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Gov. Whitmer orders flags lowered to honor Virginia Beach shooting victims

WZZM-TV • Jun 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday ordered that all U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol complex and on all state buildings to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on June 4.

The announcement comes after a gunman opened fire in a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, killing 12 people and sending four others to the hospital.

"My heart is with the loved ones of the victims and the residents of Virginia who were deeply impacted by this senseless tragedy,” Whitmer said. “Our nation has lost far too many people to gun violence, and we cannot continue to let these acts of violence become the norm.”

Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.

Officials released the names of the 12 people killed in the shooting: Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Herbert "Bert" Snelling, Joshua Hardy, Katherine A. Nixon, Laquita C. Brown, Mary Louise Gayle, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Richard H. Nettleton, Robert "Bobby" Williams, Ryan Keith Cox and Tara Welch Gallagher.

The people killed in the shooting had over 150 years of combined service with the city. City Manager Dave Hansen said the shooter resigned from his position by email on the day of the shooting.

Whitmer said flags should be returned to full-staff on Wednesday, June 5. 

Summer tourist ad campaign message: 'Meanwhile in Michigan'

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's state travel agency has kicked off a new marketing campaign to attract summer visitors.

The "Meanwhile in Michigan" campaign is building on a national cable advertising blitz that started in March. It will use radio, billboards, Chicago buses, TV and social media to get the message across.

It will target 20 Midwestern markets ranging as far as St. Louis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kentucky and Cincinnati. The Pure Michigan agency says the ads describe the state as a peaceful and scenic getaway from hectic daily routines.

A special focus of the $2.5 million campaign will be the state's off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Au Sable River Dunes. A website offers itineraries that will enable visitors to design their preferred summer trip.

Homeless man found slain in northern Michigan identified

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — Authorities have identified a homeless man found slain near a lake in northern Michigan.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports from preliminary autopsy results Friday that 62-year-old James Chisholm suffered a slashed throat.

Chisholm's body was found by hikers Wednesday afternoon about 15 yards from the Boardman Lake shoreline and about 10 yards from a tent he had been living in.

Traverse City police Capt. Jim Bussell said Chisholm may have been in Traverse City about three weeks before his death. No suspects in the slaying have yet been identified.

Michigan: More than 200 private schools close in last decade

DETROIT (AP) — State data shows more than 200 of Michigan's private schools have closed over the past decade, and many school leaders are blaming a shrinking student population, fewer resources and rising costs.

About 112,000 Michigan students attended private schools in 2018, which is a 14% decrease from roughly a decade ago, according to the state's Center for Educational Performance and Information.

"The school-age population has shrunk and the economics of it have been really difficult," said Brian Broderick, executive director of the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools. The group represents nearly 400 Catholic, Lutheran and Christian schools across the state.

St. Sebastian School in Dearborn Heights is preparing to close this month, the Detroit Free Press reported .

Rev. Walter Ptak told church members in March that the move comes as the parish school faces changing demographics and financial challenges.

St. Sebastian will soon join a list of dozens of Catholic schools that have shut down in the past 10 years.

Of the private school closures in the last decade, 60 were unaffiliated religious schools, 46 were Catholic schools, and 19 were Baptist, among others. Thirty-seven were nonreligious schools.

"I think the cost is what's driving it," said Mike Butler, a Michigan lawyer who attended Catholic schools. "With a smaller population, you can't do anything about that. But it's very tough financially to run one."

Dearborn Christian School closed in Dearborn in 2014.

Tim DeKruyter was involved in the decision as the school's board president at the time. He said the school faced a shrinking congregation and responded by trying to open its doors to more people in the community who weren't involved with its church. But the dwindling congregation ultimately forced the closure.

"One of the administrators said it's a three-legged stool: church, family and teachers," DeKruyter said. "If any of those legs go, it's history."

Michigan creates online system for child abuse reports

LANSING (AP) — People who are legally required to report suspected child abuse and neglect in Michigan may now do so online.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently launched the Michigan Online Reporting System for use by mandated reporters such as physicians, teachers and clergy. Previously, they had to call to make a verbal report to Children's Protective Services and follow up with a written report.

An amendment to Michigan's Child Protection Law allowed the department to create an online reporting system for mandated reporters as an option. The department says that more than 15,000 mandated reporters have registered to use the online system since February.

A toll-free hotline remains available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For emergencies, mandated reporters must call 911 and then the hotline.

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