Local News Archives

Niles Man Wins $208,000 In Michigan Lottery

Earlier this month it was a Bridgman woman who won $300,000 from a Michigan Lottery scratch off. Now, it’s a Niles man who has won $208,000 from the Fantasy 5 game. The Michigan Lottery tells us 59-year-old Stanley Bolle is looking forward to paying off debt with his winnings. He picked up his winning Fantasy 5 ticket at the Phillips 66 gas station on South 11th Street in Niles last week and matched five numbers. One other person also did so, and they split the total $416,000 jackpot. Bolle tells the Michigan Lotto he buys a ticket twice a week, and could “barely move” when he checked out the winning numbers and saw he matched all five. In addition to paying off some bills, he’s planning to use the winnings for some home repairs and to take his wife on a trip.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder: Change Graduation Requirements To Boost Career Tech Ed

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s high school graduation requirements would include a mandatory career readiness course under recommendations announced by Governor Rick Snyder. Snyder on Monday urged lawmakers to change the graduation requirements, known
as the Michigan Merit Curriculum, to make them more flexible and to mandate that a career exploration/job skills class be completed in seventh or eighth grade. He also says computer science should count as meeting a foreign language requirement and students should be able to meet health and physical education requirements by completing career health programs. Snyder says the proposed “career pathway” changes are among a number of ways the state could better help students train for jobs in the trades and other in-demand sectors. He also wants to boost career counseling and to expand career and technical education.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In TN For Murders Of Decatur Teens

Two Decatur teenagers allegedly went to Knoxville, Tennessee last week to make a deal for some high-grade marijuana, and didn’t come home alive. Police in Knoxville say 18-year-olds Sergio Rivera and Jaleon Morris were shot and killed in a car last Thursday. Two people, 15-year-old Rico Cook and Deon Nolbert, have been arrested on murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery charges, and Cook is charged as an adult. A 16-year-old from Knoxville was also shot and wounded in the drug deal gone bad.. ...Read Full Story

State Senate Bill Would Outlaw “Redskins” Nickname

A state senator from Traverse City is seeking to end the controversy over the use of the Redskins nickname by schools. The school board in Paw Paw earlier this year voted to keep the nickname in place, and Saranac schools also still use it. North of Grand Rapids, Belding recently changed its nickname from Redskins to the Black Knights. Senator Wayne Schmidt says his bill was crafted with the help of the five Native American tribes in his district, and adds it’s time for the use of a nickname considered by Native Americans to be “particularly offensive” to go away for good. The bill was introduced last Thursday and is now in committee.. ...Read Full Story

Name Released In Galien Train Death

The death of a 21-year-old Galien man is being investigated by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies tell WSJM News Christopher Herman was hit by a train around 10:30 Saturday night on Main Street near Elgin Street in the village of Galien. Herman was pronounced dead at the scene. Details about the circumstances of the accident have not been released.. ...Read Full Story

New Partnership Aims To Help Older Workers Find Jobs

A new collaborative aims to connect businesses in Michigan with skilled, experienced older workers. “Experience for Hire” is working to find candidates to help fill the 100,000 unfilled jobs in the state. AARP Michigan is part of the initiative, and State Director Paula Cunningham tells us the program can interview a screened pool of applicants who require little training, are open to flexible schedules and often aren’t seeking additional job benefits beyond earning money.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Community Foundation Announces $130,000 In Scholarships

The Berrien Community Foundation has announced $130,000 in scholarships. It held its 17th annual scholarship celebration Thursday announcing the awards with a birthday party theme as this is the 65th birthday for the Berrien Community Foundation. Specifically this year, it is celebrating 47 new scholars plus 42 renewed scholarships. In its history, the Berrien Community Foundation has awarded more than $2.4 million in scholarships. It’s also encouraging students interested in pursuing a scholarship for next year to apply now. You can find out everything you need to know at BerrienCommunity.org/Scholar.. ...Read Full Story

Schuitmaker Legislation Aims To Prevent Prescription Abuse

The Michigan Senate has approved legislation setting up new standards for doctors and pharmacies that prescribe and dispense certain prescription drugs that could be abused. State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker tells WSJM News her legislation requires the state’s prescription drug database to be checked before someone is given a Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 level drug.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed By Train In Galien

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of a 22-year-old man who was hit by a train Saturday night in Galien. It happened around 10:30 p.m., and the man was pronounced dead at the scene. His family has been notified, but the man’s name has not been released. Police have also not released anything about the circumstances of the accident, other than it happened on Main Street near Elgin Street in the Village of Galien.. ...Read Full Story

Sears Hometown Store At Orchards Mall Closing

There’s been another blow to the Orchards Mall in Benton Township. The Sears Hometown Store is closing. It’s posted a message on its Facebook page announcing a going out of business sale. The sale will run through July 24, and the store says everything must go. The Sears Hometown Store is the remnant of what used to be a full-service Sears department store at the Orchards Mall. The departure of the Hometown location creates another empty space at the struggling Orchards Mall, and that’s not all. Also closing is the Kids on Stage performance center. Its owner has announced he decided it’s time to move on.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Community Foundation Announces $14,000 In Grants

