Local News Archives

West Nile Detected In West Michigan

From the Associated Press — Health officials say four adults in western Michigan’s Kent County have tested positive for the West Nile virus and another is suspected of having the mosquito-borne disease. The county’s Health Department says it’s not know where they may have
contracted the virus, but County Health Officer Adam London says “mosquitoes are still quite active” and people should take precautions against bites. The virus was identified in three Michigan birds in May, the earliest such detection of the virus spreading through the state in a decade. Symptoms of the disease include fever, confusion, muscles weakness and severe headache. More serious complications include neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis. Last year, the state says there were 43 serious illnesses and three deaths
related to West Nile virus in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven PD Looking For Robbery Suspect

An armed robbery suspect remains on the loose in west Michigan. South Haven police say they arrested one suspect around 1 p.m. Sunday near the 400 block of Huron Street, where they’d been called for an armed robbery. The second suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Michael James Gray II, who is believed to now be either in the Grand Rapids or South Haven areas. Gray is originally from North Carolina, and may still be armed with a black semi-automatic handgun.. ...Read Full Story

LMC College Night Tomorrow

Lake Michigan College is gearing up for its next annual College Night. LMC Director of Admissions Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News it’s a chance for one and all to come out and meet representatives of colleges from all over the country as students consider which institutions they want to attend.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Person in Gobles

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a missing woman. They say 44-year-old Patricia Ann Thorpe left her sisters residence at 302 North State Street in Gobles sometime between 12:30 AM and 8:00 AM on Sunday, September 24th.  She did not leave a note and did not bring her phone with her. Thorpe is developmentally disabled and suffers from a speech impediment.  She was last seen wearing black pajama pants with animal print on them, a white T-shirt and black shoes. She should also be wearing glasses.  She should be in possession of an over the shoulder purse as well. She is described as five foot tall and weighs 105 pounds. It is unknown on where she is headed.  There is concern for her safety due to her developmental disorder as well as the extreme heat in the area. . ...Read Full Story

State Police Angels Program Now Up And Running

The Michigan State Police Angels Program is now up and running. Launched Monday, Angels offers individuals seeking help with an addiction to come to a state police post and ask for treatment with no fear of being arrested. MSP Lieutenant Dale Hinz at the Paw Paw post tells WSJM News the key now is to get the word out.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Dreamers Hoping For DACA Replacement

The clock is ticking on Congress to approve a replacement for DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s enabled nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants brought into this country as children to work and avoid the fear of deportation to countries that, in some cases, they don’t even know. DACA has affected immigrants right here in Berrien County, including “Estela” and Luz. Each is from Mexico and each is 20 years old. WSJM News spoke with them and learned Estela has applied for DACA and is waiting to be approved. She’s been in the United States since she was six years old, and tells us she doesn’t know what would happen if she were sent back to Mexico.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Judge LaSata To Give Presentation On Specialty Court

Set for next month is a presentation in Berrien Springs by Berrien County Judge Charles LaSata. The topic — Berrien County’s Specialty Courts. Judge LaSata will speak to the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties at the RESA building. Berrien County has four specialty courts. They are the Drug Treatment Court, the Drug Court, the Domestic Violence Court, and “Swift and Sure.” Judge LaSata presides over all four, and at the October 5 presentation, he’ll talk about how each one works and what the goals are. The League of Women Voters tells us Judge LaSata’s presentation, “Specialty Courts in Berrien County-Healing Victims and Offenders,” will be at Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs on Thursday, October 5 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Stolen Motorcycle Found-Three In Custody

Three people are in custody after a stolen motorcycle was found in Dowagiac. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells our newsroom that around 3:30 Saturday afternoon, Deputies were investigating a stolen motorcycle complaint in Cassopolis. A short time later a Deputy on patrol in the Dowagiac area located the stolen motorcycle at the Marathon gas station at M-51 and M-152 intersection where an adult male was taken into custody. Also at that time a vehicle that was also involved in stealing the motorcycle was located at the gas station which was reported stolen out of Kansas. An adult female and juvenile female were taken into custody as well.  The adult female and adult male were taken to the Cass County Jail and the juvenile female was turned over to Probate Court.  The incident is still under investigation and they report additional charges may be pending. . ...Read Full Story

