Local News Archives

Realtor Of The Year Named

A realtor from Buchanan is this year’s Realtor of the Year for the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors has honored Linda Johnson of Integrity Real Estate Professionals in Niles with the award this year. She has been licensed as a realtor for the past 14 years and serves on the association’s Standard Forms Committee and Finance Committee. Johnson has previously won several MLS Production Awards, winning Silver Awards in 2008, 2014 and 2014 and the Gold Award in 2013.. ...Read Full Story

Criminal Justice Reforms Set For State Senate Passage

Michigan lawmakers have approved legislation that aims to keep 100,000 criminals who are under state supervision from breaking the law again. The 20-bill package passed by the House Wednesday limits the length of incarceration for offenders who violate their probation and creates a more intensive parole program. Senator John Proos sponsored several of the bills.. ...Read Full Story

Winds Blamed For Power Outages

The high winds throughout Michigan are causing problems keeping the lights on in some areas. Indiana Michigan Power is reporting about 9,000 customers early this afternoon without electricity, most in an area north of Paw Paw. By 3:30, that number had been cut to just under 5,500. Consumers Energy says statewide, more than 180,000 of its customers have lost power. Consumers says some might not get it back until Sunday due to the widespread damage from the winds.. ...Read Full Story

Accused Kalamazoo Mass Murderer Gets Trial Date

Suspected mass murderer Jason Dalton is now scheduled to go on trial June 13 in Kalamazoo County. Dalton faces 16 charges, six of them murder counts, for a shooting spree around Kalamazoo last February. Among his victims were a father and son from Mattawan and a Baroda woman. Dalton is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and told police the app for his job with Uber took control of his mind that day. Two people survived the shootings, which happened in three different locations, hours apart. In between, he kept picking up people for Uber, with several police calls made about his reckless driving. Dalton had originally been set to go on trial last fall, but the court date was pushed back.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Lead Pipe Replacement Project Could Be Finished In 2019

From the Associated Press — The head of Flint’s water pipe replacement program says the city hopes to finish the project in 2019. Retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael McDaniel coordinates the FAST Start initiative to replace lines that leached lead into homes and businesses. He made his comments during the first day of a three-day water infrastructure conference in Flint. He says they hope to replace pipes to 6,000 homes this year. The city has said at least 30,000 homes may have service lines that need replacement. Residents still are being urged to use water filters. Flint was under state control when it switched in 2014 from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. The river water was not properly treated to prevent pipe corrosion. Elevated levels of lead later were found in some children.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Mandate Paid Sick Time For MI Workers

A plan that would guarantee all Michigan workers paid sick time has been introduced in the state legislature. A bill in the Senate would mandate employers give an hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. Democratic State Representative Stephanie Chang has introduced a similar House measure, and says it would solve a big problem for low-income workers.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises GOP Healthcare Plan

Congressman Fred Upton is among the Republican rank and file supporting the House GOP’s American Health Care Act, designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. The plan released this week would keep in place the ACA’s prohibition on insurers denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions. It would also keep in place a provision letting people to stay on their parents’ insurance through the age of 26. Upton in a statement Tuesday called the GOP plan responsible, adding it gives low income Americans who receive insurance through the ACA a “stable transition period” so “the rug won’t be pulled out from under them.” Below is Upton’s entire statement.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Officials To Work Out Details Of State Partnership Agreement This Month

Leaders from Benton Harbor Area Schools will soon learn details of the district’s new partnership agreement with the state, buying three buildings targeted for closure 18 months of extra time. Last week, the governor’s office announced it’s giving the opportunity to buildings on a School Reform Office list of the state’s lowest performing schools. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News stakeholders will meet with state officials on March 23 to establish how the district can use the new partnership to show the state that the three schools are improving.. ...Read Full Story

LECO Announces Expansion In St. Joseph Township

LECO Corporation has announced a $19 million expansion in St. Joseph Township. It’s putting in a new 64,000 square foot applications lab and customer demonstration facility. According to Cornerstone Alliance, the additions will be right next to LECO’s current buildings on a south side of Hilltop. Cornerstone helped the company secure a tax abatement from the township for the project. The lab and demonstration space will also be the new home of LECO’s sales, marketing, and customer communications department. Construction is expected to be finished in late 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Work Gets Started To Replace Breedsville Bridge

