Trains might be able to travel through Michigan with highly volatile substances
The Trump administration is considering a rule that would allow trains carrying a highly volatile substance to travel through Michigan and other states. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is reviewing hundreds of public comments about the proposal, that would allow the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars. Nathan Murphy with Environment Michigan says it would pose a threat to anyone who lives near the roughly 36-hundred miles of railroad tracks in Michigan. According to federal regulators, liquefied natural gas has been transported safely by highway and vessel for more than 50 years, and rail transport is needed given the expansion of U-S energy production. More than 400 comments were submitted, including from the National Transportation Safety Board, which said it would be detrimental to public safety. Murphy contends that letting this proposal advance would likely lead to more fracking, which he believes is a step in the wrong direction. Attorneys General from 16 states, including Michigan, petitioned the Trump administration to withdraw the proposal. They argue that it lacks basic safety precautions to lower accident risks, and that it was announced before the completion of safety studies.
Body Found At Tiscornia Beach In St. Joseph
On Wednesday evening, Officers from the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety were dispatched to Tiscornia Beach for the report of a body floating in Lake Michigan. The deceased was an Asian female approximately 55 years of age wearing a dark green jacket and sweatpants. The deceased female matches the description of a missing person out of Chicago, Illinois. On Thursday an autopsy was conducted. A positive identification of the body will be completed forensically through dental records and DNA at a later date. There was no trauma to the body of the deceased.
Animal Shelters, Homeless Pets Get Boost from MDARD Grants
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Animal Welfare Fund grants. This year, MDARD will distribute $127,240 to 23 registered animal shelters throughout the state to support the spaying and neutering of shelter dogs and cats to help them be more adoptable. Grants also help support many anti-cruelty and proper care programs and training around the state. Registered shelters also can receive assistance through the grant program for the unrecovered costs of care for animals involved in legal investigations. The Animal Welfare Fund is supported by generous Michiganders during tax season when they check the fund’s box on Form 4642, Voluntary Contributions Schedule, with their state tax returns.
Sixteen die on Michigan roadways
16 people died on Michigan roadways since last week making a total of 97 this year. In addition, 93 more were seriously injured for a statewide total of 402 to date. Compared to last year at this time there are 10 fewer fatalities and 117 fewer serious injuries. Numbers are provided by the Michigan State Police.
SMSO Annual “Half Note Half Marathon & 5k” Returns
Early-bird registration is now open for the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra’s second “Half Note Half Marathon & 5K” fundraiser. The race is Sunday, September 13, 2020, in Stevensville, MI, and will take place rain or shine. Both the Half Note Half Marathon and 5K Run/Walk will start and end at the Lakeshore Youth Soccer Complex (6343 Cleveland Ave, Stevensville, MI) and will loop through the Stevensville-Baroda countryside. The Half Marathon will start at 8am, and the 5K Run/Walk will kick-off at 8:15am. Each course was designed to offer enough challenges to satisfy a seasoned marathoner, yet simple enough to test the newbie runner. The Half Marathon route is mostly flat with some slight climbs, and the 5K course offers runners and walkers a level terrain. Multiple water stations will be available along the course. All proceeds from this fundraiser will support the SMSO’s public concerts, and their many important youth musical educational programs including the Music Makers Program, SMSO 4UR School, Inside the Music, and the youth orchestra. Early-bird registration is a reduced rate of $60 for the Half Marathon and $30 for the 5K Run/Walk. Prices will increase after April 15th. Timing and scoring are provided by Mac’s Sports Timing using ChronoTrack technology, so results will be posted immediately after the event. Awards will be presented to both the Overall Male and Overall Female winners, as well as Age Division Awards (male and female) – 14 and Under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, and 70 and Over. More information is available at the SMSO website (www.smso.org). Registration and course details are at the race website: runsignup.com/Race/MI/Stevensville/HalfNoteHalfMarathon5K.