Berrien Community Foundation Announces $500,000 Scholarship Endowment

A new scholarship for low-income students has been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation. President Lisa Cripps-Downey closed out Wednesday’s annual meeting by unveiling the Trefz Family Scholarship, based on a $500,000 endowment. Cripps-Downey told WSJM News it’s all thanks to a trust a woman named Josephine Trefz created when she sold some land which is now part of Lincoln Township Park.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Aims To Acquire WMU Building

Lake Michigan College is seeking the lease for the Western Michigan University building on its Napier Avenue campus. The board of trustees Wednesday voted to move forward on a request to transfer a long-term lease agreement with the state of Michigan to LMC at a cost of $2.7 million. LMC President Dr. Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News WMU will still hold the same programs there, but this gives LMC a place to expand some of its own programs.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Put Public Safety Camera System On Hold

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have shot down, at least for now, a request for the purchase of some public safety cameras. At Monday’s meeting, the commission tabled a plan to spend $67,000 on five HD, 360 degree cameras that would assist with crime prevention in key areas of the city. Mayor Marcus Muhammad had privacy concerns, and felt commissioners should be more involved in the placement of the cameras.. ...Read Full Story

U.S. Air Force Band Coming To Andrews University

Coming soon to Andrews University will be a performance by the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America. The university tells us the 45 piece ensemble plays music from symphonic band masterworks to traditional marches to modern compositions to pops and jazz. It will perform at the Howard Performing Arts Center on October 12 at 7 p.m. The program will include standard concert band and popular music from each decade since 1947, ending with a patriotic salute those who have served the nation. The concert band has performed for such dignitaries as Pope John Paul II, Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, as well as the Queen of the Netherlands. Admission to the Andrews University show will be free, but you do need to get a ticket. You can get tickets right here.. ...Read Full Story

Empty The Shelter Pet Adoption Event Today In Hartford

Taking place this Saturday is yet another Bissell Pet Foundation “Empty the Shelters” event. Bissell’s Holly Kroeze tells us the Grand Rapids-based Bissell foundation will pay the adoption fees for animals adopted in nearly 20 shelters around the country. That includes the Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter in Hartford. The event comes in response to the hurricanes down south. Bissell has been bringing critters from shelters in Florida and Texas to Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Sheriff’s Department Planning Citizens Police Academy

Van Buren County residents are being invited to sign up for the sheriff’s department’s next Citizens Police Academy. It’s a chance for anyone in the public to learn all about what a police officer does. The program starts on January 17 of next year, and runs for eleven weeks. Those who take part will learn about an officer’s duties, how the officer carries them out, and what the results can be. Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbot tells us he believes the academy is a valuable experience for those who join. The sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Van Buren County sheriff’s Department in Paw Paw. You have to be a county resident and at least 18 years old. To find out more, go to VBCSheriff.com.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Animal Shelter Holding Adoption Event Tomorrow

If you’re looking for a new animal friend, then the Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter is the place for you tomorrow afternoon. They’re holding a special adoption event thanks to the Bissell Pet Foundation. Animal Control’s Kasey Murphy tells WSJM News the shelter now has a large number of dogs flown up from Florida following Hurricane Irma.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph County, MI Fair Continues Through Tomorrow

Continuing through this Saturday is the St. Joseph County Grange Fair in Centreville. It’s one of the latest in the season county fairs to be held in Michigan, and a big focus is agriculture. With that in mind, MSU Extension has been featuring a special commodities carnival as part of the fair. It’s an exhibit that delves into the financial aspect of maintaining livestock, says MSU Extension’s Betty Jo Krosnicki. She spoke with WSJM News about the Commodity Carnival.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Cass County Crash

One person is dead following a crash in Cass County on Friday. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened shortly before 4 p.m. on Robinson Road south of Buffalo Lane in Jefferson Township. A vehicle driven by 52-year-old Daniel Albert Dolan of Cassopolis lost control going around a curve on Robinson and crossed the center line. Dolan’s vehicle was then struck broadside by a large grain hauling truck. Dolan was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck was not injured. Police say the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Fall Festival This Weekend In St. Joseph

The spirit of the fall is being celebrated this weekend in St. Joseph. It’s time for the annual Fall Festival downtown on Friday and Saturday. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News there will be family fun all day Saturday, followed by the wine festival at 4 p.m. That includes the public art auction.. ...Read Full Story

