Local News Archives

Salsa Competition Today In Kalamazoo

Businesses in downtown Kalamazoo will be vying for the title of the city’s best salsa-maker on Saturday. It’s the third-annual Kalamazoo Salsa Cook-Off. Millennium Restaurant Group’s Brandy Gulley told WKZO News the free event starts at 11 a.m. and kicks off Summer Restaurant Week.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Inviting Public To Offer Input On Master Plan

The city of Bridgman is getting to work on a new master plan, and it’s inviting residents to make their thoughts known. A master plan guides development within a community for years to come, and as Bridgman leaders craft the plan for their town, they’re talking with experts in areas of community resilience and issues related specifically to Bridgman. Each public meeting on the master plan will also include group exercises. Some of the topics will be economic planning and coastal management. The first public meeting will be held on Monday, July 31 at 7 p.m. in the Weko Beach House. Subsequent meetings are set for Thursday, August 17 and Tuesday, September 12 at the same time and place. You can find out more about the process at www.ResilientMichigan.org/Bridgman.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Supporting New Downtown New Buffalo Sculpture

The Pokagon Fund has announced the commissioning of a new sculpture that will be displayed in downtown New Buffalo as part of the ongoing redevelopment project there. The fund has kicked in about $1.6 million in the effort to fix infrastructure and beautify downtown New Buffalo. Acting Director John Krsul tells WSJM News the sculpture by Sawyer-based Fritz Olsen represents Pokagon traditions.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Asks For Disaster Declaration In Flood Stricken Areas

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder is asking President Donald Trump for a disaster declaration after flooding caused damage in four mid-Michigan counties. The request made Friday seeks supplementary federal aid to help people with temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans and other assistance. The flash flooding occurred in Bay, Isabella, Gladwin and Midland counties in June. Snyder’s request will be reviewed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will advise Trump on whether it should be granted. It’s not clear how much damage was caused by the severe weather and flooding, but Snyder calls it a “historic flood” and says “we’re looking at every resource to help them rebuild.”. ...Read Full Story

Murder Suspect Caught In Indiana

A fugitive wanted for a pair of Thursday night murders in southwest Michigan has been found and arrested in South Bend, Indiana. 32-year-old Zachary Patten of Portage was taken into custody Friday. No additional details were given. Police say he shot a 31-year-old woman at the Americana Estates mobile home park on Kalamazoo’s west side, then shot 29-year-old Shane Richardson at a home in Constantine Township before fleeing the state.. ...Read Full Story

Suspected Double Murderer On Loose In Southwest Michigan

Authorities in southwest Michigan are looking for a man they believe killed two people in separate Thursday night homicides. The suspected killer, 32-year-old Zachary Patten, is considered armed and dangerous and remains on the run. Authorities with Kalamazoo Public Safety believe he shot and killed a 31-year-old woman at a mobile home park on the west side of Kalamazoo after 9:30 p.m. St. Joseph County Sheriff’s detectives believe he was also involved in a murder later that night south of Kalamazoo in Constantine. Patten is said to be driving a 2004 silver or gray Chrysler Pacifica with a “skeleton family” sticker on the back and a spare tire mounted on the front.. ...Read Full Story

MI Corrections Department To Aid Transgender Inmates

From the Associated Press — A new policy at the Michigan Department of Corrections is opening the door for more transgender inmates to receive transition-related treatments. The revised policy was put into place June 26. Prior to the change, inmates were only allowed to receive treatment if such care was already scheduled before the person was incarcerated. Now, inmates can receive hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery while still in prison. If an inmate believes they are gender dysphoric, the corrections department’s new Gender Dysphoria Collaborative Review Committee will look at the inmate’s medical history and give a medical and psychological evaluation to potentially approve treatment. Gender dysphoria is defined as a conflict between a person’s assigned gender and the gender they identify with. MDOC says there are currently 50 transgender inmates across 30 Michigan facilities.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Democrats To Hold Summer Party This Weekend

