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The remainder of the school year could be in doubt if Michigan communities don’t take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s the message from some school superintendents in Wayne County.

The superintendents say that currently, they’re committed to continuing in-person learning and school-related activities. They say they’re being vigilant about precautions—and they’re confident that classroom transmission is relatively rare.

But cases in the community inevitably mean cases in schools. And that’s led to disruptive mass student quarantines in many districts.

Wayne County

Mourners paid their respects to the late former Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon at a Detroit funeral home on Monday.

Napoleon died earlier this month after contracting COVID-19. He was 65.

Ahmad Ardity / Pixabay

Wayne County rolled out a new program Thursday, called "Wayne County Cares," to help county residents who have been affected by the state's recent COVID-19 public health orders that shut down or reduced services at many businesses.

The county is offering a one-time, no strings attached $500 cash card to eligible applicants who must have worked in food service, group fitness, hospitality, or entertainment businesses since March 2020 and meet certain income limits.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Tuesday night’s Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting was a wild ride.

After initially deadlocking 2-2 along partisan lines—meaning the county’s election results would not have been certified—the Board reversed course and unanimously voted to certify the election, while also urging Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to do a “comprehensive audit” of certain precincts.

empty courtroom
Pixabay

Michigan's largest county is postponing jury trials until January.

Tim Kenny, chief judge at Wayne County Circuit Court, says coronavirus cases are on an "upward spiral," making it unsafe to hold trials. Trials had resumed in late September.

In the Grand Rapids area, Kent County also has halted jury trials until January. 

“It is important that we do not expose any people when our numbers are as high as they are right now,’’ Judge Mark Trusock said last week.

Kym Worthy
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Prosecutor’s races don’t usually get much attention from voters, but that’s not the case this year. With ongoing protests against police violence and racial injustice, there’s heightened attention on the role prosecutors play as gatekeepers to the criminal justice system.

There are several highly-contested prosecutor’s races on August primary ballots in Michigan. That includes the race in Wayne County, where longtime incumbent Kym Worthy is facing off against criminal defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris.

Experience versus a reformer

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

With the economic fallout from COVID-19 hitting many people hard, Wayne County says it will use federal government money to help some residents with rental and food assistance.

The county is providing nearly $3.5 million for help with rental payments, and another $400,000 for food. The money comes from the federal CARES Act and other re-allocated federal funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and will be distributed by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency.

money
user penywise / morgueFile

The head of a Metro Detroit non-profit social services agency that’s in charge of distributing federal stimulus funds says the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people struggling to meet basic needs.

The Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency was allotted $11 million in CARES Act funds to distribute to households in Wayne County. $8 million of that is reserved for the city of Detroit.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is optimistic about the county’s fight with COVID-19.

Wayne County is the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. The city of Detroit and Wayne County have a combined 16,970 positive coronavirus cases and 1,802 deaths linked to the disease.

But Evans says the county is making progress.

Warren Evans
Warren Evans on Instagram

Hiring and spending freezes are now in effect for Wayne County government. That’s under a new order signed by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Wayne County officials forecast a revenue loss of at least $152 million because of the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

prison bars
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eight staff members at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department tested positive for the new coronavirus. At least seven of those employees have been in contact with other employees and inmates at the county jail.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Pageant Atterberry says any inmate who shows symptoms of coronavirus infection is separated from the general population and sent to jail medical facilities. If needed, an inmate would be transported for treatment. So far, only one inmate has been examined and found not to be infected.

Wayne County

In an unprecedented move, the Wayne County Treasurer says he will halt all tax foreclosures this year due to impacts from the coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the rapidly changing recommendations on social distancing and the increasing economic uncertainty we are all facing, I have had to make an urgent decision to protect all the taxpayers facing foreclosure in Wayne County,” Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree said in a statement. “Given the fact that all taxpayers will be facing economic hardships in the coming months, I have made the decision to withhold all properties from the 2020 foreclosure petition.”

cars in parking lot
Adobe Stock

A Wayne County program that targets cars suspected of drug activity or prostitution is an unconstitutional racket, according to a new federal lawsuit.

