Southwest Michigan Today For Tuesday August 29, 2017

Aug 29, 2017

Schools once slated for closure in Kalamazoo and other districts open this fall under new agreements with the state. Replicas of Christopher Columbus's sailing ships will dock in South Haven this weekend. Mid-American Conference football coaches pick Western Michigan to finish second in the MAC West. 

Two schools in Kalamazoo are among those starting class this fall under new agreements with the state. Washington Writers Academy and Woodward School For Technology and Research were among 38 schools across the state that were slated for closure by the Michigan School Reform Office because of low performance. The state agreed to allow the schools to remain open if the districts signed on to an improvement plan. Educators welcome the agreements, but MLive says critics have questioned whether they will improve schools. State House Education Reform Committee Chairman Tim Kelly says he hopes the arrangement works, but is skeptical.

Prison officials in Michigan say they face a new threat - drones carrying weapons. The Detroit News says small, remotely-controlled aircraft were used in an attempt to smuggle razors, drugs, and cell phones into a prison in Ionia earlier this month. Three Detroit men were arrested on felony charges. Corrections officials say the incident was the third involving drones around the state. Experts say its hard to keep drones away from prisons. Shooting them down or jamming their radio signals would violate federal laws.

Two pieces of history sail to South Haven this weekend. Replicas of Christopher Columbus's sailing ships the Niña and the Pinta will dock at the Michigan Maritime Museum over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The ships are owned and operated by the Columbus Foundation. They're on display in Muskegon until Wednesday. They arrive in South Haven on Thursday. Tours of both ships are available for an admission fee.

Some stores and hotels on Mackinac Island say jobs went unfilled this summer. And they blame changes in federal immigration rules. The Detroit News says business owners report having a harder time finding workers at the tourist destination. The U.S. government no longer exempts returning foreign workers from quotas under the H2B visa program. Many of the summer workers on Mackinac Island each summer come from overseas. One hotel owner says the number of foreign workers at his businesses dropped by a third this year. Other parts of the country experienced similar problems. That led the Department of Homeland Security to increase the number of H2B visas by 15,000.

A bill in the State House would make big changes in the way Michigan awards child custody in divorce cases. MLive says the bill's sponsor, Republican Jim Runestad, says changes are overdue. Runestad says his proposal would make joint and equal custody the starting point. He says the current system penalizes parents working outside the home. And Runestad says custody policies vary widely from county to county. Not everyone is on board with the plan, though. Critics say the bill would put the interests of divorced parents ahead of those of their kids.

A pre-season poll of Mid-American Conference football coaches predicts Western Michigan will finish second in the MAC West Division this year. Toledo was picked first, the Broncos, who are defending conference champions, picked up two first place votes. Ohio was picked first in the MAC East Division. Western Michigan opens the football season against The University of Southern California Saturday in Los Angeles. Several watch parties are planned for the season-opener

Former Michigan State University basketball coach Jud Heathcote has died. He coached the Spartans for 19 years, including the school’s first national championship team in 1979. Heathcote retired in 1995 and was succeed by his assistant and current MSU head coach Tom Izzo. A news release from Michigan State says Heathcote passed away yesterday in Spokane, Washington where he lived since retiring. Heathcote was 90 years old. More from the Detroit Free Press on the life of Jud Heathcote