Crash shuts down M-43 near Paw Paw  VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Deputies have shut down M-43 at 32nd Street after a crash.

BREAKING NEWS

FROST ADVISORY

UNTIL 9 AM

The National Weather Service maintains FROST ADVISORIES until 9 AM in Oceana, Newaygo, and Mecosta counties.  Early morning temperatures are already in the 30s and will fall through the 6 AM hour.  Remember, the temperature doesn't have to be at the freezing mark for frost to form.  Hopefully, you had the chance to protect your plants and flowers by covering them or bringing them inside.  

Stay with wwmt.com for your weather today and all weekend long.

Breaking Weather Map #1
Breaking Weather Map #2
Breaking Weather Map #3
Breaking Weather Map #4
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Special Report: Unprotected Prey

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 |
Special Report: Unprotected Prey story image
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Does your child's bus stop put them in the path of a predator?

Right now, there are state laws regulating how close sex offenders can live near schools, but there are no laws regulating how close they can be to school bus stops.

Newschannel 3 did some digging to see how many offenders were living in reach of our local children and how school districts are keeping them safe.

We decided to focus just on the City of Portage, mapping where all the registered sex offenders live, and comparing it to school bus routes.

While there are offenders living close to bus stops all over the city, there was one area that jumped  out at us.

A motel that has nearly a dozen sex offenders living there, just steps away from two school bus stops.

Along Helen Avenue in Portage, there's family homes, kids toys, parents seeing their kids off to school.

But Amanda Penn says there's a big reason she makes sure her son gets on the school bus safely every day.

In this neighborhood, bound by Portage Road, Lovers Lane, and I-94, there are 13 people listed as sex offenders on the state police registry.

Ten of them call the Airport Inn home.

According to the registry website, 7 of them were convicted of having sexual contact with a child under 13 years old.

The others: attempted CSC of a child, indecent exposure, and third degree CSC.

Directly in front of the motel is a bus stop for middle and high school students, and right around the corner—only about 50 yards away—the elementary school kids get picked up.

That's a fact scares some parents.

"Every morning, every time he gets off the bus to come home. He's right here. I'm always afraid of something happening," Penn said.

Other neighbors are all too aware of the sex offenders at the  motel.


"We're aware, children don't play outside unsupervised," said parent Christine Vlietstra.

Many of them wonder why so many sex offenders call this place home?
 
Officer Paul Sherfield registers sex offenders for Portage Police. He says the state is placing them there.

"As they get out of jail and have to move into someplace and you got to get them to start there and the parole officers keep real close tabs on them," Sherfield said.

Officer Sherfield says the Department of Corrections has a deal worked out with the motel.

And the offenders stay there for a couple months, but some have stayed for years.

"I've had as many as 20 some in there," Sherfield said. "Depends on how many they're releasing and how many they get out."

We took our findings to Ron Herron, the Portage Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations. He says the district knows about the motel and other clusters where sex offenders are living.

"We get alerts when sex offenders move into the district, by zip code and we were able to plot those within our transportation routing system," Herron said. "We plot those and then we determine where we have our routing stops at to keep kids safe."

Herron says there's only a bus stop at the front of the motel when there are students living there.

No other kids are expected to use that stop.

For other bus stops near sex offenders, they rely on bus drivers and parents keeping a close watch.

"The safest way to keep a kid safe is to have parent supervision at all times," Herron said. "We know that's not possible at all times with certain parents, if they work together…they can make sure their students are safe."

"We can't tell people where to live, or where to move," Herron added. "And sex offenders move in and out and that's one of the reasons we continue to monitor that situation."

Officer Sherfield says police and parole officers keep an eye on the offenders. Many of them have an electronic tether, and are not allowed to leave their room at certain times.

"They're under scrutiny. And if something were to happen, they're right in front of that location," he said. "Everyone immediately is going to be looking at them."

But most parents say, it's unfortunate this has to be in their backyard.

"I have no choice," Penn said. "I live around here."

Florida and Georgia are the only states that have laws preventing sex offenders from living close to bus stops.

Portage schools says it doesn't notify parents about sex offenders, but if there's an issue they encourage parents to contact them.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on May 22, 2015 07:28 GMT

THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for April this morning.

CALIFORNIA OIL SPILL

GOLETA, Calif. (AP) -- Officials have closed a 160-square-mile section of ocean to fishing because of the oil spill on the Santa Barbara coast.

