Michigan News -- Detroit school hosts funeral for 2 killed in fire

Michigan news rundown
Detroit school hosts funeral for 2 killed in fire

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit public school will host a funeral Wednesday for two girls who died when a fire trapped them in a house. Dante Cook says he tried to help his daughters, 8-year-old Alaya and 10-year-old Lataya, but couldn't persuade them to jump from a second-floor window last Wednesday. The father has said the house was firebombed. Authorities haven't announced the cause of the blaze. Lataya was a fourth-grader at Spain Elementary School, and Alaya was a third-grader there. The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press say visitation is Tuesday at Clora Funeral Home, and the funeral the next day at the school. A candlelight vigil was held at the school Saturday night.

Group seeks forest restoration to cleanse planet

COPEMISH, Mich. (AP) - A nonprofit organization is rushing to clone some of the world's biggest and oldest trees in an audacious plan to restore forests that could help cleanse the environment and fight climate change. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is based in Copemish, Mich. The group has tracked down and made genetic copies of "champion" members of more than 60 species. Among them are redwoods and giant sequoias from California's northern coast and oaks up to 1,000 years old from Ireland. Co-founder David Milarch says the group is focusing on 200 species that perform ecologically valuable jobs such as absorbing toxic chemicals and storing carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Archangel hopes to sell millions of its trees for replanting in cities and rural areas.

Fake Twitter account mocks Mich. budget director

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan budget director John Nixon doesn't have a Twitter account, but like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he's attracted a tweeter pretending to be him. The FakeJohnNixon Twitter account started up last week and already has posted around 150 tweets. The fake account notes that Nixon is Michigan's highest-paid state employee and is consuming Michigan's economy "one big gargantuan bite at a time." It adds, "Just call me Budget Crunch." A spokesman for Nixon says the budget director "has a great sense of humor" and realizes the tweets aren't to be taken seriously. There's also a FakeRickSnyder Twitter account on Gov. Rick Snyder with fewer posts. Columbia College assistant journalism professor Dan Sinker started a fake, profanity-laced Twitter account during Emanuel's mayoral run that attracted 39,000 followers.

Deportation for Jordanian in daughter's fire death

LENOX TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A Jordanian man is being deported after getting a year of probation for starting a backyard fire that killed his 6-year-old daughter in suburban Detroit. Defense lawyer Richard Graving tells the Detroit Free Press that 41-year-old Majd Mohammad Al-Shara will go to Jordan. Al-Shara didn't have a valid visa to be in the U.S. Al-Shara pleaded guilty to fourth-degree child abuse for starting the Sept. 19, 2010, fire that killed his daughter, Aliaa, at their home in Macomb County's Lenox Township. It's about 30 miles north-northeast of Detroit. He says he was trying to stoke a fire in a backyard fire pit with fuel when flames shot out and burned Aliaa. Graving says it was an accident and says Al-Shara was burned trying to save his daughter.

Jackson County judge leaves job to oversee courts

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Jackson County judge has been hired to oversee the Michigan court system. Chad Schmucker is the new state court administrator after 20 years as a judge. Robert Young Jr., chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, says Schmucker's highly respected and an innovator in technology and how courts operate. The state court administrator oversees the operations of Michigan's trial court system. Schmucker was made a judge in 1991 by Gov. John Engler and was Jackson County's chief judge for 10 of his 20 years on the bench. Schmucker is succeeding the retired Carl Gromek.

Grieving Fennville's playoff run continues Monday

VICKSBURG, Mich. (AP) - Fennville is continuing a post-season run that followed the death of junior Wes Leonard, who collapsed March 3 after scoring the winning basket in the regular season finale. Fennville (23-0) plays Schoolcraft (22-0) on Monday evening at Vicksburg High School in a Michigan high school Class C boys basketball regional playoff game. The game follows three straight playoff victories for Fennville, including a 51-48 win Friday night over Covert in a district final. The winner of the Fennville-Schoolcraft game faces the winner of Monday night's late game between Bridgman and White Pigeon.

Refuge to host Youth Conservation Corps program

GGROSSE ILE, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge plans to host a Youth Conservation Corps program this summer. The eight-week program runs from mid-June to mid-August. It's open to those ages 15-18 who are interested in working together on outdoor projects such as clearing vegetation, building and improving trails, removing invasive plants and contributing to wildlife management programs. Those interested in the program may e-mail Anna Cook at anna-cook(at)fws.gov. Applications must be postmarked by May 6. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge includes 5,700 acres along the Detroit River and Lake Erie.

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