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I-Team: Left Alone

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
I-Team: Left Alone story image
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Later this month, the woman whose three young children died in the Interfaith Apartment fire in Kalamazoo in February will be in civil court.

She'll be asking to regain custody of her surviving 4-year-old, who managed to escape the flames when those four kids were left home alone.

In the meantime, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the fire to see if criminal charges will be filed.

Now, one state lawmaker is launching a new campaign to make sure this kind of unbearable tragedy doesn't happen here again.

Sally Reames is the executive director of the Community Healing Centers, where they work with abused and neglected children and their families.

She says that kids under the age of 10 should never be left home alone, but too often, they are.

"Children younger than that don't necessarily have the resources to get help or ask for help when they need it," she explained. "So at Community Healing Centers, we would say, it's not a good choice to leave kids home alone."

Because, Of course, there are so many dangers lurking.

In mid-February, a Kalamazoo apartment caught on fire at Interfaith Homes, with four young kids inside.

An infant, twin 3-year-olds, and a 4-year old. Only the 4-year-old survived.

Their mother, who was not home at the time--and a friend with whom she claims she left the children--are both under investigation.

One thing is for sure though. No one involved in the Interfaith fire will be specifically charged with leaving the kids home alone and unattended.

That's because leaving kids home alone and unattended is not a crime in Michigan, no matter how young they are.

"There isn't a specific law that says if you leave your child unattended it is a crime punishable by a certain period of time," explained Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting. "The child's age isn't a factor. It could be a baby."

Getting says that every child left home alone case is different, and the totality of the circumstances must be carefully analyzed.

Neglect--or more serious abuse charges--could be filed, but only when police come armed with a lot of evidence.

For it to be a crime, there would have to be a clear and present danger--or proof the parent intended to abandon or harm the child.

As of now, simply leaving them at home doesn't qualify.

Enter State Representative Sean McCann, a Kalamazoo Democrat, who says he is working on a plan that could change that.

"I'm drafting legislation that would create penalties when children are left unattended for an unreasonable amount of time," Rep. McCann said.

Inspired by a 2009 law making it illegal to leave kids younger than 6 alone in cars, Rep. McCann is sponsoring new legislation to make it illegal to leave young children home as well.

"Often times the legislature is prone to closing the barn doors after the horses get out," Rep. McCann said. "So something bad happens and we realize there's not legislation on the books."

Until such a law can be passed, though, the Community Healing Centers is reaching out to parents, making cold calls and house calls.

They bring gift bags and diapers and offer moms and dads free parenting support in their own homes. For now, that's all we can do.

"We believe it's important that we go to where they are and teach parent and to the child in their setting," Reames said.

Newschannel 3 has been told that the bill in question is currently being fast tracked. We'll keep an eye on things and let you know how it turns out.
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Business News

Last Update on September 22, 2014 07:26 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors will gain some insight into the housing market during the first half of the week.

Today, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for August.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department will report on new home sales for August.

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HOUSTON (AP) -- German engineering company Siemens AG has reached a deal to acquire oilfield equipment maker Dresser-Rand for $7.6 billion.

Under the deal announced early Monday in Germany, Siemens will pay $83 per common share of Dresser-Rand Group Inc., $3.09 more than the company's closing share price Friday. The deal includes assumption of debt.

Dresser-Rand's board of directors unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders, and Siemens expects to close the deal by summer, according to a statement from the company.

Dresser-Rand, based in Houston and Paris, has annual revenue of around $3 billion. It said in a statement Siemens will operate the company as its oil and gas business under the Dresser-Rand brand and retain its executive team. It said the oil and gas business will be based in Houston.

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CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- A national survey says the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped another 9 cents over the last two weeks, to $3.37, bringing the decline to 34 cents over the last 13 weeks.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that falling crude oil prices drove the declines, but the drop was also heavily impacted by a crash in prices of ethanol and the fact that winter-grade gasoline costs less to produce. If crude prices don't rise, the average prices at the pump may drop a few more cents.

Jackson, Mississippi, had the lowest price among cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, with $3.03 a gallon. San Francisco had the highest at $3.79 a gallon.

The average price for a gallon in California is $3.67, down 8 cents from two weeks ago, with Fresno the low average in the state at $3.56.

The average price for a gallon of midgrade gasoline was $3.59 a gallon, and premium was $3.74.

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DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors is recalling 221,558 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans because the brake pads can stay partially engaged even when they're not needed, increasing the risk of a fire.

The recall involves Cadillacs from the 2013-2015 model years and Impalas from the 2014 and 2015 model years. There are 205,309 vehicles affected in the U.S.; the rest of the vehicles are in Canada and elsewhere.

GM says the electronic parking brake arm that applies pressure to the back of the brake pads may not fully retract after use. If the brake pads stay partially engaged with the rotor, excessive brake heat may result in a fire.

GM says it knows of no accidents or injuries related to the defect.

GM will notify owners and repair the vehicles for free.

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DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler is recalling nearly 189,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos in the U.S. to fix a fuel pump problem that can cause the SUVs to stall.

The recall covers some 2011 models with 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8 engines. Chrysler says a relay can fail, increasing the risk of a crash.

Chrysler traced the problem to a spring that can deform because of heat.

The vehicles also might not start, and the fuel pump could keep working even when the engine is shut off. The company says that as of Aug. 25 it's not aware of any crashes or injuries from the problem.

Dealers will replace the fuel pump relay for free starting Oct. 24.

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BEIJING (AP) -- A U.S. meat supplier is laying off most of the workforce of a Chinese subsidiary accused of selling expired meat to KFC, McDonald's and other customers.

OSI Group said Monday it will lay off 340 employees of Shanghai Husi Food Co., which has been under investigation since a Shanghai TV station reported in July it supplied expired meat.

Six employees were arrested in August on suspicion of producing substandard products.

OSI Group said a small number of employees would be kept on in Shanghai while the investigation is underway. It said production was unlikely to resume in the near future. It said the company suffered "significant financial and customer losses."

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That was mostly because of increases from the three biggest polluters -- China, the United States and India.

The reports released Sunday come as world leaders gather at the United Nations to talk about how to reduce heat-trapping gases.

According to the calculations, the world pumped more than 39 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air last year by burning coal, oil and gas. That was 2.3 percent more than the previous year.

The International Global Carbon Project team published their reports in the scientific journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

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One bill signed Sunday allows 15,000 additional electric and partial zero-emissions vehicles, or 70,000 total vehicles, to get green stickers that allow driving in carpool lanes even when solo.

Another requires freeway high-occupancy toll lane operators to allow clean air vehicles to drive for free or reduced rates. Such roads exist in Orange and Riverside counties, and the San Francisco area.

Another bill requires a property owner, rather than the person leasing it, to install an electric vehicle charging station and its infrastructure in most cases.

California makes up 40 percent of the nation's electric vehicle sales and the governor's press office says it surpassed more than 100,000 sold earlier this month.

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Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey is the host of the Group of 20 meeting in the northern Australian city of Cairns. He said on Sunday that the G-20 finance ministers and central bankers had agreed to more than 900 policy initiatives to meet the goal they set earlier this year.

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The United Auto Workers said Sunday evening that members of Local 2335 had "overwhelmingly" approved the four-year contract. It did not give a specific vote count.

Workers at the Hammond plant make seats for the Explorer and Taurus models produced at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant. The workers went on strike Sept. 13, but returned to work the next day after the tentative deal was reached.

The contract will end a system that locked newer workers into lower wages, and raise the top wage to $21.58 an hour.

Local 2335 President Jaime Luna says the deal could help thousands of autoworkers across the country.

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