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Five heroes honored for saving teenage swimmers from rip current


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Three weeks ago, two teenage girls nearly drowned when a rip current pulled them into Lake Michigan, but they were saved because of five individuals' selfless acts. On Wednesday, the City of Grand Haven and the Grand Haven Coast Guard honored the men who risked their lives.

Before a packed room in Grand Haven, a video played showing the water rescue as recorded by security cameras. The waves on Lake Michigan were rough, and five men can be seen pulling a teenager out of the water.

Doug Jedel was honored, but was unable to attend the ceremony. He was the second rescuer who went out to save the 14-year-old girl.

Trevor Reeths was at the beach when he could see rip currents were pulling the girls farther from shore. He ran for help. "I did not expect this; it was kind of a big surprise," Reeths said.

Teen arrested in Grand Haven Twp. car break-ins


GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (GRAND HAVEN TRIBUNE) -- Police said a 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with stealing from vehicles in the River Haven Village, where he lives, during the week of Aug. 18.

Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said they received a tip that the boy was in possession of items stolen from vehicles. Deputies searched the boy's home on Monday and recovered several stolen articles, he said.

Bennett said they were able to search the Grand Haven Township home based on the boy's probationary status. The boy was on probation for property crimes.

"At this point, the sheriff's office believes that the youth may have been involved in at least six cases, most of which involve larceny-from-vehicle complaints," Bennett said.

Plans moving forward to save Grand Haven tipple


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- A plan to save the tipple is moving forward in Grand Haven.

Thursday night the city's historic commission approved plans they hope will preserve the landmark. The tipple is part of Grand Haven's railroad history.

Built in 1925, steam engine locomotives would pull under the arch to fill up with coal.

But time is taking a toll.

This winter, engineers will apply treatment they hope will stop rust on rebar and concrete from crumbling.

''It's the rebar inside the concrete that is rusting, and if we can stop that and stop the cracking and the falling concrete, we can really preserve the structure,'' explained Grand Haven Historic Commission Chairperson Marsha Peterson. "It has a lot of historical value.''


Judge dismisses latest lawsuit over Dewey Hill cross


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- For the second time this summer, a judge has dismissed a lawsuit in support of the cross on top of Grand Haven's Dewey Hill.

Back in January, the Grand Haven city council agreed to a resolution that no longer permits the cross to raised on Dewey Hill.

The resolution came in response to complaints the cross violates the separation of church and state.

A group of anonymous residents sued to block the resolution, claiming their religious rights were being violated. Judge Jon Hulsing dismissed that lawsuit in June.

A week later, former Kent County assistant prosecutor Helen Brinkman filed a new lawsuit, adding the plaintiffs' names.

The judge on Tuesday determined the city has the right to do what it wants with its own property. He disagreed with the argument that the cross should continue to be displayed as a matter of free speech.

Fire chief: Commercial barn a total loss after fire


ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Fire fighters from several departments responded to flames reported at a commercial barn in Ottawa County Monday night.

Just after 10:30 p.m., flames were reported at 10203 Lake Michigan Drive, near 96th Ave. That's the address of Precision Landscapes.

The fire destroyed the office building, as well as vehicles and landscaping equipment inside.

The Robinson Township Fire Chief estimated the fire caused up to $1.5 million in damage.

"You had several vehicles in there, there was a boat inside, there was a heavy fuel load," said Chief Paul VanVelzen. "He also had tires in there for his winter fleet, snow tires and stuff, I think there were about 40 of those, so the fuel load in there was heavy."

The company's owner says the damage is covered by insurance and they will rebuild.

Girl, 13, saved by surfer from Lake Michigan talks about her rescue


GRAND HAVEN, Mich., (WZZM) -- Two teenage girls who were rescued from Lake Michigan are recovering from their near-death experience.

It happened Thursday afternoon. Jozalin Francis, 13, and her 14-year-old friend went to Grand Haven Beach. Jozalin says they knew that it was a "red flag" day. The threat of rip currents was high. James Woonacott, Jozalin's dad, texted her. He said "DO NOT GO SWIMMING. THE WAVES ARE HIGH."

Jozalin admits she ignored the warning and went-in anyway. A rip current quickly caught her and her friend and they were swept away. Josalin says, "It was like someone had a rope around my waist. It was like someone was pulling me. I was screaming for help and I know no one could hear me. I kept on trying and I was crying. I thought I was going to die at that moment."

New cuts for Ottawa Co. mental health service


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- We're learning about another round of layoffs that will impact dozens of mental health workers in Ottawa County.

Over the past year, Ottawa County Community Mental Health cut 35 staff members. On Wednesday, the executive director says they plan to eliminate 30 more positions by next October. She says the department has lost about $6 million in state funding.

Ottawa County Community Mental Health is also reducing funding to several organizations it works with.

The executive director says similar cuts are expected for at least the next four years.