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Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The city of Muskegon has fired a veteran police officer, after a local couple found a KKK document in the officer’s home. City manager Frank Peterson confirmed the firing, which was first reported by MLive.

The couple toured the home of Officer Charles Anderson with a realtor, and posted photos of the framed KKK document on Facebook.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Muskegon Department of Public Safety has finished its investigation into one of its police officers, though a final decision on his fate may not come until next month.

A couple from the Muskegon area found a KKK document framed on the wall of the house of officer Charles Anderson while they toured the home with a realtor.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Muskegon residents called for a public apology and more transparency from the city’s police department at a commission meeting Tuesday night.

Those calls came after the city placed a senior officer on leave when an old KKK document was found in the officer’s home.

The officer, Charles Anderson is on leave while the city investigates.

But at Tuesday night’s meeting, members of the community say they want more of a response.

Muskegon, Michigan
user BigMikeSndTech / Flickr

Two and a half years after the Consumer’s Energy power plant closed in Muskegon, city officials are moving forward with development projects.

Frank Peterson, the Muskegon city manager, says the power plant was once worth nearly $100 million in taxable value.

Two students on stage
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A group of high school and middle school students in Muskegon have recently discovered the power of poetry. That’s thanks to an after school workshop led by three West Michigan poets.

Bill Huizenga
US Congress

Some high school students in West Michigan want U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga to speak about gun violence.

A student-led group concerned with gun violence released a video today asking the Republican Huizenga to address the issue at a town hall.

Students in a school auditorium
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Some teachers at Orchard View High School in Muskegon say that the media paints their city as a place riddled with gun violence, bad public schools, and poverty. So they wanted to find a way to help their students see and take part in something positive in their community.

The teachers and school administration are looking to poetry to do that.

As the final school bell of the day just rang at Orchard View High School recently, some students made their way through hallways covered in artwork from current and former students.

mark6mauno / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

Some hate the snow, others love it, but there is no arguing that snow has been the mother of invention for many a Michigander. Case in point: Snurfing.

 

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce / Courtesy photo

Every kindergartner in Muskegon County will get a college savings account when they start school in the fall.

Those accounts will start off with $50 already in them, thanks to the Community Foundation for Muskegon County

Foundation president Chris McGuigan says about 2,000 kids will get the accounts this year.

"We wanted this to be a cultural change,." she says "We wanted it to be a Muskegon County-wide expectation."

flickr/flattop341 (CC by 2.0)

The city of Muskegon is looking to slash spending in its fire department next year. But it’s not for the usual reasons we hear about in Michigan.

Muskegon is not broke. In fact, revenues are expected to go up overall next year.

But city manager Frank Peterson says personnel costs - particularly pension costs - in the fire department are getting out of control.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor is approaching a milestone of sorts. The city is replacing the last of its lead connections in the water system.

Ann Arbor city officials say they never allowed full lead service lines, the water pipes buried underground that connect homes to the water main.

Where are lead water pipes in Michigan? Here’s our best guess

One of many abandoned structures in Detroit
flickr user Stephen Harlan / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Michigan is all too familiar with the sight of abandoned buildings. Detroit is one of the most significant examples, where hundreds of millions of dollars are being spend on demolition.

Rex LaMore wonders whether we can’t save taxpayers the cost of abandonment by planning for the end of a building’s life from the very beginning. LaMore is director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, and he’s looking at ways to address Michigan’s glut of abandoned buildings.

Karen Stintz - Flickr Creative Commons - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Fifth-grade students at Muskegon Middle School will begin receiving drug- and gang-resistance training in November.

The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) program aims to deter students from participating in destructive behaviors before they start.

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce / Courtesy photo

Muskegon is marking the unofficial start of summer with a rebranding campaign. Leaders in Muskegon are trying to improve the lakeshore community’s not-so-great image.

“It’s changed a lot, I would say, in the last 15 years,” said Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

Kathy Evans, West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission

They're known as "Areas of Concern" and Michigan had 14 of them at one time.

Now, we have 12 of these toxic places where pollution from the past is lingering.

This summer, work crews will tackle the next phase of cleanup in the Muskegon Lake area.

Hovercrafts float on air and are used in ice rescues
Flickr user Eric Bégin

Next weekend, firefighters and rescue personnel can brush up on their ice rescue skills at an event called the Ice Rescue Conference and Education in Muskegon.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing a class-action lawsuit against Muskegon County on behalf of current and former female inmates at the jail.

ACLU attorney Miriam Auckerman alleges women at the jail are forced to shower and use the toilet in front of male guards. 

An original Raggedy Ann doll.
User: Muskegon Heritage Museum

If there's been a little girl in your life at any point, chances are pretty good that Raggedy Ann made her way into your home.

The cloth doll with the yarn hair and the candy-cane-striped stockings has been a part of America's toy scene for a century.

Raggedy Ann has some very strong roots in West Michigan.

Anne Dake is a curator at the Muskegon Heritage Museum. She says almost 90,000 Raggedy Ann dolls were handmade in Muskegon from 1918 to 1926.

According to Dake, the story of Raggedy Ann began when cartoonist Johnny Gruelle's daughter found a red doll at her grandmother's house. They painted her a new face, and Gruelle's daughter named it "Raggedy Ann."

"Her iconic smile, her joy ... Every time you see one, you can't help but smile and be happy," says Dake.

* Listen to our conversation with Anne Dake.

