State Roundup

Not guilty plea entered for Robert Bashara  

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area businessman charged with trying to pay someone to kill the man accused in his wife’s strangulation death has made a brief court appearance.

A not guilty plea was entered Tuesday for Robert Bashara during his arraignment in Wayne County Circuit Court. An Aug. 17 scheduling conference was set.

Bashara is accused of trying to have a hit man kill jail inmate Joe Gentz, a handyman who is charged with killing Jane Bashara of Grosse Pointe Park.

Bashara has not been charged in his wife’s death but has been named as a person of interest. He has a new lawyer, Mark Kriger, who says he’s getting up to speed on the case.

Farm: Drought killing new Christmas trees

MASON, Mich. (AP) — A mid-Michigan farm reports the drought is responsible for killing many newly-planted Christmas trees.

Mel Koelling has been growing Christmas trees at Tannenbaum Farms in the Mason area for about 35 years. He tells WILX-TV that older trees typically are more drought-resistant and are doing OK. But he says he’s lost about 4,000 of the roughly 10,000 new Christmas trees.

Similar problems have been reported in Wisconsin.

It takes about 7 to 10 years to grow most standard-sized Christmas trees. So Koelling says he’ll try to make up for losses by planting twice as many next year.
Koelling also is keeping an eye on the weather as summer continues. If drought conditions remain he says there could be more Christmas trees killed.

Decision expected on student’s eligibility

ISHPEMING, Mich. (AP) — A 19-year-old student with Down syndrome is expected to find out this week whether he’ll be able to play sports during his senior year in high school.

The Detroit Free Press reports a decision on a waiver for Eric Dompierre is expected Wednesday by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Schools in Michigan earlier this year voted in favor of lifting the age limit for sports eligibility under certain circumstances.

The push to loosen the requirement was accelerated after Dompierre petitioned to be able to play sports this season at Ishpeming High School, west of Marquette in the central Upper Peninsula. Dompierre, who already has turned 19, started school late because of the genetic disorder.
On Monday, Dompierre practiced with the football team. He also plays basketball.

Ex-Michigan Protectors man gets time served

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man who once belonged to a costumed band of self-professed real-life superheroes has been sentenced to time served in jail after pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors.

Adam Besso was nicknamed “Bee Sting” and pleaded June 22 to a misdemeanor charge of attempted assault with a weapon. The agreement with prosecutors calls for the 36-year-old Sterling Heights man to be released after sentencing.

Besso apologized at his court appearance Monday before formally receiving the sentence of 102 days already served and two years’ probation.

Authorities say Besso’s shotgun fired in April as he struggled with a man at a trailer park in the Flint suburb of Burton.

Police say he was wearing a bulletproof vest, black leather jacket with a bee logo, shin guards and knee pads.

East Lansing
U.S. gives MSU $7.3M to train ag experts

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University says it’s receiving a $7.3 million federal grant to help develop the next generation of agricultural scientists in Africa and Asia.

The new Borlaug Higher Education Agricultural Research and Development program is named for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug. The money comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The program will begin in Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique and Bangladesh and may expand elsewhere. Eric Crawford and Frederik Derksen will head the effort.

The university said Monday that the program seeks to strengthen agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the graduate level.