MPSC Holds Hearing On Palisades Closure

The Michigan Public Service Commission has met to consider a request from Consumers Energy to pay $184 million for a plan to get out of its contract to buy power from the Palisades nuclear power plant. At a Friday hearing, the MPSC concluded Consumers could pay $142 million, less than its request. The MPSC’s Nick Assendelft spoke with WSJM News about the decision.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien RESA Festival Of Families Tomorrow

Set for Saturday is the Berrien RESA Festival of Families. RESA spokesperson Karen Heath tells WSJM News the fifth annual event will feature information on all of the services offered to kids around Berrien County. On hand will be groups like the Boys and Girls Club, the Red Cross, and the Berrien County Health department. There’s also some fun.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Recycling Event Set For Tomorrow

Berrien County is planning a household chemical and electronics recycling event for this weekend. On Saturday, you can stop by Silver Beach County Park between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to drop off items sitting around in your house that might need to be properly disposed. Those items include household and garage chemicals, liquids and cleaners, pills, sharps, and other home medical waste, batteries of all sizes, and electronics. Most items are free to drop off, although there will be a $20 fee for televisions and a $10 fee for computer monitors. Anyone looking for more information can go to BerrienCounty.org/Recycle.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced In Cass County Cold Case Murder

An Indiana man who pleaded guilty to killing his cousin in 1977 in southwest Michigan has been sentenced to 12 to 18 years in prison. Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman sentenced 58-year-old Raymond Richmond on Friday after accepting the agreement in which the South Bend man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The shooting death of 25-year-old Robert Stasiak in Edwardsburg initially was deemed a suicide, but the investigation was reopened in 2015 and Stasiak’s body exhumed for an autopsy. Richmond, who was 18 at the time of Stasiak’s death, was charged last year. Authorities have said they believe Richmond fatally shot Stasiak for flushing the defendant’s marijuana down a toilet. Richmond apologized in court for his actions. Stasiak’s widow, Kathy Hamburger, says her daughter blamed her for the suspected suicide.. ...Read Full Story

Speculation Heating Up Around Area Republicans For 2018

With the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference underway on Mackinac Island, speculation is ramping up about the future for several southwest Michigan members of the GOP. There are now multiple reports that Congressman Fred Upton is seriously weighing a run for the U.S. Senate next year, fueled by a new logo on invitations to a reception on the island with “Upton 2018” over the outline of the state of Michigan and new online ads with the line “let’s win Michigan in 2018!” On Twitter, Jonathan Oosting of “The Detroit News” reports Senator John Proos is eyeing Upton’s 6th District seat if the incumbent goes for the Senate. Proos tells WSJM News he doesn’t yet have anything on the record to say on that speculation. Chad Livengood of “Crain’s Detroit Business” also reports there are Republicans who will be trying to talk former state Representative and current Michigan Lottery Commissioner Aric Nesbitt into running for Upton’s seat as well.. ...Read Full Story

New Poll Looks At Race For Governor

New polling results have been released regarding the race for governor. If the Republican primary were held today, MRG Polling Firm says Bill Schuette would garner 33% of the vote, others significantly less. Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick tells us there’s a front runner among Democrats.. ...Read Full Story

Young Dreamers Hoping For DACA Replacement

The clock is ticking on Congress to approve a replacement for DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s enabled nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants brought into this country as children to work and avoid the fear of deportation to countries that, in some cases, they don’t even know. DACA has affected immigrants right here in Berrien County, including “Estela” and Luz. Each is from Mexico and each is 20 years old. WSJM News spoke with them and learned Estela has applied for DACA and is waiting to be approved. She’s been in the United States since she was six years old, and tells us she doesn’t know what would happen if she were sent back to Mexico.. ...Read Full Story

Baby Whose Mother Chose Giving Birth Over Chemo Has Died

From the Associated Press — A relative says the baby born of a Michigan woman who chose to forego chemotherapy to give birth to the child has died. Sonya Nelson says her niece, Life Lynn DeKlyen, died Wednesday evening at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Life’s mother, Carrie DeKlyen, died September 9, three days after giving birth to her sixth child. Relatives say Life had been doing better than expected after being born prematurely at 1 pound 4 ounces. Nelson tells The Associated Press the baby had good and bad days at the hospital, but “took a turn for the worse” this week. Nelson says “we don’t have any answers,” but that “maybe Carrie needed her.”
Carrie DeKlyen declined the brain cancer treatment, because it would have meant ending her pregnancy.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Waiting For Approval Of Tax, Court Security Bills

