Local News Archives

Average MI Health Insurance Premium To Go Up 27% Next Year

From the Associated Press — Health premiums will rise an average of 27 percent for the hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents who buy their own health insurance. Consumers eligible for income-based tax credits will be protected from the increasing premiums. The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services published the rates Wednesday. Enrollment for 2018 begins in a week. Eight Michigan insurers will participate in a federally facilitated marketplace formed under the U.S. health care law. In each county, there will be at least
two insurers selling plans. The state has said the premiums are higher than expected because President Donald Trump recently ended cost-sharing payments to insurers for providing lower-income people discounts on out-of-pocket costs. About 80 percent of Michigan customers on the federal marketplace qualify for tax credits to offset their premium costs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Find Body Of Missing Portage Woman

A body found buried in a remote area has been identified as a Michigan teacher who’s been missing since May. Police say Theresa Lockhart’s identity was confirmed Wednesday, a day after her husband killed himself at his Portage home and left a map where investigators could find the body in Allegan County. Her body was found Tuesday. Portage Public Safety Director Nicholas Armold says Christopher Lockhart left a note, admitting that he killed his wife and expressing remorse. Lockhart was suspected in his wife’s disappearance but hadn’t been charged. Armold says police “didn’t have enough to run with it.”. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Changes St. Joe Tech Center Plans

St. Joseph City Commissioners have approved a new Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate for Whirlpool as it moves forward with its plans to invest in the tech center on Upton Drive. Rob Cleveland of Cornerstone Alliance tells WSJM News a new tax abatement certificate was needed because Whirlpool has reduced the cost of the project from about $35 to $25 million.. ...Read Full Story

State Approves $16 Million Incentive For Detroit Pistons HQ

From the Associated Press — Michigan has approved $16 million in tax incentives for the Detroit Pistons to build a practice facility and headquarters in downtown Detroit. The Michigan Strategic Fund Board on Tuesday granted a request by the city’s brownfield  development authority to allow for the capture of local taxes to help fund the $107 million project. Public subsidies of sports teams have come under criticism. But the team and economic development officials say that without the incentives, it would be too expensive to remove environmentally contaminated soil on the site of what is now a parking lot and bus garage. The Pistons hope to open the four-story building in 2019. It also will include retail space, a parking deck, and a sports medicine and medical office building operated by Henry Ford Health System.. ...Read Full Story

State Selects 2017 Christmas Tree

From the Associated Press — A 61-foot spruce in Menominee County has been chosen as the official state Christmas tree. The designation continues a 32-year holiday tradition in Michigan. William Winter and grandson Alex Stevens are donating the towering tree. A harvesting ceremony will take place Thursday in the Upper Peninsula town of Stephenson. The tree will be cut down by representatives of the Michigan Association of Timbermen, the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and Michigan Operators Engineers. It will be hauled to Lansing and placed at the intersection of Capitol and East Michigan avenues on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Former SMC Professor To Face Trial In Criminal Sexual Conduct Case

A former professor for Southwestern Michigan College who is facing several charges of criminal sexual conduct has waived his preliminary exam and been bound over to Cass County Circuit Court for trial. The prosecutor’s office tells us 57-year-old George Field on Monday cleared the way for an as-yet unscheduled trial. He’s facing charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, and fourth degrees, along with practicing psychology without a license. The prosecutor says the matter came to light after Southwestern Michigan College was told about an incident at the Family Center in Dowagiac and encouraged the victim to contact police. In addition to practicing at the Family Center, Field was an SMC professor at the time of the incident. Police allege the crime occurred between September of 2015 and June of 2016. If convicted of the most serious charge, Field could get up to life in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Man Sentenced In Shooting

A Bangor man will serve between seven and 15 years in prison for a fatal shooting at a local park early this year. Prosecutors say 20-year-old Thurman Fletcher shot 28-year-old Eddie Holland of Hartford at Lions Park in Bangor on the night of February 3 when a drug deal went bad. Holland died at a Watervliet Hospital, while Fletcher was taken to a South Haven Hospital with gunshot wounds to the leg and foot. He pleaded guilty last month to felony firearm and manslaughter as part of a deal that meant a murder charge was dropped. Fletcher was sentenced on Tuesday in Van Buren County Circuit Court. Another man, Nikolas Abbot, is also facing charges in the case for allegedly supplying a gun to Fletcher. Abbott is the son of the Van Buren County sheriff. That case is still pending.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Volunteers Pack Meals For Seniors

