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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 4, 2019 at 8:00 AM

2 face charges related to vandalism of Gerald Ford gravesite

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — Two people suspected of defacing the gravesite of former President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford have been charged with misdemeanors.

Prosecutors in Grand Rapids have charged Christian Johnson with malicious destruction of tombs and memorials and Alexis Binkert with receiving and concealing stolen property.

Police had released a photo that appears to show Johnson marking or digging into panels that say, "Lives Committed to God, Country and Love." They had been skateboarding in the area and stopped.

Police said Johnson and Binkert turned themselves in after the March 27 incident and returned a missing letter. Johnson has told The Grand Rapids Press he was sorry and didn't know what the gravesite was.

Both await arraignment.

Flooding along Lake St. Clair in Michigan follows heavy rain

ST. CLAIR SHORES (AP) — People are using sandbags to hold back floodwaters along Lake St. Clair in southeastern Michigan following this week's heavy rainfall.

High water levels and some flooding were reported Friday along the lake in Macomb, St. Clair and Wayne counties. Flood warnings from the National Weather Service mostly expired, but they were in effect along the River Raisin in Monroe County.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday night announced a state of emergency in Wayne County, making state resources available to help. Whitmer acted after Wayne County Executive Warren Evans issued a similar declaration. Evans said about 3,000 homes in the county including Detroit were damaged.

The flooding came after the weather service said about 3.6 inches of rain fell from Tuesday evening until early Wednesday, and more fell later.

Man shot during drug raid sues county, sheriff's deputy

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A West Michigan man shot by police during a 2017 drug raid and now serving time in a federal prison has sued Kent County and the sheriff's deputy who shot him.

The federal lawsuit filed this week by Yusef Phillips seeks $10 million for medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical disability, and other damages. Phillips was shot and seriously injured in September 2017 at a Grand Rapids apartment complex.

Phillips was not armed, though Deputy Andrew Hinds has said he believed Phillips posed an immediate threat. Prosecutors cleared Hinds of criminal responsibility, but said the officer was wrong to believe Phillips' actions represented a threat.

Sheriff's officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Phillips is serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy and other charges.

Program helps keep Detroit homes from tax foreclosure

DETROIT (AP) — A report shows that more than 4,300 families in Detroit avoided losing their homes last year through a program designed to prevent properties from entering a county tax foreclosure auction.

The Quicken Loans Community Fund said Thursday that its 2018 Neighbor to Neighbor initiative involved help from 32 community groups and other organizations, and focused on door-to-door outreach to 60,000 families living in tax-delinquent properties.

The report shows that 21 percent of homeowners canvassed were unaware their property was behind on property taxes. More than 60 percent of people renting tax-delinquent properties were unaware of the home's tax status.

The Neighbor to Neighbor initiative gave residents information about property tax foreclosure, how to connect to resources and provided property tax exemption workshops.

Quicken Loans Community Fund strategic investments Vice President Laura Grannemann said the effort is "stabilizing housing in Detroit, preventing future blight, and helping homeowners and occupants find sustainable, long-term solutions for their property tax burdens."

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