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Ingham County

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Lansing has always been a busy place. It’s home to the state Legislature, which makes it a popular location for protests from across the political spectrum. And just down the road, in East Lansing, is the state’s largest public university, home to tens of thousands of Michigan State University students. But amid the ongoing pandemic, the large groups of people that tend to gather in the capital region have made containing COVID-19 particularly complicated.

Michigan's capitol dome
Bimatshu Pyakuryal / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, as Rudy Guiliaini draws crowds to Lansing for a hearing on alleged election irregularities, Ingham County’s health officer is urging people there to take precautions to avoid a super spreader event. Plus, a conversation about reckoning with past abuse in the University of Michigan football program. And, as Detroit develops, we talk to an urban planner who says centering its Black residents holds the key for a more vibrant and equitable city.

MSU Belmont Tower
EMMA WINOWIECKI / Michigan Radio

Update, Thursday September 23: Michigan State University has updated its online COVID-19 dashboard to reflect cases reported by the Ingham County Health Department, two days after the county's public health director revealed the health department's case count was far higher than what the university was publicly stating. 

The university notified the public of the change, says spokesman Dan Olsen, by contacting reporters Thursday morning and sending out a notice in the campus newsletter that afternoon. 

"The university’s COVID-19 dashboard now reflects the total number of positive cases of MSU students and employees reported by the Ingham County Health Department," the newsletter reads. "It does not include students and employees tested outside of the county and does not necessarily include those who self-reported a positive case to the university." 

That change means the case numbers listed on MSU's site essentially doubled overnight, from 548 cases at the start of this week, to 1,239 cases since July 27th. A spokesperson for MSU said the university is "continuing our ongoing partnership with [the health department] to report this information weekly (each Monday.)" 

Those case numbers are still slightly lower than the 1,250 MSU-related cases Ingham County Health Director Linda Vail said her department had recorded in the last 30 days. Those cases only include those the health department can verify are MSU students, faculty, or staff, Vail said Tuesdsay, and do not include secondary cases in the broader East Lansing community. 

This story will continue to be updated. 

Original post, Tuesday September 22: Michigan State University is knowingly underreporting the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, and staff, according to information released by the Ingham County Health Department on Tuesday.

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Having a big house party near Michigan State University just got harder. 

On Tuesday, the Ingham County Health Department announced a new emergency order banning outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people in certain parts of East Lansing near campus - including the downtown area. 

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some election officials in Michigan say they want more time to be able to count absentee votes.

That would require a change in state law.

Barb Byrum is clerk of Ingham County. She says absentee ballots made up 68% of the vote in the county’s most recent election. She says that’s a significant increase compared to previous elections.

Topographic map of the counties of Ingham & Livingston, Michigan
Library of Congress

 

Lynching is one of this country's darkest legacies. It claimed the lives of thousands of black Americans, particularly in the South. But the South wasn't the only place where mobs of white people brutally murdered black citizens. In the wake of the Civil War, Michigan saw three lynchings of African-American men by white mobs.

Money
Andy / Flickr

Ingham County is continuing to have bookkeeping problems with its treasurer.

Until recently, Treasurer Eric Schertzing had been writing checks the county had no record of. According to county Commissioner Mark Grebner, it wasn’t until a contractor tried to collect money he was owed by the county that questions were raised, and it was discovered a relatively small Community Development Block Grant program was being administered by the treasurer’s office through handwritten checks signed by Schertzing.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Ingham County Sheriff's Office has announced it no longer will detain people with federal immigration holds past the detention period on their original booking charges.

The sheriff's office says Wednesday that administrative warrants and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers issued by an ICE official have to have proper judicial authority.

person using a computer
Christopher Schirner / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An Ingham County official is suggesting actions that could cost nearly $2 million to strengthen the county's cybersecurity following a computer network attack last month.

Former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings will spend a year in jail for misconduct in office and engaging the services of a prostitute.

He was sentenced today on the misdemeanor charges he pleaded guilty to back in August. Originally, Dunnings was charged with more than a dozen prostitution-related counts.

His arrest earlier this year stemmed from a federal investigation into human trafficking.

Prosecutors say Dunnings paid women for sex over several years.

Deer in the underbrush.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials say a second mid-Michigan deer has tested positive for a fatal neurological disease.

“Finding this second positive deer is disappointing, however, not unexpected,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. 

The second deer was discovered about a mile from where the first deer was found in Ingham County. Wildlife officials are genetically testing the two deer to determine if they are related.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan counties rank near the top and the bottom of a new national report on home buying.

Realty Trac looked at affordability and accessibility for home buyers putting up a low down payment.

The report finds 90% of 370 counties nationwide were more affordable than they have been historically. 

An emaciated deer stands near a fence.
Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game and Fish Department/CWD Alliance

Last week, state officials confirmed they found chronic wasting disease in a wild deer for the first time. Michigan now joins 22 states and two Canadian provinces where the disease has been found.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A serious health threat to the state’s wild deer population has been detected in mid-Michigan. 