The small Van Buren County village of Breedsville is finally getting its south side bridge replaced. The bridge on County Road 215 over the Black River partially collapsed in December of 2015, causing a big headache for anyone trying to get into town from the south. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells WSJM News drivers have had to take a multi-mile detour to get in. On Monday, though, work finally started on replacing the bridge. Norton was pleased.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Mayor Wants Education Program For Immigrants

From the Associated Press — Mayor Rosalynn Bliss wants to start an education program for immigrants who move to Grand Rapids. MLive.com reports Friday that Bliss announced her plan during Thursday’s State of the City address.Bliss told reporters that Grand Rapids needs “to provide  a safe place for people to come together to not only learn how to connect with local government, but how to receive services and also how to get engaged.” She hopes to launch the program within the next two months. President Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on immigrants living illegally in the United States. He also has threatened to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities that offer protections for immigrants living in the country illegally. MLive.com reports that Grand Rapids hasn’t fully declared itself a sanctuary city.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Plan To Pay More For Rape Victim Treatment

From the Associated Press — Bipartisan legislation that would increase payments to medical providers for treating sexual assault victims is advancing in Michigan’s legislature. The Senate unanimously sent the bills to the House Thursday. One measure would require the Crime Victim Services Commission to pay up to $1,200 to health providers for performing a sexual assault forensic examination and related services. The maximum now is $600. Another bill would expand which entities are eligible to receive compensation. The state spent $842,000 for 1,855 sexual assault exams in the last fiscal year. The legislation could triple spending to $2.4 million. A sponsor, Republican state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, of Lawton, says reimbursement rates currently do not cover providers’ costs and the measures “will allow more access and better care for the victims.”. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Woman Killed In Crash With Train

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has identified a Grand Junction woman killed in a Wednesday crash involving a train. It says 47-year-old Tiffany Glidden died in the crash with a CSX train. Glidden was driving an SUV through a railroad crossing on 16th Avenue south of Grand Junction when the train struck her vehicle. It dragged the SUV about 50 feet. Glidden’s son, 14-year-old Sammy Glidden, was in the back seat and suffered serious injuries. He’s now in stable condition at a Kalamazoo hospital. The crossing where the crash happened does not have a gate or flashing lights.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Settles Free Speech Lawsuit

From the Associated Press — Grand Valley State University has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit that said the university unfairly restricted free speech on campus. Student group “Turning Point USA at Grand Valley State University” was critical of the school’s Free Speech Zone Policy in its December lawsuit for limiting expressive activity to “speech zones” and requiring students to gain prior university permission. The Grand Rapids Press reports the university is adopting a revised policy and agreed to pay about $11,000 in legal fees and costs. The new “Grounds and Facility Use Policy” permits students to gather, express themselves and distribute literature throughout campus as long as they don’t block access to campus buildings or traffic and follow other rules. The school says the policy was written to clarify existing policies.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Students Charged With Sexual Assault (UPDATED)

Charges are in place against five South Haven High School students for allegedly having sex with an underage classmate. All are charged as adults, and have been identified as 18-year-old brothers DaMari and DeShaan Palmer, 18-year-old Darion Gist, and 17-year-olds Caskadara Smith and Cameron Watkins. South Haven Detective Kevin Wiley says some of the teens were surprised by the charges.. ...Read Full Story

Expert Offers Tips On Dealing With Coyotes

From the Associated Press — Having problems with coyotes? The resourceful species is turning up increasingly in urban neighborhoods as well as its traditional countryside habitat. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has advice for people who aren’t used to dealing with the wily predators. Wildlife technician Hanna Schauer says it’s important to remove access to food sources such as trash bins, bird feeders and pet foods. Fencing off gardens and fruit trees can help. Yelling, clapping and chasing the animals can help them retain their natural fear of humans.
If those steps don’t work, you can hire a specially permitted nuisance control company. Where hunting or trapping are allowed, coyotes may be taken all year on private property by the owner or designee when they’re doing damage or appear to about to start.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE — Grand Junction Woman Killed In Crash With Train