A team of Whirlpool volunteers has chipped in to make the upcoming winter a little better for area seniors. They helped the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency pack meal packages on Tuesday in Benton Harbor. The action agency’s Yvonne Vidt tells WSJM News the organization always needs the help.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool, Sears Part Ways

Whirlpool has parted ways with Sears. On Monday, Sears announced it will no longer be selling Whirlpool, Kitchenaid, or Maytag appliances. That’s after a pricing dispute with Whirlpool. Sears says it can no longer afford to sell the appliance maker’s products. The two companies had been business with each other for more than 100 years. The Washington Post reports that Sears makes up about 3% of Whirlpool’s sales. This latest announcement is seen as yet another blow to Sears, which has closed hundreds of stores just this year.. ...Read Full Story

Arson Suspect Arrested In Van Buren County

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says it has caught a serial arson suspect. Sheriff Daniel Abbott tells WSJM News a string of fires at abandoned houses and barns were reported to his office last week. They were scattered throughout the Keeler, Hartford, Bangor, and Watervliet areas between September 29 and October 20. It took a local fire chief to notice their similarities. Abbott assigned a deputy to investigate, and not long after, a suspect emerged.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Woman’s Death Ruled Accidental

Police say a woman whose body was found in a Lincoln Township lake earlier this month drowned. Lincoln Township Police Chief Gary Soper has issued a statement saying the medical examiner’s report is complete, and it finds 57-year-old Anna Hyszczak’s death was accidental. Her body was found in North Lake not far from Grand Mere State Park on October 4. She’d been missing since the day before. Police say family found Hyszczak’s bicycle parked near some woods near Grand Mere after she went missing. Lincoln Township police have sent the case on to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office for review, and the prosecutor says no further action will be taken.. ...Read Full Story

Non-Profits To Get $872,000 In Workplace Safety Grants

From the Associated Press — Grants totaling $872,000 are being awarded to 20 employer groups, labor organizations and other nonprofits in Michigan to support worker safety and health. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the grants will fund projects that include crane rigging and signaling, ergonomics, tree trimming and chain saw safety, emergency actions plans, machine emergencies and workplace violence prevention. The Consultation Education and Training grant program is designed to increase the number of employers and employees receiving occupational safety and health education, training and prevention services, especially employers with less than 100 workers. Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Chief Deputy Director Al Pohl says “every dollar spent toward improving workplace safety and health is a wise investment that benefits Michigan employers and workers in so many ways.”. ...Read Full Story

Loy Norrix Principal on Paid Leave

Kalamazoo Public Schools have put the Principal of Loy Norrix High School on Administrative Leave with pay, but they are not saying why. The notification came down early last evening that Principal Rodney Prewitt is on leave, and that Johnny Edwards, former Principal at Loy Norrix and current director of secondary education, will serve as the interim principal. It follows press reports that a former female employee at Loy Norrix filed a federal lawsuit charging Prewitt with sexual harassment. The district issued a statement that they felt the allegations were without merit. Whether that is connected to Prewitt being put on leave remains speculative.. ...Read Full Story

Meijer Issues Produce Recall

From the Associated Press — Midwest retailer Meijer Inc. says it’s recalling some packaged produce items in six states due to potential listeria contamination. The recall affects certain Meijer-brand produce sold in Meijer stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The items were purchased between September 27 and October 20 and are in plastic containers or foam trays with printed labels. They include broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, squash and peppers. A full list is posted on the Grand Rapids-based company’s website. Meijer says no illnesses have been reported, but an issue was discovered with a supplier. Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Otherwise healthy adults can experience flu-like symptoms.. ...Read Full Story

Both Men And Women Warned About Breast Cancer Risks

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors are reminding everyone that it’s not just women who can get the disease. Men can also get breast cancer. About 2,500 of them will be diagnosed this year, compared to about 250,000 women. Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Lynn Erdman tells us family history is something everyone ought to know about.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species Threaten Great Lakes King Salmon Population

From the Associated Press — King salmon has helped create a multibillion-dollar sport fishery in the Great Lakes, but ripple effects of invasive species have left the fish’s future less certain. The Detroit Free Press reports that the king, or chinook, salmon was first transplanted into the Great Lakes about 50 years ago. The species led a turnaround in the area’s fishery, helping create a $7 billion economic impact. But the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels has led to steep population declines of another species that serves as the salmon’s almost exclusive diet. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reducing its salmon stocking to regain balance between predator and prey. Stocking is when fish are raised in a hatchery and released into the lake to increase the existing population.. ...Read Full Story

