringing the state's 2019 total to 42. Most are in Oakland County.

The new cases had possible exposure locations on certain recent days at a gas station in Lansing, a hotel in Grand Rapids, in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park and in the southeastern Michigan city of Ypsilanti.

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven't received the vaccine in the past. The number of cases in Michigan is the highest since 65 in 1991.

County board votes to evict Planned Parenthood health clinic

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS (AP) — A county board in West Michigan has voted to evict a Planned Parenthood health clinic from the county's Department of Public Health building.

The 6-2 vote Tuesday by the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners came after a contentious hours-long meeting.

County officials say the health department needs the currently leased space for immunizations and other services. Planned Parenthood has 90 days to leave.

Planned Parenthood's clinic provides general health services, physician referrals, birth control, pregnancy testing, emergency contraceptives and HIV/STD testing. The clinic doesn't perform abortions, but some argued abortion was a key issue in the debate since Planned Parenthood offers abortion services elsewhere.

Jim Norton, a vice president of development for Planned Parenthood, said: "We should be talking about expanding health care services to the community, not shrinking them."

Michigan unemployment rate unchanged at 4% in March

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate held steady at 4 percent in March — the sixth consecutive month it has remained unchanged.

Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate a bit higher than last month's national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent.

In March 2018, Michigan's jobless rate was 4.4 percent.

Officials say total employment increased by 7,000 over the month and the number of jobless workers grew by 3,000.

Manufacturing saw the largest over-the-year job growth among all the state's major industries. It was at estimated at 638,000 in March, up 9,000 since the previous March.

Michigan environmental department soon to change name

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's environmental agency is days away from having a new name.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will be reorganized and renamed the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), effective Monday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in February reissued an order restructuring and renaming the agency, but it has to wait 60 days to take effect.

DEQ Director Liesl Clark debuted the EGLE logo on Wednesday for employees in Lansing. The logo's designer, Lisa Twenter, works in the DEQ.

Twenter said the green and blue logo represents Michigan's land and water resources. Its letters are separated by a wave that represents the connection between the environment and energy as found in the wind and waves of the Great Lakes.

Former state trooper convicted in teen's Taser death

DETROIT (AP) — A former Michigan state trooper was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in his second trial in the death of a Detroit teenager who crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died when he was shot with a Taser.

Mark Bessner, who had a history of misconduct allegations involving Taser use, fired the immobilizing device from the passenger seat of a patrol car while he and his partner chased 15-year-old Damon Grimes in August 2017. State police officials condemned his conduct and agreed that criminal charges were appropriate.

Bessner said he believed the teen was reaching for a gun in his waistband. Grimes, however, didn't have a weapon.

The prosecutor's witnesses included a state police lieutenant who explained that a Taser can be considered a tool of deadly force in certain circumstances. Jurors also heard an audio clip of Bessner wishing he could have used a Taser in a different ATV incident.

Bessner was charged with second-degree murder, but the jury opted for the lesser charge after deliberating for one day. He was immediately taken into custody to await his sentence on May 2. The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.

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