A crash between an SUV and a train in Van Buren County has resulted in a 47-year-old Grand Junction woman dead. It happened about 4 p.m. Wednesday in Columbia Township, south of Grand Junction at the 16th Avenue CSX Railroad crossing. The sheriff’s department tells us the woman did not follow the yield sign at the crossing and her vehicle was hit by the train as she drove across. Her passenger, a 14-year-old boy also from Grand Junction, was taken to South Haven Bronson Hospital. He’s now listed in critical condition after being transferred to Kalamazoo. There are no gates at that rural railroad crossing.. ...Read Full Story

National Weather Service Confirms Three Tornadoes In SWM Tuesday Night

The National Weather Service has confirmed tornadoes touched down in southwest Michigan Tuesday night. The service says there were a total of three EF-1 twisters that wrecked some mobile homes and did other damage in Niles, Dowagiac, and Vandalia. All three happened around 9 p.m. The Dowagiac tornado hit two mobile homes while on the ground for about five miles. It also damaged some trees and other homes. The Niles tornado damaged several homes in a five block area, and the Vandalia tornado twisted a two-story home on its foundation while damaging other houses, a church, and some trees. It was on the ground for more than two miles. There were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pleased With Trump Address To Congress

Congressman Fred Upton is happy with the speech given by President Donald Trump this week to a joint session of Congress. Upoton tells us the rogue Trump we’re used to seeing was nowhere to be found, and he acted presidential. Upton was also glad to hear the president talk about a Notre Dame student on hand who has battled a rare illness. He tells us that ties into one of his signature pieces of legislation.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Introduces Court Security Bills

A plan to improve security at courthouses across Michigan has been introduced in the state House, and one sponsor is Representative Kim LaSata. She tells WSJM News the three bill package expands the definition of assaulting a court worker and also increases the penalty to 15 years in prison. LaSata was inspired to get involved with the legislation because of the fatal shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse this past summer. She says the incident has prompted statewide discussion on court security.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Van Buren County Crash Involving Train

One person is dead following a crash between an SUV and a train in Van Buren County on Wednesday. It happened around 4 p.m. south of Grand Junction at the 16th Avenue CSX Railroad crossing. Dispatch tells us two people were in the SUV, and one was taken to South Haven Bronson Hospital. The train loaded with coal was returning from a power plant in Port Sheldon. There are no gates at the rural railroad crossing. Police are still investigating.. ...Read Full Story

MI Democrats Introduce Bill To Give Workers Paid Sick Time

From the Associated Press — Michigan Senate and House Democrats want to see all Michigan workers get paid sick leave. They introduced legislation on Wednesday that would give workers one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked regardless of whether they are part-time or
full-time. State Representative Stephanie Chang says a majority of Michigan citizens support paid sick leave. A 2016 study by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows that 44% of Michigan workers cannot take time off if they or a family member becomes ill. Five other states –Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont — have similar laws. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, says he will seek bipartisan support but the legislation is unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven High School Students Facing Sex Charges

Police in South Haven say five criminal charges are being pursued against some male students at the high school for sex acts involving an underage girl. Acting South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson tells us the department became aware of the situation last week and immediately launched an investigation. Not many details have been released, but police say a plain-clothes officer spoke with the six male suspects, who are all legal adults, as well as the victim and her parents. The case was turned over to the prosecutor’s office on Monday, and five felony warrants for third degree criminal sexual conduct, or statutory rape, were issued. The suspects have all turned themselves in, and have been arraigned with bond set at $1,000.. ...Read Full Story

