Local News Archives

Tuesday Is Organ Donor Registry Day

Next Tuesday, or Valentine’s Day, has been declared Organ Donor Registry Day by the Michigan Senate. It’s intended to make the day serve as a reminder to everyone of the importance of signing up to be an organ donor. The state Senate notes in the resolution from Senator John Proos that organ and tissue donation from one person can save or enhance the lives of up to 75 people, and according to Donate Life America, more than 120,000 men, women, and children nationwide currently need an organ transplant. You can find out how to sign up to be on the organ donor registry at GiftOfLifeMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Schuitmaker Co-Sponsors Bills To Better Prosecute Sex Assault Cases

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker has signed on to some legislation designed to make it easier for authorities to prosecute sexual assault cases while better serving the victims of such crimes. She’s co-sponsored bills that would allow courts to consider prior bad acts in cases of sexual assault, increase reimbursements to medical providers who serve victims, and create consistency in how providers are compensated. Currently in cases involving sexual assaults of minors, courts are allowed to consider evidence that suspects may have committed a previous offense. Senator Schuitmaker says that should apply to all sex assaults. She also says it’s important the state makes sure victims get the best care possible.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Puts Weight Restrictions Into Effect

The Michigan Department of Transportation has put weight restriction into effect on several west Michigan highways. Spokesperson Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the restrictions are placed on large trucks, ensuring they don’t exceed certain weights and cause major damage to the roads because the weather is warmer.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leaders: We Have Already Budgeted For Tax Chargebacks

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools say they have already budgeted for tax chargebacks the district is expected to face this year. A chargeback happens when a business successfully appeals its local tax assessment to the state and a local taxing entity has to pay back to the treasurer’s office what it’s already received in anticipation of those revenues. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowksi tells WSJM News, it’s a particular problem in the Benton Harbor area.. ...Read Full Story

Collapsed Territorial Culvert To Be Replaced This Summer

Set for this summer is the replacement of a collapsed culvert on Territorial Road in Bainbridge Township. The culvert, located on Territorial over Blue Creek near Millburg, fell apart in April of last year, and the road near it has been closed since. Representatives of the Berrien County Road Commission told residents this week that work on the $1 million replacement will start when all of the needed materials are available, and it’s expected the project will be finished by the Fourth of July. According to The Herald Palladium, most of the project is being paid for with federal funds, and the same contractor who worked on the replacement of an old culvert on Red Arrow Highway in Chikaming Township last year will do this one. The collapsed culvert was at least 70 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Bill To Encourage Investment In Border Communities

State Senator John Proos is praising legislation passed this week designed to help border communities in Michigan attract new businesses. The Senate bill expands the state’s definition of “qualified new jobs” when it comes to tax breaks. Under current law, companies that come to the state and create jobs only qualify for breaks when the workers they’re employing live in Michigan. Under the plan, they could still get state help, even if some employees lives across the state line. Proos tells WSJM News that’s good news for southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

New LMC President Gearing Up To Get Started

The next president of Lake Michigan College says he hopes to be settled in and ready to get to work in April. On Friday, the LMC Board of Trustees selected Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, the current Vice President of Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College, to take over for the retiring Dr. Bob Harrison. Kubatzke tells WSJM News us he believes strongly in the mission of community colleges.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Winners Of Berrien County Photography Contest

The winners of state Representative Kim LaSata’s Berrien County photography contest have been announced. LaSata started the contest to get some pictures of the area she represents to hang in her Lansing office. The top prize is going to Randy Willis, of Benton Harbor, for his picture of a rainbow over vineyards and barns. Second place goes to Mark Parren, of St. Joseph, for a photo of the sunset at the St. Joe Lighthouse, while third place goes to Jeff and Diane Binder, of St. Joseph, for a photo of waves crashing at the lighthouse. All three photos will now hang in LaSata’s office in different areas. You can see the winners below or, of course, you could check them out  in person at LaSata’s Lansing office.. ...Read Full Story

