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Entries in Michigan (11)

Thursday
Dec272012

Ford to Invest $773M in Michigan Plants, Add 2,350 Jobs

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(DEARBORN, Mich.) -- Ford Motor Company announced on Thursday it's spending more than $773 million to enhance and expand six facilities in Michigan that will create 2,350 new hourly jobs.

In addition to the new positions, the investment will allow the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker to retain 3,240 hourly jobs in the state.

“Even as we wrap up an incredibly busy year of capacity expansions and product launches, we are continuing to look to the future,” Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing, Jim Tetreault, said in a statement Thursday.  “These investments, many of which are already under way, will ensure our southeast Michigan manufacturing facilities can support our aggressive growth plans.”

The facilities include the Dearborn Stamping Plant ($305 million), Flat Rock Assembly ($161 million), Van Dyke Transmission ($87.7 million), Sterling Axle Plant ($86 million), Livonia Transmission ($74.7 million) and Michigan Assembly Plant ($59.4 million).

Ford says the investments are part of a commitment to spend $6.2 billion in U.S. plants by 2015 and add 12,000 hourly jobs across the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Michigan

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A ticket sold in Michigan matched all five numbers, including the Powerball, to win the jackpot estimated at $337 million, according to Powerball.com.

Andi Brancato, a Michigan lottery spokesman, tells ABC News Radio that the winning ticket was sold at a Sunoco gas station in Lapeer, Mich.  There is no word yet on the identity of the lucky winner.

Wednesday night's winning numbers were 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 and the Powerball was 21.

"We had the single winning ticket sold in Michigan.  It was sold in Lapeer at a gas station there.  So we are waiting now to hear from the winner.  That could happen at any time," said Brancato.

There was also one Match 5 winner in Nebraska that won $2 million and seven Match 5 winning tickets in Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia that won $1 million.

It was the third largest Powerball jackpot in the lottery's history, according to Brancato.  The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175 million and the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 31, according to Powerball.com.

The national drawing is held in 42 states, including the District of Columbia.  No one has won the big Powerball prize since June 23, when a couple from Connecticut won $60 million.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Michigan Most Expensive State for Car Insurance, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to car insurance rates, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi are at the top of the heap for the amount paid compared to residents’ incomes.

According to a new study released on Monday by CarInsuranceQuotes.com, those are the five most expensive states for car insurance, with Michigan in the number one position.  

On average, the typical Michigan household pays a hefty 8 percent of its annual income for car insurance.  By contrast, the typical Massachusetts household dedicates a mere 1.43 percent of its annual income to car insurance.  North Carolina (1.6 percent), Hawaii (1.6 percent), Alaska (1.75 percent) and Oregon (1.95 percent) are among the most affordable states.

“We wanted to warn consumers about how much car insurance costs as a percentage of their income in the state,” said John Egan, the managing editor of CarInsuranceQuotes.com.  “It also serves as a reminder that people really need to pay attention to how much they’re paying and be their own best friend when it comes to getting the best deal they can get.”

Most states require drivers to have some degree of car insurance, which is regulated at the state level.  Part of the reason Michigan is so expensive is because it’s the only state that guarantees unlimited personal injury protection, or PIP.  That covers the policyholders’ medical costs in case of an accident, no matter who’s at fault, said Egan.  Michigan is also the only state where coverage includes unlimited lifetime medical and rehabilitation benefits.

“So, if you’re injured and paralyzed and need physical therapy or medical equipment for the rest of your life, that all gets covered by your car insurance policy,” said Egan.

Whether this is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.

“If you’re an accident victim, that will pretty much save you from going bankrupt,” he said.  “But opponents of the system say it jacks up the car insurance premiums for everybody. So you’ve got two sides of the issue there.”

Population size also has an impact on rates. Alaska and Hawaii, for example, have fewer accidents because they simply have fewer people on the road. Consequently, “There are fewer opportunities to have incidents that result in car accident claims,” said Egan.

The number of injury claims also factors into the equation. For instance, Louisiana -- where a typical household shells out 5.5 percent of its annual income for car insurance -- has a fairly large number of injury claims.

“This has an effect on everybody’s rates no matter what state you live in, and that’s one of the things people really need to keep in mind,” said Egan.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the car insurance costs in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, click here. You can also enter your zip code and compare quotes at www.CarInsuranceQuotes.com.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

Mich. School District Plans to Cut 200-Year Old Trees to Fill Budget Gap

Comstock/Thinkstock(DEWITT, Mich.) -- The superintendent of a cash-strapped Michigan school district is defending a proposal to cut down giant trees on its grounds to help fill an $800,000 budget deficit, a move that is rankling some residents.