Trooper Beating, Van Buren Crime Spree Possibly Linked

One of the two men who were subdued by good Samaritans after they attacked a Michigan State Police trooper has now been linked to a series of other crimes both before and after his arrest in Indiana and in Michigan. 21-year-old Michael Barber has allegedly been seen on store security video recorded the day before the theft of 14 handguns at a gun shop in Shipshewana on February 10th. On February 20th, four businesses were broken into in Van Buren County and a number of items stolen. Among them a motorcycle that Michael Barber was riding when he was pulled over by Trooper Garry Guild, and a fist fight between Barber, his brother and Trooper Guild took place. Barber and his brother are due in a Berrien County courtroom today to face charges for allegedly attacking the trooper. Three others have been arrested in connection with the theft of the guns. They sold some of them in an attempt to raise enough bail money to spring Barber.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Dems Disappointed With Vote On Trump Tax Records

Berrien County Democrats are not pleased with Congressman Fred Upton. This week, Upton joined almost all of his GOP House colleagues in rejecting a proposal requiring President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to a House committee. Berrien County Democratic Party Chair Dr. Eric Lester tells WSJM News it’s important everyone know what dealings Donald Trump has had with Russia.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Delay Plan To Keep Asian Carp From The Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Federal officials are delaying a proposal for a new line of defense in the Chicago area to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been scheduled to release a draft plan Tuesday for installing new technologies or taking other steps to block the invasive fish’s path at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. The lock and dam is on the Des Plaines River, part of a waterway network that links the carp-infested Illinois River with Lake Michigan. The Army corps has been studying possible modifications at Brandon Road since September 2014. Spokesman Allen Marshall says further coordination is needed with “multiple levels of government” and advocacy groups. He says no new release date has been set.. ...Read Full Story

Work Begins On Replacing Breedsville Bridge

The small Van Buren County village of Breedsville is finally getting its south side bridge replaced. The bridge on County Road 215 over the Black River partially collapsed in December of 2015, causing a big headache for anyone trying to get into town from the south. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells WSJM News drivers have had to take a multi-mile detour to get in. On Monday, though, work finally started on replacing the bridge. Norton was pleased.. ...Read Full Story

You Can Now Report Poaching To The State Via Text

From the Associated Press — If you want to tip off authorities about fish and game violations in Michigan, there’s an easy way: Send a text message. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says its Report All Poaching hotline has begun accepting text messages in addition to telephone calls. The number is 800-292-7800. Text messages may include photos. The hotline is toll-free and is monitored 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week. It’s operated by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, which also offers a web-based reporting form. After receiving a text, the Report All Poaching system immediately replies with a message stating that a dispatcher soon will be in touch. The dispatcher will then request details as would be done during a phone call. The system provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers.. ...Read Full Story

Mi House Speaker Says Failed Tax Cut Vote Not A Bad Outcome

From the Associated Press — House Speaker Tom Leonard is defending his unorthodox decision to allow the defeat of an income tax cut bill that’s a top priority for many majority Republicans. Leonard told The Associated Press Tuesday he’s “proud” he listened to an overwhelming number of Republicans who wanted to vote despite him knowing it would likely fall short. He dismisses criticism as coming from within the “Lansing bubble.” He says he has no regrets and the failed vote isn’t necessarily a “bad thing.” Twelve Republicans joined all but one Democrat to defeat the measure last week, raising questions about why he didn’t clear the voting board and continue to seek support later. Leonard says while cutting taxes remains a priority, the House will next focus on criminal justice and public records legislation.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Court Will Consider Michigan County’s Public Prayers

From the Associated Press — A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county’s tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution. The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues. Peter Bormuth said he felt compelled to stand and participate in religion in order to speak to public officials.The panel had overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the board.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Court Will Consider Michigan County’s Public Prayers

From the Associated Press — A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county’s tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution. The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues. Peter Bormuth said he felt compelled to stand and participate in religion in order to speak to public officials.The panel had overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the board.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Forming Partnership With Post Community Credit Union

Honor Credit Union is about to get bigger. It’s announced a new partnership with Post Community Credit Union, which has branches around the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek areas. As part of the deal, Post will be renamed Honor Credit Union. The organizations tell us they’ll benefit from the mutual expertise, and their missions are already closely aligned. If they deal goes through, the bigger Honor Credit Union will have $800 million, 23 branches, and more than 75,000 members in Michigan. The Post Community Credit Union membership has to approve the change, which also depends on regulatory approval.. ...Read Full Story