Five die in fiery Oceola Township crash
Matthew Carrier, 22, was driving 103 mph May 9 with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit when he drove through a stop sign on Argentine Road and crashed the Subaru Impreza he was driving into a Cadillac CTS heading east on M-59, prosecutors said.
Five people died in the crash: Candice Dunn, 35, of Oakland County; Linda Hurley, 69, and Jerome Joseph Tortomasi, 73, of Macomb County, and Justin Henderson, 18, and Preston Wetzel, 24, both of Fenton.
Carrier is charged with five counts of second-degree murder and 14 other charges in connection to the crash. He remains in Livingston County Jail and is due back in court Jan. 5 for a pre-trial hearing before 44th Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty.
A line of men, women and students chant “We stand with these girls,” led in the chant by Jennifer Mersch, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 in front of the Livingston Judicial Complex, rallying support for the three young rape victims from Brighton. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Community angered by sentence in sex assault
An outraged community rallied around three teenage girls at school board meetings and at a protest at the Livingston County Judicial Center after a 16-year-old boy was accused of sexually assaulting the girls was ordered to spend only 45 days in a youth facility.
The boy, who the Livingston Daily is not naming because he was charged in juvenile court, was originally charged with 31 felonies, including 20 counts of sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and several lesser charges.
The boy has exceeded 45 days in the youth facility, but remains in custody pending completion of a psychological exam and safety plan. Brighton Area Schools officials have said the boy will not return to Brighton High School.
Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Brennan faces investigation by Tenure Commission
Six months after police raided her home and county office, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission took the unusual step of publicly confirming its investigation into Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan.
Brennan has been under public scrutiny since her divorce proceedings revealed she was having an affair with Michigan State Police First Lt. Sean Furlong during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Walter Kowalski, a case in which Furlong served as the lead detective.
Both she and Furlong testified the affair began after the trial, but phone records showed Brennan spoke on 37 phone calls with Furlong between the time the murder trial began and Kowalski’s sentencing.
In May, State police investigators executed search warrants at Brennan’s home and courtroom where they seized computers, iPads and other electronic devices. Furlong, 50, retired from the State Police in September.
The Tenure Commission hasn’t said when it will conclude the investigation. Formal action against Brennen, who was appointed in 2005, can include censure, suspension or removal from office after a public hearing is held.
Howell’s Sam Weatherly pitches in the East-West All-Star Baseball Classic at Comerica Park one night after being named Mr. Baseball. He was chosen in the 27th round of the Major League Baseball draft by Toronto, but chose to honor his commitment to play for Clemson University. (Photo: Bill Khan/Livingston Daily)
Howell pitcher drafted, wins Mr. Baseball
Howell baseball games became must-see viewing for pro scouts when Sam Weatherly was on the mound last spring.
Weatherly was one of the most celebrated baseball players ever to come out of Livingston County. He was chosen in the 27th round of the Major League Baseball draft by Toronto, but chose to honor his commitment to play for Clemson University.
The following week, Weatherly was named Mr. Baseball as the best player in the state and was the starting pitcher for the West in the East-West Baseball Classic at Comerica Park. He was 6-2 with a 0.83 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 50.3 innings.
More: Howell pitcher Sam Weatherly named Mr. Baseball
Tom Palmer, photographed Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, opted to skip larger protests against President Trump and speak out with a sign he modifies each day with a different slogan. He’s surprised by support from passers-by honking in support, particularly truckers, in a predominantly Republican county. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Post-presidential election politics spark protests, rallies
Livingston County wasn’t removed from political divisions and protests going on across the country following President Trump’s election and issues such as racial tension and police violence.
About 200 Trump supporters held an August rally in the wake of widespread criticism of the president following his comments on violence in Charlottesville, Va. and racial tensions in the country. Among speakers at the event, State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Fowlerville, inspired the crowd to chant “build the wall” and “fake news.”
An October appearance by controversial former Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke Jr. at the Livingston County Republican Party’s Reagan Day dinner inspired both applause and protests.
More: Racial slur in Facebook post prompts investigation of school bus driver
George Hicks said he heard a “snap” and watched as a 180-foot pine tree fell next to his home on Griffith Road in Genoa Township in March. Some 35,000 county residents lost power during the storm. (Photo: Lisa Roose-Church/Livingston Daily)
High winds knock out power, trees
March came in like a lion on the eighth day of the month, with roaring winds gusting over 60 mph knocking out power to more than 35,000 Livingston County residents.