A six-year-old doe found in Haslett last month has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. 

The neurological disease is always fatal.  The disease is transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids.   The disease is fatal to deer, elk and moose. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s still more than a month before the November general election, but many Michigan voters are already getting their hands on the ballot.

Today, the Lansing City Clerk’s office mailed out 5,000 absentee ballots. The office sent electronic ballots to U.S. servicemen and women, and other overseas voters last week.

Clerk Chris Swope says demand for absentee ballots is bigger than normal, which he partially credits with the close race for governor.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A handful of Michigan county health department leaders say “health” should play a bigger role in local decision making. 

Health department officials from Wayne, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties met in Lansing this past week to strategize how to change the way local governments do pretty much everything. 

Linda Vail is Ingham County’s Chief Health Officer.   She says city and county leaders often fail to consider the potential effects their decisions will have on their community’s health.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced a trio of environmental activists to probation for their role in an oil pipeline protest near Stockbridge last July.

The protesters attached themselves to heavy equipment at the Enbridge pipeline work site.  They were convicted of trespassing and obstruction in January. 

The protesters could have faced up to two years in prison.

Protester Vicci Hamlin says she remains committed to the fight against Canadian tar sands oil. 

“I think that the more people that risk going to jail the more that things will change,” says Hamlin.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A trio of environmental activists will find out this week whether they will face prison time for a 2013 protest.

The three women were convicted in January of trespassing and obstruction charges. They and a fourth member of the group Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands attached themselves to heavy machinery to protest the installation of a new oil pipeline near Stockbridge.

The four did not detach themselves after being ordered to by law enforcement officers during the 2013 incident.

Michigan Flyer facebook page

A federal grant to expand bus service between Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport is stalled.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission split nine to nine on authorizing a $600,000 grant to help the Michigan Flyer expand its daily trips from eight to twelve.    The commissioner with the potential tie-breaking vote did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

State and federal transportation agencies have already approved the grant, which would essentially help offset the costs for the first few months of the added service between East Lansing and Ann Arbor.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council received a report last night looking at serious problems with Ingham County’s 911 system.

The new 911 center opened last summer. It dispatches fire and EMS crews for Lansing and East Lansing, as well as Ingham County.

But the system has trouble pinpointing mobile phone calls, and that’s led to dispatching mistakes and slow response times. A new report suggests three deaths may be connected to problems with the 911 system.

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) - The Oakland County sheriff says authorities are investigating at least 16 shootings for any common threads in many Michigan communities.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says no one has been injured but there have been "some very close calls." He told reporters Friday that cars and people appear to be the targets. Shootings have been reported in Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.

Bouchard says the shootings occurred Tuesday through Thursday. Someone shot at five vehicles in Wixom in just a few minutes Thursday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several Ingham County communities have taken a step toward creating a regional fire department.

Lansing, East Lansing and four other communities signed an agreement to begin implementing the first phase of the “Shared Services” plan.

Randall Talifarro is Lansing and East Lansing’s fire chief. He says getting local fire departments to work more closely together will improve fire protection to nearly 300 thousand Ingham County residents.

(Michigan Radio)

Aides to Governor Rick Snyder say the state will ask the Michigan Court of Appeals to lift a judge’s order that prohibits a deal between Michigan and Detroit to resolve the city’s budget crisis.

An Ingham County judge says the state cannot make any deals with Detroit until he decides late next week whether a state team reviewing Detroit’s finances broke Michigan’s open meetings law.    Monday is the deadline for the review team to give Governor Snyder its recommendations.

(Official state portrait)

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month.

Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A medical marijuana patient in Ingham County is facing three days in jail for testing positive for marijuana. Livingston Thompson uses medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy.  Judge Richard Garcia ordered Thompson to stop using marijuana as part of a child custody case.    

But Thompson recently tested positive for marijuana, and the judge Tuesday ordered Thompson to be jailed for contempt for three days.  Matt Newburg is Livingston Thompson’s attorney.  Newburg plans to ask the Michigan Court of Appeals to stay the judge’s contempt order.  

 “The judge said…on the record…that he felt that (medical marijuana) card was a fraud…and it did not protect him.”   

Newburg says Michigan’s marijuana law protects medical marijuana patients from criminal and civil penalties.

Flickr user nbonzey

The company that owns a pipeline that's leaking gasoline in Michigan is still searching for the source of the leak.   

Ingham County Emergency officials said in a statement Saturday that Wolverine Pipeline Company crews hope to find the leak within the next 24 hours and repair it. The Portage, Michigan-based company has contained the leak near a farm and a large gasoline storage tank facility about 55 miles west of Detroit.   

Some of the gas flowed about a mile down an open drain by the time the leak was reported Wednesday by a farmer. 

Crews continued digging temporary ditches Saturday near the storage tank to keep it out of the drain.   

Wolverine Pipeline says tests on wells in the area show that they pose no threat to human health.