State Roundup

Beachgoers lost 755 access days to pollution in ‘12

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan beachgoers lost 755 days of water access in 2012 because of pollution, down 17 percent from 2011 and about half the number from five years earlier, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said in a report released Monday.
A common cause for beach closings is the presence of bacteria from human or animal feces. Local health departments conduct tests for E. coli bacteria. Health standards forbid full-body contact with water that has 300 or more of the bacteria in a 100 milliliter sample.
The department’s annual beach monitoring report said 112 of the 423 beaches it monitored in 2012 had pollution actions. That included 260 Great Lakes beaches and 163 on inland waters. There were 760 beaches the state didn’t regularly monitor, some of which also had closings.
Altogether, 166 beaches were closed for a total of 755 days in 2012. That was down from 913 days lost at 165 beaches in 2011. The peaks in lost time in the past five years came in 2007, with 89 beaches closed for 1,568 days, and 2009, with 125 beaches closed for 1,596 days.
“Water quality protection continues to be a great concern in Michigan and depends on the collective efforts of multiple pollution prevention programs,” report authors Shannon Briggs and Thomas Jepsen Jr. wrote.
Common sources for human waste in beach water are overflows from combined sanitary-storm water sewers, overflows from sanitary sewers because of the penetration of storm water, and failing septic systems, the report said.
Local health department get financial aid from the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct water quality tests. The state agency has provided $2.52 million in monitoring grants since 2003, including $180,000 for monitoring in 2012.
The state’s monitoring program received a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant in 2010 to improve forecasting of pollution problems and improve real-time reporting. That year, it handed out $3.2 million from the initiative for research and monitoring activities.
The state also established the BeachGuard online database that offers real-time information on closings at 1,243 and 481 private beaches. On Sunday, it listed one closing — Thornapple Lake at Charlton Park in southwest Michigan’s Barry County.

Grand Rapids
2 former U.S. attorneys probe long voting lines

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Two former U.S. attorneys have been selected to lead a committee appointed by the mayor of Grand Rapids to study ways of shortening long voting lines in the city.
Mayor George Heartwell sought out James Brady and John Smietanka, who both served in West Michigan, to head an Elections Review Commission that plans to report its findings to the mayor by the end of the summer, The Grand Rapids Press reported.
The review comes after some voters in the West Michigan city waited hours to cast a ballot in last year’s presidential election. The commission has already convened and is reviewing election equipment, signs, precinct locations and staffing, among other things.
“I’m open for feedback and looking forward to the recommendations,” said City Clerk Lauri Parks.
The review panel might recommend changes in how the clerk’s office conducts elections under the current setup, the newspaper reported. According to Heartwell, the panel also could office advice on potential changes in how Grand Rapids conducts elections.

Push in capitol area aims to curb violent crimes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new push is taking place to help curb violent crime in the Lansing area.
The Capital Area Violent Crime Initiative is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as prosecutors, courts and Lansing-area communities. Officials are working to reduce violent crime in part through proactive policing.
The Lansing Police Department says it recently took over the leadership of the effort. The agency along with state police, the Ingham County sheriff’s department, the Michigan Department of Corrections and others targeted areas of Lansing during a June 13-15 push.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Michigan State University police, the Ingham County prosecutor’s office and the Ingham County 911 Center are among others involved in the effort.

Bath Township
Authorities take another look at 1985 slaying

BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities in the Lansing area say they’re taking another look at a 1985 shotgun slaying of a 34-year-old mother of three.
Bath Township Detective Sgt. Gary Smith tells the Lansing State Journal that the death of Patricia Fuller remains a solvable case.
Smith has worked on the case since the late 1990s. He says he plans to take another look at the evidence and re-interview witnesses this summer.
Police said Fuller had just graduated from Lansing Community College’s surgical technology program before she was killed. A roommate discovered Fuller dead in her bed on June 19, 1985. There were no signs of forced entry, and Fuller’s purse was missing.
Fuller’s three sons weren’t staying with her at the time of the killing.e