Assistant Attorney General Appointed To U.P. For The First Time In Over A Decade
To better serve residents throughout the state, yesterday Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the appointment of Assistant Attorney General Jessica Pelto to the department’s Marquette satellite office in the Upper Peninsula. This is the first time in more than a decade the Michigan Department of Attorney General has stationed an assistant attorney general in the U.P. Nessel announced plans late last year to expand services to U.P. residents by staffing the Marquette office, located on Northern Michigan University’s campus, with a full-time assistant attorney general. Pelto grew up in the U.P. and went on to attend Northern Michigan University and earned her law degree at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. After law school, she was a private practice lawyer in Escanaba, then worked for the Delta County Friend of the Court before serving as the county’s chief assistant prosecutor. For the past year, Pelto worked in Delta County representing defendants at their initial court appearance and administering the court-appointed attorney program through the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission grant.
Join the DNR’s wildlife team; apply now for summer spots
If you or someone you know is seeking valuable experience working in wildlife conservation – or just an interesting job that gets you outdoors – consider applying for one of 70 summer positions with the DNR Wildlife Division. The division regularly hires additional people to work with staff at DNR field offices, customer service centers and state game areas. These seasonal employees help in a variety of ways, including: Assisting with wildlife habitat maintenance and improvement, which may include cutting clearings and adjusting water levels. Mowing, landscaping and facility maintenance duties. Handling tasks related to wildlife surveys, nuisance animal control and equipment operation and maintenance. Learn more about seasonal wildlife positions – and other openings throughout the department – at Michigan.gov/DNRJobs; scroll to the Seasonal and Temporary Positions section. Contact Jennifer Schafer if you have any questions at 517-284-6163.
Annual Van Buren County fundraising auction on March 7th
Van Buren County 4-H Leaders’ Association will offer an innovative fundraiser again this year. Instead of selling the traditional fundraiser items, they are hosting the thirteenth annual 4-H fundraising auction on March 7th, at the Van Buren ISD Conference Center in Lawrence. The proceeds from the annual 4-H auction are used to sponsor youth and adults in training workshops, materials for fun learning activities, recognition and awards for projects well done, and sponsorships to attend camps and county/statewide/national events. Van Buren County currently works with nearly 350 youth and 125 adult volunteers. It is a powerful thing, when kids team up with adults to learn new skills, improve their communities, explore the wonders of today’s world, prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities and have fun. The auction will be held on Saturday, March 7th. The doors will open at 9:00 a.m. at the Van Buren ISD Conference Center located at 490 S Paw Paw St. in Lawrence. The auction will begin at 10:00 a.m. In addition to cash and checks, Visa/MasterCard/Discover will be accepted; payment is expected the day of the auction. For more information on the auction contact Amy Mortimore at 269-377-8546 or Janice Zerbe at 269-657-8213. For a full listing of auction items, go to: www. vbc4-H.com, then click on auction items. The site is updated as items come in. For more information about 4-H in Van Buren County please contact Janice Zerbe, Extension Educator, MSU Extension, 801 Hazen St. Suite D, Paw Paw, MI 49079, or by phone at (269) 657-8213 or via email [email protected] .
The City of St Joseph is seeking an intern
The City of St Joseph is seeking an intern to assist in the parks and recreation department. The 15-week internship experience will include overseeing use of facilities and coordinating operations of programming and recreation activities, preparing and maintaining facility rental schedules, performing various maintenance activities including but not limited to the setup of baseball and softball fields, volleyball courts, and other recreational activities and other duties as assigned. The intern will report to the recreation manager. Ability to work varied hours including evenings, weekends and holidays is required. Field of study in physical education or parks and recreation encouraged. A valid driver’s license is required. The rate of pay is $11.50 per hour. To apply, please submit a resume to the City of St Joseph Personnel Department, 700 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085, or [email protected]. Application and full job description available at www.sjcity.com . Resumes will be accepted until Friday, February 28, 2020. Additional questions may be directed to Carrie Ogonowski, Recreation Manager, [email protected], 269-985-0326.
League of Women Voters to Hold Voting Rights Town Hall
The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties will hold a “Making Democracy Work” Town Hall style meeting on February 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center, 711 Saint Joseph Avenue in Berrien Springs.
After Proposal 3 was passed in 2018, the Michigan Constitution was amended. The League of Women Voters is pleased to share educational information about how the proposal is being implemented. The presentation will allow voters to learn more about Michigan’s new Voting Rights, early voting, and expanded voter registration.
The Town Hall is free and open to the public and is made possible by a grant from the League of Women Voters Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members of the public.
