Rewind: News Highlights From The Last 7 Days


Jonathan Smith was named MSU’s new head football coach Saturday, following a search of nearly three months. Smith, 44, becomes the 26th head coach in the program’s history, after six years at the helm at Oregon State. In a seven-year, $7.25-million-a-year deal, he  succeeds Mel Tucker, who was fired for alleged sexual misconduct in September. Smith has coached seven All-American players at alma mater OSU, including six in the past two seasons. Eight of his players have been selected in the NFL draft. He was named the Pac-12 co-coach of the year in 2022 and led Oregon State to an 8-4 record this season, rising as high as 11th in the College Football Playoff weekly rankings. Smith is bringing five assistant coaches with him to East Lansing.

An accreditor will review accusations that MSU Board of Trustee Chairperson Rema Vassar violated codes of conduct. A statement released Nov. 21 indicated the review would be done by the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation organization serving the Midwest. The process began when MSU Faculty Senate Chair Jack Lipton filed a complaint against the university last month in response to a seven-page letter Trustee Brianna Scott sent to the board raising accusations against Vassar. The Faculty Senate cited three specific examples of Vassar’s alleged misconduct: appearing in an advertisement for a wealth management firm founded by former Trustee Brian Mosallam, traveling to watch an MSU basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York in a donor-owned private jet, and allegedly discussing university operations with Lansing Mayor Andy Schor without the knowledge of MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed federal charges against the parents of a Lansing toddler who is alleged to have shot and killed himself with loaded gun inside a vehicle on Oct. 24. While the child’s father, Avis Damone Coward, 44, left the vehicle to go inside a Sonoco gas station on Dunkel Road at around 3 p.m. that day, the child’s mother, Emma Huver, 26, was still in the car when the child apparently got ahold of the gun. Security footage showed a bullet hole appearing in the front passenger window, followed by Huver exiting the vehicle a minute later while the gun fell onto the ground. She handed the child to Coward, who then handed him to a bystander who attempted to provide medical care. Coward then picked up the gun and put in back in the car, closed the door and smashed the window before driving away. A week after the incident, police found the vehicle burned out in a field in Lansing. Huver was arraigned Monday in the 54A District court Monday on seven felony counts, including involuntary manslaughter, second-degree child abuse and various weapons charges, and issued a $75,000 cash bond. Coward was charged last week with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, having previously been convicted six times between 1998 and 2021.

An East Lansing woman has been charged in the freezing death of an 82-year-old woman at an assisted care facility last year. Colleen Kelly O’Connor, 58, was charged with second-degree vulnerable adult abuse after Lois Kathryn Cary, a resident in her care at Vista Springs Imperial Park at Timber Ridge, walked outside during a snowstorm on Dec. 23, 2022, without proper clothing and fell in the parking lot, later dying at Sparrow Hospital. O’Connor was arraigned in the Clinton County District Court on Nov. 20 and issued a $5,000 cash bond. The charges against her allege that she failed to act to prevent the women from going outside, where sub-zero wind chills, wind gusts approaching 50 miles per hour and snow drifts were present. A hearing to determine whether O’Connor should stand trial was set for Dec. 7. 

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope submitted a plan Monday to eliminate eight precincts in future elections. The number of voting precincts would drop from 40 to 32 under the proposal, but only 9,000 out of 88,919 registered voters would have a different polling place on election day, while 4,000 would be assigned a new precinct number. Swope said the changes would save tax dollars and that he has emphasized a pivot away from polling places at schools, because they can be “disruptive” during elections while classes are still in session.



A 30-year-old man was killed Monday in a shooting outside the Capital Area District Library branch on South Cedar Street. … A 16-year-old who was shot just before 2 a.m. Sunday, near the 1200 block of Mary Avenue in Lansing, is expected to recover. … One adult and one juvenile were arrested in East Lansing in connection with a home invasion and armed robbery at a home near Center Street on Nov. 21.


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