Cass Tech High School in Detroit.
DPS / Flickr

The Michigan Education Department and four of the state's school districts have been awarded nearly $3 million in federal grants to improve school safety and learning conditions.

The U.S. Education Department announced the grants as part of its effort to improve school safety around, reduce gun violence, and improve mental health services.

More from the U.S. Department of Education’s press release:

To help keep students safe and improve their learning environments, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states…

“If we can’t help protect kids and staff, and make them feel safe at school, then everything else that we do is secondary,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn. It’s that simple. Through these grants of more than $70 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensure that kids have access to the best learning experience possible.”

Here are the grants awarded in Michigan:

Crews working to remove propane tanks from river

Apr 20, 2014
Wikimedia Commons/Larry Pieniazek

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 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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For many newly married couples, it’s not unusual to apply to the state and federal government to get their new last names.

But for Art Bristol and Corey Ledin, whose newly minted marriage license declares their last names as Ledin-Brisol, the process was far from usual.

TV cameras were watching and photographers snapped pictures. The secretary of state's office wouldn't even accept the same-sex couple's paperwork for a new driver’s license.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

 


A major holiday performance happens this weekend in West Michigan. Students, teachers and parents at Mona Shores High School have spent thousands of hours preparing for the event, where they create a living breathing, and singing Christmas Tree — that’s five-stories tall, and holds more than 200 student singers.

It’s getting lots of national attention. In 2011, TLC featured the tree on its aptly-titled holiday show, “Extreme Christmas Trees.” This year, it’ll be highlighted on the Travel Channel.

The show is now in its 29th year.

Almost 300 hundred students from Mona Shores High School have been practicing for this show — held at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts — since Labor Day.

user BigMikeSndTech / Flickr

The Muskegon port could be expanded to accommodate for larger cargo. The port is one of the only naturally occurring deep water ports, which makes it ideal for bigger ships.

The port could be used to transport agricultural fertilizers and other goods like wind turbines, scrap metals and coal.

"Innovation" - it's what many say Michigan needs to become a player in the global economy. On today's show, we took a look at the most-innovative companies in our state. What are they doing differently in a post-Great-Recession economy?

And, we traveled to Muskegon - a community that continues to be plagued by gun violence. Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project reported on a gun battle that happened last month.

And, the Detroit Public Schools bond offering is tomorrow. Why should investors be interested?

Also, the guide to canoeing Michigan’s rivers just got an update. We spoke with one of the authors about the new edition.

First on the show, donations to Governor Snyder’s civic fund decreased last year by a lot. The 501 c-4 known as The New Energy to Reinvent and Diversity Fund – or “NERD Fund” for short – received $1.3 million in 2011, but in 2012 , the number was $368,000.

As Jonathan Oosting, a reporter for MLive.com, reports, “the NERD fund earns tax-exempt status by purporting to promote charitable causes including lessening the financial burdens of government in the state of Michigan.”

Jonathan Oosting joined us today.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The video above comes from a march to end violence organized by the Muskegon YMCA last weekend. The man speaking is Zawdie Abiade, who happens to be running for mayor of Muskegon. He also happens to be a former gang member. 

"The gang was the only community I felt understood me," Abiade says. "What we need is somebody and people who understand what it is to be isolated, to be rejected, to be discriminated against, to be misunderstood."

Dustin Dwyer

Last month, a disagreement on a residential street in Muskegon turned into a massive gun battle. Six men were armed. Dozens of shots sprayed in all directions.

At the house directly behind the gunfight, three children played on a porch.

And one woman ran into the line of fire to try to save them.

Today we begin a three-part series about the incident, and look at how the dramatic rise of gun crimes in Muskegon is putting more kids at risk.

Waves in Lake Michigan
screen grab from YouTube video

Aaron Mueller of the Kalamazoo Gazette reports on a settlement reached between the family of a 2009 drowning victim, and the "Michigan Municipal Risk Management Association." Martin Jordan of St. Charles, IL drowned in Lake Michigan after being caught up in strong rip currents.

More from Mueller:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s bankruptcy will make it tricky to brand Michigan as the comeback state.

True to his “relentless-positive-action” style, Governor Rick Snyder didn’t let a weekend of bad news about Detroit’s dismal finances get him down.

On Wednesday morning, as a hearing on the bankruptcy was beginning in federal court in Detroit, Snyder attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for an auto supplier that’s expanding in Muskegon. He urged factory workers to spread the good news about Michigan to everyone they meet.

“I’m not talking just ‘Pure Michigan” tourism messages, Snyder told the crowd. He asked they spread the news about Michigan’s educated workforce and its culture “of making the world’s best products.”

He admitted to reporters the bankruptcy has sidelined conversations about the state’s economy.

Dustin Dwyer/Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder seeks a presidential disaster declaration for 16 Michigan counties hit hard by floods this spring. Heavy rains in April and early May led to flooding in many parts of Michigan. 

Governor Snyder declared a state of disaster on May 7. That set the stage for state and federal teams to review damage and property losses in 19 counties. The assessment has led the governor now to seek a presidential disaster declaration in 16 counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will review the governor’s request.

A charter school in Muskegon County will have to repay the state close to $30,000 that, technically, the school shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.

The more students a school has the more money it receives from the state.

Barbara Stellard, who directed Waypoint Academy from 2002 to 2010, was charged in October with multiple criminal charges for reporting more students than actually attended the charter school.

Michigan Attorney General’s office spokeswoman Joy Yearout says another employee at Waypoint told tipped the state off to the scam.

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