9.22.16:  Man told police he helped cousin bury woman’s body



MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) – €” A court document shows that the cousin of a man charged in the slaying of a 25-year-old western Michigan gas station clerk initially told investigators he helped bury her body.

The document released Wednesday reveals Kevin Bluhm’s statements to police helped lead to murder and kidnapping charges against Jeffrey Willis.

Jessica Heeringa disappeared April 26, 2013, from Norton Shores, near Muskegon. Her body hasn’t been found.

The document says Bluhm told police that the next day he helped to bury her.

Bluhm later told police he had lied. He is charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Telephone and credit card records show Willis had been at the gas station. Willis also is charged in a separate murder case.


9.21.16:   Not guilty plea for man in woman’s disappearance




MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A not guilty plea has been entered on behalf of a man charged with kidnapping and killing a gas station clerk who disappeared from her job in western Michigan in 2013.

Jeffrey Willis appeared at a brief hearing in a Muskegon County court, hours after charges were announced Tuesday. He was accompanied by a lawyer and didn’t speak to the judge.

Willis is charged in the disappearance of 25-year-old Jessica Heeringa, whose body hasn’t been found. He’s also facing charges in two more local cases: the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old female jogger in 2014 and the attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl in April.

The girl escaped from Willis’ van, an incident that brought him to the attention of police and energized the Heeringa investigation.



9.7.16:  2 dead in crash on US 31 in Muskegon County; tire blamed



MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A blown tire may have contributed to a crash that killed two people in a van in Muskegon County.

The crash occurred Tuesday on northbound U.S. 31, just south of Lakewood.   Sheriff Dean Roesler says the van was “totally demolished” and wrapped around a tree.

Witnesses told deputies that the van was passing a semi-truck when a rear tire blew out. The van rolled several times before hitting a tree.

Mlive reports that the two people who lost their lives were Larry and Wanda Drake of Hesperia.  Their daughter, Wanda Foster of Hesperia, was taken to the hospital in critical condition.


8.25.16:  Bill provides $6.5M to bring fresh food to underserved areas



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lawmaker is advocating for $6.5 million in funding to make fresh and nutritious food available in underserved communities across Michigan.

The legislation, which will be promoted Thursday at a farmers market on the Capitol lawn in Lansing, would provide grants and loans for grocery stores and local public health agencies.

The goal is to help retailers open, renovate or expand grocery stores primarily in low- and moderate-income areas without enough fruit, vegetables and other fresh food.

Entities receiving the financing would have to accept cards from residents who qualify for government food assistance.

The bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Dave Pagel of White Lake, is an apple farmer who says expanding access to healthy food will help people live healthier lives.


8.16.16:  Police looking for 2 suspects



-Police in Norton Shores are looking for two suspects involved in a deadly shooting Monday night.

Officers were called to E. Sherman Boulevard on reports of a possible shooting.  When police arrived they located a 23-year-old male victim.

A witness said the homeowner let the suspects in and after a struggle, shots were fired.


8-12-16 Muskegon Man Dies Following Construction Fall

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — A 48-year-old man has died following a two-story fall from the roof of a western Michigan college building. David Torrenga toppled Wednesday from Hope College’s DePree Art Center & Gallery in Holland. He later died at a hospital. The Holland Sentinel reports Thursday that police said Torrenga struck his head during the fall.

7.27.16:  Indian tribe plans housing development in western Michigan



FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An American Indian tribe that’s planning a casino in western Michigan says it wants to develop a community of about 300 housing units on 120 acres of land it bought this year from a school district.


The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians for the land in Muskegon County’s Fruitport Township should be finalized within the next few months.


The development would include smaller homes for young couples or retirees and energy-efficient houses for families. Walking trails, wildlife corridors, gazebos, parks, water features and common areas will make up a quarter of the development.


Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli says the first homes could go up as early as next spring. The tribe’s proposed casino is about 2 miles away.


7.22.16:  GOP ends convention while Democrats get ready to begin theirs



(AP) — More than 125,000 balloons floated down, as the Republican National Convention came to an end Thursday night with Donald Trump accepting his party’s nomination for president.

Trump pledges, as president, to restore a sense of public safety and curb immigration.  He also suggests that the U.S. might abandon its NATO treaty commitments and that has ignited domestic furor along with angst overseas.


Meanwhile, the 2016 Democratic Convention will be held next week in Philadelphia.   Hillary Clinton could announce a running mate today or tomorrow.  Some are saying that Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, appears to have the inside track.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is also in the conversation.

Michigan will have a presence at the convention next week as speakers are expected to include former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and the mayors of Flint and Detroit.  A Detroit resident will also talk about her fight to raise the minimum wage.


7.20.16:  Prison for bank teller who stole dead customer’s money



MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A bank teller who stole $100,000 from the account of a deceased customer and attended his funeral in western Michigan has been sentenced to at least 20 months in prison.

Michelle Crouch emptied Kevin Bolema’s account at PNC Bank in the Muskegon area, leaving just a little more than $5 in 2015.

Bolema’s sister, Rhonda Bolema, told a judge Tuesday that Crouch hugged relatives at the funeral. She says Crouch’s “actions are evil.”

Crouch tried to cover up the theft by saying Bolema had authorized an interest-free loan before he died on a hunting trip. She pleaded no contest to the charges.

The Muskegon Chronicle says Judge William Marietti didn’t object to boot camp for Crouch. The decision is up to the state Corrections Department.