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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 7, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Great Lakes water levels surge; some record highs predicted

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — Federal officials predict water levels will surge to record highs in some areas of the Great Lakes over the next six months.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report released Monday says the lakes have been rising steadily for several years and are getting an extra boost as winter's melting snow mingles with recent heavy rainfall.

The corps' Detroit district office says levels on Lake Superior and Lake Erie are expected to break records set decades ago.

Records are not predicted for lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario, but they're still expected to rise significantly.

Corps hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz said coastal flooding and shoreline erosion will pose threats, especially during heavy storms.

It's a remarkable turnaround from early this decade, when lake levels were slumping and some hit record lows.

Legal aid prof hired to run Michigan unemployment agency

LANSING (AP) — A legal aid professor will lead Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency after he helped create legislation aimed at improving it in the wake of a scandal in which people were falsely accused of fraud.

The hiring of Steve Gray was announced Monday. He starts June 3.

Gray is director and founder of the University of Michigan Law School's Unemployment Insurance Clinic, which helps families navigate the unemployment benefits system. He participated in a workgroup that crafted new unemployment insurance laws in 2017.

Stephanie Beckhorn is acting director of the Department of Talent and Economic Development, which oversees the Unemployment Insurance Agency. She said it's an "honor to have someone with such intense dedication and understanding of the system" lead the agency.

Gray succeeds Michelle Beebe and will make $145,000 a year.

Wood-burning plant reaches deal with Consumers Energy

LINCOLN (AP) — A company that burns wood for energy has struck a new deal to produce power for Consumers Energy.

The Alpena News reported that Viking Energy reached an eight-year contract with the utility. State regulators have signed off on the deal.

Viking Energy operates biomass plants in Alcona and Missaukee counties.

Viking Energy manager Neil Taratuta said the contract was crucial to keeping operations alive. He said the price of power has dropped because of natural gas plants and wind energy.

Hillman Power, which also burns wood products, west of Alpena, is still negotiating with Consumers Energy. Hillman Village Manager Dave Post said the power plant is the community's largest taxpayer.

Officials say woman, 76, dies after emergency during race

KALAMAZOO (AP) — Officials said a 76-year-old woman has died after having a medical emergency while running a race in southwestern Michigan.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Kay Caskey of Kalamazoo was participating in the 10K race of the Borgess Run for the Health of It event. Race organizer Blaine Lam said Caskey had completed about 1.2 kilometers Sunday before she was taken to a hospital, where she died.

Caskey's family told the newspaper that she had a heart condition that likely contributed to her death.

Medical workers are posted along routes for the race and other related running events, which included the Borgess Half Marathon and the Kalamazoo Marathon.

Body of man missing for months found during movie shoot

PONTIAC (AP) — A group of people making a movie discovered the body of a Pontiac man under tree branches, five months after he was reported missing.

Oakland County investigators said 41-year-old Lanard Curtaindoll was shot in the chest at a club run by his girlfriend. The body was found April 24 in a vacant Pontiac field while a group was making a movie in the area.

The Sheriff's Office said the father of Curtaindoll's girlfriend has been charged with murder. Ken "Hawk" Hawkins appeared in court Saturday and was returned to jail without bond.

Investigators said Curtaindoll's girlfriend fled after her father's arrest.

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