The Berrien County Democratic Party is planning to hold a summer celebration this weekend. The Food, Family, and Freedom Celebration will be Saturday at Lincoln Charter Township Park in Stevensville. Party Communications Chair Dr. Larry Feldman tells us the Dems are quite motivated right now, with a half dozen of them seeking the Sixth District House seat.. ...Read Full Story

Crowd Turns Out For United Way Cardboard Boat Race

One year after the first Rock the Boat Cardboard Boat Races for the United Way of Southwest Michigan, the event has proven to have staying power. 30 boats took part in Thursday’s second annual event, compared to six last year. Teams built their boats out of cardboard, duct tape, and polyurethane and raced them in the St. Joseph River off the Inn at Harbor Shores to raise money for the United Way. WSJM sister station Rock 107 WIRX had morning host Brock Havens and his crew out there. They were talking big ahead of the run.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For New Person Of Interest In BH Shooting

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is looking for a person of interest following a Wednesday shooting. The department tells us officers were called to Lakeland Hospital around 12:30 p.m. to investigate a patient who was wounded with a gunshot. They discovered the victim, 35-year-old Darnell Walker of Benton Harbor, had been wounded that day by gunfire in the city. Police say they developed several leads in the case, and are now looking for 28-year-old Lineson Fitzgerald Powell of Benton Harbor. He also goes by the nickname “Drama.” A previously mentioned person of interest has since been located. Anyone with information on Powell’s location, or on the shooting, is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel To Serve On Mental Health Task Force

Set to begin next month is a series of meetings of the new state House Mental Health Task Force. Sitting on that body will be Berrien Springs state Representative Dave Pagel, who tells WSJM News the goal is to examine mental health in Michigan comprehensively. He says his work on prison budgets is why he was chosen. Pagel notes many individuals who wind up in prison have an underlying mental illness.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Aiming To Roll Back Endangered Species Act

From the Associated Press — Congressional Republicans are moving forward with legislation to roll back the Endangered Species Act, amid complaints that the 44-year-old law hinders drilling, logging and other activities. House and Senate committees were holding simultaneous hearings Wednesday on bills to revise the law and limit lengthy and costly litigation associated with it. The bills come as a federal court lifted federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Trump administration is removing protections for grizzly bears in and near Yellowstone National Park. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop said the bills would curb excessive litigation and allow officials to focus on actual species conservation. Rep. Raul Grijalva, the panel’s senior Democrat, said the endangered species law “does not need congressional meddling to work better. What it needs is congressional support.”. ...Read Full Story

Econ Club Speaker Series Set For 2017-18

The host of a show on News/Talk 94.9 WSJM will be among the four speakers on stage at the Mendel Center for the 2017-18 Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series. Dave Ramsey will be the first speaker of the upcoming season on Tuesday, September 19. He will be followed by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, though the date for his speech is not being announced just yet. On Thursday, April 12, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, best known as “Sully” will speak. He is a former pilot and author of “Miracle on the Hudson,” documenting his splash-landing of a US Airways jet on the Hudson River in 2009 after the plane hit a flock of geese just after takeoff in New York City. The last speaker is comedian Steve Martin, who will be in town Tuesday, May 8.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Holds Agriculture Science Camp

Southwestern Michigan College has held its first ever agriculture science camp for middle school students. It started this Tuesday with a field trip to a 1,600 acre Cassopolis dairy farm. There, the 14 kids learned all about grass-fed longhorn beef and custom butchering. They also got to explore the nearby Newton Woods. The acre area is part of Fred Russ Forest where researchers study Christmas tree seed production and other projects aimed at preserving the diversity of Michigan forests. The SMC Agricultural Science Camp is designed to teach kids in rural areas all about how area farms function.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Rate Falls To 3.8 Percent