New State Police Troopers Coming To Paw Paw

More than two dozen recruits have graduated from the Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School. The 28 new troopers were given their oaths Friday during a ceremony at the state police training academy in Lansing. The’re expected to start work next week and will join more than 1,000 other troopers at posts and other offices across the state. Their training started in August and included work with firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, ethics and criminal law. Among the graduating troopers are two that will be assigned to the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post. They are Jaboc Bailey, of Hastings, and Dustin Roesler, of Whitehall. Another trooper recruit school is slated to start in June.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Selects New President

We now know who will be the next president of Lake Michigan College. The LMC Board of Trustees voted on Friday to hire Dr. Trevor Kubatzke to replace the retiring Dr. Bob Harrison. Kubatzke is currently the Vice President of Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He has two decades of experience in higher education, having previously worked at community colleges in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration in Community College Leadership from Walden University, a Master of Science in Education Administration from Missouri State, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Benton Harbor Shooting

A Benton Harbor man is in the Berrien County Jail on charges of assault with intent to murder, home invasion and more. Police say Lamarcus Crayton is accused of shooting a 21-year-old man in the head late Wednesday night at a home in the 700 block of Mcallister Street. The victim is hospitalized at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph with life-threatening injuries, and authorities have not released his name. State Police, the FBI, and Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in making the arrest.. ...Read Full Story

Three Busted For Meth At Paw Paw Motel

Two men are jailed and charges are being sought against a woman following a drug bust at a Van Buren County motel. Deputies were called to Red Arrow Motel in Paw Paw around 1 a.m. Friday for a loud party with possible drug use. All three in the room denied they were doing anything wrong, but a search of the room resulted in police finding three syringes, with one having suspected meth. The 38-year-old woman said it was hers, and she had recently shot up. Both men were on parole, and one told deputies he had also used the drug and would test positive. The two men are in jail, and deputies say the woman will be charged with meth possession once their investigation is done.. ...Read Full Story

High Speed Chase Starts In Niles, Ends In South Bend

Charges are pending against a man who led police on a high-speed chase in Niles and South Bend. Our partners at WNDU Newscenter 16 report it started when police learned of alleged threats the man had made, and tried to pull him over. He was believed to have a gun, though no shots were fired during the 20-minute chase. It ended when he crashed at the corner of Cleveland and Mayflower in South Bend around 10:30 last night. The suspect is hospitalized after being injured in the wreck. His name hasn’t been released.. ...Read Full Story

CMU Condemns Anti-Semitic Valentine’s Day Card

A Central Michigan University Republican student group is apologizing for a Valentine’s Day card that mocks Jews who died in the Holocaust. The College Republicans group handed out gift bags to students Wednesday night, including one with a card that said “My love 4 u burns like 6,000 Jews.” It had a photo of Adolf Hitler and was signed “XOXO, Courtney.” Dr. Carolyn Dunn is Associate Vice President with the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and told Michigan News Network the university condemns what was possibly a lone wolf’s stunt.. ...Read Full Story

Audit: Human Error Led To Detroit Recount Problems

The Michigan Bureau of Elections has conducted a review of 136 Detroit voting precincts to find out why there’s a discrepancy between the total number of recorded voters in November’s election and the number of ballots cast. Elections Director Chris Thomas told Michigan News Network they’ve learned a recount can’t be done when that happens.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man To Receive Rotary International Award

A South Haven man will be receiving Rotary International’s highest award. Dr. Martin “Marty” Graber will be presented with the Rotary’s Service Above Self Award on May 13 at a district conference in Battle Creek. The award goes out to 150 Rotarians each year for their work in demonstrating the Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self.” Dr. Graber has been a member of the South Haven Rotary since 2006, and he’s getting the honor for his work in Kenya. The Rotary tells us, since he and his wife started working with the Maasai Tribe, they’ve helped to develop clean water and energy sources, agriculture, hospitals, and schools there. Graber is the second South Haven Rotarian to win the Service Above Self Award. The other recipient was Robert Brickman in 1993.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Passes Bill To Attract Businesses To Border Communities