Former Michigan State University women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages Guilty of Lying to Investigators
Former Michigan State University women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was found guilty Friday of lying to investigators following a four-day trial in Ingham County Circuit Court, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.A jury decision in Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s courtroom determined Klages was guilty of the state’s accusations: two counts of lying to a peace officer – a felony and a high court misdemeanor. The felony charge is punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Klages is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. April 15th.During the investigation into sexual assaults committed by former physician Larry Nassar on MSU’s campus, Klages denied to law enforcement that she had been told prior to 2016 of Nassar’s sexual misconduct. However, witnesses said they reported Nassar’s sexual abuse to Klages more than 20 years ago. Since the investigation began in 2016, hundreds of young women have come forward to report they were victims of Nassar, who was previously an osteopathic sports physician at MSU, Twistar and USA Gymnastics.Nassar pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County on Nov. 22, 2017, and to three felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County on Nov. 29, 2017.He was sentenced in Ingham County to 40-175 years in prison on Jan. 24, 2018, and in Eaton County on Feb. 5, 2018 to 40-125 years in prison.
DNR Weekly Fishing update
Ice conditions were marginal, as most lakes still had unsafe ice because of temperatures and recent snowfall. Anglers are still venturing out, but extreme caution needs to be used. The DNR is telling everyone to stay away from the deeper lakes that take longer to freeze. Bluegill and crappie have been caught when using small glow jigs tipped with spikes or wax worms. New Buffalo had good coho action for boat and pier anglers. In St. Joseph, coho action continues to be good. Most are using spawn bags on the bottom between the piers or trolling small spoons and plugs around the piers and along the beach. On the St. Joseph River, anglers have caught steelhead. Walleye were caught near Berrien Springs and downriver.
MDHHS Issues Request For Proposals For Expanding Child And Adolescent Health Centers
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for public and private non-profit organizations to expand the child and adolescent health center (CAHC) program. The CAHC program provides school-based or school-linked health care sites or school wellness programs that serve children and youth between ages 5 and 21, with an exception made for students receiving special education services up to 26 years of age. The program is jointly funded by MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Education. Centers provide primary care, preventative care, comprehensive health assessment, vision and hearing screening, medication, immunization, treatment of acute illness, co-management of chronic illness, health education and mental health care.
State Police Give Update Ongoing Faulty Breathalyzer Cases
The 203 alcohol breath test devices that were taken out of service in early January in response to certification and paperwork discrepancies with the contracted vendor, Intoximeters, are back in service. The 203 Datamaster DMT devices were certified for use at the end of January. The criminal investigation is ongoing into two of the three employees contracted by the vendor to service, certify, and recalibrate the devices. As of this date, no charges have been filed and no further suspects or evidence of wrongdoing have been identified.
Michigan Department of Treasury Closed This Monday
The Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers that state of Michigan offices will be closed in observance of Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 17. Taxpayers with questions about their state income taxes are encouraged to use Treasury Self-Service to beat the pre- and post-holiday phone surge. The online platform enables taxpayers to ask state income-tax related questions when convenient and avoids waiting for a state Treasury Department customer service
AG Nessel, MDHHS and Michigan State Police Warn of Scammers Posing as Health Officials
Telephone scammers are posing as human services officials and attempting to steal personal information from unsuspecting Michigan residents, warns Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon and the Michigan State Police. Officials have received multiple complaints from residents who have been contacted by scammers pretending to be MDHHS employees in Kalamazoo County who then ask for personal information that could be used to steal identities. The scammers often use a practice known as spoofing, which allows phone calls to appear as if they are coming from real department phone numbers. Anyone who receives one of those calls should hang up the phone. No one should give out personal information to an unsolicited caller. In the past several months, multiple local health departments have also received reports of scammers posing as public health officials from residents in Bay, Jackson, Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw counties. Those who wish to make a report about scam calls can do so by contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. A complaint can be filed online or by calling 877-765-8388.
