State Roundup

Sheriff: Plan offers ‘relentless pursuit” of crime

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Genessee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says a proposed violent crime mobile unit will target Flint’s worst offenders in a “relentless pursuit” of crime.
Pickell’s $3 million proposal submitted to Gov. Rick Snyder last week says Flint has become a “safe haven for criminals” where “law-abiding citizens” have been on the run for 25 years. says Pickell proposed the unit last year, but Snyder backed his own anti-crime initiative. Snyder’s plan focused on increased Michigan State Police troopers, $2 million to reopen and operate the Flint lockup, and four state-funded attorneys.
Pickell says additional state troopers help but “they don’t know Flint.”
Emergency manager Ed Kurtz says the response team shouldn’t come at the expense of state resources. Police Chief Alvern Lock says Flint doesn’t need a special unit.

Michigan’s heavy trucks blamed for ailing roads

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Critics of Gov. Rick Snyder’s call for more money to fix Michigan’s ailing roads and bridges are pointing to the state’s highway weight limit as the problem.
The Detroit Free Press reports Tuesday that Michigan has the highest maximum truck weight in the nation at 164,000 pounds. In his third State of the State address last week, Gov. Snyder asked lawmakers for an additional $1.2 billion a year to fund Michigan’s transportation system.
Chief Operations Officer for the Michigan Department of Transportation Gregory Johnson tells the Free Press that Michigan’s requirement that heavier trucks ride on more axles actually reduces the impact on the state’s roads.
But Johnson says “there is no doubt there is an incremental cost” for building roads designed “for heavier loads.”

State to launch new campaign to help fight obesity

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Community Health plans to lay out a new educational campaign to combat obesity in the nation's fifth heaviest state.
Officials including health department Director James Haverman will unveil the campaign Wednesday at the Capitol.
Gov. Rick Snyder asked the department to examine the problem of obesity and in June it released the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan. The campaign is the result of that plan.
Last year, the department reported more than 30 percent of children from 10 to 17 were overweight or obese. The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention reports that more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Park Township
Brother charged with couple’s death in 1987

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An Ottawa County man was charged Monday in the fatal shootings of his sister and her husband in 1987, one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in western Michigan.
Ryan Wyngarden, 50, was charged with murder in the deaths of 22-year-old Gail Brink and her husband, Rick Brink, 28. Gail Brink was killed in her bed, while her husband was found dead in his Chevy Blazer in the driveway at the couple’s home in Park Township, about 35 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
Wyngarden was denied bail and sent back to the Ottawa County jail during a brief court hearing. He said he would accept a court-appointed attorney.
“I guess I’ll have to,” Wyngarden said.
During a news conference, investigators wouldn’t say why they finally settled on the Zeeland man. But according to a court document obtained by, Wyngarden’s wife told police he admitted to her that he was the killer.
Two detectives assigned to the case in 2011 conducted approximately 200 interviews. More details will likely be released at a probable cause hearing in February.
“In regards to his involvement in the crime, information really came to the forefront in the last couple of months,” Ottawa County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Bennett said.
Shortly after the murders, Wyngarden spoke highly of the couple during an interview with the Holland Sentinel.
“They were the nicest people in the world. I’ve never seen a couple get along better than they did,” Wyngarden told the newspaper in 1987.
One of the lead investigators, Venus Repper, said she was pleased to finally give answers to relatives who have been waiting for more than 25 years.
“It’s being able to sit down and give closure to the family,” she said.