State Roundup

Key hearing set for Aug. in death by strangulation 

DETROIT (AP) — A key hearing has been rescheduled for a suburban Detroit man accused of arranging his wife’s slaying.
Robert Bashara’s preliminary hearing had initially been planned for Tuesday in 36th District Court in Detroit. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says those involved agreed to hold it Aug. 19 instead.
Jane Bashara’s body was found in her Mercedes-Benz, which was left in a Detroit alley in January 2012, a few miles from the couple’s home in Grosse Pointe Park. Handyman Joseph Gentz pleaded guilty to strangling her, saying he did so under orders from her husband.
Robert Bashara is charged with first-degree murder. He’s already serving up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to trying to hire someone to kill Gentz while the handyman was in the county jail.

Bill would allow wine tasting at farmers markets

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved legislation letting small winemakers get permits to offer tastings and sell wine at farmers markets around the state.
The bills passed unanimously Tuesday next head to the House.
The legislation sponsored by Republican state Sen. Goeff Hansen of Hart would limit the tastings and sales to winemakers who produce 5,000 gallons of wine a year or less, which trims the list of eligible vineyards to about 60 of the state’s 100-plus winemakers.
It also requires a $25 per market permit fee for the winemaker and the approval of both the market and the local police department.
At the farmers market, each person would be limited to three 2-ounce samples of wine.

Officer resigns after probe into winning iPad Mini

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan police officer has resigned after an investigation found that he cheated to win an iPad Mini during an annual fundraiser, authorities said.
Saginaw Township police Chief Don Pussehl told The Saginaw News that he was informed of the possible cheating two days after the April 13 Policeman’s Ball. The officer was suspended with pay April 15 and resigned soon afterward.
“I’m saddened that it happened and it’s something I would not have expected to happen,” Pussehl said.
Other officers reported that they were suspicious that the officer who eventually resigned might have cheated during the 2012 ball, Pussehl said.
“It had piqued some of the officers’ interest to watch him this year,” Pussehl said.
The investigation found that the officer cheated, and the resignation came as the process to terminate his employment took place, Pussehl said. No charges have been announced and specifics about how the cheating took place weren’t immediately released.
The officer’s name wasn’t released.
Hundreds of prizes are given away during the event, with some purchased by the Saginaw Township Police Officer Association and others donated by local businesses. Proceeds are set aside for two scholarship funds sponsored by the police department and also used for public relations.

District that can’t pay teachers lays off other workers

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan school district that said it can’t afford to pay its teachers has decided to lay off employees and cancel classes Tuesday as it works on a plan to educate students.
The Buena Vista School District, located just outside of Saginaw, said in a posting on its website that school is closed for the day and a community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night. The district’s board voted Monday night to lay off an unspecified number of employees.
“We’re continuing to try to develop the best plans for students,” Deborah Hunter-Harvill told “We’re working to come up with strategies. I’m not working alone.”
Buena Vista Education Association President Joe Ann Nash said in a telephone news conference Monday that the district’s 27 teachers would work this week in the hopes that the state and the school district can come up with a plan to keep classes in operation.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Education Association said the district is putting money before the interests of children.
“Faced with a selfless offer of help from their employees to continue working, without the guarantee of a paycheck next payday, Buena Vista’s school board and administration gave up on their students and employees,” MEA President Steve Cook said in a statement.
The school district in Saginaw County announced last week that it won’t be able to make payroll on May 24 because the state has put a hold on its funding to recoup about $580,000 for a juvenile detention education program the district no longer operates. Teachers will receive their final paychecks on Friday.
Michigan started withholding money in April and will continue to do so through part of July, state Department of Education has said.
Enrollment has declined from more than 900 in 2010 to about 400 this year. The school district has been in debt since 2011, with its deficit reaching $1 million last July, the state said. In addition, the Buena Vista district will owe the state about $2 million in loans in August.
According to the school district’s website, it is taking steps toward confirming a financial emergency, which could lead to an emergency manager being installed to help bring the school out of debt.

Suburb agrees to settlement with missionaries

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit suburb has agreed to apologize and pay an undisclosed amount of money to a group of Christian missionaries arrested in 2010 at an Arab cultural festival.
The American Freedom Law Center had sued Dearborn on behalf of a group of missionaries called Acts 17 Apologetics who said their rights were violated when they were arrested at the Arab International Festival. The missionaries later were acquitted.
Terms of the settlement were announced Monday.
Dearborn, which has large Arab-American and Muslim populations, must post an apology on its website for three years and take other steps.
Mayor John O’Reilly says the apology allows the city to move forward.
The law center says its clients have been vilified for simply exercising their constitutional right to evangelize on a public street.

Pastor sentenced to probation in corruption case

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit pastor who doubled as a city building official has been sentenced to two years of probation in a scheme to have taxpayers pay for kitchen equipment at his church.
The Detroit News reports ( ) U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds on Monday spared 60-year-old Charlie Golden from prison, citing in part his “exemplary” record. He could have faced 10 to 16 months in prison.
Golden must pay a $3,000 fine and perform community service. He apologized in court.
The government says he told a city contractor to get someone to install an expensive exhaust and hood over a deep fryer at Perfecting Freedom Church.
The FBI says Golden signed phony city invoices to ensure that the contractor would be paid by Detroit. Golden was the city’s assistant buildings superintendent.

Flat Rock
30-mile greenway moves closer to completion

FLAT ROCK, Mich. (AP) — A 30-mile greenway for bicycle riders, walkers and runners in southeast Michigan is moving closer to completion.
The Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative said a ribbon-cutting is planned for late September on the Flat Rock-Oakwood Connector Trail.
The mile-long trail is the final piece of a 30-mile east-west greenway connecting Oakwoods Metropark and Lake Erie Metropark. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Flat Rock-Oakwood Connector Trail was held Monday afternoon at Huroc Park in Flat Rock.
“The completion of this trail after more than a decade of hard work will now represent the largest greenways link of two Metroparks in the region,” Anita Twardesky, co-chairwoman of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, said in a statement.
Funding for the about $684,000 project is being provided through federal money and a local match from the state Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources. Work includes construction of the path, from Huroc Park in Flat Rock to Oakwoods Metropark.
The City of Flat Rock and others are involved in the effort. Construction of the overall trail began in 2001 with help from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s GreenWays Initiative and others. Since then, about 29 miles of trail have been completed.


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