Some Michigan taxpayers who file a state income tax return may receive a letter
Some Michigan taxpayers who file a state income tax return may receive a letter from the Michigan Department of Treasury asking for more information to confirm their identity. The letters are a result of the state Treasury Department’s efforts to protect individuals from cybercriminals, who attempt to file state income tax returns on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers and steal refunds. After a taxpayer confirms his or her identity by taking a short online quiz or submitting paperwork, the tax refund will be issued. A phone option is available as an alternative to the online quiz. Taxpayers who have been recent victims of identity theft are asked to report their circumstances to the state Treasury Department. Reporting identity theft helps thwart cybercriminals who attempt to file returns and steal state tax refunds. Since 2016, the state Treasury Department’s increased security measures protected more than 5,000 taxpayers who confirmed their identity was stolen and used to request state of Michigan income tax refunds. This prevented more than $19.5 million from being distributed to scammers.” To learn more about identity theft, go to www.michigan.gov/identitytheft. For more information about state income taxes, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that more than 1,700 people have signed up
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that more than 1,700 people have signed up to become members of the Attorney General’s Robocall Crackdown Team, and since the mid-November launch of the initiative, more than 1,800 robocall complaints have been submitted. In that short time frame, the Robocall Complaint Form has become the most viewed complaint form on the Attorney General’s website.
Michigan residents in 2019 received more than 1.5 billion robocalls. Hundreds of Michigan complaints have been utilized as the first step in opening investigations.
MDHHS working with partners to spend federal dollars to improve outcomes for children placed in foster care
Children and families involved in Michigan’s child welfare system will benefit from $4 million in federal grants this fiscal year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Children’s Services Agency was awarded the funding from the Federal Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments Program. Funds being spent this year will allow the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency to address a number of priorities, including: -Increasing safe and stable placements with relatives. -Reducing maltreatment of children placed in foster care. -Shortening the amount of time it takes to find a permanent home for children in foster care – either through safe reunification with their families or adoption if it’s not safe for them to return home. -Improving Children’s Protective Services responses to reports made to the toll-free Centralized Intake phone number for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. -Placing a greater share of children in family home settings and decreasing use of congregate care facilities for children in foster care. -Developing a new training curriculum for foster, adoptive and relative parents. MDHHS will work with private partner child-placing agencies from around the state in using the federal dollars to improve the child welfare system. Grants are awarded to states based on their ability to increase adoptions and legal guardianships of children in foster care. The state uses the funds for services related to adoption from foster care and legal guardianship of children in foster care – with a focus on adoptions and legal guardianships for older children in foster care from ages 14 and up, and for preadolescent children ages 9-13.
MiFreeFishingWeekend is back, Feb. 15-16
Everyone’s invited to join in the DNR’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16. No fishing license is needed, although all other fishing regulations still apply. The weekend coincides with the DNR’s move to a new license sales system. Due to the changeover, which will run Saturday, Feb. 15, through noon, Tuesday, Feb. 18, no hunting or fishing licenses can be purchased online or in stores during that time. Over the last few years, the DNR has made it even easier to fish on Free Fishing weekends by waiving the need for the Recreation Passport, normally required for vehicle entry at state parks, more than 1,300 DNR-managed boating access sites and other state-managed outdoor recreation destinations. Because of the license sales system changeover and the desire to make things simpler for customers, the department is waiving the need for a Recreation Passport or a fishing license on Monday, Feb. 17, too – two more reasons to get outdoors during the holiday weekend. Check Michigan.gov/FreeFishing for events around the state, as well as other details about the weekend.
Nessel Announces Personnel Changes at AG’s Office
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that DJ Pascoe, her office’s Opinions Division chief, will assume the position of Chief Legal Counsel following the departure of Suzanne Sonneborn, who has accepted a position with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Pascoe has been with the Michigan Department of Attorney General for 21 years. Prior to working as Opinions Division chief, he served as first assistant attorney general for the Corporate Oversight Division and as a member of the Opinion Review Board. A graduate of Wayne State University Law School, Pascoe has worked in several practice areas within the department, including public employment, elections, education, insurance, antitrust and consumer protection. He will take on his new responsibilities Feb. 24. LARA Director Orlene Hawks appointed Sonneborn to serve as executive director of the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules. Sonneborn’s final day at the Attorney General’s office is Friday. She will start her new position Feb. 24.
