State Roundup

Grand Rapids

Marine paralyzed in Iraq plans ArtPrize entry

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A paralyzed U.S. Marine who simply wanted to design a T-shirt has instead inspired a mission that will bring four wounded soldiers to West Michigan to create a unique collaborative art contest entry.

During their week stay, the five soldiers will work with designers on artwork for up to 15 T-shirts and limited edition Bates military boots that will be incorporated into an ArtPrize entry. The annual ArtPrize contest will provide a total of $550,000 in prize money, including a $200,000 first-place award for the artist who wins the public voting.

Former Marine Cpl. Joshua Hoffman is amazed at how quickly his original idea has grown.

"I don't think he knew this would get that large," said Brenda Johncock, his caretaker, during a news conference Tuesday at Wolverine Company Store in Grand Rapids.

Paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper's bullet in Iraq and unable to speak, Hoffman worked with designer Tyler Way on the T-shirts, nodding yes or no to questions.

The Middleville man has become an inspiration to other soldiers undergoing the rehabilitation process, said Michael Hyacinthe, executive director of Fashion Has Heart. The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit organization was created to support wounded U.S. troops.

"As we start to draw down, and our troops in Afghanistan return and our troops from Iraq are home, there are going to be thousands of individuals in Josh's situation and we need to somehow come together to utilize our resources and just continue to help them be part of society. I think what is so exciting about this initiative is that it gives these soldiers an opportunity to express themselves."

The unique ArtPrize entry may also bring first lady Michelle Obama or Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill, to Grand Rapids. Because of their work with military personnel and their families, both have been invited to see the ArtPrize entry when it is unveiled in September, Hyacinthe said.

This year, Wolverine World Wide Inc. is one of several companies bringing its resources to the project. Wolverine plans to put the designs of the five wounded veterans on Bates military boots that could lead to a limited edition boot, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The soldiers are expected to collaborate June 18-25. Four of the wounded veterans will be flown to Grand Rapids, courtesy of, and stay with host families during their visit.

One of the host families is Brian Cousins, proprietor of the Wolverine store. He linked his company with the project after meeting Way and hearing about his experience working with Hoffman.

"I thought it was a good marriage to have Bates partner up with Fashion Has Heart because Bates puts boots on the vast majority of our soldiers," said Cousins.

East Lansing

Study: Invasive species bad for business

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Invasive species damage more than the environment in the Great Lakes region. They're also bad for business.

An analysis released Tuesday by The Nature Conservancy says invasive species such as zebra mussels and sea lamprey cost businesses and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Power companies spend $130 million annually removing mussels from 106 electric plants. The report says tourism and other industries lose $50 million a year in reduced demand because of invaders.

Other costs are borne by government agencies that keep lamprey numbers in check and households that must pay to filter their water or remove plants such as water milfoil from lakes.

The study conducted by Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing says the situation will get worse if Asian carp reach the Great Lakes.


Juvenile justice facilities to stay open next year

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan will continue housing juvenile offenders at Maxey Training School and two other state-run facilities for the coming year, but spending was cut by $2 million.

The budget conference committee agreement reached Tuesday also requires the Department of Human Services to let private contractors bid on housing some youths rather than adding capacity if facilities become full.

The $6.6 billion budget spends $133 million less than the current year. The final agreement still must be approved by the House and the Senate later this week.

The compromise gives foster care parents $3 more a day for caring for children and sets aside $60 million to help low-income residents pay their heating bills this winter.

A proposed summer youth jobs program for Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Bay City was dropped.

Published: Thu, May 31, 2012