Local News Archives

Proos: Prison Closing A Good Sign

State Senator John Proos says the planned closure of a state prison this spring in Muskegon is a sign that efforts to reduce crime and prevent repeat offenses among inmates are working. He tells WSJM News the March shuttering of the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon will save millions of dollars.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Board Virginia Train Crash

No serious injuries to members of Congress who were on a train headed to a retreat Wednesday. On board that train was Congressman Fred Upton and his wife Amey. In a tweet sent out around noon, Upton says, “The train carrying GOP members to our retreat had a collision. Amey and I are both OK. Docs and security on board are helping secure the scene.” CNN is reporting there were only bumps and bruises for members of Congress aboard the train. The Amtrak was on its way to a retreat in West Virginia when it hit a truck in Virginia. One person in the truck is reported as dead.. ...Read Full Story

Board To Consider Petitions Of Anti-Prevailing Wage Group

From the Associated Press — A group pushing to repeal Michigan’s law that requires higher “prevailing” wages on state-financed construction projects wants the state to certify its petitions without pulling a larger sample to review. The Board of State Canvassers will meet Tuesday to discuss the request. Earlier this month, the elections bureau said it would move to a second stage of sampling because of 535 signatures reviewed, 370 were valid. That is just shy of the 373 required by a statistical model to automatically be recommended for
approval. A ballot committee backed by the nonunion Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan says it turned in more than 380,000 signatures for the veto-proof legislation. About 252,000 signatures must be valid. The elections bureau says Protecting Michigan Taxpayers’ request to bypass the larger sample is “unprecedented.”. ...Read Full Story

Gymnastics Doctor To Return To Court For Another Sentence

From the Associated Press — The sports doctor accused of sexually assaulting more than 150 women and girls will be confronted again this week by scores of victims. Larry Nassar faces another prison sentence for molesting gymnasts, this time at an elite Michigan club run by an Olympic coach. Judge Janice Cunningham set aside three days for roughly 60 people who want to confront Nassar or have their statement read in court. The event could unfold much the same as a hearing last week in another county that ended with Nassar getting sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. The practice of allowing accusers to speak even if they are not tied directly to a case has raised questions about fairness. But Nassar agreed to allow the statements as part of a guilty plea.. ...Read Full Story

Fox News Visits South Haven Bakery

Golden Brown Bakery President Dave Braschler is overall satisfied with Tuesday’s Fox News visit to his South Haven location. A reporter from Fox stopped by to get the thoughts of customers on President Trump. Although word of the visit prompted some protesters to show up, Braschler tells WSJM News they were well-behaved.. ...Read Full Story

Official: Engler To Be Named Interim MSU President

From the Associated Press –A high-ranking Michigan State University official involved in the board of trustees’ plan says former Governor John Engler will be named interim president. The official told The Associated Press that the board will vote to hire Engler on Wednesday amid the fallout over sexual assaults committed by former school sports doctor Larry Nassar. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been publicly announced. President Lou Anna Simon resigned last week, and the board named Bill Beekman as acting president. Engler, a Michigan State graduate, served as Michigan’s Republican governor from 1990 through 2002. He will lead the school as it confronts civil lawsuits filed by more than 100 women and girls, and investigations by the state attorney general, the NCAA and Congress.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Road Salt Taking Toll On Waterways

From the Associated Press — Truckloads of road salt used to keep highways ice-free in the winter are starting to take a toll on the environment. Researchers say they’re finding rising salt levels in hundreds of lakes, especially in the Northeast and Midwest where sodium chloride is used most. The findings are raising fears that salting roads could put everything from microscopic zooplankton to fish at risk in coming decades. The environmental concerns – and a desire to reduce costs – have prompted public works agencies in many states and cities to search for ways to cut their salt use. They have turned to high-tech equipment to spread salt more efficiently and better weather forecasting to time their salting. Others are using liquefied organic additives such as beet juice and even cheese brine that help salt stick to pavement.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Convenience Store Break-In

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a convenience store break-in this month. It tells us deputies were sent to the Phillip’s 66 gas station and convenience store on South 11th Street in Niles Township on Friday morning, and learned someone had broken into the store in the overnight hours. The suspects made off with what the sheriff’s department describes as “convenience store items.” Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department or Crimestoppers. You could be paid up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. The number to Crimestoppers is 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Prison Closing

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Corrections says it plans to close a correctional facility in March due to a decline in the state’s prison population. The department says it notified staff members Monday at West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights. The facility built in 1987 has 1,245 prisoners and 174 employees. The closing is expected to save $18.8 million in
the budget. MDOC Director Heidi Washington said in a statement the March 24 shutdown “represents a step in the right direction as we focus on giving offenders the skills they need to be successful in the community so they do not return to prison.” The department says Michigan’s prison population dropped this year below 40,0 for the first time in more than 20 years after peaking in 2007 at 51,554.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Releases Fish Stocking Numbers For 2017

