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The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids and northern Indiana issues a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joe, and Branch counties until 10 PM.  Damaging wind gusts of 60 mph or greater are the primary concern.  Large hail of 1" in diameter or larger is a close second.  We'll be tracking storm development with Live Doppler Radar throughout your afternoon and evening.  Storm motion is easterly at 30 to 50 mph.  Stay with wwmt.com for the latest weather information!

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Kalamazoo NAACP official pleads guilty to conspiracy charges

Updated: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Kalamazoo NAACP official pleads guilty to conspiracy charges story image

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A Kalamazoo NAACP official has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge connected to a series of arsons in Kalamazoo.

NAACP First Vice President Lola Atkinson pleaded guilty in court to conspiracy to commit second-degree arson, thereby avoiding a trial which was to start shortly.

On June 16, Atkinson's handyman, 57-year-old Elvis Patterson, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit second-degree arson.

Patterson was arrested with Atkinson back in February, when police allege the duo was plotting to burn down a vacant house in Kalamazoo that Atkinson owns.

Police say they caught Atkinson paying a tenant to move out of her home so she could have Patterson burn the place down.

In May, Newschannel 3 discovered that Atkinson owes thousands in back taxes to Kalamazoo County on the dozens of properties she owns.

As part of Patterson's plea agreement, he would not testify against Atkinson.

He is scheduled for sentencing next week, and will face between three and eleven years in prison.

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