State Roundup

Mid-Michigan swim coach on trial for assault

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) — A mid-Michigan science teacher and swim coach is on trial for sexual assault charges involving two male students.
The Lansing State Journal reports Jason Algra’s trial began Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court and is expected to last through the week. The 34-year-old faces three first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and five second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.
Officials say Algra is on unpaid suspension from Grand Ledge High School.
Defense lawyer Frank Reynolds said during opening statements that witnesses will testify Algra was elsewhere when some of the alleged sex acts took place.
Grand Ledge school officials say they learned of misconduct allegations against Algra in 2011, and immediately placed him on leave. He was later charged in the case.

Study: Tourism spending should rise 5.5 percent

DETROIT (AP) — Researchers are predicting that tourists will pump more money into the Michigan economy this year.
Michigan State University experts Sarah Nicholls and Dan McCole were releasing their annual tourism forecast Tuesday during an industry conference in Detroit. They say tourist spending should rise 5.5 percent in 2013 after a 6 percent increase last year.
They also say the number of tourists traveling to and around the state will rise about 3 percent.
Although the economy remains sluggish, Nicholls and McCole say people who travel the most are doing well and continue to make vacations a priority.
Their analysis says Michigan’s reputation for producing high-quality local foods, wines and beer is helping at a time when travelers are increasingly interested in food-and beverage-based tourism.

Bay City
Storms contribute to debris piles in state’s waterways

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — A massive pile of debris has clogged part of the Saginaw River following recent storms that brought flooding to Michigan, and officials are urging caution for recreational boaters including those going fishing.
The collection of tree limbs, brush, marsh vegetation and garbage was seen this week near the Bay City marina, The Bay City Times reported. Some other waterfront areas in Michigan also are dealing with similar reports of debris.
“We have a huge mess out front,” said Justin Scott, an employee at Pier 7 Marina, located along the Saginaw River. “When this stuff moves down the river it will be a water hazard to all the boaters.”
The U.S. Coast Guard said it’s common for debris such as trees, brush and garbage to wash up in the spring. It is up to individual marinas and communities to clean up the mess or wait for it to be carried downriver, it said.
“Ice moves a lot of debris on the banks,” said Petty Officer Thomas Couture. “When it thaws, the water rises and it runs onto the river.”
Those heading out to fish should use caution, Couture said.
“It can be a hazard, but boaters realize when there is a lot of debris they need to take it slower and watch where they’re going,” Couture said.
Storms moving across the Midwest last week, coupled with melting snow, brought flooding to parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
George Lauinger, park manager at the Bay City State Recreation Area, said last week’s rain has exacerbated what he described as a chronic debris problem for this time of year. He said it’s mostly dead vegetation.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources crews have been working at the Pine River Dock in Arenac County, and other docks in the area using tractors and dump trucks to clear debris so boaters can use them.
Debris buildup at the Pine River launch was so severe boats couldn’t launch until the mess was cleared.

Man pleads guilty in killing of teen on his property

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana man who shot and killed a Michigan teenager invited to play paintball on his property has pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness in the attack.
Shelby County Prosecutor Kent Apsley tells the Daily Journal that 42-year-old Jason Bagley’s plea agreement calls for the Shelbyville man to serve no more than four years in prison for the December 2011 shooting. He’ll be sentenced June 10.
Investigators said Bagley shot and killed Brandon J. Spangler, a 17-year-old from Flushing, Mich., who was preparing to play paintball on a wooded part of Bagley’s rural property with three siblings and his father.
Bagley gave the family permission to play paintball on his property, but he said he didn’t know they were there and he thought he was shooting at coyotes.

Court won’t revive lawsuit over 2010 Enbridge oil spill

MARSHALL, Mich. (AP) — The owners of a Marshall child care center who claim an oil spill killed their business can no longer sue Enbridge Energy.
The Michigan appeals court says a Calhoun County judge was right to dismiss the lawsuit by Clyde and JoAnn Griffin. The case was thrown out on technical grounds when Enbridge complained that the Griffins didn’t turn over certain documents.
The couple owned Play Care Learning Center in Marshall. The Griffins say parents removed their kids and the business never recovered after an Enbridge oil pipeline ruptured in 2010, releasing chemicals into the air.
A bank foreclosed on the property.