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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Trump campaign announces West Michigan rally for March 28

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — President Donald Trump's re-election campaign has announced he's holding a rally in Michigan at the end of the month.

The announcement came shortly after Trump vetoed a congressional measure blocking his declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border.

The campaign says the rally is set for the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. March 28. WZZM-TV reported that doors will open at 4 p.m. for the free event.

Trump narrowly won the Midwest state's 16 electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election.

The president recently declared a national emergency at the border in order to claim federal funding to build a wall there and fulfill a signature promise of his original campaign. Both the House and Senate voted to block the declaration, but Trump vetoed that measure Friday. It was the first veto of his presidency.

2 tornadoes touched down in mid-Michigan, weather bureau says

VERNON (AP) — Authorities said two tornadoes and possibly a third touched down in mid-Michigan on Thursday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Danny Costello said two tornadoes struck in Shiawassee County. Homes were reported damaged, while power was knocked out to thousands.

Officials also are looking into a possible touchdown in nearby Genesee County.

Costello said survey teams were out Friday afternoon gathering data on the storm and damage.

The first tornado touched down at about 6:45 p.m. near Corunna. The second touched down at 7:03 p.m. to the southeast around Vernon, about 21 miles southwest of Flint. Officials said the second tornado also touched down in nearby Durand at about 7:05 p.m.

Lower Michigan also saw severe thunderstorm warnings, watches, flooding, high winds and hail Thursday as a late-winter storm system trekked across the Midwest.

Woman gets jail for neglect of horses in Muskegon County

MUSKEGON (AP) — A woman has been sentenced to 45 days in jail for the neglect of nine horses in West Michigan.

The Muskegon Chronicle reported Krystal Smith, former supervisor of Cedar Creek Township in Muskegon County, was also placed on probation for two years for the misdemeanor animal neglect charge. During that time, she isn't permitted to own or care for horses or other farm animals.

Muskegon County District Judge Raymond Kostrzewa on Thursday said that several of the horses were on "the brink of death" when they were rescued last August.

Smith told the judge she was suffering from depression and "was not in a good spot" at the time the horses were neglected. She pleaded guilty in December 2018 and resigned this month from her post as township supervisor.

State prison employees lose appeal over job status, pay

LANSING (AP) — Prison employees who challenged job classifications and lower pay grades have lost an appeal at the Michigan Supreme Court.

The court heard arguments in January but said an appeals court decision will stand. The order was released Friday.

The corrections department lowered the pay grade of 2,500 employees and reclassified their jobs, although their duties remained the same. The state Civil Service Commission upheld the moves.

The issue was technical and procedural. An Ingham County judge said the Civil Service Commission's decision was "arbitrary and capricious," but the state appeals court ruled in favor of the commission.

Michigan man pleads guilty to impersonating others at banks

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The U.S. Attorney's office says a Michigan man has pleaded guilty in New Hampshire to impersonating others to withdraw or attempt to withdraw more than $90,000 from banks in five states.

Court documents say Deandray Buckley, 27, of Belleville, stole people's personal identifying information. He got fake driver's licenses, which he used to impersonate bank customers.

When entering a bank branch, Buckley or an accomplice wore slings on their arms or bandaged their fingers together in case bank tellers asked why the signature on the withdrawal slip didn't match the account owners' signature on file.

The documents say Buckley or an accomplice entered at least 17 bank branches in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Kansas between October 2017 and February 2018.

Buckley is scheduled to be sentenced June 25.

Michigan man avoids additional jail time in fatal crash

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Michigan man who pleaded guilty to reckless driving in a crash that killed two people will avoid additional jail time through a sentencing agreement, a move the victim's family said they support.

At a sentencing hearing Thursday, Chase Batdorff tearfully took responsibility for running a stop sign and causing the July 29 crash in Eaton County’s Hamlin Township that killed John and Nancy Gutierrez.

"I feel terrible for what's happened," he said. "I hope they can forgive me at some point."

Under the agreement, the charges against Batdorff will be reduced from felonies to misdemeanor counts of moving violation causing death if he remains out of trouble until a sentencing hearing scheduled for February 2020. He'll then serve two years of probation, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Batdorff is being released from the Eaton County Jail on bond. Under the agreement, he cannot drive, and must stick to a 9 p.m. curfew, perform 100 hours of community service and pay $20,000 restitution.

Batdorff could be sentenced under the original felony charges if he violates any part of the agreement.

John Gutierrez's sister, Lupe Shakespeare, said the family supports the deal to give Batdorff a second chance.

"I can't help but feel sorry for this young man who has his whole life ahead of him," Shakespeare said in a victim impact statement Thursday.

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