Attorney General Nessel Warns Consumers of Deceptive “Bank Fraud” Alerts
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently warned Michigan residents to watch out for fraudulent bank alerts following an uptick in increasingly sophisticated scams. The deceitful scam usually starts with a phone text – coming from their bank – alerting the receiver to what appears to be the fraudulent use of a his or her debit card. The alert appears to be real; for example: “FREE TEXT from Fifth Third Bank #2579 To continue using your card, please verify this transaction: 02/05 – Gucci Merchant $1632.00. Press Y for Yes or N for No.” The text or email alert is then followed by a phone call – which appears to be coming from the bank’s 1-800 customer service number. When quizzed about whether the call is real, the caller even says: “Check on the back of your card and you will see that I am calling from the customer service number listed there.” That, in fact, is true because they have “spoofed” the customer service number, making it appear as if that is the number from which they are calling. The caller is very professional, commits to ensuring the fraudulent charges are dropped, then begins to ask questions that eventually lead to an attempt to confirm the cardholder’s PIN number.
In another instance, the text message is a “ChaseBank notice” warning that “your debit card is temporary locked” (misspelling temporarily), with instruction to call a stated number “for support.”
Nessel urges every Michigan resident who gets an email, text or call that is supposedly from their bank to hang up and call the customer service number on the back of their debit card. That is the only way to ensure the caller is who they claim to be.
Appellate Court Decides Against Allowing Testimony From Memory Expert in Kathie Klages’ Trial
Siding with the Michigan Department of Attorney General, the Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday refused to review a lower court’s decision to disallow expert testimony on memory loss in the trial of former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages. Klages stands accused of two counts of lying to a peace officer – a felony and a misdemeanor. The felony charge is punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. During the investigation into the hundreds of sexual assaults committed by Nassar on MSU’s campus, Klages denied to law enforcement that she had been told prior to 2016 of Nassar’s sexual misconduct. Witnesses have said they reported Nassar’s sexual abuse to Klages more than 20 years ago. Ingham County Circuit Court held a hearing Wednesday and decided that the defense’s expert witness, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, was not necessary to explain matters related to memory as these were the kinds of decisions a jury would be able to address without an expert. Klages’ attorney filed a motion Thursday asking the Court of Appeals to overturn Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s decision. However, the appellate court issued an opinion late Friday denying leave to review the lower court’s ruling and refusing to stay the trial.
New license sales system to launch Feb. 18
The DNR’s new system for selling hunting and fishing licenses, hunting applications, and ORV and snowmobile permits online and at retail agent locations statewide will go live at noon Feb. 18. To complete the system changeover, though, the license sales system will be unavailable Saturday, Feb. 15, through noon Tuesday, Feb. 18. DNR licenses, permits and applications will not be sold in stores or online during that time. -To avoid any interruption to outdoor activities that weekend, customers are encouraged to buy licenses or permits before Feb. 15. -Anglers will not need a license to fish Feb. 15-17. The annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend runs Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15-16. Due to the license sales system changeover, the DNR is allowing people to fish without a license on Monday, Feb. 17, too.
-Snowmobilers and off-road vehicle riders can find a list select dealers selling preprinted ORV licenses and ORV and snowmobile trail permits while the system is down at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.
Michigan Government Reminder About 2020 Census
The next census is scheduled to occur in this year. It is vital for everyone living in Michigan on April 1, 2020, or anyone who spends at least 50 percent of their time in Michigan, to be counted as living in Michigan on the 2020 U.S. Census. An accurate count is critically important in determining how much federal funding our state will receive for essential services that impact local communities. For instance, in 2016, Michigan received nearly $30 billion in federal funding for programs like highway planning and construction, food and housing assistance, health, and education. Census results can also affect our Congressional representation. We currently have 14 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives but stand the chance of losing one seat if our population declines. If that happens, our state’s congressional districts would have to be redrawn, which would lead to a reduction in the number of electoral votes we have in presidential elections. Despite its importance, many challenges, obstacles and misinformation about the census persist which could hamper participation. This is especially true in rural communities and larger cities, which have been traditionally undercounted in previous census counts. To ensure an accurate count, the Michigan Census Committee has launched a statewide “Count Me In” campaign, to communicate the importance of completing the census, dispel myths and maximize participation in the census.
