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This Hour: Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment

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Documents detail another delayed GM recall

DETROIT (AP) - Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn't seek a recall of the 2004-2007 compact cars even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago. The government's auto safety watchdog found the problem caused 12 crashes and two injuries.

The documents, posted on the NHTSA's website Saturday, show yet another delay by GM in recalling unsafe vehicles. It's also another example of government regulators reacting slowly to a safety problem despite being alerted by consumers and the company's warranty data.

GM and NHTSA were criticized for their response to a deadly ignition-switch problem in more than 2.6 million small cars.


Fiat Chrysler to build 3 Jeep models in China

ROME (AP) - Fiat and Chrysler say they will build three new Jeep models in China for the local market, the biggest for Jeeps outside the U.S.

The automakers announced an agreement Saturday to expand the joint venture with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Company.

Production is expected to begin in 2015 in Guangzhou, which is in southern China near Hong Kong.

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the deal represents the next phase in the "expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand."

In a statement, Fiat Chrysler said Jeep sold more than 731,000 vehicles in 2013 and last month set a record with 85,000 sold. China represents the largest Jeep market outside the U.S. with nearly 60,000 vehicles sold last year.


Connected vehicles conference coming to Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Industry, academic and policy experts will be in Ann Arbor this week for a connected cars conference.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is hosting the 2014 Global Symposium on Connected Vehicles and Infrastructure.

The event runs Monday through Wednesday. A special energy workshop will be held Wednesday and Thursday.

Ann Arbor is home to an ongoing experiment involving so-called talking cars that University of Michigan and government officials hope will lead to safer roads. Thousands of wirelessly connected cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles are operating in the city as a part of the study conducted by UMTRI (um-TREE').

The vehicles are being used to study how cars equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle wireless communication devices interact with each another and with wirelessly equipped infrastructure, such as intersections and street lights.


Crews working to remove propane tanks from river

EVART, Mich. (AP) - State emergency officials say they are working to remove dozens of propane tanks floating in the Muskegon River as part of flood-recovery efforts in western Michigan.

State Emergency Operations Center spokesman Ron Leix (LIKES) said Saturday that more than 40 tanks have been retrieved by state and local crews working with propane safety experts on flat-bottom boats. He says floodwaters dislodged them from the residential properties along the river.

Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster Thursday for Newaygo and Osceola counties. Numerous homes flooded in the Evart area, forcing evacuations.

Officials say inspectors will be in Osceola County on Monday to help restore electricity to homes and businesses. Several agencies also will open service centers next week in both counties to provide information and resources to residents.


Small plane crashes in Michigan field, killing 2

VENICE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say a small plane crashed in a Michigan farm field, killing the pilot and his passenger.

The Argus-Press of Owosso reports the plane crashed Saturday afternoon in Shiawassee County's Venice Township. Police have not identified the men who died.

Francis Osika says he was standing next to his barn when he saw the plane "spitting and sputtering." Osika says it made a sharp left turn, crossed over a road and banked left again before crashing into the field with its landing gear down.

Sheriff's Office Sgt. Brian BeGole said the plane was an experimental aircraft owned by an aviation company he declined to name. Authorities have contacted the Federal Aviation Administration, which will lead the investigation.


3 dead, 1 hurt in Michigan motorbike crash

EXETER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say a dirt bike collided with a motorcycle in southeastern Michigan, leaving three dead and a fourth person seriously hurt.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the crash late Friday night in Exeter Township left 23-year-old dirt bike driver Marc Thompson and 18-year-old motorcyclist Darin Lipkowski dead at the scene. A 21-year-old woman riding with Thompson died at the hospital, and 18-year-old motorcycle passenger Samantha Morlan was reported to be in temporary-serious condition early Saturday.

Police haven't released the name of the woman who died.

Sheriff's officials say the dirt bike drifted into the lane of the oncoming motorcycle, and everyone was ejected from their motorbikes after the crash. Investigators say it appears that the women were wearing helmets but the men were not.


Appeals court revives case against protester

FREDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - An appeals court has reversed the dismissal of charges against a man who spent 10 hours inside an oil pipeline under construction in southern Michigan.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported Friday the state Court of Appeals ordered the case against Christopher Wahmhoff back to court.

A Calhoun County judge in February tossed charges of trespassing and obstructing police against the Kalamazoo man for the June 24th, 2013, protest at an Enbridge Incorporated pipeline site in Fredonia Township, near Marshall.

The protest was part of an effort to halt the Canadian company from building a new line. The site is near where a line ruptured in 2010, spilling 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River system.

The line runs from Sarnia, Ontario to Griffith, Indiana.


Windmill blades turn again after restoration

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A southwestern Michigan landmark has been revived - and now it's been rededicated.

WZZM-TV reports the blades of Holland's 252-year-old DeZwaan windmill began turning again Saturday morning during a community celebration and open house. The windmill underwent about $760,000 in restoration and repair work after a fundraising effort.

The windmill is part of Windmill Island Gardens, a popular tourist destination that's also undergoing improvements. Project consultant Jodi Syens tells The Grand Rapids Press the windmill is open for daylong tours.

The blades started turning to signify the start of the Run of the Mill race, which raises money for improvements. They include restoration of the Amsterdam street organ and carousel.

Holland officials have approved plans to turn over operation of Windmill Island Gardens to a nonprofit group by 2016.


Anita Baker countersues home improvement company

DETROIT (AP) - Grammy Award-winning singer Anita Baker has countersued a company that says it hasn't been paid for work done on her Detroit-area home.

The Detroit Free Press reported Saturday that Baker's attorney says lawyers for Ray A. Smith Painting and Decorating "intended to put her in as embarrassing a light as possible."

The 2011 lawsuit against Baker led to a warrant for her arrest, but the warrant was dismissed last month.

The company claims Baker owes it $15,000 for work done on her Grosse Pointe home, but the singer's lawyer has said Baker didn't know she had been sued.

A hearing related to the original lawsuit is scheduled for April 25th in Wayne County Circuit Court.


Stabenow: Fruit, vegetable crop grants available

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says over $1.9 million in block grants is available to support fruit, vegetable and nursery producers under the newly signed federal farm bill.

Stabenow is chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and sponsored the legislation, which President Barack Obama signed in February while visiting Michigan State University.

She says it's the first farm bill to include a section providing support for "specialty crops" such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products and floriculture. Previous bills focused largely on traditional commodity crops such as corn and wheat.

Michigan is a leading fruit and vegetable producer.

Specialty crop block grants are allocated to states and territories based on a formula involving crop acreage and value.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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