The Recorder

National news in brief

Michigan official faces key hearing in Flint water case

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan health official testified Thursday that he started asking questions about bacteria in Flint’s water supply a year before the state publicly acknowledged an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Tim Becker, who was deputy director at the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged that the agency could have issued a public warning in January 2015. But it was 12 more months before the department and Gov. Rick Snyder said something publicly.

Becker was the first witness at a key court hearing involving his former boss, department director Nick Lyon, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of an 85-year-old man and misconduct in office.

A judge must decide whether there’s enough evidence to send him to trial. Lyon’s attorneys call the charges “baseless.”

The attorney general’s office says a timely announcement about a Legionnaires’ outbreak in the Flint area in 2014-15 might have saved Robert Skidmore. He died of congestive heart failure, six months after he was treated for Legionnaires’.

Billionaire gives $30M to Univ. of Arizona for Biosphere 2

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Texas billionaire Edward P. Bass is giving $30 million to the University of Arizona to support the Biosphere 2 research facility.

Biosphere 2 Director Joaquin Ruiz says Bass’ gift will allow continued research into global climate change and other “grand scientific challenges” affecting daily life.

The university has operated Biosphere 2 since 2007. Bass says he’s confident the university’s stewardship will benefit the planet’s long-term well-being.

The university’s announcement Wednesday says the gift is the third major commitment by a Bass foundation to support the university’s research and operations at Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2 was used in the early 1990s for research involving extended stays inside the facility.

It is in the small community of Oracle about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the university’s campus in Tucson.