State Roundup

Grand Rapids
City to open $40M rapid transit bus system this week

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Grand Rapids is launching a $40 million rapid transit bus system that connects the city center with southern suburbs.

The 9.6-mile Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit system will kick off this week with free rides to attract commuters, the Grand Rapids Press reported. The federal government paid about $32 million of the costs, and the state paid almost $8 million.

The system cuts a typical 45-minute drive to a 27-minute commute, according to transportation planners, including Conrad Venema.

"We've designed this to attract the choice rider," Venema said. "We finally have a transportation mode that's competing with the car. This is part of Grand Rapids growing up. It's a bigger city, and it's a bigger project."

Supporters also think the Silver Line will foster future economic, housing and transportation development. They hope the line will replicate the success of Cleveland's bus rapid transit system, which has stimulated nearly $6 million in development since 2008.

Jeff Steinport, of the Kent County Taxpayer's Alliance, said he thinks the new bus system is a boondoggle that duplicates existing public transportation routes.

"A quarter of existing routes are faster ... it's not really that big of an improvement," Steinport said.

The National Transit Database said the city's traditional bus system had 11.9 million passenger trips in 2012. That's up from 10.8 million in 2011 and 9.7 million in 2010.

Venema and other Rapid officials expect the addition of the Silver Line to increase the number of riders. They said the system will eventually be able to serve 5,000 riders each weekday.

Lansing
Michigan schools train for laws requiring EpiPens

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Training is taking place to prepare every public school in Michigan to have epinephrine injectors to treat allergic reactions starting this academic year.

Gov. Rick Snyder last year signed laws requiring schools to have two epinephrine devices and ensure at least two staff members are trained to use them.

The Detroit Free Press reports Monday that some training sessions are taking place, including regional training sessions for school employees in Macomb and Oakland counties. The Detroit Public Schools district conducted trainings earlier this year.

Children can die if they don't get a dose of epinephrine to stop reactions to peanuts, for example. EpiPens immediately deliver epinephrine into the victim's system, slowing the allergic reaction to give emergency personnel time to provide further treatment.

Oxford
Protesters lock themselves to oil pipeline truck

OXFORD, Mich. (AP) - A group that opposes expanding an underground oil pipeline in Michigan says two of its members are in custody after locking themselves to a truck belonging to a company involved with the project.

The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands says the men used bicycle U-locks on Monday to attach themselves by the neck to a truck at a Precision Pipeline storage yard in the Oakland County village of Oxford.

Spokesman Jake McGraw says firefighters cut the men loose after about 2 ½ hours. He says sheriff's deputies were taking the protesters to jail.

Precision Pipeline is the primary contractor for expansion of the line owned by the Canadian company Enbridge Inc.

A section of the line ruptured in 2010, spilling more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.

Bessemer
Authorities to investigate two hunters in videos

BESSEMER, Mich. (AP) - Gogebic County prosecutors are investigating two Upper Peninsula hunters for videotaping hunting dogs mauling a coyote and for running down a coyote with a truck before filming and killing it.

MLive.com reports court documents describe videos that one of the men had uploaded to YouTube. They've since been taken down.

A conservation officer recommended in a sworn affidavit that they be charged with a felony for knowingly killing or torturing an animal.

One video showed dogs attacking a dying coyote that was already shot. The man holding the camera says it's going to be a "live action" video as the coyote is heard wailing.

The Humane Society of the United States posted an edited version of the video to protest what it called the "deliberate torture" of the coyote.

 

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