With Michigan lawmakers back at work, state Representative Kim LaSata is waiting to see her first pieces of legislation pass the Senate. First, she has a plan to close a loophole allowing vacation homeowners in Michigan to claim the homestead exemption on their Michigan property even if they’re already claiming their other property as a homestead in another state. LaSata tells WSJM News her other bill has to do with court security.. ...Read Full Story

New Effort Begins To Raise MI Minimum Wage

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is green-lighting a ballot initiative that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022. Alicia Renee Farris is the Michigan Campaign chair for the group One Fair Wage. She told Michigan News Network that even though the Michigan Chamber of Commerce opposes the plan, there are some who think it’s a good idea.. ...Read Full Story

Elkhart Man Arrested After Cass County Search

A 24-year-old Elkhart, Indiana man is in the Cass County Jail after speeding off from a traffic stop in Penn Township. The sheriff’s department says he was pulled over for going 96-miles-an-hour on Decatur Road near Kelsey Lake Street, and then ran away during the stop. Cass County K9 Faust and handler Deputy Nevins tracked the suspect for nearly three-and-a-half miles through woods and corn fields before canceling the chase due to heat exhaustion concerns for the dog last evening. The suspect was found just north of Cassopolis a short time later and was jailed after first being treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration at Dowagiac Lee Memorial Hospital. He’ll be charged with fleeing and eluding, resisting police, possession of a firearm, and driving without a license.. ...Read Full Story

Appeals Court Denies Kalamazoo Massacre Suspect Request

The Michigan appeals court won’t review a judge’s decision about evidence in the case of a man charged with killing six people in the Kalamazoo area. Jason Dalton’s attorney had asked the court to look at a decision about Dalton’s statements to police. Prosecutor Jeff Getting says the appeals court turned down the request Monday. The appeal had delayed Dalton’s trial, which was supposed to start in June. He now has eight weeks to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to intervene. Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder. Police have quoted him as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings in February 2016.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Sued After Gay Couples Rejected For Adoption

From the Associated Press — The American Civil Liberties Union says Michigan is illegally allowing faith-based groups to reject gay couples who want to adopt kids or become foster parents. Michigan pays groups such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services to place children with families. The ACLU filed a lawsuit Wednesday, saying Michigan is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing the groups to use a religious test to carry out public services. ACLU attorney Jay Kaplan says those services should be based on what’s best for kids, not religious beliefs. The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law in 2015 that says child-placement agencies aren’t required to provide services that conflict with their beliefs. It was signed before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Seeking Lease For WMU Building

Lake Michigan College is seeking the lease for the Western Michigan University building on its Napier Avenue campus. The board of trustees Wednesday voted to move forward on a request to transfer a long-term lease agreement with the state of Michigan to LMC at a cost of $2.7 million. LMC President Dr. Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News WMU will still hold the same programs there, but this gives LMC a place to expand some of its own programs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Home Invasion Suspect In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a home invasion suspect who managed to get away from them on Wednesday morning. Officers were called out to a home on Daily Road near Pokagon Highway in LaGrange Township around 8:30 a.m. The suspects had run from the home and taken off in a Ford Taurus. When a sheriff’s deputy tried to pull it over, the suspects drove off into a corn field. Police set up a perimeter, and soon caught one of the suspects on foot with the help of K9 Faust. The other suspect was tracked to a drainage area, but police and their K9s couldn’t find him. Police believe he could be in the Howard Township area, and describe him as a white male, about 200 pounds, six feet tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Community Foundation Announces New Scholarship For Low-Income Students

A new scholarship for low-income students has been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation. President Lisa Cripps-Downey closed out Wednesday’s annual meeting by unveiling the Trefz Family Scholarship, based on a $500,000 endowment. Cripps-Downey told WSJM News it’s all thanks to a trust a woman named Josephine Trefz created when she sold some land which is now part of Lincoln Township Park.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Acquires New Fire Truck

