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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A state report shows demand for natural gas and electricity is projected to drop following a summer that was 12 percent cooler than normal. The Michigan Public Service Commission's annual energy appraisal also shows demand at the gas pump should decrease with more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road and sustained high prices. The report was released Wednesday. It reviews and projects prices and the availability of energy across the state for the winter months. Natural gas sales are projected to drop 3.8 percent from last year. Electricity sales are expected to decrease by a half-percent if weather conditions are normal. Increased auto sector production should cause a 1-percent rise in industrial electricity usage. Natural gas is used to heat about 77 percent of Michigan households.

Wednesday, 09 October 2013 13:45

Ubly man rides his horse across the state

(UBLY) -- A Thumb area educator who for years pondered riding a horse across Michigan decided at age 70 that the time was right. Richard Holdship of Ubly made the 225-mile ride from the Mackinac City Horse Camp on Lake Michigan to Oscoda on Lake Huron on the Michigan Trail Rider's Association Shore-to-Shore Riding Trail. Holdship says health issues inhibited him from taking the ride sooner but turning 70 re-invigorated him. He says he got his first horse when he was 10. Holdship set out on September 6 on the 10-day ride atop Rudy, his 13-year-old Missouri fox trotter. His wife, Ricki, drove from camp to camp setting it up and tearing it down each day.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State officials have told workers whose jobs are dependent on money from Washington that they could be laid off if the partial federal shutdown persists. State budget office spokesman Kurt Weiss says the state could lay off 15,000 to 20,000 employees and will consider doing so if the shutdown rolls into November. About $20 billion in the state's budget is federally funded. Unemployment checks could be cut and state also would be hard-pressed to subsidize federal programs that help low-income families pay bills and feed children. Weiss says discontinuation notices will go out around Oct. 20 to people who rely on such programs. The shutdown began Oct. 1 after President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats rejected Republican demands to defund the Affordable Care Act.

(SANILAC COUNTY) -- Albrecht Sand and Gravel will begin road work on eight miles of Maple Valley Road from Marlette Road south to M-90 in Brown City on Thursday, October 10. Construction will include asphalt and shoulder work and pavement marking. The project is expected to be complete by the end of October. A detour will be set up on Maple Valley Road from Peck Road, south to M-90. Reduced speed limits in the road construction zone are requested and appreciated. Motorists are reminded that delays are expected during the project.

(AREA) -- Gov. Rick Snyder says that criminal justice agencies in Michigan are sharing $6 million in federal grants for anti-drug and anti-crime efforts. Snyder said the grants announced Monday come through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program. He says the grants "will be used to enhance public safety ... combating drug abuse and violence" and "will help build stronger communities."
The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department has been awarded $59,000 for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment. The funding will provide an intensive cognitive behavioral treatment
program addressing the substance abuse and criminal thinking of felony offenders during their
incarceration at the county jail.

The Thumb Narcotics Unit was awarded Byrne JAG funds in the amont of $51,918 for its multijurisdictional task force that serves Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties. The T.N.U. identifies and targets narcotics traffickers of all levels and also assists local law
enforcement with criminal investigations.

Byrne grants are named in honor of New York City police Officer Edward Byrne.

(PORT HURON TOWNSHIP) -- A combined effort between the St. Clair County Drug Task Force and the Port Huron Police-St. Clair County Sheriff Major Crimes Unit has resulted in the confiscation of a large amount of marijuana. Search warrants were served at four separate locations Friday. The first took place in the 5500 block of State Road in Fort Gratiot Township. Officers seized 72 marijuana plants and 50 pounds of processed marijuana. The plants were being grown in a greenhouse. Another raid took place at a factory in the 500 block of Memphis Ridge Road in Riley Township where 71 marijuana plants were seized. The search of a home in the 3000 block of Elk Street in Port Huron resulted in the seizure of dozens of marijuana plants and a large floor safe. Several pounds of processed marijuana was found during a raid in the 2600 block of 18th Avenue in Port Huron. Authorities say that based on the size of the plants and the quality of the marijuana seized, the street value is estimated at $2.5 to $3 million dollars. Authorities were able to confiscate 3 vehicles, trailers, 3 ATV's, a snowmobile, a motorcycle, a 33' boat and other property during the raids. A 28-year old woman and 35-year old man, both from Fort Gratiot, face charges in the case and more arrests are possible as the investigation continues.