The announcement was made yesterday in an update on efforts to clean up the spill that spread an oil slick across 9 miles of sea.

The closure affects a 23-mile by 7-mile area offshore between Goleta and El Capitan Beach because of oil contamination.

State wildlife officials had previously closed two miles of shoreline to fishing and shellfish harvesting.

Officials say more than 8,300 gallons of the oily mess have been raked, skimmed and vacuumed -- just a fraction of the crude that escaped from a broken pipeline.

Up to 105,000 gallons may have leaked from the ruptured pipeline Tuesday, and as much as 21,000 gallons reached the sea.

FEDERAL RESERVE-LEAK PROBE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A powerful congressman is compelling the Federal Reserve to provide documents related to a possible leak of market-moving interest-rate information to a financial newsletter.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who heads the House Financial Services Committee, announced yesterday he had issued a subpoena to the Fed. He says the central bank has repeatedly failed to adequately respond to the panel's questions and document requests.

The committee's Republicans are investigating whether confidential information was deliberately leaked from the Fed's interest-rate policy meeting in September 2012. The Fed told the committee in March that its own investigation found no evidence that sensitive information was deliberately leaked from the policy meeting.

The Fed inspector general, an independent watchdog, and the Justice Department have been reviewing the handling of the internal probe.

OBAMA-TRADE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says his trade agenda took "a big step forward" yesterday when it cleared a key Senate hurdle.

The legislation would let Obama negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not change.

Obama says his trade plan is good for American businesses and workers, and contains safeguards to ensure strong labor and environmental standards.

The president says the trade deal is "going to open up access to markets that too often are closed," even as those other countries are selling goods in the United States.

The president spoke during a meeting with his Cabinet.

DODD-FRANK BANKING RULES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican senators have advanced legislation that would ease rules on smaller banks and other requirements of the landmark law reining in Wall Street and the financial industry after the 2008 crisis.

But it received no support from Democrats, making its chances of Senate passage slim.

The 12-10 party-line vote came yesterday in a sometimes rancorous session of the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee's Republican chairman, authored the legislation that would bring a sweeping rewrite of the 2010 law that arose from the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. That law, known as Dodd-Frank, was enacted by a Congress controlled by Democrats despite Republican opposition.

The law tightened government oversight of banks and financial markets to avert another crisis and another taxpayer bailout of banks.

CONGRESS-SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans controlling a key Senate panel have ignored veto threats and approved an overall freeze on the annual operating budgets for domestic agencies while padding war accounts with $36 billion for the Pentagon.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran offered the proposal. It allocates slightly more money to domestic agencies and foreign aid accounts than a competing plan by House Republicans. But Democrats say it's not nearly enough, and they uniformly opposed it.

Nonetheless, Democrats voted 26-4 to advance the first of 12 annual spending bills to the full Senate, a measure funding energy programs and Army Corps of Engineers water projects. Most Democrats, however, voted against a second bill for veterans programs, saying it doesn't provide enough funding. That measure advanced by a 21-9 vote.

IRS-TAX PREPARERS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The IRS is refunding a total of $10 million to thousands of tax preparers who paid to take a competency test.

A federal court struck down IRS regulations in 2013 that sought to require some tax preparers to get training and take a test. An appellate court upheld the ruling last year, saying the IRS lacked the legal authority to mandate the testing.

The IRS said about 89,000 tax preparers paid $116 apiece to take the test. The agency said Thursday it is issuing refunds to those preparers.

The Obama administration has proposed giving the IRS the authority to regulate paid tax-return preparers. As it now stands, there are no federal rules governing who can charge clients to prepare their tax returns.

PAYPAL'S FUTURE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As PayPal prepares to split from its corporate parent, its new chief executive is promising to expand the popular online payment system with a variety of services that consumers can use when shopping on their phones or in traditional stores.

PayPal will be spinning off from parent company eBay later this year while facing new competitive challenges. Alibaba, Amazon and even Facebook are promoting online payment systems, while Apple Pay and Google Wallet are competing to handle transactions in stores and on mobile devices.

At a press event Thursday, CEO Dan Schulman announced initiatives aimed at helping merchants sell goods on websites and through mobile apps. The company also touted a recent partnership with Burger King that lets consumers pay for their meals with a smartphone app.

advertisement