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent during June while the number of people in the workforce continued to decline. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget announced Wednesday the June rate compared to a rate of 4.2 percent during May and was a full percentage point lower than the June 2016 rate of 4.8 percent. The national rate in June was 4.4 percent. The agency says Michigan’s workforce shrunk by 29,000 during June. The number of unemployed workers fell by 20,000 and total employment declined by 9,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the June decline in the unemployment rate reflected a second consecutive month of a reduced labor force after several months of steady workforce growth in 2016 and early 2017.. ...Read Full Story

State Commission To Examine Mental Health Issues

The state House is looking at how to help Michigan residents facing mental health issues. Representative Klint Kesto of Commerce Township will co-chair a bi-partisan task force and says they will be going all over the state to meet with substance abuse treatment centers, courts, corrections institutions, rehab facilities and mental health institutions. He spoke with Michigan News Network about the plan.. ...Read Full Story

70-Year-Old Smokestack Demolished In Muskegon

From the Associated Press — A 70-year-old smokestack on the site of a former paper mill in western Michigan has been demolished. The Muskegon Chronicle posted video of the implosion, which left behind rubble and cloud of dust Tuesday morning in Muskegon. The demolition of “Power House Stack No. 1” came amid concerns by city officials that it might collapse if left standing. Police set up a perimeter around the site to keep onlookers safe from asbestos-laden dust. The newspaper reports officials had determined it was too dangerous to remove asbestos from the smokestack before demolition. Another smokestack, the 72-year-old “recovery boiler chimney,” still stands at the former Sappi Paper Mill site. Crews will remove asbestos paint prior to demolition. Plans call for the site to be transformed into the Windward Pointe mixed-use development.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor School Board Fires Principal

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has fired the principal of the International Academy at Hull. Romel Bryant had only been principal since February, serving as that building’s fourth principal of the academic year. The district administration recommended the board fire Bryant at a meeting last week alleging he was insubordinate and did not follow professional development directives. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News that can’t be allowed.. ...Read Full Story

Man Recovering After Injury In Cass County Lake

An Illinois man is recovering after he was pulled from a Cass County lake on Tuesday. The sheriff’s department tells us 26-year-old Nicholas Younglove was at a family gathering on Diamond Lake in Calvin Township around 1:30 p.m. when he hit his head while diving into the water. Police say the water in that area is shallow and he hit the bottom. He was pulled from the water by family and taken to a hospital by ambulance. The case remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Court Tosses Out Class Action Suit Over Jobless Benefits Case

From the Associated Press — The Michigan appeals court has tossed a class-action lawsuit filed by people who were falsely accused of defrauding the unemployment benefits system by an automated computer program. A panel ruled 3-0 Tuesday that the three plaintiffs waited too long to sue, reversing the state Court of Claims. The case centers on whether the men were hurt when the Unemployment Insurance Agency incorrectly notified them of the fraud findings or when the state intercepted their tax refunds, garnished wages and forced repayment of unemployment benefits. Judges Michael Gadola, Patrick Meter and Karen Fort Hood said the trial court “did not properly consider when plaintiffs were harmed,” and the clock began ticking when they received notice of the fraud determinations.. ...Read Full Story

Local Police See Opioid Trend Continue

Following news last week that the state of Michigan saw a continued increase in opioid deaths last year, Michigan State Police in southwest Michigan tells us they’ve seen the trend locally. Although she doesn’t have exact numbers, MSP Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News opioid abuse leading to death is all too familiar to local cops.. ...Read Full Story

BH Kids Take Part In Summer Activities Thanks To New Program

A new partnership between Benton Harbor Area Schools, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and others is enabling children in Benton Harbor to take part in positive, educational activities this summer at three area parks. “Summer Impact” offers the young people a chance to play basketball, take drama and art classes, and get free meals. The YMCA’s Jerry Price tells us lots of kids come out to Hull, Broadway, and City Center Parks each day for the programs.. ...Read Full Story

