The first day of school, Michigan takes Little League title, updates from Hurricane Ida

The first day of school is here, along with the familiar feeling of nerves that accompany every start to the school year.

For students in Oakland and Wayne counties and about half of all K-12 students in Michigan will be kicking off the fall semester wearing a mask.

Even as teachers were finalizing their lesson plans for the upcoming school year, districts were still getting their ducks in a row for COVID-19 safety policies that plan to be enforced in dozens of districts.

While mask orders were the flashpoint debate between parents and school board members this summer, health departments in Oakland and Wayne County opted to enforce masking across all districts until the infection rate had fallen.

Currently, it stands at substantial. It would need to fall to moderate for 14 straight days.

Masking is intended to keep districts open as to avoid quarantining students and separating them from some of the services offered by districts.

"I am deeply proud of our teachers who are committed and to our administrators to do everything possible to keep kids in school because we know important it is for them to rely on," said Jamii Hitchcock, the superintendent of Oak Park schools. "Not only education but mental health services, medical services, we provide in our school district and just that interpersonal relationship with classmates and teachers."

Returning to school also means striking a chord of normalcy for students desperate to get out of the house. 

"Our kids have been stuck at home. Now they get to come to school, they get to see their friends, they get to go outside for recess, they get to eat lunch, go to music class, art class, they get to live their lives right?" said Emanuel Haley, principal of Pepper Elementary School.

Michigan beats Ohio, takes 2nd-ever LLWS title

Jackson Surma drove in four runs and Ethan Van Belle struck out eight as Michigan beat Ohio 5-2 on Sunday in the championship game of the Little League World Series. The team from Taylor North Little League delivered the first LLWS title for the state of Michigan since 1959.

Both teams are from the Great Lakes, marking the only time clubs from the same region played in the championship. That was because international teams didn’t compete in the LLWS for the first time since 1975, due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Little League allowed two squads from each U.S. region to fill out the 16-team field.

Michigan jumped out to a three-run lead in the first after a two-run single by Jackson and an RBI groundout by Jakob Furkas. Jackson increased the lead in the fifth when he singled to center, driving in two more. Ohio had plenty of chances. The team loaded the bases in the first on a pair of walks and a single by JJ Vogel, but Ethan struck out Levi Smith with two out to end the threat.

The team from West Side Little League in Hamilton, Ohio, juiced the bases again in the third with nobody out. The next two batters struck out looking before Chance Retherford was picked off at third base as he headed toward the dugout after strike two.

Gas prices continue slow and steady decline

It may not feel like much, but Michigan drivers will be seeing a little more help at the pump this week as gas prices continued to march downward. The price of a gallon of gas was down 6 cents on average to $3.13 in Michigan.

The price is also 8 cents less than last month, yet remains 97 cents higher than this time last year. Motorists are still paying about $47 for a full 15-gallon tank of gasoline, which is $8 higher than January.

AAA said the pump prices have declined even as demand for gasoline increased slightly. The Energy Information Administration said lower stock levels mixed with high demand should have sent the price of gasoline up, but crude prices have been trending lower. 

Compared to last week, Metro Detroit’s average daily gas price decreased. Metro Detroit’s current average is $3.27 per gallon.  This price is 4 cent less than last week’s average but still $1.05 more than this same time last year.

Planting trees on Belle Isle

For a 2-year-old, a little bit of sugar is all that's needed to keep them happy. But Swathi Ravi and her husband wanted to do something special for their child's second birthday, even if their daughter wouldn't remember it. "We wanted to start a tradition. We wanted to do something special for her birthday and since she’s a baby she really doesn’t need big parties," said Ravi.

And what better way to do that than plant 100 trees. They may not do much right now, but by the time older age comes around, the orchard that's planted will have taken on an entirely different look. On Sunday, Ravi and about 20 volunteers put 30 trees into the ground. Last year, they did 70. Tree planting is part of the family's small but tangible opportunity it has to mitigate climate change.

"The state of the world right now it’s really bad and this is not the kind of place I want to leave for my kids," said Ravi. It wasn't easy to make happen. Seemingly endless calls were made until Ravi found the right person. "We weren’t able to get as many trees as we wanted into the ground so when Swathi approached us, it was just perfect to be able to have volunteers be so spirited and interested in helping us getting these trees in the ground," said Heidi Frei, of the DNR.

Frei was out with the family on Sunday, helping plant trees. The extra help from volunteers also helped address a clear need for more manpower. "Within the state park system, within the campgrounds, it’s really a tough place to be a tree," Frei said, "so with the compaction that occurs, with people dumping hot coals at the base of trees, it’s really very tough to be a state tree in a Michigan state park."

Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin says her staff rescued 114 Afghan nationals

Staff members of Rep. Elissa Slotkin successfully evacuated 114 Afghan nationals out of Kabul and to safety according to a tweet from Slotkin. She said that over 70 of those evacuated were affiliated with Michigan State University while the other totaling more than 30 were former deputy ministers, staff, and military officers of the former Afghan government who were being threatened and hunted by the Taliban.

"There are simply no words to convey the pain of running from your own country," Slotkin said. Slotkin's Twitter thread references the nationwide grief of the loss of 13 U.S. service members killed and the heartbreak that "not all will get out".

"As a Congresswoman whose family, generations ago, left their home countries seeking a better life, I know that there's no telling what these resilient people will do with this opportunity. In the hardest moments, I feel I have seen the best of American ingenuity and grit."

Slotkin is the second Michigan Congressmember to be involved in Kabul. Rep. Peter Meijer flew to Afghanistan with Mass. Rep. Seth Moulton on Aug. 24 where they spent several hours on the ground at the Kabul airport. Both lawmakers are military veterans with experience in the region.

What else we're watching

  1. The Great Lakes Water Authority is granting media tours of its Conners Creek Pump Station in Detroit in hopes of better educating the public about its operations. GLWA's summer has been a busy one with the resignation of its director amid several flooding incidents.
  2. The Village Food Pantry in Lake Orion is opening for the first time and is expected to start fielding families and cars early Monday morning. The pantry will also feed breakfast to those in line ahead of its ribbon-cutting ceremony.
  3. Consumers Energy says it has reached an agreement to purchase a solar energy project planned in northwest Michigan.
  4. A fire tore through a roofing and driveway waterproofing company Monday morning. No injuries were reported and it's unclear how the fire started.
  5. A charity set up by Mark Wahlberg hopes to raise $1 million at a golfing event today to help kids. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

The heat is lifting and the humidity is relenting this week, giving residents some much-needed relief from the scorching temperatures that have swamped the region. There also is no rain in the forecast.

Ida weakened to tropical storm after leaving 1 dead, more than 1M without power

Ida, a powerful hurricane that knocked out power to the entire city of New Orleans and left at least one person dead, was downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it continued its path through the South.

Forecasters said life-threatening flash flooding amid heavy rain, as well as damaging winds and dangerous storm surge all continued to be a threat for portions of Louisiana and Mississippi. 

The storm was forecast to dump as much as two feet in places as Ida’s center moved over Mississippi.

As of 4 a.m. local time, Ida was located about 95 miles south-southwest of Jackson, Mississippi, and moving north at about 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Forecasters said it would rapidly weaken throughout the morning while still dumping torrential rain over the region.

The hurricane warning has been replaced with a tropical storm warning from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Mouth of the Pearl River, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and metropolitan New Orleans, the NHC said.

Ida made landfall on the same day 16 years earlier that Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi, and its 150 mph winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland. It was already blamed for one death, someone hit by a falling tree in Prairieville, outside Baton Rouge, deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Sunday.