It’s a busy time at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Groundbreaking for the new renewable energy facility was held earlier today. The NMU Board of Trustees, University President Les Wong along with members of the campus community gathered late this morning next to the Ripley Heating Plant at the corner of Wright Street and Sugarloaf Avenue for the ceremony. University officials say the new facility will partner with local and regional businesses, create area jobs and reduce the University’s energy costs through the use of renewable resources. The plant will burn wood chips and wood byproducts. The NMU Board of Trustees will hold the formal business portion of their meeting at 9 a.m. tomorrow in 604 Cohodas Hall. And NMU’s spring commencement will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Superior Dome on campus. Of the 1032 students eligible to graduate, about 835 are expected to participate.
Upper Michigan 108th District State Representative Ed McBroom is supporting a Senate measure that would limit the amount of land the state Department of Natural Resources can own. Testifying before a House panel in Lansing this week, McBroom praised Senate Bill 248, sponsored by U.P. Senator Tom Casperson, which limits the amount of land the D-N-R can own, increases transparency about the agency’s land holdings and expedites the sale of tax-reverted lands back to private individuals. McBroom says the state needs to slow down its land purchasing and increase its long-term planning. He added that, in his opinion, it does not seem like the D-N-R has been following, or even has, an overall design plan for its public land ownership. The bill has been approved by the Senate. It is under consideration by the House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee.
Following testimony yesterday by Eric and Dean Dompierre of Ishpeming, the Michigan Senate Education Committee voted unanimously in support of a resolution urging the Michigan High School Athletic Association to add a waiver in certain cases for students with disabilities. The resolution calls on the agency to revisit eligibility rules prohibiting high school students from competing in athletics if they turn 19 before September 1 of their senior year. 19-year-old Eric, who’s schooling was delayed a year because he has Down syndrome, will not be able to play in his senior year. Eric’s father Dean has been trying to get the MHSAA to consider changing the policy for two years. Association officials did not attend yesterday’s hearing, but sent a statement saying other schools in the state want to preserve the rule. The MHSAA is a private organization that does not answer to the Senate Education Committee, or any other state agency.
A six-thousand dollar reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the death of an Escanaba man whose body was found in a burned out car more than a year ago. Firefighters discovered Adam Campbell’s body as they arrived to extinguish a vehicle which was totally engulfed in flames on April 9, 2011. Campbell was last seen leaving a tavern about an hour before his body was found. An autopsy and lab tests determined the cause of death but police have not released the information, citing the on-going investigation. The cause of the vehicle fire has not been determined and no one has ever been charged in the case. The Michigan State police arson tip line is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in connection with Campbell’s death. Crime stoppers is offering another one-thousand.
The Michigan State Police have announced the promotion of D/F/Lt. John Halpin to Captain and Commander of the department’s Eighth District. In his new position, Halpin is responsible for the operation of seven posts covering the Upper Peninsula. Halpin replaces Captain Myles McCormack who has retired. Halpin enlisted with the department in 1987 and has served at the Pontiac, Newberry, Manistique, Negaunee and Munising posts. Most recently, he served as Commander of the Special Investigation Section at Eighth District Headquarters. The 52-year-old Halpin is a native of Marine City, Michigan, a graduate of Ferris State University and is married with two children.