Local News Archives

Paw Paw Insurance Agent Accused Of Stealing From Client

A former insurance agent in Paw Paw is facing decades behind bars for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 from a client with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged 57-year-old Brian Lietzau with seven felonies, saying he abused his position when he was given power of attorney for the woman. He is the former owner of Farm Bureau-Lietzau Insurance and obtained power of attorney for the client in 2012. Schuette is accusing him of writing checks to himself from her account along with converting her money to his own. Lietzau is accuse of stealing the money while the woman was hospitalized and after she had died. The Attorney General’s Elder Financial Crimes Unit started investigating the case this year after it was turned over to Schuette’s office by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Hearing In St. Joseph

A public hearing on the budget and the local tax rate will be held by St. Joseph City Commissioners next month. Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News the commission is grappling with multiple considerations as it looks at possible millage increases. That includes the need for street repair money. He credits city staff with being on top of the looming challenges.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Museum Opens

A new Michigan State Police Museum and Learning Center opened on Wednesday in Dimondale with a ribbon cutting. MSP Captain Mike Krumm told Michigan News Network the museum features weapons and vehicles that state police used back when the department began in 1917. He says it’s interactive.. ...Read Full Story

Harrison Seeks County Commission Seat

Former Lake Michigan College President Bob Harrison is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. He’s filed to run for the Republican nomination in the 7th District, which includes the village of Stevensville and part of Lincoln Township. Harrison tells WSJM News he sees the county commission facing challenges specific to southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Talks Green Energy

Indiana Michigan Power has been saluted for its green energy policies. The company has been named a 2018 Environmental Champion from a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the honor is for the company’s renewable energy portfolio. He says I&M gets two thirds of its electricity generation from emission-free sources, with the Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman being a big part of that. I&M also has solar, hydroelectric, and wind programs.. ...Read Full Story

MI Student Wins National Poster Contest

A Macomb County ten-year-old girl is the winner of a national poster art contest to help find missing children. Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse Manager Jolene Hardesty tells WSJM News more than 2,000 submissions from 17 states came in for the 2018 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. Now that a winner has been picked, her art will appear on posters reminding the public of missing children throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Gets Award

An award has been given to state Senator John Proos for his work to promote organ donation in Michigan. This month, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office gave Proos the Shining Star Award. It’s for his role in getting Lauren’s Law approved in the state. Proos tells WSJM News the law requires the Secretary of State to ask people if they want to sign up for the organ donor registry when they renew their licenses.. ...Read Full Story

Pier Life Rings To Be Installed Soon

The north pier in St. Joseph will have life rings installed by Memorial Day weekend. So says St. Joe City Manager John Hodgson, who told city commissioners Monday night the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on board, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will help with maintenance. Hodgson told WSJM News the north pier model will follow the county’s example with life rings at the south pier.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Make State Tip Line Permanent

Legislation has been introduced to make the OK2Say school safety tip line a permanent program. State Representative Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township tells WSJM News his bill and a couple of others would not only establish that OK2Say is here to stay, but set aside funding for the program each year. The OK2Say tip line was launched by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in 2015 to create a way for students to report potentially dangerous situations in their schools without fear of repercussions.. ...Read Full Story

New Animal Shelter Opens Monday

The Al-Van Humane Society is preparing to open its brand new shelter in South Haven next week. Executive Director Jennifer Nuernberg tells us the new 8,000 square foot building on Blue Star Highway is just around the corner from the current facility, and the animals will be moved this coming weekend. The Humane Society had to raise $500,000 to make the move possible.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn Young People About Drinking

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is hoping to remind all parents and young people about the dangers of underage drinking. The department’s Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News the brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 for some. Introducing alcohol to a young brain can make a variety of already-existing problems even worse.. ...Read Full Story

Rally For Child Abuse Awareness

About 600 silver and blue pinwheels were placed in a park near the state Capitol in Lansing this week as part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 10th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News a rally was held at the Capitol Wednesday to show support for those who fight child abuse and to raise money for the state’s Children’s Trust Fund.. ...Read Full Story

New Features Planned At PGA Event

Everything is falling into place for the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. The PGA Championship Director Ryan Ogle tells WSJM News there will be several new features this year for the event slated for May 22 through May 27.. ...Read Full Story

Students Attend Mock Interviews With Whirlpool

37 at-risk students from Benton Harbor, Hartford, Dowagiac, and Cassopolis have had a chance to learn what it’s like to interview for a job at Whirlpool thanks to the Youth Solutions program. Youth Solutions Engagement Director Jan Ennis tells WSJM News the students took part in mock interviews with Whirlpool Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Land Bank Ready For Vacant Property Decision

The Berrien County Land Bank is prepared to approve the sale of the former Alreco Metals property in Benton Harbor to a medical marijuana operation, but only as long as the city of Benton Harbor approves it. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the land bank got a letter this week from Mayor Marcus Muhammad expressing support for the sale of the vacant industrial property to the Harvest Foundation, a medical marijuana producer.. ...Read Full Story

New Theater Planned For BH

Benton Harbor is getting a new theater. Planned for May of 2019 is the brand new GhostLight Theatre to be located at 101 Hinkley Street right behind the Citadel Dance and Music Center. GhostLight co-owner Martha Hesse tells WSJM News the place is vacant right now.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Drop-Off Event Tomorrow

There will be a drug take-back event tomorrow, Saturday the 28th, in Berrien County. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News  law enforcement offices and the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph will take unused prescription medications so they can be safely disposed.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises School Security Funding

State Senator John Proos is praising school security money approved this week by a Senate committee. He tells WSJM News a supplemental appropriation bill for the current 2018 fiscal year allows $15 million for competitive grants for schools to beef up security. Proos says the program will allow for some flexibility on a case by case basis.. ...Read Full Story

Body Recovered At County Park

Police say they have recovered a body found at a park in Benton Township. The Benton Township Police Department tells WSJM News it responded to Rocky Gap Park about 9:20 a.m. Friday on the report of a body that washed up near the shore. Investigation found the deceased was Ralph Ford of White Pigeon. Ford was reported missing on April 10 from Brian’s Marina in St. Joseph where he was seen on his dock. The body was taken to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph by Medic 1, and police say there is no evidence of foul play at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Underwater Utility Line May Have Been Damaged

From the Associated Press — A Michigan electric utility says decommissioned power cables it owns beneath the waterway connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan may have been damaged in the same incident that ruined two cables belonging to another company. Consumers Energy said Thursday it was notified by American Transmission Co., which recently used an underwater vehicle to inspect a network of its cables on the floor of the Straits of Mackinac. Two had been severed in what state officials say was an April 1 tugboat anchor strike. The strike caused the release of 600 gallons of insulation fluid. Consumers says the inspection found potential damage to other cables in the
area. The company also says its cables were taken out of service in 1990 and would not experience a similar leak. The Jackson-based utility says it will do its own inspection.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Meeting In SH Township

Everyone will have a chance to learn more about the opioid epidemic at a meeting planned for next week in St. Joseph Township. St. Joe Township Police Officer Rick Knapp tells WSJM News the neighborhood watch program is welcoming a guest speaker from Families Against Narcotics and the Berrien County Medical Examiner to come and speak at the township hall next Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Thanedar Addresses Animal Controversy

Shri Thanedar is defending himself against an eight-year old report which has resurfaced online. In 2010, the now leading Democrat in the race for Michigan governor was forced to close a New Jersey-based research clinic due to financial trouble. It said over 100 animals were left behind. Thanedar spoke about the situation with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story