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Vacant house fire near Holton deemed suspicious

HOLTON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Multiple fire departments battled a house fire in the 10500 block of Maple Island Road near Holton.

The first calls about the fire came in at about 8:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Muskegon County Dispatch says the Holton Fire Department is the primary agency fighting the fire but, scanner traffic indicates other fire departments including Fremont and Hesperia have been called in to assist.

ID=77742678Maple Island Road was closed at Brunswick Road while crews worked to put the fire out.

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MCC staff, first responders train for active shooter

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZN) - Muskegon Community College and police held a training exercise on campus Friday.

The active shooter drill on the main campus included members of the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department and several area police agencies.

The simulation helps the college and first responders prepare for a number of possible real life emergencies including a shooter on campus.

Much of the campus was reserved for the police training. Signs were posted to inform visitors and those passing by the event.

Students at MCC are on Christmas break.

In November, a bomb threat lead to the college closing for one day.

Michigan woman creates $8K Christmas tree by 'extreme couponing'

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) -- It's extreme couponing with a holiday twist.

Cynthia Elder's Christmas tree has been a year in the making — it's composed of 11 laundry baskets filled with various household and hygiene items. In total, the tree is worth roughly $8,000, she said.

But she didn't spend much on the products themselves. The tree is "99 percent" free, thanks to coupons and Meijer mPerks rewards. 

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Lakeshore inmates helping train service dogs

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Thirty inmates at the prison in Muskegon were given an early Christmas gift: new, four-legged cellmates.

A unique program is expanding inside state prisons and giving inmates the opportunity to give back to society while serving time behind bars.

Sounds of gates closing remind inmates at the Muskegon Correctional Facility they're serving hard time. A delivery Thursday afternoon, though, brought a new sound -- the sound of man's best friend.

It's something these men haven't heard for years, prison counselor Robert Howard said. "They have not seen a dog in a decade."

That changed when Paws with a Cause brought dogs in training. The 30 Muskegon inmates getting involved in this program join about 100 others in the state who've earned the privilege to train the dogs.

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Vandalism means historic blockhouse may move or close

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Spray paint and flames from an arsonist -- those are the two biggest problems at a historic site in Muskegon County.

It sits on the county's highest elevation, just around a sharp curve on Scenic Drive.

The original blockhouse lookout at Muskegon State Park was a Civilian Conservation Corps project built in 1934 and destroyed by fire in 1962. The current structure is a replica.

Muskegon State Park supervisor Greg Sherburn says the isolated structure was covered in graffiti. "More often than not, we were able to use a pressure washer to get most of it off."

Graffiti has appeared on sidewalks, too, and park staff have spent many hours removing most of it.

Driver, 14, charged in fatal Ravenna crash

RAVENNA, Mich. (WZZM) -- A 14-year-old driver will be charged in a crash that caused the death of his 10-year-old friend.

The Muskegon County prosecutor decided Tuesday to charge the 14-year-old boy in the fatal crash from Dec. 3, 2015, near Ravenna.

The teen will be charged with three counts. Count one is reckless driving causing death. Count two is operating a motor vehicle without a drivers license causing death. And count three is unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

The 14-year-old will be charged in juvenile court. An arraignment has not been scheduled yet.

Culinary students create 'Snoopy's Christmas' in chocolate

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Students at the Culinary Institute of Michigan have again gone over the top in creating some extraordinary confectionery creations.

The works are the final exams for the 21 students taking the wedding cake and chocolate classes. The students spent weeks learning how to manipulate chocolate and sugar. Then, they had three days to complete their final project: creations fitting the theme "Snoopy's Christmas."

The display is located in the lobby of Baker College of Muskegon's downtown campus on West Clay Avenue.

The program's director, Chef Luis Amado, says students will use the skills taught in the class after they leave school. "Regardless of where our graduates end up, more than likely they will be requested to do some type of art; that is why it's called culinary arts!"