Local News Archives

Man Arraigned In SWM Murders

From the Associated Press — A man has been arraigned in the death of his ex-wife’s husband – one of two Michigan slayings in which he’s a suspect. MLive reports that 32-year-old Zachary Patten appeared Monday in St. Joseph County District Court on murder, home invasion and gun charges. Shane Richardson was shot Thursday night in Florence Township, just north of the Indiana state line. Patten also is a suspect in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old Graciela Portillo-Esparza in Kalamazoo about 45 minutes before the 29-year-old Richardson was shot. No charges have been filed in that killing. Patten was arrested Friday after he approached officers in South Bend, Indiana, and told them he “needed to be arrested.” A judge assigned Patten a court-appointed lawyer. An Aug. 15 preliminary examination has been scheduled.. ...Read Full Story

Man Confesses To Killing Woman In Niles

One man is in custody for the murder of a woman in Niles. The Niles Police Department says the suspect walked into the police station on Monday and confessed to the killing. A woman’s body was then found in a home in the 900 block of South 14th Street. Police say the victim appears to have been in her 50s, and they believe she was strangled on Friday. An autopsy is planned. The suspect’s name hasn’t been released, but police says he is in his 50s. He remains locked up in Niles.. ...Read Full Story

Two Busted For Drugs In Dowagiac

An Indiana man and a Dowagiac man are in the Cass County Jail this morning on drug charges after a bust Saturday. Dowagiac officers pulled over a vehicle after recognizing the driver, who had an outstanding warrant. That driver, a 25-year-old former Dowagiac resident who now lives in Elkhart, was arrested on several warrants while his passenger, a 24-year-old man, was busted for a parole violation. Officers found narcotics and evidence of drug dealing while searching the car, and both men are facing several charges as a result. They are expected to be arraigned today.. ...Read Full Story

Tribal Casino Opens Employment Office In South Bend

(South Bend, IN – AP) – A tribal casino set to open its doors in South Bend next year has opened an employment office in the northern Indiana city. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians says the new office was scheduled to open Monday in downtown South Bend’s Union Station. It will be the primary human resources office for the 1,200 workers expected to be hired for the Four Winds Casino South Bend.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gas Prices Up 5¢ In Past Week

Our state continues to have some of the most volatile gas price swings in the country. According to the latest survey from Triple-A Michigan, the state had the fourth largest change in average price in the past week, going up a nickel to $2.40 a gallon. The most and least expensive cities remains unchanged for the third straight week, with our prices in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph being the state’s lowest at $2.36, up 8¢. Jackson has the highest average at $2.43. GasBuddy puts the prices in South Haven between $2.29 and $2.39 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Limo Bus Goes Up In Flames Near South Haven

Everyone is safe, but there were some frightening moments yesterday morning in Geneva Township when a limousine bus caught fire. According to South Haven Area Emergency Services, the vehicle stalled on County Road 384 near 65th Street just before 9 a.m. Two passengers noticed smoke coming from the engine, and everyone was able to get out as the fire spread quickly. Officials say it took 600 gallons of water to put out the fire, and the vehicle is a total loss. No one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Breedsville To Celebrate Reopening Of Bridge

The Van Buren County community of Breedsville will hold a ribbon cutting on a newly reconstructed bridge this coming week. On Friday, they’ll celebrate completion of the Pine Street bridge, which leads into town from the south. The bridge collapsed in December of 2015 when they believe a heavy vehicle drove over it. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells us it’s been a hardship to have the bridge out.. ...Read Full Story

Repaving On M-140 Starts Tomorrow

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

State Sees Continued Rise In Opioid Deaths

Following news this month 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

Coalition Holding Summer Activities For Kids In Benton Harbor

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 two 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 Broadway and City Center Parks each day for the programs.. ...Read Full Story

AEP Makes Major Donation To Hospital Project

Indiana Michigan Power and its Cook nuclear power plant have announced a landmark donation to the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion project. Lakeland CEO Loren Hamel tells WSJM News AEP and its foundation are giving $375,000 to the effort. Specifically, it’s going to the pavilion’s Wound Center and hyperbaric chamber.. ...Read Full Story

Ribbon Cutting Planned To Mark Reopening of Breedsville Bridge

The Van Buren County community of Breedsville will hold a ribbon cutting on a newly reconstructed bridge next week. On Friday, they’ll celebrate completion of the Pine Street bridge, which leads into town from the south. The bridge collapsed in December of 2015 when they believe a heavy vehicle drove over it. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells us it’s been a hardship to have the bridge out.. ...Read Full Story

One Hurt In Cass County Rollover Crash

A 19-year-old Edwardsburg man is recovering after a single-vehicle crash in Cass County Saturday afternoon. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News it happened around 3:50 on Runkle Street near Beebe Road in Milton Township. The driver, Trevor Rutledge, lost control of his vehicle in a curve. The vehicle then rolled and overturned. Rutledge was taken to a hospital by ambulance to be treated for his injuries. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Pesticide Container Recycling Event Next Week

Berrien County is planning a pesticide container recycling event. Next Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 3 pm. they’ll take empty pesticide containers to be recycled free of charge. They have to be rinsed out, dry, and cut to a smaller size than 2.5 gallons. The drop off locations will be the Berrien County Road Commission office on Napier Avenue in Benton Township and Co-Alliance Propane in Buchanan. For more information, visit BerrienCounty.org/Recycle.. ...Read Full Story

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