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources stocked the state’s inland lakes with more than 830,000 fish in the fall of 2017. The numbers were released on Monday, and DNR Fish Production Manager Ed Eisch tells WSJM News the species dropped into Michigan lakes include trout, salmon, and walleye. He notes the state has been stocking lakes with fish since the late 1800s.. ...Read Full Story

Fox News To Stop By South Haven Bakery Tuesday

A Fox News reporter will be on hand Tuesday morning at the Golden Brown Bakery in South Haven to get the thoughts of regular folks ahead of President Trump’s State of the Union. Golden Brown President Dave Braschler tells WSJM News he was thinking about selling donuts and long johns when he agreed to have reporter Mike Tobin chat with guests for the morning.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speaker Series Announces 2018 Guests

The next lineup of the South Haven Speaker Series has been announced. Speaker Series President Mark Odland tells WSJM News the first engagement will be this April when Hope College Associate Professor of History Fred Johnson speaks about the struggles of black Americans. The following month, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer will stop by.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Promises Thorough MSU Investigation

Retired Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth will head up the state attorney general’s investigation of Michigan State University regarding the Larry Nassar scandal. Attorney General Bill Schuette tapped Forsyth for the probe to determine who knew what and when in relation to the sexual abuse done by Nassar to MSU athletes and other patients for two decades. Schuette spoke Saturday about the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Train Hits Car In Kalamazoo County

From the Associated Press — A passenger train has smashed into a car that became stuck on tracks in southwestern Michigan. Kalamazoo County sheriff’s officials say the Amtrak train hit the car about 10:45 a.m. Monday in Comstock, south of Grand Rapids. The car reportedly slid past a stop sign near an intersection. Roads in the area were snow-covered. The 47-year-old driver was able to get out of the car before the crash and was not injured. Sheriff’s officials say she was ticketed. No injuries were reported on the train.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Denies Temporary Pipeline Shutdown

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has rejected a call to shut down twin oil pipelines in a Great Lakes waterway so their external coating can be inspected for gaps. Snyder told the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board in a letter Monday the state could run short of propane if the flow of oil and liquid natural gas through Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 were halted during winter. Snyder also  turned down two other proposals from board members. One would renegotiate an agreement with Enbridge to temporarily shut down the pipelines during stormy weather. Another would study ways to supply Michigan with oil and propane without Line 5. The pipeline carries 23 million gallons daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. A 5-mile section runs through the waterway linking Lakes
Michigan and Huron.. ...Read Full Story

Jim McCloughan To Attend State Of The Union Address

Southwest Michigan will be represented outside of Congressman Fred Upton at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address from President Trump. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is bringing Medal of Honor recipient Jim McCloughan of South Haven as her guest. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War in July by Trump. That followed action by Congress and former President Obama to change the time in which a recipient of the nation’s highest military honor can receive it. After his military service, McCloughan was a long-time teacher and coach at South Haven High School.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching For Credit Monitoring Service

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding state residents the deadline to sign up for free credit monitoring following last year’s data breach at Equifax is coming up at the end of this month. He says no one should have to wonder if they’ve become the victim of identity theft, and that’s why he recommends signing up for credit monitoring. In early October, Equifax announced 2.5 million more consumers were impacted by the breach than originally thought, including almost 80,000 additional Michigan residents. That’s on top of the more than 100 million individuals whose information was initially announced as compromised. In Michigan, the breach has now impacted the personal information of more than 4.6 million consumers. Currently, more than 900 complaints have been filed with the Michigan Attorney General’s office. The deadline to sign up for the credit agency’s monitoring is January 31. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Seeks Information On MSU Handling Of Nassar Case

State Representative Kim LaSata is one of the lawmakers who have sent a letter to Michigan State University seeking information related to the school’s inquiries into sexual assault allegations against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. LaSata, who is the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, tells WSJM News it’s time for MSU to be transparent when it comes to protecting students from predators.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Business Donates Big To Allegan

The city of Allegan has received a couple of donations from the Perrigo Foundation totaling $260,000. At Monday night’s Allegan City Council meeting, City Manager Joel Dye shared details of the Perrigo gifts. The Foundation is donating $130,000 to build a new splash pad on the site of a former parking lot, and $130,000 to the Allegan District Library. The Perrigo Splash Pad will be part of an ongoing project at Downtown Riverfront Park and will contain places for kids and families to play. The library donation will be used for the new Perrigo Learning Lab for children and the Perrigo STREAM Lab for teens. Perrigo’s Tom Farrington says the drug maker’s “history is intertwined with Allegan’s history.” Allegan is where Perrigo was founded in 1887.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Releases Survey On Self-Driving Cars