Some community members have called for the protection of the trees, some of which may be 200 years old, saying the trees in the DeWitt Nature Center should not be cut down for money.

But Dewitt, Mich., Superintendent John Deiter said the proposal, which would net a profit of $43,000, is not just about money, saying some of the trees that may be cut are dead or dying, though the money would assist the drowning school district.

"Nobody called me last year when we were cutting positions," Deiter said of the public's attention to the trees.

He said the school district is hoping not to cut any more jobs after continuous budget cuts from the state. The school district, which is located nine miles north of Lansing in the Upper Peninsula, laid off 12 teachers last year.

Deiter said the forest's trail, which may be about three-quarters of a mile long, and the forest itself will remain.

Only some trees have been marked to be cut, which are mostly red oak but also include white oak, hickory, cherry, and maple trees also. Deiter said several ash trees that are infected with the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle, are marked to be cut as well.

But even if those trees are cut down, the forest will be accessible to the community and the classes who learn in the forest.

The school board's budget hearing on Monday night will discuss the proposal with the public. Michigan school districts are required by state law to finalize their budgets by the end of June. Even with money from the timber, the school district would still have a $770,000 deficit next year.

Phil Harner, who retired as a teacher in the school district two years ago, is one of about 40 community members who are concerned that cutting down the 55 trees would lead to significant damage to the forest, including the rare wildflowers.

After learning Monday afternoon that the 3,000-student school district already signed a contract with a forester to cut down trees, Harner hopes to come to a compromise, cutting fewer trees than proposed or helping the school district find money elsewhere.

Deiter said the idea for the proposal, which was approved by the school board in April, came from community members who suggested selling timber on the school grounds. The school district then reached out to Michigan State University which in turn recommended a forester to assess the state of the forest.

"We said all along our goal was to improve overall health of forest area while addressing the bugget deficit with some of the sales of the timber," Deiter said. "We didn't want to do anything to compromise that and we were hoping for a win-win."

In February, the forrester recommended that some of the trees should be cut down to allow younger trees to grow, according to Deiter.  

He said the money from the timber would go to the school district's general fund, 80 percent of which goes to teachers and other workers.

"It would go to protect peoples' jobs and or wages," he said, saying "we're in a people business."

Deiter said student enrollment has been increasing as the school district has had to lay off workers over the last five years.

"We had major cuts last year and only partial restoration of our cuts this year," he said. "If our K through 12 school aid fund could be used as it was designed we would be all set."

Last week, Michigan's senate passed the last piece of the state budget, allocating $12.9 billion for K through 12 education and $1.4 billion for high education spending, three percent more than last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

Chrysler Sales Soar in April While Ford Sales Drop 

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Chrysler sales soared 20 percent in April compared to the same month in 2011, while Ford sales dropped 5 percent.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Chrysler reported its twenty-fifth consecutive month of year-over-year increases with many Chrysler models including the Fiat 500, Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan, Dodge Challenger muscle car and Jeep Wrangler SUV recorded their best sales ever, or since 2008. Sales for the Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan climbed 47 percent, reaching its best month yet.

Meanwhile, April 2012 sales for Ford fell from 189,778 in April 2011, to 180,350.

Sales for Ford Fusion’s midsize sedan climbed 2 percent alongside the automaker’s Focus compact car that increased 12.5 percent from the same month in 2011. Ford’s subcompact Fiesta showed little signs of progress, falling 43.9 percent alongside the Escape SUV, which also declined 20 percent.

“The momentum built by the recovering economy and compelling product choices in the first quarter continued to fuel new vehicle sales in April,” Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com, said in a report last week.

All automakers are slated to release April sales Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr032012

Michigan Teacher Disciplined for Not Giving Boss Facebook Access?

Courtesy Kimberly Hester(CASSAPOLIS, Mich.) -- When Kimberly Hester of Cass County, Mich. posted with permission a photo a coworker sent her on Facebook, she didn't think it would offend the public school where she taught, or lead the superintendent to demand access to her Facebook page.  But a photo of her coworker with her pants down did just that.

Hester, 27, was a full-time peer professional, or teacher's aide, at Frank Squires Elementary in Cassapolis, Mich. for about two years. In April 2011, a coworker texted a photo showing herself with her pants around her ankles, with the message "thinking of you" as a joke.

"She's actually quite funny.  It was spur of the moment," Hester said, adding that there was nothing pornographic about the picture, which only showed the pants, part of her legs, and the tips of her shoes.

"I couldn't stop laughing so I asked for her permission to post it [on Facebook]," she said.  The coworker agreed.  Hester said all this took place on their own time, not at or during work.

Hester said a parent (not of one of her students) showed the photo to the superintendent, calling it unprofessional and offensive.  Hester said the photo could only be viewed by her Facebook friends.  The parent happened to be a family friend.