From the Associated Press — A bill passed by the Michigan Senate looks to attract new businesses and investment to border communities. Senator Dale Zorn’s bill would encourage businesses to set up in counties near the border instead of in other states that border Michigan such as Ohio, Indiana or Wisconsin. The state provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investment in the state or who hire “qualified new jobs.” Zorn’s bill would expand the definition of “qualified new job” from a job done by somebody who lives in Michigan to include somebody who does not live in the state but is employed by a business on the Michigan side of the border. The bill passed on a 24 to 13 vote and has been sent to the House.. ...Read Full Story

U-Michigan Students Get Racist Forged Emails In Name Of Prof

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan says someone sent racist and anti-Semitic emails to students under the name of a professor who has raised concerns about the integrity of the voting system in some states. J. Alex Halderman denies sending the messages and the school doesn’t believe Halderman’s email was hacked. Instead, spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Wednesday that Halderman and the students are victims of “spoofing” or forged emails. Fitzgerald says campus police are investigating. Halderman calls the emails “contemptible.” They were sent mostly to engineering students and had subject lines such as “African American Student Diversity” and “Jewish Student Diversity.” Two
messages included the phrase “Heil Trump.” Halderman, a computer science professor, urged a recount of presidential election results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to ensure that a cyberattack hadn’t manipulated totals.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Schools Keeping Redskins Moniker

The Paw Paw School Board has voted to keep the Redskins name and image as their mascot. The board voted 4-3 late Wednesday to keep the mascot, which has been a source of controversy for decades. Board member Renee Richardson voted to get rid of the Redskins name, saying she’s “sickened” by what’s been going on in the community, with residents arguing and saying “hateful words to one another.”. ...Read Full Story

Judge Ends Challenges To Parole Rules, Sentences For Teens

From the Associated Press — A judge has rejected constitutional challenges to how Michigan sentences teens convicted of first-degree murder, ending seven years of litigation. Since 2010, federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara has made a series of decisions, some favoring so-called juvenile lifers who were given no-parole sentences when they were under 18. But some rulings were stopped by an appeals court. O’Meara closed the case Tuesday, noting that Michigan law has greatly changed because of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. No-parole sentences for teenagers still are possible but they’re not mandatory. O’Meara says judges can consider the “factors of youth” when they sentence teens. Attorney Deborah LaBelle had urged O’Meara to strike the law as unconstitutional. She says no-parole sentences are supposed to be rare, but prosecutors still are trying to keep more than 200 inmates behind bars for life at new hearings.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Pageant Tickets Go On Sale This Month

Tickets to this year’s Blossomtime Pageants will go on sale this month. The public sale begins on February 14. This year’s theme is “If it starts with B, it must be Blossomtime,” and the pageants will be held next month. Tickets are $20.00 and you can get them by calling the Blossomtime office or stopping there. The big event will be at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Ann Arbor Hunt Results In 96 Deer Killed

From the Associated Press — Ann Arbor officials say 96 deer have been killed this year as part of the city’s deer management efforts. The Ann Arbor News reports that sharpshooting as part of the city’s second-annual deer cull ended this week and all parks and nature areas that were
closed during the hunt that started Jan. 30 are now back to their normal operating hours. The deer were hunted at designated parks and nature areas and University of Michigan properties, including Nichols Arboretum and near North Campus. A state permit allowed killing up to 100 deer, plus sterilizing up to 80. Veterinarians sterilized 54. Sharpshooters killed 63 deer during last year’s hunt. In 2015, city officials decided that the deer culling program would be for four years to help deal with deer overpopulation.. ...Read Full Story