Attitudes among American drivers regarding self-driving cars are getting more positive. A survey released by AAA this week found 63% of U.S. drivers are afraid to ride in a self-driving car, a decrease from 78% in early 2017. AAA of Michigan spokesperson Gary Bubar tells us there will be plenty of time for everyone to get used to the idea of autonomous vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Working With Faith-Based Groups

Michigan State Police have announced they’re looking for volunteers to join the CAUTION initiative. CAUTION stands for Community Action United Team in Our Neighborhood, and it’s a partnership between the MSP and faith groups working to increase trust and communication between law enforcement and residents. The program was started in 2012 in Flint, and later expanded to communities including Benton Harbor. In 2018, the plan is to expand it to all 30 Michigan State Police posts. CAUTION members meet regularly with post personnel to encourage dialog and information-sharing. They can also be activated to respond alongside law enforcement at crime scenes to ease tensions and provide emotional support to residents. The CAUTION volunteers receive training on community relations and security. Anyone interested in signing up for CAUTION in southwest Michigan can contact the Niles or Paw Paw MSP posts.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Times Improve Around Michigan

The Michigan Department of Transportation says work it did between 2012 and 2016 to upgrade rail lines has resulted in faster traveling times for two Amtrak routes in the state. Spokesperson Michael Frezell tells WSJM News the Wolverine and Blue Water lines are now shorter thanks to the work MDOT did after buying a portion of their tracks.. ...Read Full Story

Task Force Spreads Awareness About Human Trafficking

The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force says it is thrilled Michigan State Police are making push this week to educate the public on the crime. MSP has been visiting rest stops and hotels to tell staff and truckers about how to spot trafficking victims. The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task force’s Cathy Knauf tells WSJM News she appreciates the increasing state police and public awareness.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Review Snyder State Of The State

Lawmakers from southwest Michigan are giving positive marks to Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address on Tuesday night. State Senator John Proos has been there for all of Snyder’s addresses, and tells WSJM News he was pleased to see the governor put an emphasis on career and technical training.. ...Read Full Story

Report Finds Access To Healthy Food Lowers Healthcare Costs

SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, are linked to improved health outcomes and lower healthcare costs, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Brynne Keith-Jennings, a senior research analyst at the center, tells us some of the studies cited in the paper used data going back to the ’60s when the food-stamp program began. Keith-Jennings notes that those studies found long-term health benefits.. ...Read Full Story

MI Wine Council To Also Include Breweries

The Michigan Senate has approved legislation to revise the makeup of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and update its name. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News his plan would change the name of the council to the Michigan Craft Beverage Council. Under the bills, the number of members on the council would be reduced from 12 to 10 and would include representatives from breweries and distilleries. Proos says the state group promoting Michigan’s wine industry should also promote beers and other beverages.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Sending Crews To Puerto Rico

Indiana Michigan Power is sending some crews down to Puerto Rico to help out with hurricane restoration efforts. I&M tells us nine of its linemen are currently on their way to the island which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September. This group of I&M employees will be working in some of the most heavily damaged and remote areas of the island for about 30 days. In February, I&M plans to relieve this group by sending a different team of linemen to Puerto Rico. In addition to employees, I&M deployed six fleet vehicles to the island, including bucket trucks. The nine linemen headed to Puerto Rico are based throughout I&M’s service territory, including Benton Harbor and Buchanan, along with many places in Indiana. I&M is one of several energy companies providing resources and workers to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in partnership with the Edison Electric Institute.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Catholic Schools

State Senator John Proos this week took a moment on the Senate floor to celebrate the impact Catholic schools have on thousands of students in Michigan. Proos said there are more than 52,000 Michigan students attending 222 Catholic schools in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Holding Payment Plan Meetings

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has scheduled three meetings for next month to help property owners who are behind on their taxes avoid foreclosure. He tells us there are about 1,200 property owners in Berrien County right now in danger, and notes his office’s payment plans have a success rate of 93%. Witkowski tells WSJM News he wants to get people signed up for them because of a recent change in state rules for foreclosures.. ...Read Full Story

Expert Weighs In On Moving Forward After Nassar Scandal

The sexual-assault case against Larry Nassar has many people in Michigan and around the country wondering what more needs to be done to protect students and athletes, but one expert says the issue goes far beyond sports. Dr. Eddie O’Connor, a clinical and sports psychologist from Grand Rapids tells us while the attention has been rightly focused on the women who testified this week, true change needs to come from the other locker room.. ...Read Full Story

