Free Flint business boot camp kicks off this week

FLINT, MI — For the past nine years, University Outreach has offered business workshops at the Innovation Incubator, a free co-working space nicknamed [IN], located in the Northbank Center on the UM-Flint campus. Now it is taking IN on the Road, a 5-session workshop series, to convenient neighborhood locations across Flint so more community members can take advantage of an intensive training in starting a business and financial literacy.

The first IN on the Road business boot camp was held in February at Joy Tabernacle’s Urban Renaissance Center. A second camp was offered at Holmes STEM Academy in March, and a third camp exclusively for young people was held at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint in April during Spring Break. The final bootcamp will take place at Asbury United Methodist Church on Davison Road, June 1, 3, 8, 15 and 22. The boot camps are offered at no charge to the public. [IN] on the Road can be adapted for both teen and adult audiences, with the youngest graduate being 10 years old. Local entrepreneurs answer questions and share their own experiences as business owners with participants to instill confidence.

A final celebration will be held at Berston Field House June 24, 1-4 p.m. The event will include a graduation ceremony for all participants who attend at least three sessions as well as a business pitch competition for young people who graduated from the workshops to help fund their start-ups. Up to ten young people will be awarded $500 each. Additionally all bootcamp participants are eligible for additional business assistance from UM-Flint’s University Outreach after the boot camp is complete. To overcome potential barriers to accessing the downtown services, participants can receive free bus passes to cover travel to the campus.

The curriculum, which was developed by UM-Flint School of Management faculty member Dr. Amy Gresock, breaks down the start-up process into manageable steps focusing on  idea generation, customer discovery, marketing,  financial literacy and establishing the business.

“We heard from our stakeholders there was a need for financial literacy and entrepreneurship training throughout the city. But often, a lack of reliable transportation can be a barrier for community members,” said Nic Custer, program liaison. “So we decided the best option would be to take our business counseling on the road and work with residents and business owners in their own neighborhoods so as many people as possible can access the service.”

The IN on the Road program was funded through support from the Ruth Mott Foundation and UM-Flint. The teen bootcamp session was funded through a partnership with the Michigan Small Business Development Center. Participation in the final June bootcamp and celebration event is free and open to the public but registration is required at go.umflint.edu/IN.

As a program of UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach and EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development, [IN] on the Road tries to make education more accessible by offering participants opportunities to test their ideas, work in teams and build a strong foundation for their future success.

(Article courtesy of University of Michigan-Flint’s University Outreach)

Lawsuit alleges Flint City Council President helped embezzle millions of dollars from church

FLINT, MI – Members of a Flint church have filed a civil lawsuit against five people including Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson after claims that millions of dollars went unaccounted for.

Four members at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church allege that Nelson along with the church’s pastor, Rev. Lewis Randolph, his son, Dietrick Randolph who serves as assistant trustee, LeDon McNeil, chair of the trustee board and Antioch’s financial secretary, Delores Roberts may have embezzled more than $1 million from the church.

The four members of the church filed their lawsuit with the Genesee County Circuit Court on May 23, 2017 on behalf of other of the members.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah moved a May 30, 2017 hearing regarding the lawsuit to Tuesday, June 6 , 2017 at 10 a.m. giving process servers time to find both Rev. Randolph and his son, McNeil and Roberts.

The initial complaint was filed with the Flint Police Department early April, said Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson.

“It was moved on right way,” said  Johnson. “We turned it over to the state police immediately.” Johnson said the complaint was turned over to the Michigan State Police Department because of Nelson’s potential involvement.

MSP officials said last week that they were waiting on more documents before they turned their investigation back over to the Flint Police Department.

Flint Beat could not immediately reach Nelson who serves as Antioch’s assistant finance secretary.

PSA Airing, Postcards Mailed to Help Inform Residents of Water Source Recommendation

FLINT, MI – On April 18, 2017, Mayor Karen Weaver announced her recommendation that the City of Flint stay with the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) as its primary source of water and utilize Genesee County as a backup water source.

“I believe staying with GLWA as the city’s primary water source is the best option when you consider factors related to public health and when it comes to being fiscally responsible,” said Weaver.

Weaver said her primary goal when deciding on a recommendation was protecting the public’s health. If Flint stays with GLWA, the City would avoid having to switch water sources again and therefore bypass any problems that could arise in the process.

“This will help protect residents from any issues that could occur,” Weaver commented. “It would also eliminate any fears or anxieties people may have about another major change taking place with our water.”

