State Roundup

Battle Creek
Carvers shape dead ash trees into artworks

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - Carvers using power tools are shaping dead ash trees into works of art as part of the weeklong Fantasy Forest Art Competition in Battle Creek.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that 16 carved trees will become a permanent display just east of the main entrance of Leila Arboretum.

Rain didn't deter the carvers Saturday and Sunday. The invasive emerald ash borer killed several trees in the arboretum. But rather than removing them, the competition was devised and artists are vying for a $5,000 first prize and a $3,000 for second prize.

The insect native to Asia was detected in southeastern Michigan in 2002. It's destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada.

Winners will be announced next Saturday.

Grosse Pointe Woods
Labyrinth honors memory of slain Michigan woman

GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Mich. (AP) - A labyrinth has been dedicated in memory of Jane Bashara, a suburban Detroit woman who was strangled three years ago.

Jane's Walk is located in the front yard of St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe Woods. The church says prayer stations that explore the symbolic journey of walking a labyrinth are being planned as part of the memorial. An event was held Sunday.

Bashara's husband Bob Bashara was sentenced in January to life in prison for arranging his wife's killing. They lived nearby in Grosse Pointe Park, and she was found dead in her Mercedes-Benz in a Detroit alley, miles from home.

Prosecutors say Bob Bashara coerced handyman Joe Gentz strangle his wife and to abandon the body. Gentz is in prison for second-degree murder.

Kalamazoo
2 college grads were friends as kids in Thailand

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Two women whose friendship began as children in Thailand recognized something when they attended college in Michigan: each other.

Rani Noor and Indigo McCollum were pals in Bangkok until McCollum's family left the country years ago after fifth grade. On Sunday, they graduated from Kalamazoo College, capping an unusual reunion that began at freshman orientation.

McCollum is the daughter of teachers who worked around the globe. After fifth grade in Thailand, she and Noor occasionally sent email but mostly lost touch.

Fast-forward to freshman orientation in 2011 at Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts school.

"I walked up to her and patted her on the back and I'm like, 'Indigo?' And she's like 'Rani?' And then we hugged," Noor, 22, recalled.

McCollum has Michigan ties. Her father attended Hope College, and her grandparents live near Lansing. Noor wanted to attend a U.S. college. She has relatives in Saginaw, so a Michigan school was possible.

Noor is headed to Phoenix to be a teacher. McCollum plans to take a year off before looking for a job.

Battle Creek
No charges in 1961 death after body is exhumed

BATLLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - No criminal charges are planned in the death of an 8-month-old boy in 1961, after a months-long investigation that involved exhuming the remains and interviewing the mother, authorities said.

Investigators appear to have incriminating statements from the mother, now 78, but her mental competency is an issue and a confession is not enough, said Daniel Buscher, chief assistant prosecutor in Calhoun County.

"The body was so degraded we had a rough time having any conclusion as to what caused the death," Buscher told the Battle Creek Enquirer.

A forensic pathologist, Dr. Joyce deJong, "was not comfortable, based on the medical evidence that is available, to call it a homicide," Buscher said. "Unless that is cleared up now or there is further testing later on, I would technically deny it at this point. But they are free to submit it with any new evidence."

The boy's death certificate says he died from a lack of oxygen due to regurgitation of baby formula.

Published: Tue, Jun 16, 2015

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