The South Haven Community Foundation has awarded $14,000 in grants to local non-profits. The money will be used to make facility improvements, provide summer programming for children in need, fund mentoring programs, and host music and speaking performances. The goal is to enhance the living experience in the South Haven area. This year’s grant recipients include the Historical Association of South Haven, the South Haven Center for the Arts, Youth Development Company, Junior Achievement, the City of South Haven, and the Al-Van Humane Society. All of the recipients have been invited to a gift distribution reception set for next Tuesday. Since 1996, the South Haven Community Foundation has awarded more than $250,000 to local organizations.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Home Sales Slow Down In May

Southwest Michigan’s housing market slowed down a little during the month of May. After April saw a record-setting number of homes sold in the region, May saw sales slip about 4% from the previous year. However, prices continued to rise and the total dollar volume from homes moved was also up. The number of homes sold in southwest Michigan during the month of May this year was down to 341 from 357 last May. However, the average selling price from May of last year was up 8%, while dollar volume was up 3%. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells WSJM News a good sign is that the percentage of foreclosed homes continued to trend down in May. Only 6% of the homes sold during the month were bank-owned.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Teaming Up With Krasl Art Center For Recycling Program

The city of St. Joseph and the Krasl Art Center are teaming up to offer a recycling program for this summer’s Krasl Art Fair and the Fourth of July celebrations. Since the two events will essentially be back to back this year, the two thought it would be a good time to launch their recycling partnership. During the Fourth of July, the city will install about 35 recycling bins throughout the downtown, and then they’ll be moved over to the bluff for the Krasl Art Fair on July 9. St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the Krasl and the city have talked about a recycling partnership for years, and this summer will give them a chance to see how it works out.. ...Read Full Story

Graduation Today For 157 Students At Michigan Career and Technical Institute

157 students will graduate this weekend from a state academy that teaches job skills to the disabled. The Michigan Career and Technical Institute, located in Plainwell, was started in 1944 to train World War II veterans. In the years since, it’s switched to helping the disabled find work. That’s according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton, who spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release Name Of Boy Killed In Wednesday Landscaping Accident

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has identified a 6-year-old boy who was killed in a landscaping accident this week. It tells us Holden High, of Dowagiac, died when he fell off a skid loader he was riding in. The incident occurred Wednesday on property in the 19,000 block of Dewey Lake Street in Volinia Township. A 55-year-old family friend from Three Rivers was operating the skid loader when the boy fell out and the machine partially rolled on to him. The boy was pronounced dead later at Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Alliance: Action Needed Now On Asian Carp

A live Asian carp has been found closer to Lake Michigan than ever before. Jennifer Caddick, with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, tells WSJM News one was found Thursday at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. First, she says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to get a better handle on its electric barrier currently keeping the fish at bay. Second, she says it’s up to the Trump administration to take bold action.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Series Of Business Break Ins

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a series of business break-ins spanning two states. It tells us, within the past month, there have been about six breaking and entering incidents involving liquor stores and gas stations. The thieves steal cash from each location. The stores have all been in Berrien County and St. Joseph County, Indiana. Anyone with information on the crimes is asked to contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP. Information that leads to an arrest could mean a $1,000 reward.. ...Read Full Story

Major I-94 Work In Kalamazoo This Weekend

The Michigan Department of Transportation says drivers in Kalamazoo can expect to see several closures on I-94 throughout the weekend. A bridge seal project was scheduled for last weekend, but was delayed by stormy weather. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa told WKZO News drivers will need to be alert with several areas affected.. ...Read Full Story

Man Busted With $150,000 Worth Of Crystal Meth In Lake Township

A Montana man is in the Berrien County Jail after being caught with a large amount of crystal meth in Lake Township. The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department tells WSJM News an officer stopped a van for a cracked windshield on eastbound I-94 Friday afternoon. The driver told the officer he was headed from California to Lansing. He also gave permission for the van to be searched. That’s when the officer found ten one-pound containers of crystal meth. The drugs are worth an estimated $150,000. The 52-year-old driver of the van was arrested on a charge of possession with intent to deliver crystal meth.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Makes Case For Michigan During Europe Trade Trip

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder says a major automotive supplier could expand its operations in Michigan and an Italian biotech company is considering Michigan as a place to which to locate in the U.S. Snyder is wrapping up a weeklong trade trip to Europe. He met with business executives in France, Germany and Italy – both to touch base with those whose companies already have a presence in Michigan and to explore potential new opportunities. Snyder told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday that he is focused partly on selling Michigan as a destination for the aerospace industry. He declined to identify companies that could add jobs in the state, but says his
meetings were productive. He plans to return to Germany in September for an auto show.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Introduces Plan To Help Young Offenders Graduate, Clear Their Records