Mayor Weaver’s recommendation is just that, a recommendation. After the announcement, a 30-day public participation period launched to give residents an opportunity to weigh in on the plan. The 30 day comment period ends on May 20.

The mayor has since held a town hall meeting where she encouraged residents to send their questions and feedback to the email address: flintwatersourceinfo@cityofflint.com. Information on the water source recommendation is posted here on the City of Flint website, www.cityofflint.com for the public to review.

A Public Service Announcement (PSA) has also been created. Residents will soon hear the PSA on local radio stations. It can also be seen on TV, social media, and the City of Flint website.

Community Outreach and Resident Education (CORE) workers going door-to-door in Flint neighborhoods to ensure every resident has information on how to properly install and maintain their water filters will also be providing residents with bright orange door hangers with information about the water source recommendation. Additionally, the City will also be mailing postcards to water customers containing details on the plan. Information on the door hangers and postcards is printed in both English and Spanish (backside). Flyers are also available at the Information Desk at Flint City Hall and will be at water distribution sites.

Other efforts being made to inform residents:

  • Mayor Weaver/members of administration have been attending block club and other community meetings to provide information and gather input.
  • Print ads with details on the water source recommendation will appear in local newspapers, The Courier and in the Flint Journal both this and next Sunday.
  • Digital ads will also be shown on Mlive.com
  • For the hearing impaired, a video has been created featuring an American Sign Language interpreter. The video will be posted on the City of Flint website www.cityofflint.com and the City’s Facebook page.

“We are listening to residents and doing everything we can to get accurate information to the public and to be as transparent as possible,” said Mayor Weaver. “It’s important for Flint residents to be informed, and for us to hear from them and get their feedback on the suggested plan before a permanent decision is made.”

(This article is courtesy of City of Flint Spokeswoman Kristin Moore.)

Local church says they are not cutting checks to pay just any water bill
FLINT, MI – Officials at a local church say they can help some people with water related bills but they are not cutting checks to everyone.

A Facebook rumor that Woodside Church in Flint is cutting checks to pay Flint residents’ water bills is not true.

“We will do everything we can to help but we are not cutting checks to pay water bills,” said Woodside Reverend Deborah Conrad. “We are able to help wit some water specifics things like shutoff notices and water liens.”

Woodside is a multicultural congregation in partnership with two denominations.

Through the partnership, Conrad said the church has received a number of donations to help with certain water related expenses and they try to connect people with other resources. The donations do allow the church to help some people with shutoff notices and liens on their properties.

People seeking assistance can visit Woodside Church located at 1509 E. Court Street on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call (810) 767-4911.

See what Flint City Councilman Eric Mays had to say about pawning his city issued laptop
FLINT, MI – A Flint City Council member has filed an complaint against Councilman Eric Mays for pawning his city issued laptop.

Councilman Scott Kincaid says when Mays pawned the laptop issued to him after he took seat on the council he was misusing city property.

“It was a misuse of public equipment owned by the city and he (pawned) it for financial gain,” said Kincaid who filed a criminal complaint with the Flint Police Department police today. “He is responsible for it but he doesn’t own it. There is a law that says your can’t pawn something that doesn’t belong to you.”

Mays said in a May 23, 2017 interview with Flint Beat, that he fell on hard times and pawned the laptop for $100.

“I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” said Mays on May 23. “I don’t think it’s criminal. I just think it shows I’m poor. I hate that people know I’m that poor. I used their services and I’m glad it helped me.”

When questioned about the incident on May 23 he readily admitted he pawned the laptop but said he didn’t think he did anything wrong.

“I know what you’re talking about,” Mays said. “So I’m in violation, that could be true. I don’t believe that you lose your seat for borrowing on it. I don’t know. It ain’t like I stole it.”

“Whatever the policy is, I don’t think it’s criminal,” he added. “My position is look I had to borrow until my check come and that’s all good. I was waiting on my check and something happened. Once I go through this I will turn it in. I don’t use it. I will turn in the cellphone too.”

Mays pawned the laptop for a $100 loan at Music Man Pawnshop, located across the street from Flint City Hall. He was responsible to repay the $100 plus fees and interest and paid the debt on May 23 to retrieve the laptop.

Flint Police said on May 23 that they were investigating the issue. Mays would not comment on the investigation or Kincaid’s report.

“Eighty percent of what I do is for the residents,” Mays said. “I’m just going to continue to do what I do. That’s all I have to say.”

 

See what Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright has to say about Flint’s water crisis

In 2016 Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright published a paper on Flint’s water crisis. The paper has been a topic of discussion among community leaders. See what Wright had to say below.

