State Roundup

Officials explore if religion factor in bus stop attack

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) - Authorities are investigating whether religion was a factor in a stabbing at a Detroit-area bus stop.

Southfield police say a 52-year-old Detroit man had wounds to his head, neck and back following the Saturday night attack at the Northland Mall stop and a 51-year-old Detroit man had a hand wound. Both were treated and released from a hospital.

Police took a 39-year-old man into custody who was walking nearby and recovered two knives. A warrant request is being submitted Tuesday to prosecutors.

The men who were attacked told police that the suspect made several comments about his religion and asked them about their religious beliefs just before the attack. Police and the FBI are investigating to determine whether it was a hate crime.

Police didn't specify the religious beliefs involved.

WMU dorms to get liaison police officers

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Western Michigan University's police department plans to assign liaison officers to dorms following crimes on or near campus this school year.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the plans from the Department of Public Safety come after the Western Student Association requested the presence of officers. Taylor Hall, a student who helped write the resolution, says one of the reasons for the request was crime.

There have been two armed robberies on campus this school year, one reported in October and another one this month. Another armed robbery occurred in September at the university-owned Asylum Lake Preserve, where a man was robbed of a cellphone.

Public Safety Chief Scott Merlo says having officers in and around the dorms will allow them to build relationships and trust with students.

Legislators aim to cut off state's startup funds

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - After Michigan's budgets had to be cut recently, some legislators are trying to limit future state liability by capping and winding up a venture capital fund that invests in startup companies.

A bipartisan group of Michigan House members recently introduced two bills that aim to cap expenses the state might have to pay related to the Venture Michigan Fund. The fund was created in 2003 as an effort to lure more startup businesses to the state. It works by giving money to venture capital managers who focus on investing in Michigan-based startup companies. The money came from banks, guaranteed by tax vouchers from the state. Two rounds of lending from banks to the Venture Michigan Fund, worth a total of $450 million, invested about $150 million in 41 Michigan startups, according to a report from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency. The rest of the $450 million was set aside for interest and other expenses related to running the program.

The banks fronted the money, but now the time is coming for the state to pay its part. The state will owe $140 million related to the first round of funding over the next three years.

Some legislators are wary of letting that tab rise any further going forward, especially at a time when this year's state budget already had to be cut.

One bill introduced last week would prevent the Venture Michigan Fund from entering into any new agreements or making any new investments, effective immediately. Another bill would close the fund in 2018 instead of in 2054 as originally planned. Together, the bills would effectively prevent the fund from receiving any of an additional $150 million it could put toward making new investments, because that money would also put the state on the hook for more payments in the future.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Al Pscholka, a Republican from Stevensville, is one of the bill sponsors. He said that while the program is "working as it was intended," how it was set up might not have been the best policy.

"This fund was enacted with good intentions, but the reality of using Michiganders' money to buy economic investments just isn't sound policy or good government," Pscholka said in a statement.

Harris Township
Island Resort & Casino in Upper Peninsula to grow

HARRIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - An expansion and renovation project has been announced for Island Resort & Casino in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Hannahville Tribal Council recently approved a plan to bring a second golf course, full-service spa and other amenities to the resort in Harris Township. The two-year project also will include renovations to an existing bar, bingo hall and exterior of the hotel's entrance.

Island Resort & Casino offers more than 1,200 slot machines, numerous game tables, a 314-room hotel and 18-hole golf course. It's owned and operated by the Hannahville Indian Community, a band of the Potawatomi Nation.

Harris Township is located in Delta County, about 15 miles west of Escanaba.

$20M investment to help Sagniaw Bay Watershed

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (AP) - Officials say a combined $20 million in public and private sector investment is expected to benefit the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan on Tuesday plans to join officials for an event near the Cass River in Frankenmuth to highlight the project. Her office says $10 million in public money will be matched by $10 million in private sector funds.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Conservation Partnership will help farmers improve productivity in the field, restore wetland areas, reduce excessive sediment and nutrient runoff as well as monitor long-term trends in fish population and habitats.

The Michigan Agri-Business Association and The Nature Conservancy plan to lead 35 local partners on the project. Support for the work comes through the 2014 Farm Bill's Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

Ann Arbor
University regents to consider sports complex proposal

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The athletic department at the University of Michigan is moving forward with a $168 million project to build a sports complex.

The Ann Arbor News reports department officials want the multi-use facility built on a 17-acre property purchased by the school last year. But approval is needed for the $2.4 million demolition and abatement of a light industrial and office building currently on the site.

The Board of Regents is expected to vote Thursday on the proposed demolition.

Interim athletic director Jim Hackett says the building formerly owned by Edwards Brothers Malloy isn't useful for any university purpose.

The new 310,000-square-foot complex, known as the Stephen M. Ross Athletic South Competition and Performance Project, will be used for a variety of Division I sports.

Moore Township
Officials: Sanilac County wind farm could be built

MOORE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials say another wind farm could be built in Sanilac County.

The Times Herald of Port Huron reports Invenergy has been collecting property easements since 2004 in Argyle, Lamotte and Moore townships for a wind farm.

Invenergy plans to spread its wind turbines across 25,000 acres of private land. Invenergy says the number of wind turbines planned and the construction timeline aren't yet set. The project is expected to create 10 permanent operating jobs and 100 construction jobs.

Local approvals are needed for the project.

Within Sanilac County, two wind farms already have brought more than 70 turbines to Delaware, Marion and Minden townships.

Published: Wed, Feb 18, 2015