Fire In Portage, No Injuries Reported
Thursday morning, the Portage Department of Public Safety – Fire Division was dispatched to 300 block of Montague Drive. It was reported by neighbors that smoke was coming from the roof of their neighbor’s home. First arriving Portage Fire units observed a two story single family home with smoke coming from both ends of the roof. Fire crews initiated a search of the home with no occupants found. Crews located fire in a bathroom wall and in the attic. The fire was quickly extinguished and brought under control in 20 minutes. Damage to the structure was estimated at approximately $50,000. There were no reported injuries and the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Portage Fire Marshal. Portage fire units were assisted at the scene by Texas Township Fire Department and Pride Ambulance. Anyone with information is asked to call the Portage Department of Public Safety at 329-4567 or Silent Observer at 343-2100, www.kalamazoosilentobserver.com.
Southwest Michigan Young Professionals February Mixer Features Author and Speaker Nic Sheff
The Southwest Michigan Young Professionals February Mixer will be at The Economic Club at The Mendel Center on Tuesday February 11th 5:00 – 7:00 pm. The mixer will feature Nic Sheff. Nic’s heartbreaking and inspiring struggle with substance abuse disorder is the story of Beautiful Boy, a major motion picture starring Timothée Chalamet as Nic and Steve Carell as his father, David. The film, which earned Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Chalamet, is based on Nic’s New York Times bestselling memoir, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and David’s bestseller of the same title. Sharing an unglamorized, authentic, and heart-touching story of substance abuse and recovery that is deeply rooted in mental illness, Nic has been recognized as “a life-changing speaker.” In his talk, “Tweak: A Harrowing, but Hopeful Portrait of Addiction,” he puts a compelling human face on our nation’s substance abuse epidemic, encouraging those who struggle to embrace help and bringing hope to all who are touched by it.
Community organizations across the state are working to ensure Michigan taxpayers don’t lose out
Filing tax returns can be tricky business, and community organizations across the state are working to ensure Michigan taxpayers don’t lose out on the refunds they may be due. Ross Yednock with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan encourages anyone seeking assistance with their income-tax returns to ensure their preparer is qualified. He explains that in Michigan, like many other states, there are no requirements or regulations for paid tax preparers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or ‘VITA’ program has I-R-S certified preparers who help taxpayers earning less than 56-thousand dollars file their returns free, and also identify possible credits and deductions. There are hundreds of VITA sites in Michigan. Find one by calling ‘2-1-1,’ or online at ‘michiganfreetaxhelp.org.’ Brenda Brame oversees 14 VITA sites for the Kent County Tax Credit Coalition. She says having a qualified tax preparer can be life-changing. During a financially challenging time in her own life, a paid tax preparer told her she owed 500-dollars. But a co-worker reviewed the return and discovered the person hadn’t claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, which put cash into Brame’s pocket. As a VITA tax reviewer in Grand Rapids, Timothy Forbes says he and other volunteers help taxpayers keep more of what they earn. And he notes the Kent County Tax Credit Coalition also offers financial counseling. The Earned Income Tax Credit is not claimed by an estimated one in five eligible taxpayers, which leaves anywhere between 90- and 190-million tax dollars in Lansing or Washington, D-C each year instead of in the hands of Michigan taxpayers.
City of St. Joseph accepting applications
The City of St. Joseph is currently accepting applications for the position of Seasonal Laborer in the Public Works Department. Applicants are required to have a valid Michigan Driver’s license with a safe driving record, must be able to work various hours, weekends and holidays. Apply to Personnel Dept., 700 Broad St., St. Joseph, MI. Application and Job Description available by visiting www.sjcity.com . Deadline is 3/1/20.
Territorial Road Closure
In Benton Township a contractor will be conducting an emergency repair to a sewer line located in the Territorial Road right-of-way. The work zone is on Territorial Road, between Pine Street and Woodland Avenue. Woodland Avenue intersection will also be closed for repair work. Woodland Avenue traffic will need to take the detour route around the work zone during construction. Territorial Road will be closed to thru traffic where sewer repair work and associated work zone is located. Closure will occur starting on Monday, February 3rd and will last until repair is completed. Please seek alternative routes or use the established detour route until work is completed. The detour route will be Territorial Road to Fair Avenue to E Main Street (BL-94) to Butternut Street to Territorial Road.