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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.

Insanity plea from man accused of ramming Coast Guard gate

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The man accused of ramming the gate at the Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven in February appeared in court Friday morning.

Matthew Krueger pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He's charged with making a false threat of terrorism and malicious destruction of property. Both are felonies.

The judge ordered Krueger to spend 60 days at a mental institution. After that, he may spend more time in a mental facility based on his mental condition at that time.

Krueger also faces charges in Oceana County for a fire at his home there.

Runners to test out new stretch of highway before it opens

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) -- A limited-number of runners will get the chance to test out a new stretch of highway before it opens to vehicle traffic.

Registration is open for the "M23.1k Run," which takes place Oct. 3.

ID=31464485The 14.3-mile event starts and ends at Robinson Elementary School in Grand Haven and will take place on Michigan highway 231. Organizers say participation is restricted to the first 231 people to register.