Flood Watch This Afternoon and Tomorrow

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has issued a Flood Watch for this afternoon through Tuesday morning. The affected areas include Van Buren, Allegan and Ottawa counties. One to three inches of rain is expected with some areas receiving over five inches. Much of the watch area recently received significant rainfall and any addtional rain could overwhelm local drainage systems.. ...Read Full Story

Shots Fired in Dowagiac Apartment Complex

One man is in custody after hiding from Police in his Dowagiac apartment and fired a shot into the ceiling. Around 9:30 Sunday Night, Police responded to the Eagle’s Wood apartments in Dowagiac after receiving reports of a man yelling and waving a handgun. The man ran inside his apartment once police arrived. Police then report hearing a gunshot from inside the apartment where the man’s sister, as well as three kids, were as well. Police cleared the area, and made contact with the man’s wife, who was able to convince him to come outside and surrender. Once inside the apartment, Police found several more weapons. No one was hurt and the gunman is now in custody, and Police believe the man had been drinking. Dowagiac Police arrested the 34 year old Dowagiac resident on charges of Assault With A Deadly Weapon, Resisting & Obstructing Police, and Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated.. ...Read Full Story

The Importance of Children Getting A Flu Shot

The importance of vaccinating children during flu season is on the rise. Every year thousands of kids are hospitalized and some die due to the flu. Doctors say during the past flu season, over 100 kids in Michigan died and 80% of those kids were not vaccinated. It’s recommended everyone 6 months of age and older to get the flu shot. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get vaccinated by the end of October, as it takes two weeks for the shot to take effect.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Farm Accident in Silver Creek Township

A Benton Harbor man is dead as a result of a fatal farm accident. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office was called to Dixon Street in Silver Creek Township around 5:45 Saturday night. They report 69-year-old Roger Molter, from Benton Harbor, was parking a cherry picker in the barn for the winter. While he was re-positioning the equipment, he ended up pinning himself between the cherry picker and the wall, causing his death. Molter was discovered in the barn by a family member, and emergency medical services were called. Molter was pronounced dead at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

Child His By Bus In Dowagiac

A 12-year-old from Dowagiac is being treated for severe head trauma after he was smacked by the rearview window of a passing bus. The middle school student was struck as he walked home from school, taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to Bronson Methodist in Kalamazoo for emergency surgery. His name and condition have not been released. The Driver of the Dowagiac Dart, a local municipal transport, will be investigated but police say, alcohol was not a factor and it appears to have just been a terrible accident.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Director Punishment

The punishment for Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue wasn’t enough — that’s the message from activists delivering 85-thousand petition signatures to the governor’s office calling for her removal. State Representative Leslie Love, a Detroit Democrat, says the signatures were collected nationwide…. ...Read Full Story

12-Year-Old Boy Hit/Injured by Bus

A 12-year-old boy received serious injuries after he was hit by a Dial-A-Ride bus in Dowagiac. Police were dispatched to the 600 block of Riverside Drive in Dowagiac around 2:45 Friday afternoon to find the victim, a 12 year old male Dowagiac Middle School student.  Witnesses report that the Dial-A-Ride bus was travelling south on Riverside Drive when the boy ran in front of the bus and was struck.  He was transported to Borgess/Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac. He was later airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo with serious injuries.  His condition is unknown at this time. The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the Dowagiac Police Department at (269) 782-9743. . ...Read Full Story

Snyder Talks Punishment For MSP Director

Following a remark she shared on social media, which called NFL players that kneel during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates,” Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue received a five-day suspension of pay on Thursday from Governor Rick Snyder. But she will stay on the job, working without pay.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds Employees Raise Money For Hurricane Relief

A total of $25,000 is going to the American Red Cross from Four Winds Casinos. Of that, $10,400 came from 275 employees who chose to donate through payroll deductions, and the casinos put in the rest. The fundraiser was created by employees to help out the victims of Hurricanes Henry, Irma, and Maria. Pokagon Band Chairman John P. Warren notes in a statement that the areas affected by the storms are home to many Native Americans, and it’s their duty as fellow tribal citizens to support them and others as they’re facing a crisis. He says employees were eager to help when the hurricanes hit.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw River County Park Moves Forward

