Southwest Michigan Today: Thursday May 16, 2019

May 16, 2019

Michigan House - file photo
Credit Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

A dam on the Kalamazoo River is the highest priority removal project in the state. The state House speaker calls for an indicted House member to resign. Battle Creek based Summit Pointe settles a fine with the state. 

Nearly $3-million from the state will help remove a dam from the Kalamazoo River in Allegan County. The Department of Natural Resources says the Trowbridge Dam is the highest priority dam removal project in the state because of its poor condition and public safety concerns. Money for removing the Trowbridge Dam will be provided in supplemental funding and the DNR’s Dam Management Grant Program. The Legislature has approved $8-million in one-time funding to pay for five dam removal and repair projects around the state.

(Michigan Radio and Interlochen Public Radio) House Speaker Lee Chatfield is asking for indicted state representative Larry Inman’s resignation. Inman was indicted this week on federal charges including attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe. Chatfield called Inman’s actions “completely out of line.”

(Battle Creek Enquirer) Battle Creek based Summit Pointe has reached a settlement with the state over misspending of Medicaid dollars. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that the settlement allows the community mental health provider to erase a $17.9-million fine. That was handed down after it was discovered that former CEO Erv Brinker spent $19-million intended for mental health services on travel, golf, entertainment and other expenses, including a bobcat costume. Brinker admitted giving $500,000 to a fortuneteller in Florida. He pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and embezzlement by a public official. Brinker began his prison sentence in 2016, and was released in September. Summit Pointe will settle the case by giving the state assets from its pension plan and by selling properties intended for low-income residents.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) A discrimination lawsuit filed by Galesburg’s former police chief has been dismissed. Jeff Heppler claimed his firing in 2017 was due age and weight discrimination. He sought reinstatement to his job and $25,000 in damages. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Alexander Lipsey granted the city of Galesburg’s motion for dismissal earlier this month.

(WCMU) Not enough is being done to address the PFAs crisis - that was the message of environmental groups testifying Wednesday at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing. PFAS’s, or Perfluoroalkyl substances, are a chemical contaminant that has been linked to health problems including cancer. Anna Reed with the Natural Resources Defense Council says there needs to be laws requiring companies that pollute to clean up. Reed said PFASs should be regulated as a whole because it takes too long to address the individual chemicals that make up the PFAs family.