CDC Awarding $12 Million To States To Fight Opioid Abuse

It’s just a drop in the bucket, but the Centers for Disease Control is awarding $12 million dollars to 23 states and the District of Columbia to fight opioid addiction. Michigan is one of them. Most of it will be spent setting up prevention programs and better ways to track overdoses. CDC blames doctors for over-prescribing the drugs. C. Dennis Simpson, of Western Michigan University,tells WKZO News doctors have already responded by prescribing fewer opioids and at lower doses.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Panel To Discuss Human Trafficking

From the Associated Press — Several community leaders in western Michigan are expected to participate in a panel discussion on human trafficking. The free event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School campus in Grand Rapids. Panelists are to include an FBI victim specialist, a consulting company owner who opened a human trafficking victims’ shelter for minors in Michigan, the founder of an organization that advances the cause of justice and securing human rights, and a Muskegon police officer who works with an outreach program that educates the community about human trafficking. The event is open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Maker Of Driverless Shuttles Opens Plant In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A French maker of self-driving vehicles is opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility. Navya says it’s opening a 20,000-square-foot factory in Saline, Michigan, about 50 miles southwest of Detroit. The company plans to hire 50 workers and make 25 driverless shuttles at the plant before the end of this year. The factory is Navya’s first plant outside Europe. It’s close to the University of Michigan, which will begin testing Navya’s driverless shuttles on its campus this fall. Navya, which is based in Paris and Lyon, France, completed development of its low-speed, driverless shuttle in 2015. There are now 45 shuttles operating worldwide.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor To Seek City Income Tax

The city of Benton Harbor will ask voters in November to approve a local income tax to help pay for infrastructure repairs. At a Monday meeting, the vote was nearly unanimous to pursue a 1% city income tax from residents, and a 0.5% tax of the income non-residents earn in the city. Mayor Marcus Muhammad tells WSJM News the need is obvious.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Leader Named Chair Of State Hospital Association

Lakeland Health President and CEO Dr. Loren Hamel has been picked to be the chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, an industry group representing hospitals all across the state. Based in Lansing, the MHA advocates in Michigan and Washington, D.C. on behalf of healthcare providers. Hamel says he’s honored to lead its board, helping to direct policy. He began the position on July 1.. ...Read Full Story

M-140 Repaving Starts Next Week

A paving project is about to get started on M-140 in Berrien and Van Buren counties. It will be about ten miles of the road from South Haven to Watervliet. The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News traffic will remain open southbound, but there will be changes for northbound.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Joins National Driver Safety Campaign

The Michigan Department of Transportation is now part of a national campaign designed to reduce traffic fatalities. “Toward Zero Deaths” aims to let everyone know that 90% of fatal crashes occur because of a driver’s behavior. MDOT’s Jeff Cranson tells WSJM News there were more than a thousand traffic deaths in Michigan last year.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Looking For Jet Skiers Who Ran Over Geese

From the Associated Press — Michigan conservation officers are looking for two jet skiers who plowed into a flock of Canada geese, killing one and injuring others. The State Department of Natural Resources released a witness’ video Sunday that shows the two people circling around with their watercraft on Mona Lake and then running over a flock of geese. Officers say at least three geese were injured and one was killed on July 10.
They describe one jet ski as purple and the other white and yellow. The drivers are both described as Caucasian and one of them with long hair.
Lieutenant Gerald Thayer says it’s important that “justice is served.” The department says killing geese illegally is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Area Of Kalamazoo Museum To Close For Reovations

From the Associated Press — A children’s play area at a museum in southwestern Michigan has closed during renovations of a nearby interactive science gallery. MLive reports the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Children’s Landscape will be closed until at least September. The play area isn’t changing but had to be closed due to its proximity to the science gallery. Museum director Bill McElhone says creating a pathway around the gallery would have taken up too much time. McElhone says the previous science gallery, Science in Motion, was becoming old and outdated. It was installed in 2001. The new installation has been in the works for the past four years. A committee of about 45 people decided to highlight the concept of innovation in the new exhibit.. ...Read Full Story