Kids Allegedly Kidnapped By Parents Found Safe

A parental kidnapping in Benton Harbor is under investigation by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies accuse 34-year-old Scottie Hall and 27-year-old Courtney Gibson of taking their two children against a court order, and fleeing to Indiana last evening. The children, 12-year-old Hailey Hall and 8-year-old Scottie Hall, Jr. were found safe today in Indiana. A court order had put them into protective custody and foster care just a few hours before they were taken. The sheriff’s department has not indicated the reasons for that court ruling.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Sued Over Student’s Sexual Assault

Benton Harbor Area Schools, Superintendent Shelly Walker, and former high school principal Rodger Triplett are being sued in federal court by the family of an autistic teenager over the girl’s sexual assault by a former star football player. 18-year-old Timothy Bell, Jr. is serving a year in the Berrien County Jail for raping the girl, who was 14 at the time, in 2015 just after the Tigers’ football season concluded. He recorded the assaults on his cell phone, and shared the video with friends. Bell entered a guilty plea in July to the crime. The girl’s family filed the suit in federal court in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, alleging the school district protected Bell and created a hostile environment for the victim. In the lawsuit, they say she was forced to face her attacker daily and was taunted for months.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Kids Kidnapped From Benton Harbor

Police are investigating a parental kidnapping in Benton Harbor. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Scottie Hall and Courtney Gibson allegedly took their children from a home at 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive just hours after the court ordered them into protective custody and placed them in foster care yesterday. They are believed to be in Indiana, driving a 2001 Lincoln four door sedan with Indiana plates of XLL-123. Deputies say Hailey Hall is 12, five-feet tall with brown hair and weighs around 100 pounds, while Scottie Hall Jr. is 8, around 4’6″, 65 pounds, and also has brown hair. Anyone who knows where Hall and Gibson went with the kids is urged to call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Hilltop Repaving Work Set For this Year

Coming soon will be a resurfacing project for Hilltop Road in St. Joseph. It’s an effort  being taken on jointly by the city, the township, the road commission, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Project Engineer Alan Smaka, with Wightman and Associates, tells us they’re doing a variety of work on the road.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Budget Proposal To Include $260 Million In Savings

From the Associated Press — As Republican lawmakers push for an income tax cut, Governor Rick Snyder instead will propose growing Michigan’s savings account to $1 billion. State budget director Al Pscholka told The Associated Press Tuesday that Snyder wants to add a “sizable” $260 million to the budget stabilization, or rainy day, fund in the next fiscal year. It would be the largest deposit since Snyder’s first year in office. The Republican will unveil his budget plan Wednesday. Pscholka says it’s smart to save money because of “one-time” tax revenues and looming budget pressures. Lawmakers voted to permanently shift general funds to road repairs starting in 2018. Other squeezes include Medicaid expansion costs and the phase-out of business equipment taxes. Snyder also will propose directing $1.2 billion to the Public School Employees Retirement System.. ...Read Full Story

Permanent Memorial Planned For Kalamazoo Massacre Victims

The six people killed in last February’s shootings in the Kalamazoo area will be honored with a permanent memorial. The idea is still in the planning stages, and fundraising is yet to begin. Last February 20, Uber driver Jason Dalton allegedly shot eight people and killed six in three separate shootings while still driving passengers around Kalamazoo in between the incidents. The first shooting injured Tianna Carruthers at an apartment complex northeast of Kalamazoo. In the second incident, Dalton allegedly killed 17-year-old Tyler and 53-year-old Richard Smith of Mattawan at a car dealership, and then gunned down four women in their cars outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. That shooting injured then-14-year-old Abbie Kopf of Battle Creek and killed Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, and Mary Jo Nye, Barbara Hawthorne, and Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek. Dalton is still awaiting trial on 16 charges.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Republican Condemned For Tweet About Democratic Protesters

