WKAR

In Michigan
8:41 am
Wed May 13, 2009

Stollak's Swan Song

Mary Alice Stollak leads the MSU Children's Choir in rehearsal.
Kevin Lavery, WKAR News

East Lansing, MI – A mid-Michigan institution is presenting a special performance Thursday night. The Michigan State University Children's Choir is saying goodbye to its founding director, Mary Alice Stollak. After 16 years at the helm, Stollak is preparing to retire. In that time, Stollak has shaped a choral group that's risen from small-town admiration to international acclaim.

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In Michigan
5:22 pm
Tue May 12, 2009

Michigan regulators allow electric rate increase

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (AP)
State regulators are letting Michigan's second-largest utility raise residential electric rates, but not as much as the utility wanted.

The Public Service Commission on Tuesday ordered Consumers Energy Co. to offset any residential rate increase it plans to automatically implement Thursday with proceeds from the sale of a nuclear plant.

Regulators estimate the average Consumers Energy household will see a $2.99 hike on their monthly bill for six months, an increase of more than 3%.

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In Michigan
1:50 pm
Tue May 12, 2009

Okemos closing two elementary schools

Okemos, MI –
The Okemos Board of Education has voted to close two elementary schools.
Wardcliff and Central schools will both shut down after the 2009-2010 school year.

The Lansing State Journal says the closings will save the district $1,500,000 a year.

The three remaining elementary schools in the district will house kindergarten through fourth grades. The two middle schools will be converted to house fifth and sixth graders in one building, and seventh and eighth graders in the other.

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In Michigan
11:57 am
Tue May 12, 2009

House Democrats unveil new statewide healthcare legislation

Lansing, MI – Lansing, MI (MPRN) - State House Democrats announced a plan yesterday to make statewide healthcare accessible for everyone.

The healthcare plan would create a pool of money to cover the costs of catastrophic medical events for the uninsured. No one would be turned away from receiving treatment, and no one would be rejected from an insurance company for a preexisting medical condition.

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In Michigan
11:57 am
Tue May 12, 2009

Governor still hopeful GM can avoid bankruptcy

Lansing, MI – Governor Granholm says she still hopes General Motors can avoid bankruptcy court.

She says this is a "critical time" for Michigan as GM negotiates with its unions and its creditors on a deal to keep it out of bankruptcy. She says it should be a last resort, but that there are bondholders that may not agree to the conditions GM set out.

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In Michigan
11:56 am
Tue May 12, 2009

N. Capital Ramp deal rejected by council

Lansing, MI – Lansing, MI (WKAR) - The Lansing City Council has again rejected a proposal to sell the North Capital Parking Ramp to Lansing Community College. Supporters say the $2.7 million deal would have kept the city from having to invest millions of dollars in repairs to the 40-year-old structure. They also say it would have prevented LCC from building a new parking ramp adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

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In Michigan
10:16 am
Tue May 12, 2009

Council, mayoral candidates file for City of Lansing primary

Lansing City Hall.
Kevin Lavery, WKAR Radio News

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - Yesterday was the deadline to register to run for mayor and four open city council seats in Lansing.

City councilmember Carol Wood, attorney Charles Ford and local musician Ben Hassenger are looking to unseat incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero.

Six candidates have filed to run for two open at large seats on the city council, including incumbents Brian Jeffries and Kathie Dunbar and former councilmember Harold Leeman.

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In Michigan
9:08 am
Tue May 12, 2009

State Senate committee passes corrections bills

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - A state Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday to send to the floor a set of bills designed to lower corrections costs to the state.

The bills would require reports from the state's parolee tracking system.

They would also introduce more far reaching programs between church congregations and prisoners preparing to reenter society.

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In Michigan
9:07 am
Tue May 12, 2009

Michigan gets Cs and Ds for protecting infrastructure

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - A report by a group of civil engineers says Michigan needs to spend more to fix and upgrade its roads, bridges, waterworks, and electric grid.

Transportation and water systems got particularly low marks from the Michigan chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Kirk Steidle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, agrees with the findings.

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In Michigan
6:26 pm
Mon May 11, 2009

Blues plan to offer autism coverage in Michigan

Lansing, MI –
Lansing, MI (AP)
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has announced plans to offer coverage for some autism treatments focused on intensive early intervention.

The insurer said Monday the new benefit option would cover children aged 2 to 5 who use a treatment called applied behavioral analysis.

