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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jan 17, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Michigan State U President Engler says he'll resign next week

EAST LANSING (AP) — The former governor brought in to help Michigan State University recover from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal resigned Wednesday as the school's interim president amid backlash over his comments about some of the ex-sports doctor's victims.

John Engler, who had resisted earlier pressure to resign, announced his plans in an 11-page letter to Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of MSU’s Board of Trustees. It makes no mention of recent criticism of his remarks and instead lists what he considers to be his accomplishments in his one year of service, saying the university is a "dramatically better, stronger institution."

Engler said he was in Texas attending a service for his late father-in-law. His resignation, which he said he was making at the trustees' request, is effective Jan. 23.

With his sudden reversal, Engler joins a long list of people — including his predecessor as president — who have been fired, forced out of their jobs or charged with crimes amid fallout from the school's handling of the once-renowned sports doctor stretching back decades.

The final straw for the university's board came last week when Engler told The Detroit News that Nassar's victims had been in the "spotlight" and are "still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition."

Court plays a sad tune for musical instrument store

COOPERSVILLE (AP) — A legal dispute over school band instruments has ended with a sour note for a West Michigan company.

West Michigan Band Instruments claims its rights were violated when the Coopersville school district excluded it from a 2017 event where students and parents could choose instruments. But a federal appeals court rejected the argument Wednesday and said the district was free to name its own tune.

West Michigan Band sells and rents instruments to students in the region. The Coopersville district selected a competitor, Meyer Music, to be the exclusive vendor at band night.

Coopersville school officials told the appeals court that too many vendors would be distracting for families when they're trying to get information about school band opportunities.

State board lets 70 medical pot business reopen

LANSING (AP) — Michigan is letting about 70 medical marijuana businesses reopen temporarily through March 31 without it being a risk to their licensure.

The state's medical marijuana licensing board on Wednesday agreed with the recommendation and others proposed by regulators. The move is geared at ensuring patients can still access marijuana at a time a new regulatory system gets off the ground and there are supply shortages.

The temporarily operating facilities had been told to close as of Dec. 31.

The board also agreed to continue to not discipline licensed dispensaries that source their marijuana product through caregivers, under certain conditions. The reprieve also helps licensed growers or processors that buy marijuana from caregivers or temporarily operating facilities.

The board approved five more operating licenses Wednesday, bring the total to 104.

Icy Michigan roads blamed in fatal crash, authorities say

CHELSEA (AP) — Icy Michigan roads were a factor in at least one fatal crash as freezing rain brought hazardous driving conditions, authorities said.

Chelsea Fire Department Capt. Chris Smyth told MLive.com that a man died after crashing into a jackknifed semi on I-94 near Chelsea at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Smyth said the semi-truck had lost control due to slippery road conditions caused by ice and freezing rain.

The crash happened as icy roads were reported in a wide portion of the state during the morning hours. A number of school districts canceled classes for the day because of the road conditions.

Michigan State Police in the Detroit area reported on Twitter that troopers responded to about 100 crashes during part of the morning alone. They urged motorists to be cautious.

Airborne wheel strikes truck, kills Kentucky woman on I-65

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Police said a motorist died on a southern Indiana highway after a wheel that came off another vehicle went airborne and struck her pickup truck.

Police said 18-year-old Olivia Kustes of Rineyville, Kentucky, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash Wednesday afternoon on I-65, just north of the Ohio River in Clarksville.

The rear diver's side wheel came off a southbound pickup driven by Peter Gaetano, 51, of Covert, Michigan, and crossed over a median wall into the northbound lanes, where it struck Kustes' truck.

Police said a commercial vehicle driver, Alvin Logan, 45, of Chicago, maneuvered his semitrailer in front of Kustes' truck to slowly bring it to a stop.

Michigan unemployment rate rises to 4.0 percent in December

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate rose by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent in December 2018.

Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show that while Michigan's jobless rate was rising, the U.S rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point during the same period to 3.9 percent.

Michigan's rate last month compared with a December 2017 rate of 4.7 percent.

The agency said total employment in Michigan last month edged up by 1,000 while the number of unemployed rose by 4,000, resulting in a monthly labor force gain of 5,000.

Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer said Michigan's labor market showed continued improvement during 2018, with the unemployment rate falling for a ninth straight year.

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