In a few days, the superintendent of Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, Robert Colby, asked Hester to come to his office.

"Instead of asking to take the photo down and viewing it from my friend's point of view, they called me into the office without my union," she said.  Hester is a member of the Michigan Education Association, which represents more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and support staff in the state, according to its website.

The superintendent asked that she show her Facebook profile page.

"I asked for my union several times, and they refused.  They wanted me to do it right then and there," Hester said.

Hester's story echoes reports of employers asking job applicants for access to their Facebook pages.

Robert McCormick, a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, said normally in the private sector and in a non-union stetting there is nothing to prevent an employer from asking for access to a Facebook page.  But in a private sector setting, if an employee is summoned to a disciplinary meeting with the employer and requests union representation at that meeting, it is an unfair labor practice to refuse that representation.

Hester said she and her coworker pictured in the photo were put on seven weeks of paid administrative leave, and they were eventually suspended for 10 days.  She said the coworker, who was up for tenure, was forced to resign.

Bill Young, an attorney representing Hester through the Michigan Education Association, said Hester's case will go before a private arbiter under the collective bargaining agreement in late May.  Young said the coworker has taken another job.

Hester said she returned to work in September when the school year began.  While Hester previously worked assisting a teacher for emotionally impaired students in kindergarten through the fourth grade, she was assigned another program and was placed under a strict directive.  She said she was instructed not to speak with coworkers unless it was about a student and could not go to the bathroom before asking.

She said her contract allowed her 14 paid days off but the school would not let her use them.  She said she was also directed to read books about communication and to take 49 online classes.  She said that and the work environment at school took a toll on her emotionally in November 2011.

"I had a nervous breakdown, went to hospital and was put on medication," said Hester, who has been on unpaid leave since November.

Hester said she went on leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act at first.  Then, she said, the superintendent refused to give her benefits.  Next week she will have a pre-trial hearing for worker's compensation.  She is demanding her job back and back pay, $15,000 to date.

She also wants an apology from the school.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Michigan $1 Million Lotto Winner No Longer Getting Food Aid

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News(LANSING, Mich.) -- Amanda Clayton, who admitted to receiving public food assistance after winning $1 million in the state lotto, has been cut off from state aid, the Michigan Department of Human Services said.

The statement followed a report this week in which Clayton, 24, of Lincoln Park, acknowledged to WDIV-TV that she was continuing to get $200 in monthly food aid, given by the state through a "Bridge Card," after her win in September.

Clayton did not return a request for comment. Her mother, Euline Clayton, previously told the Detroit News that her daughter was not breaking the law.

"I'm not saying it's the right thing to do," Euline Clayton said. "But it's nobody's business if she's not breaking the law."

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Department of Human Services' director, Maura Corrigan, issued a statement on Wednesday regarding "a person (now no longer receiving benefits) who remained on food assistance after winning a lottery jackpot."

"Under DHS policy, a recipient of food assistance benefits must notify the state within 10 days of any asset or income change," the statement read. "DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits."

Clayton is not the only lottery winner in Michigan who admitted to receiving food aid from the state. LeRoy Fick, who won almost $2 million in the state's Make Me Rich! lottery in June 2010, admitted to using a Bridge Card in May 2011. Flick received a lump sum of $998,570 from his winnings.  He pled guilty to unrelated criminal charges last week including multiple counts of illegal possession of fireworks and operating a motor vehicle on a restricted license.

Fick's admission to receiving public assistance sparked local Republican legislator Rep. Dale Zorn to create bills prohibiting lottery and gambling winners from receiving public aid such as food help and home heating assistance.

Michigan DHS does not currently have the ability to verify a person's lottery winnings in determining benefit eligibility, but Zorn's bills, which were passed by the state's House two weeks ago, would require the Michigan Lottery to notify DHS of winners receiving over $1,000 and require checking their assets.

He said the Senate is expected to pass the bills and the governor is likely to sign them into law. Zorn said his constituents have shown an outpouring of support for the law, and the state's Department of Human Services and Michigan Lottery have said they will support the legislation.

Andi Brancato, the Michigan Lottery's public relations director, said the state lottery officials "have no objection" to the proposed law, "but we need the legislative authority to provide that information to the Department of Human Services."

Asked for a comment regarding lottery winners receiving public assistance, Brancato said, "whether somebody is or isn't is not the role of the lottery."

"We pay the winner their prize and we don't have any authority to do anything beyond that," she said. "If the legislation is enacted we will certainly comply with the legislation which will presumably prevent situations like this from occurring in the future."

She said once the authority is created by the statute, there would need to be a mechanism to allow the reporting across organizations.