High Winds, Waves Spur Capsizing, Dropouts In Mackinac Race

From the Associated Press — Strong winds and waves have caused roughly two dozen boats to bow out of the annual 333-mile sailboat race from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan. Race organizers say 29 boats have exited as of Sunday afternoon. That included Windquest, a decorated vessel owned by Amway heirs Dick and Doug DeVos.Another boat, the High Priority 2, capsized in the overnight hours of Saturday and Sunday. Race spokeswoman Tracy Gladden says four sailors were rescued by a boat launched from a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. Infinite Diversion, a 62-footer, was first to finish Sunday morning in the Cruising Division. That division left Chicago on Friday and the Racing Division fleet left Saturday. About 300 boats overall are competing. First held in 1898, it’s the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. Winners are determined based on a handicapping system.. ...Read Full Story

Section of Red Arrow Highway Dedicated To Fallen Troopers

Red Arrow Highway between US-12 and Union Pier has now officially been dedicated as the Trooper Charles Stark and Trooper Gary Rampy Memorial Highway. That’s after Berrien County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday stating as much. Commissioner Ezra Scott helped to usher through the move to honor the two Michigan State Police troopers who were shot and killed by a drunk driving suspect the night of December 31, 1971. He told WSJM News it took loo long.. ...Read Full Story

Merger Formed Between Girls On The Run Chapters

Girls on the Run of Berrien County is merging with Girls on the Run of Van Buren-Cass-St. Joseph counties. Berrien Girls on the Run Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the national program wanted to consolidate some chapters, so essentially, Berrien is taking over the other regional county operations. This will not affect next spring’s Girls on the Run event in Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Starts Tomorrow

The 62nd annual Van Buren Youth Fair gets truly underway on Monday. Fair secretary Iris Swift tells WSJM News Monday’s events will include animal shows and a talent show. It’s also Armed Forces Day when veterans and military personnel get in for free. Tuesday brings the tractor pull. The fun doesn’t end there.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Defends Part Time Legislature Proposal

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is hitting back following claims his proposal for a part time state legislature is just a ploy to attract conservative support ahead of an expected gubernatorial campaign. He tells WKZO News he’s been calling for a part time legislature since 2009. Calley says the state could save a whole lot of money if lawmakers only worked for a portion of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Teams Up With Hartford Library To Encourage Reading

The Pokagon Fund is teaming up with the Hartford Library to attract more kids and also offer them a little fun. It tells us they’re launching the Hartford Public Library Card campaign. Between now and August 7, any children or parents that gets a new library card and borrows a book can get a free trip to the Potawatomi Zoo. The trip will be August 15. The goal is to register more than 75 new children with library cards. Anyone looking for more information can contact the Hartford Library.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In Dowagiac

Three people are in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust in Dowagiac on Thursday. The sheriff’s department tells us they had a tip that someone was coming to the area from Kalamazoo and selling meth, and found that person’s car in a parking lot on North Front Street in Dowagiac. Surveillance video from inside a nearby store showed a Kalamazoo woman running into the bathroom when police got to her car, and she and two men were arrested when they walked out of the store. Detectives were called back to the store Friday along with the Dowagiac Department of Public Works when the toilet in the women’s bathroom stopped working, and they found a bag of meth and syringes clogging it up. That discovery is bringing extra charges of possession with intent to distribute meth against the 32-year-old woman. One of the other men was arrested on unrelated warrants. Police have not detailed the charges against the third person.. ...Read Full Story

Niles-Buchanan Relay For Life Today

The Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life is today. From 10 a.m. to midnight, teams will take it in turns to either walk or run around the track at Niles High School to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Relay organizer Mike Megyesy tells WSJM News there will be more than 20 teams.. ...Read Full Story