Wright Monopoly Price Gouging Corruption and the Poisoning of a City 552247 7 by Flint Beat on Scribd

Update: More than 1,000 lead tainted pipes replaced at Flint homes
FLINT, MI — Lead-tainted service lines at 253 homes have been replaced so far in phase four of Mayor Karen Weaver’s FAST Start initiative.

Crews from four area companies are replacing lead and galvanized service lines leading from the street to the water meter in residents’ homes during this fourth phase of the FAST Start initiative, extending the mayor’s efforts to restore safe, clean drinking water to Flint residents.

So far, service lines to 1,139 homes have been replaced since FAST Start began in March 2016. There are plans to replace lead-tainted pipes at 6,000 Flint homes during phase four which launched this year.

In addition, 256 homes have been found to have copper service lines that did not need to be replaced. The FAST Start initiative plans to begin checking the composition of 4,000 service lines through hydro-excavation in June so that pipe replacement crews can avoid digging up copper service lines and concentrate just on homes with lead and galvanized pipes.

To be eligible for the service line replacements, residents must have an active water account. They also must have signed a consent card giving permission for the work to be done. In rental homes, both the owner and the tenant must sign consent cards. Residents are urged to sign the consent cards as soon as possible so crews can begin work to replace their service lines.

Mayor Weaver launched the FAST Start initiative to help resolve a number of problems created after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the City’s water source to the Flint River in 2014 without the necessary corrosion control chemicals being added. The corrosive water removed a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, causing lead to leach into the water flowing to homes and businesses in the City of Flint.

While the level of lead in Flint’s water supply has reduced significantly since the City switched back a year ago to water delivered from Lake Huron by the Great Lakes Water Authority, residents are still urged to drink only filtered water, and to replace their filters when needed.

Mayor Weaver hopes to have all of Flint’s lead-tainted service lines — nearly 20,000 — replaced by 2020, with a goal of replacing 6,000 lines annually over the next three years.

Information about the FAST Start initiative can be found on the City of Flint FAST Start Facebook page, as well as on Instagram, Twitter and on the City of Flint website. Questions about FAST Start can be directed to the FAST Start office by emailing faststart@cityofflint.com or by calling (810) 410-1133.

(Courtesy article from the City of Flint’s spokeswoman Kristin Moore.)

A Flint city councilman faces scrutiny for pawning his city issued laptop
FLINT, MI – Flint City Councilman Eric Mays says he fell on hard times and pawned his city issued laptop for $100.

The laptop was issued to Mays after he came into office November 2013.

Mays said he has plans to make good on the $100 loan with Music Man Pawnshop located across the street from Flint City Hall after he gets paid on Thursday.

“I don’t’ think it’s criminal, “ said Mays. “I think it just shows I’m poor.”

It is unclear as to whether there are penalties involving pawning city property but Flint City Councilman Scott Kincaid said he will be making a complaint with the Flint Police Department regarding the issue pointing at sensitive City of Flint information that could be on the laptop.

Mays owes $100 for the laptop plus interest and fees. When pawning the laptop he had to disclose his password to the pawnshop.

“When I get it back I will probably just turn it in,” Mays said. “I don’t use it nor do I use the cellphone they gave me.”

Flint Mayor creates loosely regulated fund after water funds diversion allegations, report says
FLINT, MI – A sworn testimony revealed that Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and her adviser Aonie Gilcreast allegedly created a loosely regulated fund weeks after Weaver fired former City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

A May 22, 2017 ABC12 report says, both Weaver and Gilcreast opened a 527 fund, which is loosely regulated.

The fund was allegedly opened days before Henderson shared concerns with Flint’s legal department that Weaver may have told a city employee to divert Flint water crisis funds to a personal account. ABC12 reported that days after reporting her findings to legal, Henderson, who is now engulfed in a whistle-blower lawsuit against the City of Flint and Weaver, was fired.

According to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, LARA,  the new revealed fund in question, Caring For Flint was incorporated Feb. 5, 2016.

Henderson filed a federal lawsuit last year saying she was fired after she asked Flint’s legal department to investigate the city employees claims that funds were diverted.

Weaver has denied diverting funds to any account.

 

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Flint Beat‘s founder and publisher, Jiquanda Johnson is a Flint-area native with more than 16 years of experience in journalism including print, television and digital media.  She has worked for The Detroit News, NBC25, Fox and MLive Media Group/The Flint Journal, where she covered the city of Flint.

As a reporter covering Flint for MLive, Jiquanda discovered that the community needed a news publication focused only on Flint, Mich. Flint Beat was launched on March 13, 2017, to fill that need.

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