That lawsuit lays out how the county’s vehicle seizure unit regularly takes cars based on suspected criminal activity, even if no one is ever charged or convicted—and even if the car’s owner isn’t the one suspected of a crime.

SMART Bus
Mysid / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties hope that some proposed changes to state law will pave the way for an expanded regional transit system in southeast Michigan—minus Macomb County, for now.

The proposal involves changes to the state’s Municipal Partnership Act, which allows local government units to form partnerships for the purpose of funding and offering services such as transit. They would allow the three counties to create a regional entity that could levy and collect taxes to fund expanded regional transit.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

The Detroit Institute of Arts is asking officials in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne County to put a renewal of the museum’s millage on the March 2020 ballot. This request comes earlier than expected: the millage was first passed in 2012, and it was not set to lapse until 2022.


 

 

New Americans in Wayne County: The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the County / Wayne County

Immigrants are bringing outsized economic benefits to Wayne County, and helping offset an otherwise declining population in the state’s largest county.

That’s the conclusion of a new study the county commissioned from the group New American Economy.

Kym Worthy
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says her office is still accepting donations to fund the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults linked to a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits.

Erica Perez
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Can a county government seize a home for back taxes, sell it for price that exceeds the tax debt, and pocket the profits?

That issue is at the heart of the lawsuit that Erica Perez filed against Wayne County and County Treasurer Eric Sabree Tuesday.

foreclosure sign outside old home
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit offers people living in poverty a 100% exemption on their property taxes. It’s Detroit’s local adaption of a state law. But many Detroiters living below the poverty line don’t know about it. 

Wayne County / via Facebook, used with permission

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Wayne County on Thursday night, just hours after Wayne County Executive Warren Evans requested her to do so.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we talk with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about efforts to halt the deportation of Mexican journalist and University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow Emilio Gutierrez Soto. Plus, we check in with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans about the state of the county's finances.

Listen above for the full show, or find individual segments below.

Political roundup: Unlimited medical benefits, lack of transparency contribute to high auto insurance rates

Warren Evans
Warren Evans on Instagram

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans highlighted property values and taxes in his State of the County address Thursday.

Evans was a guest on Stateside Friday. He said property tax revenues are down in Wayne County.


Multiple potholes along a concrete road.
User: Pearl Pirie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, Benton Harbor's emerging problem with lead in drinking water, and what it tells us about the risk of lead in other Michigan communities. Plus, the city of Midland is documenting its unique, and massive, treasure trove of mid-century modern architecture. So far, they've found more than 400 structures. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

foreclosure sign in front of house
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit runs an annual property tax-exemption program for its lowest-income homeowners. The deadline is Monday, but many qualified residents don't know about it or struggle with their applications.

They risk heading into foreclosure and eventually seeing their homes sold in the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction.

Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

A pilot project in western Wayne County will offer people struggling with opioid addiction a possible path to recovery.

The Rescue Recovery program will provide people referred from St. Mary Mercy Livonia hospital or one of 18 participating law enforcement agencies with the opportunity to go through specialized detoxification treatment at the hospital.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers heard what went wrong with the county’s election results website last Tuesday, as questions and concerns linger about problems with the Aug. 7 primary election.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers wants to know what went wrong with the county’s election website during last week’s primary.

The board is expected to meet Monday with the CEO of ElectionSource, the Grand Rapids-based company that runs the county’s election results reporting website, to try and get answers.

City of Detroit

After years of being ravaged by property tax foreclosures that claimed more than one in three city homes,  Detroit will see fewer than 5,000 properties go to the annual Wayne County tax auction this fall.

The county announced preliminary 2018 tax foreclosure numbers Friday. They show the county is set to foreclose on 4,676 properties this year, with 1,499 of them occupied properties.

Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy... Harrison / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Want to buy an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Michigan? It might only cost you one dollar.

 

At least, that was the price tag for the dilapidated site of the once-sprawling Eloise Hospital Complex located in and owned by Wayne County. The site was purchased by Southfield-based Morgan Development Thursday after about a year of discussion.

 

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