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Interim chief talks change in Muskegon Heights

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WZZM) -- "We will make them very uncomfortable, and we will either get them to change their behavior or get them to go some place else."

That's the message to criminals, from the man hired to lead the Muskegon Heights Police Department for now and help find a permanent chief.

Dr. Joseph Thomas Jr. is a Muskegon Heights outsider, called on to bring change to the city's police department and community.

Thursday, Thomas outlined his vision for the community, as the city is filling so many vacant leadership positions.

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City of Muskegon takes on stalled apartment development

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- The City of Muskegon is taking over an apartment project from a private developer after the work stalled for several years.

If successful, the development would create more housing options in the heart of downtown.

The City is already in a development agreement with Allen Edwin Homes to build Midtown Square. The nine single family homes are four blocks from downtown.

On Wednesday, city leaders were showing off their new housing project that will tower over Western Avenue.

"You have never seen anything like this," said Mohammed Al-Shatel, City of Muskegon Director of Public Works.

Icy conditions cause rollover crash in Muskegon

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) --  Police in Muskegon responded to a rollover accident, involving a pick up truck Wednesday morning.

Police say ice on the bridge caused the truck to lose control near Laketon Avenue. The driver was transported to the hospital but we are not sure of their condition. 

Police tell us there were reports of other slide offs near the River Flats area, between Apple and M-120. That area is known to be slick because it's where the highway crosses the Muskegon River.

Muskegon man charged in $45,000 drug bust

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- A Muskegon drug dealer who’s spent that last decade in and out of prison is now facing federal charges that could put him behind bars for at least 20 years.

Darrell Christopher Hunt, 44, was indicted this week for trafficking cocaine and heroin in Muskegon County. His September arrest comes just nine months after he was paroled on a 2013 drug conviction.

 “He was probably providing a great deal of the heroin coming into Muskegon and Muskegon Heights,’’ said Lt. Andrew Fias, head of West Michigan Enforcement Team, a multi-jurisdictional narcotics unit for Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties.

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Muskegon Heights installs interim police chief

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Muskegon Heights now has a new interim police chief.

Joseph Thomas Jr. was sworn in Monday night.

The city council hired Thomas to serve for several months while the city searches for a permanent chief.

Former Muskegon Heights Police Chief Lynne Gill retired January 5.

Thomas is also retired, last working in the city of Southfield, near Detroit.

Long shifts for plow drivers amid winter storm

WZZM 13's Jon Mills rode along Tuesday as crews tried to reach every street in Muskegon.

"We are getting things cleaned up," said City of Muskegon equipment operator Mike Frey. He's one of the Muskegon plow drivers working long shifts. "This time of the year, you expect to be doing it."

Frey was behind the wheel until midnight Monday battling ice. Lake-effect snow was his challenge Tuesday.

Strong winds are pushing that snow from place to place.  It's impacting visibility for travelers.

Frey says 10 days ago, he was keeping busy at work doing springtime-type maintenance projects. "It has been unique," Frey said of this winter.

He has some advice for travelers sharing the roads with plows: "Be patient, and back off and give us a little distance.  Some people get impatient and crowd in on you, and there are spots behind us [where] the visibility is not that great."

Elderly woman killed in Muskegon house fire

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- A woman in her 70's was killed Monday morning after her house caught fire in Muskegon.

The fire started around 8 a.m. in the 1200 block of Fleming Ave. Firefighters arriving to the scene found the two-story home engulfed in flames. They found 77-year-old Barbara Branyan on the second floor. She died at the scene.