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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.

Documents detail plans for church driveway facing opposition

SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WZZM) -- Some Spring Lake residents say the issue is now not so much about a new driveway for a church, but can they trust their village government?

"The deceptions, the hiding of the truth and the lies," complains village resident Elliot Grysen. "No longer trust these individuals to carry out their responsibilities in the village's best interest."

At the center of the dispute is a proposed new driveway for All Shores Wesleyan Church. Before buying property for a new driveway, church leaders communicated their plans privately to Village Manager Christine Burns.

Opponents say 500 pages of e-mails acquired through the Freedom of Information Act show village staff deliberately concealed the project from the public until the property was purchased and a permit for the driveway was approved.

NOCHS breaks ground on new emergency department

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- More space, less time waiting, and new technology -- that's how a Grand Haven hospital says it's planning to raise the standard of care for its patients. Tuesday morning, hospital leaders broke ground for a new multi-million-dollar emergency room at North Ottawa Community Health System.

WZZM 13 is looking at how the independent hospital is transforming the way it handles emergencies, and non-emergencies, in the ER. 

The new emergency room will be an expansion of the existing one, and it will cost about $9.7 million. 

Video provided by North Ottawa Community Health System shows a birds-eye view of the hospital tucked inside nearby neighborhoods. However, it's more than just the building that is closely tied to the community. 

Louisiana child porn case involves Michigan victim

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Ottawa County investigators say a Louisiana porn case has a link to West Michigan.

Matthew Walker, 25, faces several felony charges, including extortion, production, receipt and possession of child pornography.

Investigators say Walker would pretend to be a teenage girl on social media to meet other young girls and would coerce them into sending compromising pictures.

Walker lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but investigators say his young victims live all over the world. One of them is an 11-year-old girl from Crockery Township.

The ongoing federal investigation has identified 45 victims so far.

The use of social media by sexual predators is an ongoing problem, federal and state investigators say. They urge parents to monitor the online activity of their children and to report suspicious activity.