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State Briefs

• Jan 24, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Dingell, Upton: Give jobless benefits to federal workers

LANSING (AP) — A Democrat and Republican in Michigan's congressional delegation are proposing legislation to let states provide unemployment benefits to federal employees working without pay during the partial government shutdown.

Those workers currently cannot collect the benefits, under guidance to states from the U.S. Labor Department.

Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton introduced the bill Wednesday.

Dingell, a Democrat, said extending unemployment benefits to the federal employees "is the right thing to do." Upton, a Republican, said no federal worker "should be punished because elected officials keep dropping the ball."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Democratic governors last week asked the Trump administration for authorization to offer unemployment benefits to federal workers who continue to work. But the Labor Department said they would not be eligible unless new legislation is enacted.

Battle Creek parents die from carbon monoxide; baby survives

BATTLE CREEK (AP) — Two people running a generator and kerosene heater in a Battle Creek house without power died from exposure to carbon monoxide, but their 5-month-old son survived, police said Wednesday.

"The only explanation is that it's by God's grace that this child survived," said Battle Creek Sgt. Todd Elliott.

The victims were a 20-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman. Elliott told the Battle Creek Enquirer that they were helping a contractor work on the house Tuesday and spent the night on an air mattress. The house doesn't have electricity, heat or water.

Elliott said the contractor was assured by the couple that someone had planned to pick them up Tuesday.

"We don't know why they chose to stay there," Elliott said.

The baby was responsive and breathing when emergency responders arrived Wednesday. He was being treated at a hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It can be fatal because it displaces oxygen.

Elliott said carbon monoxide levels on the first floor of the house were measured at 700 parts per million. Consistent exposure at 150 ppm or higher can cause death, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Detroit airport reopens after 14-hour icy weather shutdown

ROMULUS (AP) — Detroit's main airport has reopened after icy weather prompted officials to shut down flights for about 14 hours amid freezing rain.

A statement from Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus says it reopened midmorning Wednesday after being closed at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Federal Aviation Administration said some arriving flights are expected to be delayed an average of five hours.

The shutdown stranded travelers, with dozens of flights Tuesday night and more Wednesday canceled or delayed.

Maintenance crews had been treating taxiways and runways at the airport leading up to the shutdown, but deicing fluid became diluted and ineffective.

Icy roadways led to crashes. Hundreds of Michigan schools closed Wednesday, including Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.

Packard pedestrian bridge collapses onto Detroit boulevard

DETROIT (AP) — A pedestrian bridge that once was part of a Packard auto assembly plant has collapsed, leaving a pile of rubble on a Detroit boulevard.

The city said no injuries were reported.

Joe Kopietz, a spokesman for site co-owner Arte Express, told The Detroit News that contractors at the site noticed bricks falling from the bridge Wednesday, and it collapsed at about 3 p.m. He said the cause of the collapse is believed to be a pre-existing structural issue and temperature fluctuations.

The city also co-owns the bridge. The office of Mayor Mike Duggan said it's making plans to have a contractor remove the debris as soon as possible.

The bridge was erected in 1939. It had been off-limits to tour groups in recent years because of concerns about its structural integrity.

DNR officers conduct snowmobile patrols in Upper Peninsula

HOUGHTON (AP) — State conservation officers are conducting snowmobile patrols in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to promote safety and enforce state laws.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said weekend patrols started Jan. 11 along the state-managed trail system in Houghton County and on Jan. 12 in Ontonagon County.

The patrols continue as the DNR says police agencies in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula investigated the deaths Friday of two snowmobilers in Gogebic County and one each in Luce, Alger and Kalkaska counties. That included 71-year-old Bruce Eshenaur of Grand Haven, who state police said died when he crashed his snowmobile into some trees in Luce County, near Newberry, on Friday morning.

This winter, the DNR says six snowmobilers have died in the Upper Peninsula and three in the Lower Peninsula.

The patrols allow officers to remind snowmobilers about safety messages, enforce violations, and remove operators who are drinking and driving from trails. Safety and enforcement patrols will continue throughout the winter.

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