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NorthEastern Michigan’s Newspaper



Today’s weather

Showers High: 84 Low: 61

Children helped to make blankets at Vacation Bible School. 7A.

60 percent chance of rain. Forecast, 8A.





U-M unveils newlook Michigan Stadium. 1B.

Harrisville hosting annual wine, food festival. 5A.

AHS wins $10K from Verizon By CRYSTAL NELSON News Staff Writer

Texting has paid off for Alpena High School students. With the support of students, parents, teachers, and the community, AHS beat out eight other Michigan high schools to win $10,000 in a text-towin contest through Verizon Wireless. During the contest students, parents, teachers and fans from select high schools were invited to send a text message to vote for their schools, according to a press release from Verizon Wireless. Over 30,000 text votes were submitted during the competition and 18,571 text votes

Alleged arsonist heading to 23rd Circuit Court

were sent in support of AHS. Principal Matt Poli said AHS can spend the money on “pretty much anything.” “I want to start some kind of student recognition program. I know that’s going to come out of it ... probably the other part of it will be a little technology for the kids,” he said, citing an electronic information board for the school commons or laptop cart as possibilities. Poli said school officials are going to get a group of students and staff together to figure out how the money will be spent and how the students want to be recognized for what they do. Once that’s deter-

mined, a presentation will be made during homecoming to get the students fired up. He said starting in mid-September Verizon Wireless will run the contest again and AHS will be able to participate once more. Poli said then-athletic director Tom Atkinson had brought it to his attention and while they were concerned that it may have been a gimmick, they figured they had nothing to lose. “It turns out we started pushing it and the next thing you know we’re in first place and we’re in first place the entire contest,” he said. “Right after school got

Saying thank you

out we found out we won ($10,000).” According to a press release from Verizon Wireless, all of the participating schools received a $1,000 donation for participating in the contest. The other participating high schools were Battle Creek Central High School, Comstock High School, Gaylord High School, Kalamazoo Central High School, Portage Northern High School, Traverse City West High School and Western High School in Jackson. Crystal Nelson can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693.

Entities facing more tax exemption requests By STEVE SCHULWITZ

News Staff Writer

By PATTY RAMUS News Staff Writer

A man accused of being a serial arsonist waived his preliminary exam in the 81st District Court on Wednesday morning. Clarence Scott, formerly of the West Virginia Department of Corrections, and his attorney, David Riffel, appeared before District Court Judge Laura Frawley for the hearing. Scott said after reviewing the charge with his lawyer he was requesting to waive his preliminary exam and have his charges bound over to the 23rd Circuit Court. Frawley accepted the request and ordered the charge to be bound to circuit court. A circuit court arraignment was then scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 3 in circuit court. Riffel declined to comment on the reason for his client waiving the preliminary exam. Scott was arraigned on July 9 in Alcona County on the felony charge of arson dwell house in district court. He is alleged to have to have intentionally set fire to the home of friends where he was staying in Lincoln, on or about Nov. 8, 2009. During Wednesday’s hearing, Alcona County Prosecutor Thomas Weichel told the court the village has requested the home Scott allegedly set fire to be demolished. He had discussed this with Riffel to make them aware of it. Following the hearing, Riffel said he and Arsonist, see page 2A

News Photo By Krista Tacey

A1 Party Mart owner Jim Stoddard and Morrison’s Food and Pride owner Doug Morrison hosted a lunch at Emery Park in Hillman Wednesday for the all people who worked on bridge construction job over the past months. Morrison said the crews were being thanked for their role in the completion of the project. “(The lunch is) a thank you for a job well done,” Morrison said, adding the crews completed the job with local businesses in mind. He said he is happy to say the job was completed with little disturbance to the businesses in the area and business was not lost due to the construction.