$75,000 Grant Going To Hartford Company

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced two grants for ag companies in west Michigan. The grants come as part of the state’s Food and Agriculture Investment Program, says the department’s Peter Anastor. He tells WSJM News $75,000 is going to Hartford Farm Supply so it can ensure more of the agricultural production process remains in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Faith-Based Police Partnership Expanding To Van Buren County

A partnership between Michigan State Police and faith-based groups is being expanded to the Paw Paw MSP post. The CAUTION program was launched in 2012 and teams up responding police officers with local clergy. The church leaders attend state police training sessions to learn about security and community relations, and then the clergy go to crime scenes when a crowd has developed to help work with the public. CAUTION has been operating in Benton Harbor for a few years now, and includes 18 local pastors. Now that Michigan State Police are rolling the program out to all of their posts, clergy interested in taking part are also being sought in Van Buren County. Any church groups who are interested can contact Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff Hands Out Lifesaving Awards

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey this week recognized eight of his deputies, one nurse, and two citizens for their life saving efforts in 2017. The ceremony was on Thursday at the Berrien County Courthouse. Sheriff Bailey tells us he saluted deputies for saving lives with AEDs, CPR, and quick thinking. Among the award winners this week were Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Mark McKie and Deputy Chad Frantz, who got lifesaving awards for helping to respond to a carbon monoxide leak at the Quality Inn and Suites in Niles last year. Others were honored for saving the lives of jail inmates. Below is a list of all of this week’s award recipients.. ...Read Full Story

Man Denied Murder Charge Appeal In Kalamazoo County Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has decided against hearing an appeal of murder charges against a man involved in a crash that killed and injured multiple bicyclists. Kalamazoo County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Scott Brower tells the Kalamazoo Gazette that following Wednesday’s order by the state’s highest court the case will move toward a possible trial. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016, killing five and
injuring four. His girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before driving. Pickett’s lawyer has argued that the evidence wasn’t enough to send Pickett to trial for second-degree murder. He said the evidence established, at most, the elements of reckless driving causing death.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Asks MSU For Information On Nassar Case

State Representative Kim LaSata is one of the lawmakers who have sent a letter to Michigan State University seeking information related to the school’s inquiries into sexual assault allegations against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. LaSata, who is the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, tells WSJM News it’s time for MSU to be transparent when it comes to protecting students from predators.. ...Read Full Story

Human Trafficking Task Force Pleased With Increased Public Awareness

The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force says it is thrilled Michigan State Police are making push this week to educate the public on the crime. MSP has been visiting rest stops and hotels to tell staff and truckers about how to spot trafficking victims. The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task force’s Cathy Knauf tells WSJM News she appreciates the increasing state police and public awareness.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Facing Charges After Tuesday Shooting

Michigan State Police say a Cass County man is charged with attempted murder after he was arrested in Indiana this week for a shooting. Troopers from the Niles post tell us officers from St. Joseph County, Indiana responded to a Steak N Shake on State Road 933 on Tuesday on a report of a victim of a shooting. Officers found a woman with a gunshot wound, and she was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital. Her estranged husband was identified as the shooter and taken into custody. He was first jailed in South Bend pending extradition back to Michigan where the shooting took place. Michigan State Police tell us the man shot the woman and then tried to drive her to the hospital in South Bend. He wound up getting picked up by police at the Steak N Shake. The wife’s injuries were not life-threatening. The man, 56-year-old James Lampson, is charged in Cass County with attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment, and domestic violence, among other things. The woman, Jennifer Lampson of Ceresco, is expected to recover.. ...Read Full Story

Injured State Police Detective Continuing To Recover

Michigan State Police say a detective-sergeant from the Marshall post who was shot in the chest on Wednesday remains in serious but stable condition at a hospital in Kalamazoo. Detective-Sergeant Aaron Steensma was executing a search warrant at a rural home in Branch County when a suspect opened fire on him and Michigan State Police Trooper Daniel Thayer. Both officers were wearing ballistic vests. Trooper Thayer required no medical treatment, but Steensma was brought to the hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Lansing Catholic Diocese Forms Diversity Task Force

From the Associated Press — The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has formed a diversity task force following controversy over the diocese’s approach to racial issues. The Lansing State Journal reports that one of the policies being criticized is Lansing Catholic High School’s decision to punish four athletes who kneeled during the national anthem before games. More than 150 people protested the policy outside the diocese on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The diocese says Bishop Earl Boyea met with parents during the protest. Boyea says asking students to stand and honor the flag isn’t racist, but after speaking with parents he realized that some people view the flag differently.
The task force aims to “listen to and meet the needs of racial and ethnic minorities.” It will present the bishop with recommendations in the fall.. ...Read Full Story