State Roundup

Lansing: New Michigan Legislature starts initial ceremonies
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — New and veteran Michigan lawmakers are at the state Capitol for swearing-in ceremonies.

The 2011-12 Legislature assembled for the first time Wednesday. Individual lawmakers are taking the oath of office.

The majority of lawmakers will be new to their jobs in both the Senate and the House. The turnover is caused partly by the state’s term limits law and a strong showing by Republicans in last year’s elections.

Republicans built on their advantage in the Senate and grabbed control of House from Democrats.

The state’s budget problems are likely to preoccupy lawmakers for months. There’s a projected $1.8 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that starts in October.

State fiscal analysts are scheduled to make an official estimate of state tax revenues at a conference on Friday.

Grand Rapids: Steelcase cuts 750 jobs as it shutters 3 plants
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. said Wednesday it is cutting 750 jobs as it shutters three manufacturing plants in North America.

The company is closing its facilities in Markham, Ontario in Canada; Grand Prairie, Texas; and the Kentwood East plant in Kentwood, Mich., company spokeswoman Jeanine  Holquist said. Steelcase said the move will save the company about $35 million a year.

The production at the closed plants will be moved to other locations in North America.

The company said the costs related to the plant closings will be about $45 million and will reduce its 2011 fiscal fourth-quarter net income by 4 cents a share. It estimates per-share net income between 7 cents and 11 cents, down from its previous expectation of 11 cents to 15 cents.

Mount Clemens: Ex-Lions player pleads guilty in underage sex
MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Tommie Boyd has pleaded guilty to a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge on accusations involving a 15-year-old girl.

The 39-year-old Boyd entered the plea Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court, where his trial was about to start. In exchange, authorities have dropped five other charges.

The victim and her parents were in court and say they agreed with the deal. The girl has said Boyd offered her $5,000 to have sex, then gave her $200.

Judge Diane Druzinski is scheduled to sentence Boyd on Feb. 22.

St. Paul: U.S. marshals arrest Michigan murder suspect
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Authorities have tracked down a Michigan murder suspect and arrested him in Minnesota.

The U.S. Marshals Service says Terrance Maurice Fomby was arrested without incident Tuesday in the Frogtown area of St. Paul.

Detroit police were seeking him on a warrant for felony murder, armed robbery, carjacking and weapons violations. He and William Fomby are accused of killing a motorist with a shotgun while trying to steal a car at a gas station last month.

The victim’s name isn’t known. A message was left Tuesday night with Detroit police.

Terrance Fomby is in the Ramsey County Jail, which gives his age as 18.

Thirty-five-year-old William Fomby is being held in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit.

Detroit: $1M gift helps  Humane Society plan new home
DETROIT (AP) — A $1 million donation from a retired Detroit-area investment banker and self-described animal lover has helped the Michigan Humane Society purchase 4 acres in Detroit that’s expected to be the site of the nonprofit organization’s new home.

Seventy-six-year-old Thomas Mackey of Grosse Pointe Farms tells the Detroit Free Press for a story Wednesday that the organization was in “desperate need of a new Detroit shelter” and the money he donated last month will help animals, not pay salaries.

Humane Society spokesman Kevin Hatman says the agency paid $440,000 after Mackey’s donation for property along the Chrysler Service Drive. He said additional fundraising will be necessary to build the facility and plans remain incomplete.

The Humane Society currently occupies a 14,000-square-foot building in Detroit built in the late 1800s.

Traverse City: School official faces assault, child porn charges
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Police say an administrator with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District sexually assaulted an underage girl and possessed child pornography.

Michael Robert Porter of Traverse City was arraigned Monday on 10 charges.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle says the 47-year-old defendant is chief technology officer for the school district. He previously worked for the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District in Sault Ste. Marie.

Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies say the girl reported that Porter had sexually assaulted her several times in recent years. Deputies say they found more than 400 images of suspected child porn in Porter’s computer.

Porter is jailed on $1 million bond.

Defense attorney Craig Elhart told The Associated Press on Tuesday he couldn’t comment until finishing a review of the police reports.

West Bloomfield Township: Township settles lawsuit for $1.8M
WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An Oakland County township has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit by a couple who were charged in a sex-abuse case before prosecutors dropped it in 2008.

Lawyers for Tali and Julian Wendrow and their children will get a third of the settlement from West Bloomfield Township and its police. Details were in a document filed Tuesday in federal court.

The Wendrows say they were maliciously prosecuted. Julian Wendrow was charged with sexually assaulting his severely autistic daughter, and Tali Wendrow was charged with abuse.

The criminal case was developed through a controversial way of communicating in which messages are typed on a keyboard with an adult’s help. Lawyer Deb Gordon says Oakland County authorities, the state and a school district still are defendants in the lawsuit.

Lansing: Snyder changes Ag Department’s name as promised
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has officially changed the name of the Michigan Department of Agriculture to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Snyder signed an order Tuesday making the change, which he’d announced in November.

The governor says the new name is “a clear signal” his administration plans to help the agriculture industry grow so rural areas gain new and better jobs.

Keith Creagh used to be the department’s deputy director. He was working for Lansing-based Neogen Corp. when Snyder appointed him director.

Creagh is working with other departments to improve roads and expand educational opportunities in agriculture so rural areas can grow.

Also Tuesday, Snyder named Diane Hanson of Cornell and Bob Kennedy of St. Charles to the Agriculture Commission. They replace Todd Regis and Audrey Herioux.


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