APS may hire two teachers By CRYSTAL NELSON News Staff Writer

Alpena Public Schools Board of Education will consider hiring two teachers during its organizational meeting Monday evening. A number of employee retirements has enabled the district to hire new personnel and the board will take action on hiring a teacher for industrial arts and a teacher for life management. Since the application deadline, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Pat Sampier has been interviewing candidates for many open employee positions with a team of administrators. Sampier said so far

the process is going very well and that they’re “very, very busy.” “(Wednesday) there’s special ed interviews going on, there’s secretarial testing going on,” she said. “We’re still sorting through the art applicants right now so we can get our next batch of people going, so it’s constant.” The district also needs to hire 3.5 special education teachers, one marketing teacher, 1.4 art teachers and one preschool teacher. As of Wednesday, interviews for special education teachers are complete and background checks will be performed. Sampier Teachers, see page 2A

Alpena Public Schools Board of Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday for its organizational meeting. The board will approve the hiring of two teachers, hear a staffing update, consider a contract with Speednet and consider adopting the MISEC Interlocal Agreement. The board also will take action on annual organizational matters like choosing officers, law firms and depositories for the 2010-11 school year. The meeting will be held in the Gerry Ludwig Board Room of the district’s Central Office located at 2373 Gordon Road.

Questions over abortion in new federal health plan By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Abortion opponents are raising questions about a critical new insurance program under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law. Federal officials say elective abortion is barred under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. It offers coverage to people turned down by private insurers because of medical problems, at rates comparable to what the healthy pay.


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But at least one state — New Mexico — initially listed elective abortion as a covered benefit, reversing course after The Associated Press inquired on Wednesday. National Right to Life and other abortion opponents say rules for the program have not been clearly spelled out, and that could open the way for taxpayersubsidized coverage of elective abortion. Federal law bars paying for abortion with government money, except in cases of rape or incest or to save the

mother’s life. “We don’t think this is just a problem of vagueness, we see a pattern of the Obama administration trying to expand abortion any time they can get away with it,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life. A spokeswoman for the federal Health and Human Services Department said that’s totally wrong, and insisted there was no intention of allowing abortion coverage under the new program, also known as PCIP.

“In all our PCIP plans, abortions will not be covered except in the cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered,” said Jenny Backus. The department is working on guidance to make those restrictions explicit to states and insurance plans. Abortion coverage was one of the most difficult issues in last year’s epic congressional debate over health care. Democrats were able to muster enough votes to pass the bill in the House only after Obama

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agreed to sign an executive order affirming longstanding restrictions on taxpayerfunded abortions. The health overhaul law attempted to strike a compromise. Private plans in new insurance markets opening for business in 2014 can cover abortion, but payment must come from enrollees themselves, not from federal tax credits that will be offered to make premiums more affordable. However, lawmakers left it to bureaucrats at HHS to

Abortion, see page 2A

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In 2000 the City of Alpena granted less than a dozen poverty tax exemptions to people who were having a hard time paying their their taxes. Since then the number of people seeking the tax break has climbed annually. The number of eligible people has ballooned to 103 so far this year. As a result, the city’s budget is looking at a loss of at least $38,585 in property tax funding. Other local institutions whose budgets rely on the money also will feel the sting of the lost revenue as well. City Assessor Jeff Shea said it is not totally unexpected that an increasing number of people are petitioning the board of review to get some tax relief. He said he expects the number of applicants to continue to increase as well. “There has been a steady rise for the last eight to 10 years because more people are learning about it,” Shea said. “We have the information on our website and it has been in the news, but for some reason or another it has taken people a while to learn about it.” Because of the large number of people seeking assistance, Shea said the board of review conducts three workshops annually to examine claims. The first is in March, then one in July and December. Shea said as the number of applicants increase, so does the workload and stress on the system. “The review hearings are held three times a year and we would like everyone to have their applications completed by March, but we always have a few stragglers,” Shea said. “ I have a list with about 100 names on it and I send them the applications. It is beginning to get very cumbersome. Instead of having one hearing we break it down so we don’t have people waiting for four hours before they can be seen. It makes the process more efficient.” Exemptions of 100, 75, 50 and 25 percent can be granted to those who qualify. The formula to determine eligibility is provided by the state and uses figures for household size and income to determine the tax

Exemption, see page 2A

TOMORROW IN THE NEWS Michigan Freedom Academy in full swing


U-M unveils new- look Michigan Sta- dium. 1B. Children helped to make blankets at Vacation Bible School. 7A. Harrisville hosting annual wine...