WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY & WINTER STORM WARNING

SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH EARLY MONDAY

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for all of West Michigan except counties along the Michigan-Indiana border, effective from 7 pm Saturday until 6 am Monday. A strong storm will be crossing the Ohio Valley Sunday, bringing snow to West Michigan, with some areas perhaps seeing as much as 10-12" of accumulation. Snowfall will be heaviest south as opposed to north, so along/south of I-94 is where the highest accumulations are expected... 6-10" possible. However, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ottawa, and Kent could see anywhere from 4-6". Additionally, gusty winds will be blowing the snow quite a bit, causing drifting on roads along with poor visibility. Travel is discouraged from late Saturday night through Sunday night.

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the following counties in West Michigan, effective from 7 pm Saturday until 4 am Monday: Berrien, Cass, St.Joseph, Branch, and Hillsdale. A strong winter storm moving into/across the Ohio Valley will bring periods of heavy snow to the Warning area, beginning late tonight and extending through at least Sunday evening. Forecast models indicate between 8 and 12" of accumulation are possible. Additionally, strong winds will cause blowing and drifting snow. Driving conditions will be hazardous Sunday. Travel is not encouraged.

Stay with Newschannel 3 and wwmt.com for the latest updates.

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More documents, allegations emerge in Battle Creek overtime flap

Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 |
More documents, allegations emerge in Battle Creek overtime flap story image
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After the Newschannel 3 I-Team looked into allegations of time card fraud in Battle Creek's City Hall, the City Manager is calling foul.

Last week, the I-Team reported that the Department of Labor is investigating allegations from employees that their time cards are being deliberately changed to save money.

Thursday night, the I-Team uncovered an email sent by the City Manager to all Battle Creek employees.

In it, he says his comments were "misrepresented" in order to "sensationalize" the story.

Since the email, more Battle Creek employees have come forward with documentation to support their claims.

It's typically a matter of about 10 minutes, they say, usually in the morning or possibly after lunch, but they say it easily adds up to a couple of hours a week.

And even at $8 per hour, that's more than $1,000 per year for each employee.

They say they're sick of it, and that's why they went to the Department of Labor.

They all say the same thing: they're "required to be in early" to prepare for their shifts, but when they enter the actual start time, they find their supervisor "scratched it off" their time card.

"If that's the case, we need to make sure that doesn't happen unless there is truly an error in the time card to begin with," said Battle Creek City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama last week, when first asked about the allegations.

It was at that time when he told Newschannel 3 that the allegations were first brought to his attention around 3 weeks prior.

Internal correspondence obtained by the I-Team, however, indicates that whether City Manager Tsuchiyama knew it or not, overtime increments being being recorded incorrectly has been an issue since at least last winter.

But in no way does it prove fraud.

"In my mind, that means that we are going back and changing an employee's, someone is changing an employee's time card," Tsuchiyama said.

A notice from Battle Creek Employee Services explains employees must be paid for every tenth of an hour, or as little as four minutes on the clock, but employees tell Newschannel 3 that the treasurer ignored that.

They provided an email sent from the Treasurer exclusively to employees in the Treasury and Water Billing Departments, saying "tenths should not show up on the time cards."

So, employees stopped coming in ten minutes early as ordered, because they weren't being paid for it.

But they claim, "when you come in just a couple of minutes early, she writes you up for being late."

We called several Battle Creek city commissioners, as well as the Mayor, looking for comment on the story, but it was after 5:00 p.m., and we haven't heard back from any of them at this time.

We left a voicemail for City Manager Tsuchiyama, who replied by email. He said in part:

"I don't know what you're hearing from employees, but until we have things in final form from the (Department of Labor), I really have no comment.

"Sorry you found my email message to employees disappointing, but I obviously was, and am, disappointed with your report," he added.

To see our full interview with City Manager Tsuchiyama, click here.
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Business News

Last Update on January 30, 2015 18:13 GMT

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was offset by weakness in other areas.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the October-December period, down from sizzling gains of 4.6 percent in the second quarter and 5 percent in the third quarter.

Consumers did their part in the fourth quarter, pushing up spending by fastest rate in nearly nine years. But businesses investment, trade and government spending weakened.

For the year, the economy grew at a moderate rate of 2.4 percent. But economists believe 2015 could be a breakout year for growth, with consumer spending boosted by strong employment gains and falling gas prices. Many expect growth above 3 percent this year.

EMPLOYMENT COST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wages and benefits rose at the fastest pace in six years last year, a sign strong job gains could be forcing companies to pay a bit more for workers.