If approved by state regulators the option would be available to buy starting in July for customer groups that already have outpatient mental health coverage.

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In Michigan
6:15 pm
Mon May 11, 2009

GM CEO says tasks are large to avoid bankruptcy

Detroit, MI – East Lansing, MI (AP)
General Motors' top executive says bankruptcy is becoming more probable but there is still hope that the company can restructure and avoid court protection.

CEO Fritz Henderson says the automaker is looking at its operations country-by-country to determine where it might have file for bankruptcy.

He says a U.S. bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean that GM would file in other locations.

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In Michigan
12:28 am
Mon May 11, 2009

House Dems unveil new healthcare proposal

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - State House Democrats unveiled legislation Monday that would create a new plan to make statewide healthcare more accessible. Insurance companies would not be allowed to reject or raise rates for sick people. The plan would create a catastrophic emergency pool, which would cover $25,000 in medical costs per person, per year.

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In Michigan
12:24 am
Mon May 11, 2009

US sec'y says MI among first getting job grants

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says more money is coming to Michigan to help displaced auto workers. The labor secretary announced the state qualified for accelerated payments from the National Emergency Grant program because it has the nation's highest jobless rate, and it has programs ready to help retrain workers.

Some of the $6 million will also help pay for jobless benefits for 1500 workers.

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In Michigan
11:56 pm
Fri May 8, 2009

Journalist Dan Rather to address MSU graduate degree commencement ceremony

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - Legendary TV newsman Dan Rather will address Michigan State University students receiving their graduate degrees this evening. The commencement ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Breslin Center.

Since leaving CBS News, Rather has been hosting "Dan Rather Reports," a weekly program of investigative reports and international news on HDNet, a high-definition channel available on cable and satellite services.

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In Michigan
5:44 pm
Fri May 8, 2009

Charlotte man in custody for killing in Italy

Olivet, MI – Olivet, MI (AP)
A 24-year-old Charlotte native linked to a slaying in Italy is an Olivet College student who traveled there to study art with a professor and other students.

The college says Johnathan Hindenach is a junior art major who enrolled in January.

Italian authorities say Hindenach confessed to killing a man in
Florence early Thursday.

Olivet President Don Tuski says seven other students and the professor will depart Italy on Saturday.

The 16-day trip was supposed to run until May 18.

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In Michigan
9:31 am
Fri May 8, 2009

High court to determine use of credit scores

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether insurance companies can use credit scores to help set their customers' rates for auto and homeowners' coverage.

The state's highest court is stepping in to settle a long-running feud between Governor Granholm and the insurance industry over using credit scores to set rates.

The governor says using credit scores is arbitrary, and doesn't accurately reflect the risk that a customer will file a claim.

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In Michigan
9:30 am
Fri May 8, 2009

Superintendent endorses takeover plan

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - The state's top educator wants to be able to name emergency managers to run schools that are failing academically.

State Superintendent Michael Flanagan is endorsing a measure before the Legislature that would allow a takeover of 30 struggling schools.

Right now, the state can step in only if a school district is facing a financial crisis.

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In Michigan
9:17 am
Fri May 8, 2009

Tutu speaks at MSU commencement

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the commencement speaker at today's graduation ceremony at Michigan State University.

Tutu commented on how M-S-U was one of the first university's to divested its self from South Africa during apartheid.

4,700 undergraduates got their degrees on Friday.

Graduate students were scheduled to get their degrees at 7pm Friday.

Veteran broadcast journalist Dan Rather was slated to speak at Friday night's commencement.

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In Michigan
6:16 pm
Thu May 7, 2009

Mich. reports 41 more confirmed cases of swine flu

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (AP)
Michigan officials have confirmed 41 new confirmed cases of swine flu in the state, bringing the total to 49.

The cases are spread among 12 of the state's 83 counties.

Kent County in western Michigan has the most confirmed cases of any
county at 17.

The state today began its own testing for confirmed swine flu
cases.

The federal government has determined the H1N1 virus is similar to seasonal flu and not as severe as initially feared.

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In Michigan
10:10 am
Thu May 7, 2009

Mich. scales back emergency response to swine flu

Lansing, MI – Lansing, MI (AP) - Michigan is scaling back its emergency response to the swine flu outbreak now that it has been determined the virus is not severe and is comparable to the seasonal flu.

The state on Wednesday deactivated the Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center.

The emergency center had been partially activated last week to monitor the swine flu outbreak.