(MARLETTE) -- Sanilac County Sheriff Garry Biniecki says tires and rims were stolen off of several vehicles at Dave Hall Chevrolet in Marlette sometime between 4 p.m. Saturday, October 5 and early Monday, October 7. Sheriff Biniecki says a total of 18 new 20" rims and tires were taken from pickups and SUV's parked in the lot. The replacement value of the tires and rims is about $78,000 and the vehicles are being checked for any further damage. The suspects are believed to have removed the stolen tires and rims in possibly a dual axle enclosed trailer in the 12ft-16ft range headed in an unknown direction. Clues were left behind at the scene. According to Sheriff Biniecki, the thieves left the vehicles on cement blocks. Detectives are investigating whether this crime is connected to a possible larceny from a construction site or cement plant where cinder blocks may have been taken. Anyone with information on this incident may contact the Sanilac County Sheriff's Department Detective Bureau at 810-648-8360, Sanilac Central Dispatch at 810-648-2000, or CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-SPEAK-UP for a possible reward.


(AREA) -- An informal national survey of grocery store prices found a slight increase in the cost of several staple food items common to America's kitchen cupboards. An overall increase in meat and dairy products lead the way for an approximately 3% increase in the cost of 16 staple food items-up $1.66 since the first half of 2013 for a total grocery bill of $53.20.

American Farm Bureau Federation's semi-annual Marketbasket Survey is an unscientific study enlisting volunteer shoppers across the country to estimate food cost trends. A total of 79 shoppers in 25 states-including Michigan-participated in the latest survey, conducted in September. Items showing increases included chicken breasts, up 61 cents to $3.93 per pound; Russet potatoes, up 49 cents to $3.18 for a 5-pound bag; bacon, up 43 cents to $4.71 per pound; whole milk, up 25 cents to $3.71 per gallon; vegetable oil, up 20 cents to $3.12 for a 32-ounce bottle; orange juice, up 19 cents to $3.47 per half-gallon; white bread, up 18 cents to $1.83 for a 20-ounce loaf; toasted oat cereal, up 18 cents to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box; bagged salad, up 12 cents to $2.83 per pound; shredded cheddar cheese, up four cents to $4.51 per pound; and flour, up four cents to $2.66 for a five-pound bag.

Conversely, deli ham got more affordable-down 68 cents to $4.71 per pound-as did sirloin tip roast, down 28 cents to $4.35 per pound; ground chuck, down five cents to $3.69 per pound; apples, down four cents to $1.59 per pound; and eggs, down two cents to $1.82 per dozen.

Price checkers participating in the survey found a half-gallon of regular milk cost an average of $2.50-$1.39 less than organic milk. Similarly, a dozen regular eggs at an average price of $1.82 were a full $1.50 cheaper than a dozen labeled "cage free."

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.

AFBF, the nation's largest general farm organization, conducted an informal quarterly Marketbasket Survey of retail food price trends from 1989 to 2012. In 2013, the Marketbasket series was updated to include two semi-annual surveys of everyday food items, a summer cookout survey and the annual Thanksgiving survey.

Monday, 07 October 2013 09:40

2013 Country Christmas Button Winner

(SANDUSKY) -- A total of 89 designs were submitted for the 2013 Sandusky Country Christmas Lighted Farm Implement Parade button contest. This year's winner is Emily Morris, daughter of Jodi and John Morris of Sandusky. Emily is a freshman at Sandusky High School. She earned the $100 prize, courtesy of Eastern Michigan Bank. The winning design features Santa on a John Deere tractor surrounding by twinkling Christmas lights. The buttons will be sold Friday, November 8 at the main corners of M-19 and M-46 in Sandusky and at Jerry's Foodland between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Proceeds from the sale will help pay for Country Christmas Weekend expenses. Emily also submitted the winning design for the Sandusky Thumb Festival button contest this year.

(LEXINGTON) -- A 75-year-old Port Huron woman, armed with a handgun inside her car, was taken into custody late Saturday afternoon after a 6-hour standoff in the Lexington Police Department parking lot. Sanilac County Sheriff Garry Biniecki says the incident began around 11:30 a.m. Saturday when Port Huron police officers tried to stop the woman for a traffic violation on Military Street in Port Huron. The pursuit went through Port Huron and north on M-25 into Sanilac County. During the chase, officers noted that the woman was waving a handgun around in the vehicle. The chase entered the Village of Lexington and the car turned west onto M-90 and then into the Lexington police and fire department parking lot. Officers set up a security perimeter around the parking lot and shut down traffic on M-25 and M-90. Negotiations were attempted for a number of hours and deputies say it appeared the woman was becoming agitated. Deputies and officers from Port Huron, St. Clair County, and the Sanilac County Special Response Teams inserted tear gas into the suspect vehicle, entered the car and took the woman into custody. The woman was transported to Port Huron Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and evaluation for possible other medical issues. Charges are pending following a review by the St. Clair County prosecutors office. Police, fire and ambulance agencies from St. Clair and Sanilac counties along with the State Police, DNR, and the U.S. Border Patrol were at the scene and assisted in the safe resolution of the incident.