"That is not specifically addressed in the legislation and would have to be determined," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Michigan Man Sues AMC Movie Theater Over Concession Prices

Mario Tama/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- A Livonia, Mich., man has filed a class action lawsuit against his local AMC movie theater, alleging the establishment grossly overcharges for its snacks and is seeking a refund for customers.

Joshua Thompson filed the suit in Wayne County Circuit Court because he “got tired of being taken advantage of,” his lawyer, Kerry Morgan of Wyandotte, told the Detroit Free Press.  “It’s hard to justify prices that are three and four times higher than anywhere else.”

In the suit, Thompson claims he used to take his own snacks into the theater until it banned the practice.  The suit states that Thompson paid $8 for a soda and packet of Goobers at the theater the day after Christmas, but that he paid less than $3 for those products at a restaurant and drug store that were nearby, the Free Press reported.

Thompson’s suit accuses the theater chain, American Multi Cinema, of contravening the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by overcharging for concession.  In addition to the refund, it seeks a penalty against AMC and any other relief from the court.

Legal experts don’t think Thompson will be successful.

AMC did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct142011

Obama, Lee Praise US-Korea Trade Deal as ‘Win-Win’ in Detroit

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- President Obama traveled to Detroit Friday to tout the success of his administration’s bailout of the auto industry and to highlight the job-creating potential of the newly-passed Korean trade deal. However, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who was along for the field trip, clearly stole the show.

Wearing a bright blue Detroit Tigers baseball hat, Lee walked on stage at the General Motors plant in Lake Orion, Mich., to cheers and applause.

“As you can see, President Lee is a pretty good politician,” Obama joked. “He knows how to get on your good side.”

Lee, a former Hyundai CEO, highlighted how the trade deal will help revive the American auto industry and reassured workers that the agreement will not ship their jobs overseas.

“I am here with President Obama today because I want to give this promise to you, and that is that the KORUS FTA will not take away any of your jobs; rather, it will create more jobs for you and your families, and it is going to protect your jobs.  And this is the pledge that I give you today,” Lee said.

“Motor City is going to come back again, and it’s going to revive its past glory.  And I have all the confidence in the world that you are going to do that,” he added.

Obama agreed, saying the pact was a “win-win” for both countries that will ultimately “lead to more jobs, more opportunity for both nations.”

“Even though, you know, he’s a Hyundai guy,” Obama said of Lee. “If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais from Korea, then I know Koreans should be able to buy some Fords and Chryslers and Chevys that are made right here in the United States of America.”     

The day after their official state visit at the White House, Obama and Lee spent the afternoon touring the GM facility where the Chevrolet Sonic is manufactured, a car that was originally engineered for GM Korea. The White House asserts that the Orion plant, which was scheduled to close its doors two years ago during GM’s bankruptcy restructuring, was brought back from the brink by a joint venture with GM Korea, ultimately saving the jobs of the 1,750 workers.

The subcompact car went on to become the first that GM has built in the U.S. in over 40 years and the only one sold in the country that is built in the U.S.

Touting the success of his decision to bail out the auto industry, Obama said: “Two years ago, it looked like this plant was going to have to shut its doors. All these jobs would have been lost; the entire community would have been devastated.  And the same was true for communities all across the Midwest.  And I refused to let that happen."

“When I took office, I was determined to rebuild this economy based on what this country has always done best:  not just buying and consuming, but building, making things, selling those goods all around the world stamped with three proud words:  ‘made in America.’” Obama added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Chrysler Plant Workers in Michigan Caught Drinking Again

PRNewsFoto/Chrysler Group LLC, Jim Fets(TRENTON, Mich.) -- For the second time in 10 months, a group of Chrysler workers at a Michigan plant have been caught drinking during their lunch break.

Camera crews from WJBK, a Fox TV station in Detroit, caught images of workers at the automaker's Trenton plant drinking from 40-ounce beer bottles and smoking something crudely rolled into cigarette papers.

The workers were recorded on the grounds of a United Auto Workers union hall. Once identified, they face suspension without pay.

"Chrysler group has a strict employee code of conduct that will not tolerate or allow this behavior and because we take these allegations very seriously, those employees involved will be identified and then definitely suspended without pay, pending further investigation," said Chrysler spokesman Ed Garston.

This latest report follows an incident from last September when the same TV station captured video of employees at Chrysler's Jefferson plant in Detroit drinking during their lunch hour at a city park.

"It's unfortunate that the bad behavior of a few is calling into question the integrity and character of the rest who are working tirelessly to restore the reputation of this company," Garston said.

Chrysler and General Motors benefitted from an injection of tens of billions of taxpayer-funded dollars in a bailout authorized by the Obama administration in 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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