From the Associated Press — Democratic and Republican party leaders in Michigan and Kent State University are condemning online comments from a county-level Republican that appeared to suggest shooting protesters. Dan Adamini, secretary of the Marquette County GOP, last week tweeted, “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.” In 1970, the Ohio National Guard fatally shot four Kent State students during Vietnam War protests. Adamini said Monday that he was calling for an end to violence after a demonstration last week at the University of California, Berkeley that stopped a speech by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. Some protesters broke windows and tossed smoke bombs. Kent State officials called Adamini’s posts “abhorrent.” Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson says Adamini was speaking for himself.. ...Read Full Story

Sentencing Held For Mother Of Murdered Infant

The mother of an 8-month-old boy who prosecutors say was murdered last year has been sentenced to 270 days in jail for her role in the case. Autumn Atchley was in Berrien County Court Monday for sentencing in the death of little Carter Donovan. Donovan died as a result of trauma to the head while in the care of an Atchley acquaintance, Brandon Beshires, nearly a year ago. Beshires has been sentenced to life in prison in the case. Prosecutors say Atchley initially lied to hospital staff about what had happened when she brought Donovan there. She was charged with being an accessory after the fact. She’ll also get 30 days credit for time served and two years of probation.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lawmaker Resigns To Resolve Criminal Charges

From the Associated Press — A Michigan lawmaker with a lengthy criminal record has resigned from office as part of a deal to resolve charges alleging he submitted fraudulent pay stubs to secure a $3,000 loan in 2010. Third-term Democratic state Representative Brian Banks of Harper Woods announced his resignation in a Wayne County courtroom Monday. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements while three felony counts were dropped. He could face up to a year in prison. Sentencing is February 17. The 40-year-old was charged in June by state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Banks was previously convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Arraigned In Bangor Fatal Shooting

A 19-year-old Bangor man remains in the Van Buren County Jail following a fatal shooting Friday night. Michigan State Police tell us Thurman Fletcher is charged with open murder and felony firearm in the death of 28-year-old Eddie Holland, of Hartford. They say both suffered gunshot wounds in a drug deal gone wrong around 8 p.m. Friday at Lions Park in Bangor. Holland died at Lakeland Hospital in Watervliet, while Fletcher showed up at Bronson in South Haven with gunshot wounds to the leg and foot. Fletcher was arraigned on Monday and denied bond. He’s due back in court for a preliminary exam on February 22.. ...Read Full Story

Meteor Lands In Like Michigan

That green thing that shot across the Midwestern sky early Monday morning was a rock that crash landed into Lake Michigan from outer space. At least, that’s according to preliminary findings from the American Meteor Society. Mike Hankey is the society’s operations manager, and says the physical makeup of the flying rock is what makes it light up in different colors as it plunges through the Earth’s atmosphere.. ...Read Full Story

Hundreds Protest Trump In West Michigan

From the Associated Press — Hundreds of people took part in new western Michigan protests over the weekend of President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. Crowds gathered Sunday at a Kalamazoo park and at the entrance to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. Kalamazoo resident Nancy Hammoudah said at the rally she believed it was dehumanizing to only talk about Muslims such as herself in terms of national security. Protesters lined the streets outside the Grand Rapids airport, chanting and holding signs with slogans such as “No Wall, Try Love.” At least one Trump supporter was at the demonstration, holding a sign that said “Clueless Demonstrators on Parade.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Leading The Way On Shifting Public Workers Away From Pensions

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers appear ready to take another whack at public employee benefits as the state struggles under the weight of pension and health care obligations. The move reflects renewed determination to shift workers to 401(k)-style retirement systems, even if it happens in baby steps. Other states have made more modest changes, but the latest push shows that conservatives want to approve big reforms 20 years after Michigan became the first state to close pensions to future state workers. Republican Governor Rick Snyder is pressing to address $14 billion in unfunded liabilities spread across more than 330 communities. Michigan is taking a leading role because of its size and the fact that GOP legislators and Snyder turned what was once a stronghold of organized labor into a right-to-work state.. ...Read Full Story