Consumers Energy crews head to New Jersey

Seventy Consumers Energy employees from across the state are heading to the east coast to help with power restoration efforts.

They’ll be helping restore power in New Jersey following an early winter storm over the weekend. At least two-point-five million people are said to be without power.

Consumers crews could remain out east for up to two weeks.

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Local filmmaker to show Edmund Fitzgerald documentary at SVSU

David Nicholas

November 10 will mark the 36th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest vessel to go down in the Great Lakes.

Filmmaker Ric Mixter is showing his film, “Edmund Fitzgerald Investigations” Tuesday night at Saginaw Valley State University.

David Nicholas spoke with Mixter last week and asked him how he became so involved with the on-going story, and lore, of the doomed freighter.

Ric Mixter’s documentary “Edmund Fitzgerald Investigations” will be presented at Saginaw Valley State University on Tuesday November 1 at 7:30 PM.  The film will be shown in the Ott Auditorium of the Regional Education Center.

Mixter will answer questions and also sign copies of his most recent book, “The Wheelsmen” that evening.  

Rail conference

By Chris McCarus

Today in Lansing Governor Rick Snyder continued to push his case for public investment in infrastructure. A deputy U.S. Secretary of Transportation joined him for a today’s conference on rail transit.

Transit advocates helped shape the content of the governor’s speech last week. He delivered it in an engineering lab at Lawrence Technical University in Southfield.

“Why is transit so critical? Well first of all, for most of us, we don’t think about it. But for a lot of people in our state that’s their lifeline to employment. They depend on a bus or other form of transportation to get to work. If they don’t get to work they don’t have a job. If they don’t have a job it’s a terrible situation.  So we need to do better with our transit. The second thing is if we want to revitalize our urban areas, and I believe we’re all committed to that, for Michigan to be a great state Detroit has to be on the path to being a great city. It’s we need a transit system that really works. And the third piece that goes along with that transit system is that is one of the main attractors of young people. And I heard that every day on the campaign trail. Besides jobs it was keeping our kids in the state.”

Snyder proposed beefed up bus lines on Woodward, Gratiot, Michigan and M59. Minus M59, those are the original spokes in the hub of the Detroit wheel. Street cars ran along them for half a century. Now, people in their ’20’s and ’30’s are leaving Michigan for places like Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina. They’ve built new transit networks. Click on Detroityes.com for daily discussions about light rail on Woodward. Detroiters are hungry for it.

Bill Rustem is the governor’s land use guru. He said having the city and suburbs agree to bus rapid transit will help get Woodward light rail later.

“Right now what we know is the first 3.4 miles may have at least the building funding if not the operational funding for the first 3.4 miles.  The question is, how do you move people in the short run from there and beyond out into the outer counties. That’s why this kind of a system doesn’t preclude light rail sometime in the future but it creates a system that can work for now because what we have in southeast Michigan right now isn’t working.”

The rail conference was held today at the Lansing Center.  

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Snyder, federal officials to address rail summit

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder and federal transportation officials will speak Monday at a conference in Lansing on improving rail service in Michigan.

Michigan has 540 miles of publicly owned rail. The governor has called for improving and expanding that system to move people and cargo more quickly and efficiently. The governor said he will seek more federal dollars and wants part of vehicle registration fees to be used for improving mass transit. 

Sara Wurfel is the governor’s press secretary.

“He believes very strongly that infrastructure is very important both to Michigan’s economy and to the future and that rail is very important to that mix, both passenger and freight.”

The state recently won a federal grant to purchase and upgrade 140 miles of track to be part of accelerated rail service between Detroit and Chicago. The governor’s plans for the state include making Michigan a central point in a regional business corridor that runs from Chicago to Toronto.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Court of Appeals said inmates not always entitled to Miranda warnings

By Rick Pluta

The Michigan Court of Appeals has that inmates are not necessarily entitled to Miranda warnings when they are being investigated for alleged lawbreaking in prison. Typically, Miranda warnings that a suspect has the right to remain silent and have an attorney present have to be given once a person is detained and no longer free to leave.

In this case, suspected gang member Burton Cortez was handcuffed and questioned after guards found two metal shanks in his cell during a lock-down search of the state prison in Carson City.

With a recorder running, Cortez acknowledged the blades were his, and admitted he sold a third shank to another inmate. Prison officials said the main purpose of their interrogation was to gain information to help restore order following a string of gang-related fights, and to root out a plot to murder a guard.

That was enough for the trial court, and the Court of Appeals to deny Cortez’s motion to suppress his confession and the tape. The courts said Miranda warnings are not necessary when prison officials’ top focus is to keep the peace, and not to determine whether a crime has been committed, or who is responsible.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Department and committees to begin working on transportation budget

By Laura Weber

The head of the Michigan Department of Transportation said he is working to make sure Governor Rick Snyder’s proposals to fix bridges and roads will be reflected in the state’s spending plan in the next fiscal year. The governor delivered his special message on transportation and infrastructure earlier this week.

Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudel said he will meet soon with the chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees to discuss the upcoming budget. He said Governor Snyder’s proposals will help guide the priorities set in that budget discussion.  

“You know, it’s going to be a road map for us, saying ‘Here’s the things that are important to this administration, and we’re going to go through and drive and get these things done.'”

Governor Snyder called on lawmakers to find close to one-and-a-half billion dollars in additional revenue to help repair Michigan’s bridges and roads. A lawmaker who helped author a report on transportation funding said he is not sure the Republican-led Legislature will be supportive of Snyder’s suggestion to increase vehicle registration fees to help raise revenues.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Michigan house urges purple heart for brain injuries

The Michigan House of Representatives is urging the U-S Department of Defense to award Purple Hearts to soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

State Representative Kurt Damrow said all branches of the armed forces need to be consistent in awarding the Purple Heart.

“We now see that the Army has picked up on this, and we want to make sure that all branches of service do award the Purple Heart in the same manner. Now this is nothing that the State of Michigan is going to award, that is a federal honor. But we can make our presence known and our point known, that the State of Michigan supports our veterans in this awarding of the Purple Heart.”

A Concurrent Resolution urging the Department of Defense to award the Purple Heart in cases of traumatic brain injuries has been approved by the state house.

It still must be approved by the state senate.