State Roundup

 Tawas City

Murder case gets tossed involving missing woman 
TAWAS CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has overturned a murder conviction in the case of a woman who disappeared in a small, rural county in 1980.
In an opinion released Wednesday, the court granted a request by Jimmie Nelson and the Iosco County prosecutor. The court says new evidence has been discovered that implicates another person in the death of Cherita Thomas.
The investigation in Oscoda, 200 miles north of Detroit, lasted decades and involved local police and the FBI. Witnesses said they saw Thomas twice on the night she disappeared, both times struggling with a steaming radiator. She’s never been found.
Nelson was charged in 2004 but didn’t face trial until 2010 because of appeals and other delays.
Grand Rapids
Steelcase gives facility as STEM education hub 
GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. plans to donate its massive pyramid-shaped former research facility in western Michigan to a nonprofit foundation for use as an education hub for the study of “STEM” subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Officials said the education hub would cater to students in preschool through graduate school, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Steelcase spokeswoman Laura VanSlyke said the company is excited to see the building take on a different life.
“We think it will bring value to the state,” VanSlyke said.
The nonprofit Pyramid P20 STEM Education Hub is expected to set the vision for the hub, which could get $5.5 million in state funding. The seven-story, 664,000-square-foot building is located in Kent County’s Gaines Township, near Grand Rapids. Steelcase is based in the area.
Businessman Jerry Zandstra, president of Inno-Versity, a Lowell-based business that produces manufacturing training films, and one of the founders of iCademy, a new public online charter school, said he and his partners have been working on the education hub project for months.
“The state is in desperate need of STEM-certified students and students with a STEM background,” he said. “The program will focus on STEM plus art education and our vision is not to have unrelated schools in a building, but for it to be truly a hub with the integration of STEM education at all levels and at all ranges.”
There is $5.5 million in a supplemental spending bill for the project that was recently approved by the state Senate. The plans are going before House lawmakers.
“It is an awful lot of money to spend on a concept,” said state Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids.
East Lansing
MSU re­sponse to assault claims on campus probed 
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Michigan State University’s response to sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints involving students on campus.
The Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News report representatives from the department’s Office for Civil Rights will be at the East Lansing university Wednesday and Thursday to conduct focus groups and office hours for students related to an investigation.
In a statement, school spokesman Kent Cassella says the university is cooperating and “responded fully and appropriately to the incidents under investigation.”
Word of the investigation came Tuesday, the same day officials confirmed the Office for Civil Rights is looking at how University of Michigan in Ann Arbor responded to a reported 2009 violation of the school’s sexual misconduct policies by a then-member of the school’s football team.
Law says rebuilt homes don’t get additional taxes 
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law intended to help residents who rebuild their damaged house after a natural disaster.
The measure signed Tuesday clarifies state law to ensure those who lose homes or buildings to “acts of God” won’t be subject to higher taxes if they rebuild a  similar structure within three years.
Current law limits year-to-year increases in the taxable value of property to 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. But a property’s value can be adjusted  for “replacement construction.”
The law ensures people who rebuild won’t be penalized with higher taxes.


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