The Labor Department says the employment cost index, which measures pay and benefits, rose 2.2 percent in 2014, up from 2 percent the previous year. That's the biggest gain since 2008. It's also ahead of inflation, which rose 1.3 percent.

Yet the increase is still sluggish by historical standards. In a healthy economy, the index usually rises at about a 3.5 percent pace.

The Federal Reserve is closing watching wages as it considers when to raise the short-term interest rate it controls. Fed Chair Janet Yellen considers rising wages a key sign that the job market is nearing full health.

US-CONSUMER-SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers are more confident than they've been since January 2004.

The University of Michigan says that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 98.1 in January from 93.6 last month.

Consumers say the prospects for the U.S. economy are the strongest in a decade, and half of consumers expect the expansion to keep going another five years.

The Michigan survey was the latest evidence that strong job growth and tumbling oil prices have lifted consumers' spirits. The Conference Board on Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index climbed to the highest level since August 2007. And the Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending rose from October through December at the fastest pace in nearly nine years.

AMERICAN AIRLINES-PILOTS

DALLAS (AP) -- Pilots at American Airlines and US Airways have approved a single labor contract. That's a step toward combining workforces at the two carriers, which merged in December 2013.

The multiyear deal gives pilots a 23 percent pay raise retroactive to Dec. 2.

The pilots' union said Friday that the contract was approved 66 percent to 34 percent, with 95 percent of eligible pilots casting a vote.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A jury of six men and six women is continuing deliberations in a case alleging a 1996 Toyota Camry had a design defect that caused a fatal crash.

Jurors received the case late Wednesday afternoon and deliberated all day Thursday without reaching a verdict. They returned to a federal courthouse in Minneapolis on Friday to keep working.

The jurors must decide whether Toyota's design of the 1996 Camry had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous. If they find there was a defect, they must decide if it directly caused injuries to those hurt or killed when Koua Fong Lee crashed into another car in 2006.

Lee spent 2 1/2 years in prison before being released after reports suggested some Toyota cars had sudden acceleration problems.

GERMANY-BMW-SECURITY FLAW

BERLIN (AP) -- German automaker BMW says it has fixed a security flaw that made 2.2 million of its vehicles vulnerable to break-ins.

The company says the problem affected BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce models equipped with its ConnectedDrive technology, which allows drivers to access certain car functions with a smartphone.

German automobile club ADAC, which discovered the flaw last summer, says hackers could have used a fake cellphone base station to intercept network traffic from the car and lower the windows or open the doors. There are no reports such a break-in ever took place.

BMW spokeswoman Silke Brigl said Friday that hackers wouldn't have been able to start or stop the engine.

Brigl said the problem has been fixed with an automatic update and customers don't need to take any action.

POM JUICE-RULING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court says many advertising claims for POM Wonderful juice were deceptive in asserting that it curbs the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction and is clinically proven to work.

In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholds the conclusion that many of POM's ads made misleading or false claims. The conclusion was reached by the Federal Trade Commission.

The ads appeared in national publications, on Internet sites, bus stops, billboards, newsletters and on tags attached to the products.

POM Wonderful LLC produces a number of pomegranate-based products.

RUSSIA-FINANCES

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh says his country's economic crisis is forcing athletes to scale back their training plans for next year's Olympics in Brazil.

Training camps abroad can be crucial in acclimatizing athletes for Rio de Janeiro's tropical conditions, but they are rapidly becoming unaffordable after the ruble lost almost half of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last 12 months.

Nagornykh tells Russian agency R-Sport that, with the ruble's value low and the Sports Ministry's budget facing cuts, athletes should stay in Russia rather than train abroad "in order to spend less of the currency reserves."

Officials will select priority sports and athletes for scarce funding, Nagornykh said.

The measures affect athletes for the Rio Olympics, and the 2018 Winter Olympics, he added.

OHIO STATE-ROYALTIES

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Ohio State University is cashing in after the Buckeyes' national championship victory.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the university expects a $3 million increase this year in royalties from licensed merchandise sales as fans continue to buy national championship gear and keepsakes.

Retailers say the team's special story has helped boost sales. The Buckeyes, who defied naysayers in their 42-20 victory over the University of Oregon, earned the final playoff spot after losing two starting quarterbacks to injuries.

Licensing officials also attribute increased sales to the fact Ohio State hadn't won a championship since 2002.

More than half of each dollar that comes into the school's licensing office goes to academic affairs. The athletics department, alumni association and student life program also receive portions of the revenue.

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