Michigan announced no new confirmed or probable cases Wednesday.

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In Michigan
9:34 am
Thu May 7, 2009

Re-training money at stake in political fight

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - At the state Capitol, almost $140 million in worker re-training money is at stake in a fight between Republicans and Democrats.

The state will get the money if it offers unemployment benefits to part-time workers and people not actively seeking jobs.

But they must be enrolled in a job training program.

The deadline for doing that is the end of this month.

The extension cleared the state House this week.

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In Michigan
9:29 am
Thu May 7, 2009

BWL wraps methane power project

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - A local project designed to generate electricity from trash is now complete.

The system is now supplying power to some 10,000 homes in Lansing.

The system converts methane gas from the Granger Company's Wood Road landfill into electricity.

It's then sent to the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

The facility first came online in November with five megawatts of electricity.

It's now up to eight megawatts - enough to power 10,000 homes.

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Top Stories
9:23 am
Thu May 7, 2009

MI House Committee continues schools debate

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - Two state representatives took questions from their peers Thursday about a set of bills that would force some of Michigan's troubled schools to close.

Republicans and Democrats agreed fixing Michigan's education system is a bi-partisan issue.

But lawmakers on both sides expressed concern with the bills that would give control of the failing schools to an education reform czar.

State Representative Tim Melton sponsors the legislation.

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In Focus Today
11:31 pm
Wed May 6, 2009

School Closure Is a Tough Blow for Lansing Neighborhood

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - The Lansing School District will hold an informational meeting for parents at Grand River Elementary School Tuesday night.

The district is closing Grand River and another elementary school, Moores Park, in June. It's part of a plan to address declining enrollment, budget problems and aging school buildings in the district.

Parents, teachers and administrators fought to save Moores Park Elementary and so did its neighbors.

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In Michigan
5:43 pm
Wed May 6, 2009

Michigan House votes to extend jobless benefits

East Lansing, MI – Laura Weber, Michigan Public Radio Network
The state House approved a set of bills Wednesday that would extend unemployment benefits to more people in job training programs.

The bills would compensate some part-time workers and people who aren't looking for jobs while they take training classes.

State lawmakers must pass the bills before the end of May to receive about $138 million in federal stimulus funds.

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In Michigan
10:13 am
Wed May 6, 2009

Mich. Senate panel OKs change in state park fees

Lansing, MI – Lansing, MI (AP) - A Michigan Senate panel has voted to eliminate entrance fees for state parks and instead give motorists the option of paying $10 more in annual vehicle registration fees.

It now costs $6 daily and $24 annually to use state parks.

Vehicle stickers would disappear under legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.

A Michigan license plate would provide unlimited access to parks.

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In Michigan
10:12 am
Wed May 6, 2009

United Solar temporarily closing Mich. plants

Rochester Hills, MI – Rochester Hills, MI (AP) - United Solar Ovonic LLC is temporarily closing its solar panel production factories in Greenville and Auburn Hills.

Beginning May 17, workers at the two Greenville plants will be furloughed for four weeks while employees at a plant in Auburn Hills will be laid off for three weeks.

Grand Rapids TV station WZZM says the company is also offering voluntary severance packages.

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In Michigan
10:12 am
Wed May 6, 2009

House panel opens hearings on juvenile lifer law

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (MPRN) - A state House committee opened hearings Wednesday on repealing a law that allows judges to send violent juvenile offenders to prison for life with no chance of parole.

State Representative Dan Scripps says the state has too many people convicted as juveniles locked up with no chance of ever being released.

Tearful family members of victims asked the state House Judiciary Committee to keep the law as it is.

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In Michigan
9:24 am
Tue May 5, 2009

Market still on track for late fall completion

East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (WKAR) - Lansing city officials are confident that construction of a new city market will begin in about a month.

The city received five new bids for the project yesterday.

All of the original bids, issued last week, came in over budget.

Eric Hart is the Director of the Lansing entertainment and Public Facilities Authority.

He says new bids range from $1.6 million to about $2 million.

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In Michigan
9:21 am
Tue May 5, 2009

Lansing school district grapples with restructuring

Lansing, MI – Lansing, MI (WKAR) - Like many urban districts across the country, the Lansing school system is struggling with steadily declining enrollment.

Late last year, the school board appointed a task force to find ways to downsize the district to cut its losses. The task force came up with a so-called 'right sizing' plan that presented a smaller infrastructure, and a blueprint for a number of large-scale improvements.

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