South Haven Area Emergency Services has received a brand new truck. A 75-foot ladder truck made by Spencer Manufacturing of South Haven was delivered this week. It replaces the department’s 50-foot ladder truck that’s 31 years old. South Haven Emergency Services tells us the new truck is powered by a 500-horse power Cummins engine. Other goodies include a 1,200 gallon poly water tank and a 20 gallon foam cell allowing for foam to be used on some fires. A poly body on the unit removes the concern of rust, and an eight kilowatt generator means portable lighting can be run at fire scenes. The new truck cost about $846,000. The community will have a chance to see the new ladder during the department’s Fire Safety Fun Night, which is set for October 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Station 3 on Blue Star Highway.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Fall Festival This Weekend

The spirit of the fall is being celebrated this weekend in St. Joseph. It’s time for the annual Fall Festival downtown on Friday and Saturday. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News there will be family fun all day Saturday, followed by the wine festival at 4 p.m. That includes the public art auction.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Commission Limits State Union Bargaining Rights

A Michigan panel is prohibiting 35,000 state employees from bargaining on seniority and other provisions related to the handling of layoffs, transfers and overtime. The Civil Service Commission’s move Wednesday is being condemned by unions as another conservative-led political attack against organized labor. Ron Bieber is the president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. He spoke with the Michigan News Network about the commission’s decision.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Super PAC Legislation

From the Associated Press — Rick Snyder has quickly signed into law contentious regulations for independent expenditure committees whose footprint in elections has grown since U.S. Supreme Court decisions seven years ago. Democrats and campaign-finance watchdogs opposed the Republican-sponsored legislation, partly for letting candidates solicit unlimited donations for super PACs backing their campaigns. But the Republican governor says the bills signed Wednesday _ a day after lawmakers OK’d them _ give the secretary of state “clear statutory authority” to regulate independent expenditure committees with reporting requirements and enforcement penalties. He cites confusion over the 2010 Citizens United ruling’s effect on Michigan law. Snyder says the law now aligns with federal decisions protecting free-speech rights. Critics say the law improperly lets super PACs running ads use the same attorney that a candidate committee employs.. ...Read Full Story

FGM Doctor To Be Freed Pending Trial In Detroit

A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on girls in a Muslim sect will be released from jail as she awaits trial. A judge on Tuesday was persuaded to grant bond to Dr. Jumana Nagarwala after supporters pledged to pay more than $4 million if she flees the country. Federal Judge Bernard Friedman called it a “very comprehensive package.” Nagarwala has been in custody since her arrest in April, and it will be a few days more before she’s released. She must wear an electronic tether. Nagarwala denies any crime and says she performed a religious custom on girls from her Muslim sect. Eight people have been charged, including two Minnesota mothers and the owner of a Detroit-area clinic where the alleged procedures occurred after hours. The bond is believed to be the largest ever posted in federal court in Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Correction, Retraction To A Wednesday Morning Story

This morning, we gave an update to a story we had last week regarding a motorcycle crash in Hagar Township that badly injured Alan Hatten of Watervliet. In that story, we erroneously reported that Mr. Hatten had passed away from his injuries. Our story was based on information that we have since learned was not accurate, and we have retracted the story. Our newsroom is reaching out to several Berrien County agencies for an update on his condition. Please accept our sincere apologies for the story.. ...Read Full Story

MI Panel Holds Off On LGBT Discrimination Declaration For Now

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is holding off for now on deciding whether to declare that discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations is already unlawful under state law. The commission met Monday to consider the request after two months of public feedback. The interpretive statement, if issued, would say discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination outlawed under Michigan’s 1976 civil rights law. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights says the commission voted to table to request from LGBT rights group Equality Michigan. An assistant attorney general told the commission the legislature, not the commission, should address changes in state law. The commission is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette for a formal opinion on its authority.. ...Read Full Story

Dave Ramsey Speaks To Economic Club Of Southwestern Michigan

What every business needs to be successful. That was the focus of financial guru Dave Ramsey’s address to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Tuesday night. Dave’s five principles — have good leadership, care about people, follow sound financial practices, maintain unity, and remember your higher calling. That means, Dave said, remembering what drives you to produce that widget in the first place.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Receives More Hurricane Dogs

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is currently housing a large number of dogs shipped in from shelters located in areas affected by the recent hurricanes. Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News they received six early last week, and then 27 more on Friday. The shelter now has more dogs than usual.. ...Read Full Story