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State Briefs

• Feb 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Governor declares state of emergency in Ionia County

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Ionia County to help it recover from recent flooding in Portland and other winter weather effects.

The declaration Wednesday also noted recent ice storm damage in the city of Belding and authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts "above and beyond" what it already was doing in conjunction with local agencies in Ionia County.

Meanwhile, the state received more snow whipped by high winds. The National Weather Service said 8.1 inches of snow fell in the Saginaw area over 36 hours ending at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Ingham County reported numerous vehicle slide-offs.

DTE Energy said Wednesday that service has been restored to 58,000 of the utility's 61,000 customers who lost power Monday and Tuesday.

SOS services suspended for weekend during computer upgrade

LANSING (AP) — Michigan Secretary of State offices and online services will go dark during a major weekend computer upgrade.

All branches and online sites will be closed from 5 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Tuesday. A new computer system is replacing decades-old technology.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson calls it a "vital project." It was in the works before she took office on Jan. 1.

Benson said office services may take longer as employees get familiar with the new system. Late fees will be waived if someone has an expiration date between Feb. 11 and March 2.

After the upgrade, electronic records will eliminate paperwork. Vehicle owners will be able to order a license plate, renew a snowmobile registration or order a state park passport at www.Michigan.gov/sos. Auto dealers and repair shops will find online options, too.

Ex-elections director funneled cash to husband, feds say

OAK PARK (AP) — A former elections director in a Detroit suburb is accused of paying her husband more than $430,000 in a scheme to steal money.

Stephanie Sumner was Oak Park's elections director from 2012-15. She and husband Michael Sumner are charged with conspiracy and other crimes.

An indictment accuses Stephanie Sumner of creating fraudulent invoices and listing her husband as a vendor. The government said the scheme started early in 2013 after they filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Not-guilty pleas were entered Monday by a judge in Detroit federal court.

The charges include tax crimes. The government says the money wasn't reported on tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Scientific model will help Flint dig up bad water pipes

FLINT (AP) — The city of Flint has agreed to use a scientific model to determine which homes likely have lead or steel water lines as officials try to comply with a 2017 agreement to replace the pipes following the city's lead water crisis.

The updated deal was filed Tuesday, but it needs a federal judge's approval.

The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council is concerned about Flint's performance, saying more than 80 percent of excavations in 2018 were at homes with copper pipes. Roughly 8,000 lines have been replaced, but thousands remain.

Water lines are being replaced as a result of lead-tainted water discovered in 2014. Lead began leaching from pipes after Flint tapped the Flint River for drinking water without properly treating it to reduce corrosion.

The new agreement says Flint will use a model developed by scientists at the University of Michigan and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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