The Berrien County Parks Commission is getting ready to start working on a new park in Watervliet. Paw Paw River County Park has been in the works for awhile, and parks director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the plan is to have it open by early August. Bailey says it will be a trailhead for the Paw Paw River Water Trail.. ...Read Full Story

MSP Director Docked Pay For Facebook Post On NFL Protests

The director of the Michigan State Police will lose five days of pay for sharing a Facebook post that called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates.” Governor Snyder announced the decision Thursday. He says Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue still must work while her salary is suspended for five days. The governor says he has “full faith” in Etue’s leadership. On September 24, Etue shared a meme on her personal Facebook page that called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “millionaire ingrates who hate America.” She has apologized but hasn’t publicly explained why she shared it. Some black lawmakers want her fired. Snyder says it’s time to “find common ground rather than rehash past mistakes.”. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Pausing Plan To Sell Properties

The pause button is being hit by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board on trying to sell some properties. The district is in the middle of a facilities usage study, which officials say might result in new buildings on land owned by BHAS. The board is working with GMB Architects + Engineers on the study as they consider their options and await a final facility assessment report. GMB has told board members that building new schools might wind up being as or more cost efficient compared to remodeling existing buildings. The board is now looking at the option of constructing new buildings in the city limits on its land, and has asked the Michigan Department of Treasury for permission to hold off on the real estate plan until any decision on new schools can be made.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Expanding At BH High School

The number of students being served by the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program at Benton Harbor High School is being doubled this year thanks to a partnership with Youth Solutions. The expansion means 100 students, roughly 15% of the total school population, is now able to receive targeted employability skills training that’s aimed at helping kids successfully transition to the workforce when they graduate high school. Students from 9th through 12th grades are eligible, and they will be formally inducted into the program next Friday at 9 a.m. State Representative Kim LaSata is slated to be the event’s keynote speaker. Kinexus started the JMG program at Benton Harbor High School in 2008, and for the past three years, 100% of the seniors taking part have graduated, with 97% moving on to positive outcomes that include jobs, college, or military service.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Launches Text-To-911

Van Buren County’s Central Dispatch can now accept text messages sent to 9-1-1. The Text-to-911 service will work from anywhere in Van Buren County, and it’s been being tested since early May. All four major wireless carriers were finally brought into the system late last month after the first provider went live with the program in May, followed by two more in mid-June. The sheriff’s department says calls are still preferred, but in the event that’s not possible, they can now take in texts. They also are reminding people it’s only for emergencies, and it can’t be used in a group text message. The system is also not equipped to handle photos or video.. ...Read Full Story

Private Marina Draws Opposition

A plan to build a private marina and nearly 40 home sites near Saugatuck Dunes State Park is drawing opposition from area residents and environmentalists. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing Tuesday night at Saugatuck High School. The Grand Rapids Press reports that of the more than 45 people who spoke during the two-and-a-half-hour hearing only one spoke in favor of the project. The 300-acre property once belonged to oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who proposed large-scale development before his death last year. Its new owner is moving ahead with development plans. The DEQ’s public comment period ends Oct. 27th. DEQ and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits are required to remove sand and build the marina off the Kalamazoo River where it meets Lake Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Mi-Journey and WSJM News Host ‘Suicide Prevention Town Hall’

Ray Gustafson of WSJM News moderated a special Suicide Prevention Town Hall held Tuesday (October 17) at the Mi-Journey Drop-In Center, featuring panelists from the community. The event aired live on News/Talk 94.9 WSJM and sister station ROCK 107 WIRX along with Facebook live without commercial interruption to shed light on the troubling statistics and stories of loss, and movement forward for those in need of help.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Income Tax Up For Vote

The Benton Harbor City Commission is being urged by some in the area to get busy getting the word out regarding the income tax proposal on the November ballot. At Monday’s commission meeting, activist Ed Pinkney of Benton Township said city leaders haven’t done a good job yet.. ...Read Full Story

Over 2,100 Pets Adopted In Latest BISSELL Pet Foundation Event

It was touted as the largest BISSELL Pet Foundation “Empty The Shelters” event to date, and it delivered this past weekend. Foundation founder Cathy Bissell tells WSJM News that overall, more than 21-hundred pets were adopted, with her organization paying the adoption fees throughout Michigan and in select shelters in Chicago, upstate New York, and Kentucky. As for the numbers in our area, Bissell says the Al-Van Humane Society in Van Buren County did 24 adoptions in two locations in South Haven and Grand Rapids.. ...Read Full Story