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Man pleads no contest to second degree murder

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Shundarius Lawson will spend at least 21 years in prison after pleading no contest to second degree murder in a Muskegon County court Tuesday morning.

Lawson is charged with the shooting death of 17-year-old Marquis Gresham.

Gresham was killed on April 23 as he and some friends were walking along 5th Street to a banquet celebrating the high school basketball team. Gresham was a member of the team that reached the state semi-finals.

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Questionnaire over Muskegon street lights sparks concerns

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - A poll measuring support for a special street-lighting assessment in Muskegon has some there upset.

Materials mailed to city residents ask them to "vote" for whether they're willing to pay $175 over the course of five years to maintain street lighting.

The city wants the ballots back by October 13, and the poll results will give Muskegon's City Commission -- which will ultimately decide if the new street tax passes -- some indication of where the public stands on the measure.

Those we spoke to who are concerned say they don't necessarily object to the proposal, but the method of counting votes. The ballot, mailed to taxpayers by the treasurer, says ballots that are not returned will be counted as "yes" votes.

That clause is not sitting well with people we spoke with.

State approves 'Muskegon Promise' scholarship

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- The state has approved a plan to offer two-year college scholarships to high school graduates from Muskegon.

The Treasury Department gave the Muskegon Area Promise the go-ahead to offer the scholarships to three school districts.

After two years, the program would expand to include all of Muskegon County. Students from public, private and charter schools would be eligible.

Federal money to identify Muskegon port assets, needs

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- About $174,000 in federal grant money will help study the Port of Muskegon.

"We have to do our due diligence, to make sure that we are planning for the future and planning it in a way that is sustainable," said Erin Kuhn, executive director of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, "and that is what these studies will help us to do."

Kuhn says the money will pay for a study of the existing infrastructure around the lake, "to do an analysis of the existing infrastructure, and its capacity and future capacity."

Economic leaders in Muskegon County believe this lake can be the starting and ending point for a regional logistic hub serving rail, water, roads, and air. But first -- a study.

"We expect it to take about six months," Kuhn said.

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Muskegon prison warden retires amid probe

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Less than two weeks after being escorted from the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Warden Mary Berghuis on Thursday retired from the job she's held for nearly 16 years.

Her retirement became effective on Thursday, even as the internal investigation continues.

The Michigan Department of Corrections has refused to discuss the nature of the ongoing investigation, which began Sept. 22.

Berguis, who joined the Michigan Department of Corrections in 1966, was named warden of the Brooks facility and nearby West Shoreline Correctional Facility in 2000.

Shane Jackson, appointed to fill in for Berghuis after her Sept. 22 departure, will continue serving in that capacity until a permanent replacement is named.


MCC set to receive $2.5M for downtown center

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Muskegon Community College's development of it's downtown center has received a financial boost.

The new downtown center is set to receive $2.5 million to be used towards the renovation of the former Muskegon Chronicle building. It is set to be turned into into a technology center for the college.

The funds will also help improve programs that directly lead to jobs in West Michigan.

Along with the help of funds approved by Muskegon County voters and a grant from from the Michigan Economic Development Administration, M.C.C. has secured over $11 million toward the completion of the downtown center.

Thousands of toys collected for kids fighting cancer

ROOSEVELT PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- A lakeshore group is working to brighten the lives of children fighting cancer.

Wednesday night's event at Roosevelt Park's Ross Medical Education Center wrapped up September's childhood cancer awareness month.

It included a balloon release. Each balloon representing a child who passed away, survived, or is fighting cancer.

They also held a toy drive for the Fremont-based Team Keegan, which creates prize boxes for kids going through cancer treatment.

The items include "things they can do in the hospital or bigger toys they can do when they get home, coloring books, puzzles, things like that," said Ross Medical Education Center's Amanda Holman. "It was exciting to be able to kind of do something fun for the kids, and bring awareness to this important cause."