Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

LANSING, MI (AP)--   Michigan is reporting slight improvement by third- and fourth-graders on the state's standardized reading test.

The gains are among only a few highlights in what otherwise are disappointing results released Wednesday.

M-STEP scores from this past spring rose in six of the 18 subject areas tested in grades 3-8 and 11, yet dropped in 11 subject areas.

Fewer than half of all students tested were proficient in English language arts. The portion of third-graders deemed proficient increased to 44.4 percent from 44.1 percent.

WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI (AP)--   Vice President Mike Pence says Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James is a "special man with a special story." 

Pence spoke at a fundraiser for James inside a country club in Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township on Wednesday. It was Pence's second visit this month to the state to aid Republicans.

Pence says Michigan and America "need" James, a business executive and Iraq War veteran, in the Senate. He accuses third-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of standing in the way of the GOP agenda.

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI (AP)--   A coalition of government and business groups is kicking off a campaign to attract cruise ships to the Great Lakes. 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other officials are scheduled to attend an announcement of the "Cruise the Great Lakes" initiative Thursday on Mackinac Island.

The announcement will coincide with a port of call by Victory 1, a cruise line ship that regularly tours the Great Lakes.

The new marketing partnership includes several of the region's states and Canadian provinces, plus port authorities and local tourism agencies.

LANSING, MI (AP)--   The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved nearly $9 million in electricity rate cuts for customers of Indiana Michigan Power Co. because of utility savings from the federal corporate income tax overhaul.

The panel on Tuesday said I&M residential customers who use an average of 500 kilowatt hours will see their monthly bills go down $1.82 beginning in September.

I&M serves approximately 128,000 customers in southwestern Michigan.

DETROIT, MI (AP)--   Thousands are expected to pour into Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Tuesday and Wednesday to pay their final respects to Aretha Franklin.

Paula Marie Seniors says the setting for the public viewings couldn't be more fitting. The associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech says Franklin is "being honored almost like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States."

Ferris Faculty Association/Facebook

BIG RAPIDS, MI (AP)--   A Michigan judge has ordered striking faculty members at Ferris State University to return to the classroom. 

A Mecosta County judge granted a preliminary injunction sought by the university on Monday after professors took to picket lines for the first day of fall semester classes.

Ferris Faculty Association president Charles Bacon says professors will be back to work Tuesday on the Big Rapids campus.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Democrats have officially nominated Dana Nessel for attorney general and Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state. The moves came Sunday at a convention in East Lansing. They were a formality because Democrats first backed their top candidates at an endorsement convention in the spring. Also backed then _ and again Sunday _ were state Supreme Court candidates Sam Bagenstos and Megan Cavanagh, who will try to upend GOP-supported Justices Elizabeth Clement and Kurtis Wilder in November.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's apple crop is expected to be more bountiful than usual this year. A forecast released during a recent meeting of the U.S. Apple Association predicted the Michigan harvest would be about 28 million bushels, higher than the average of 25.2 million. A late spring frost pushed down the 2017 crop to about 20 million bushels, but conditions are favorable for a rebound this year.

Beaver Island Boat Company

BEAVER ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — A new water trail that circumnavigates Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan is ready for use after more than five years of work.

     A dedication event for the Beaver Island Water Trail is planned for Sept. 1 at the Beaver Island Community Center. Organizers say the 43-mile non-motorized trail includes routes over shipwrecks. Those involved say family friendly areas to paddle include Paradise Bay and the island's inland lakes.

Health Impact News

  LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging residents to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves against the virus. Three residents last week tested positive for seasonal influenza. Doctor Eden Wells, Chief medical examiner for M-D-H-H-S says – quote – “the flu should be taken seriously because it can have serious and even deadly consequences.” An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu and its complications.