Countywide, in a 24-hour period from 8 a.m. March 8 to 8 a.m. March 9, county 911 dispatchers handled 1,637 calls — an estimated 75% increase from a typical day, with firefighters and emergency crews responding to 126 calls for fallen trees or related hazards; 194 downed power lines and 84 outdoor fires that started as a result of sparking from trees falling on power lines. In addition, there were four gas leaks and one vehicle fire.
Southbound traffic takes advantage of a third lane of traffic Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, on U.S. 23’s new Flex Route. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
U.S. 23 revamp wrapped up, finally
State road officials proved it takes creating congestion to ease congestion.
All year long, motorists were up against detours, road closures and slowdowns on U.S. 23 between the Whitmore Lake area south of Brighton and M-14 near Ann Arbor. About $92 million in construction projects included new overpasses with roundabouts, revamped ramps and other bridge and road work.
An experiment began in November when the Michigan Department of Transportation opened left-hand shoulders during rush hour traffic and switched on digital signs.
More: See the new U.S. 23 Flex Route in action
Michael McGraw of Pinckney, in the foreground, and a small group of people protest the E.T. Rover pipeline in a gathering at Pinckney’s town square Friday, May 19, 2017. The pipeline which will go through Putnam Township brought a number of residents, as well as a family from Livonia considering a move to the area, out to voice their concern for the safety to residents and the water supply. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
ET Rover pipeline installed to the chagrin of some
Ongoing construction of Energy Transfer’s Rover natural-gas pipeline through about 15 miles of the county inspired some opposition from local residents, environmentalists and property owners who faced lawsuits aimed at seizing their land through eminent domain.
In July, someone attempted to sabotage construction by pouring dirt, sand and gravel into the gas tanks of three large backhoes, prompting general contractor Layton Services to hire off duty Livingston County Sheriff’s Office deputies for added security to for a second time in 2017.
In October, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cited Energy Transfer for releasing gasoline into wetlands east of Silver Lake near Pinckney, concluding pipeline construction had disrupted the site of an old gas station.
The multi-state pipeline remains under construction. It is not yet in operation through the county. It is expected to be completed and in operation by March 2018.
More: Viewpoint: Rover pipeline is the kind of infrastructure investment we need
Brighton hockey players spill onto the ice to celebrate a 5-2 victory over Detroit Catholic Central in the state Division 1 championship game. (Photo: Timothy Arrick/For the Livingston Daily)
Brighton wins state hockey championship
Brighton goalie Logan Neaton was in a reflective mood after backstopping a 5-2 victory over Detroit Catholic Central in the state Division 1 championship game March 11 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
The victory came one year after Brighton lost 3-0 to Catholic Central in the final.
“You just represent so much more than yourself,” Neaton said. “You’re representing all the boys who came before you, who came so close and couldn’t get it done. Everyone in your city, we just had so much support throughout the year.”
The Brighton hockey team, led by Mr. Hockey winner Jake Crespi, was the only Livingston County squad to win a Michigan High School Athletic Association state championship in 2017.
More: Brighton hockey ‘good fit’ for newcomer, who scores big goal in win over Jesuit
An Emagine Entertainment theater is expected to open this spring in the Hartland Towne Square shopping complex which currently includes a Meijer store and Taco Bell restaurant. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Coming soon: Emagine Theater
The Hartland Township Board and the theater company had originally proposed establishing a commercial redevelopment district on 7.5 acres off M-59 near Meijer that would allow Emagine Entertainment to apply for a seven-year tax abatement and save an estimated $438,000 in taxes on the land and personal property.
When the Livingston County Board of Commissioners rejected the plan in a 5-4 vote, Ramco-Gershenson stepped up to save the day. The property investment company, which was selling the land in the Hartland Towne Square shopping plaza to Emagine, offered additional financial incentives for infrastructure improvements to the property. It was sufficient enticement for the entertainment company to move forward with a scaled-down plan of a 55,000-square-foot, nine screen theater on the property.
The theater is expected to open this spring.
More: Emagine movie theater approved, waiting on liquor license
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