Legislation has been introduced by state Senator John Proos to help young people get themselves back on track after they’ve become caughtup in the criminal justice system. He tells WSJM News the plan would let juvenile offenders enroll in the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy. It’s a residency program in Battle Creek where those who have dropped out can get their diploma and even college credit. Proos tells us, under his bill, if a young person completes the camp, he or she can have their crimes expunged from their record.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Deputy Receives Award For Work With Vulnerable Adults

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Laesch has been honored with the 2017 Elder Justice Good Neighbor Award. She got the accolade Wednesday at the annual Elder Justice and At-Risk Adult Resource Project’s summit in Mount Pleasant. Laesch was nominated by the Berrien and Cass County Departments of Health and Human Services for her work helping Adult Protective Services. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Laesch routinely works with vulnerable adults, and has developed a special way of communicating with them. She also runs the Project Lifesaver Program.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Pleased With New State Budget

State Representative Kim LaSata tells WSJM News the new state budget, approved by lawmakers this week, puts Michigan in a good position for the future. She says it pays down debt while reducing long-term obligations. LaSata adds it also increases support for law enforcement.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Suspect In Thursday Morning Chase

Police are looking for a suspect who led them on a highway chase in Berrien County Thursday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News a Baroda-Lake Township officer tried to pull over a vehicle on westbound I-94 around 5 a.m. near John Beers Road. The vehicle didn’t stop and continued all the way into Indiana, where the chase was ended for safety reasons. Police tell us the vehicle had been involved in break-ins throughout Calhoun, Van Buren, and Kalamazoo Counties. It was later found abandoned in the area of Cleveland and Glendora Roads. Anyone with information should reach out to the sheriff’s department.. ...Read Full Story

More Information Released On Child Killed In Farm Accident

More information has been released on a child who was killed Wednesday in a Cass County farming accident. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened at a farm in the 19,000 block of Dewey Lake Street in Volonia Township. The 6-year-old boy had been with two other children riding a short distance down the driveway in a Skid Steer front-end loader that was being used to do some landscaping. The boy fell out and was partially run over by the loader. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The sheriff’s department tells us it is not releasing his name out of respect for the family.. ...Read Full Story

State Senate Approves Budget

From the Associated Press — A $56.7 billion state budget is headed toward Governor Rick Snyder’s desk after the Republican-led Senate gave it final approval on mostly party-line votes. The bills approved Thursday include more money for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges. There is less for prison spending and environmental cleanup. Republicans say the budget includes record spending on K-12 education, money to train new state troopers and addresses debt in the teacher retirement system. Democrats say while the plan is better than one adopted earlier by GOP lawmakers, money used to steer newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit should have been used to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.. ...Read Full Story

7 Children Among 12 Injured In Kalamazoo County Crash

Seven children and five adults have been injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Kalamazoo County. The sheriff’s department says says a vehicle driven by an 18-year-old Kalamazoo man crossed the median on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo Township about noon Wednesday and struck two other vehicles headed in the opposite direction. Ages of the injured children range from six months to 13 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Canadian Man Accused Of Terrorism Attack In Flint

A 50-year-old Canadian man is in federal custody in Flint after what the FBI is calling a terrorist attack on a police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint. Amor Ftouhi of Montreal is accused of stabbing the officer in the neck yesterday while yelling “God is great” in Arabic, and Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios says they believe he acted alone.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced For Assault On State Trooper

The man convicted of assaulting a Michigan State Police trooper along the side of US-31 near Buchanan back in February has been sentenced to a minimum of 14 years in prison for the incident. 21-year-old Michael Barber was found guilty of six counts last month. Prosecutors say he and his brother assaulted Trooper Garry Guild on February 20 after Michael Barber crashed a stolen motorcycle. He was sentenced Wednesday by Berrien County Judge Angela Pasula. According to our reporting partners at WNDU News Center 16, the prosecution had asked Pasula for the longest sentence possible. Barber’s lengthy juvenile criminal history was also discussed in court. Barber’s brother is being tried separately.. ...Read Full Story

Samaritans Who Helped State Trooper Honored In Lansing

Two men who helped out a Michigan State Police trooper who was under attack by a couple of criminal suspects back in February have received special state accolades. Jerry Burnham, of Berrien Springs, and Keith Pepple, of Plainwell, were honored on the state Senate floor Wednesday by Senators John Proos and Tonya Schuitmaker. Proos said it was a good thing the two came along while Trooper Gerry Guild was under attack along the side of US-31 in February.. ...Read Full Story

Surprise Guilty Plea In Cass County Rape Case

A Cass County rape trial has been ended early after the suspect confessed and pleaded guilty Wednesday morning. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 21-year-old Markal Leneal Jackson, of Benton Harbor, halted the proceedings just as an investigating officer was about to testify. He’s pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct. It’s alleged Jackson raped a 13-year-old girl while staying at her family’s Dowagiac home last March. The victim testified she’s viewed him “as a brother.” Jackson is now scheduled to be sentenced August 4.. ...Read Full Story

Child Dies In Cass County Farming Accident

A child is dead following a farming accident in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News it happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 19,000 block of Dewey Lake Street in Volinia Township. The child was riding on a piece of farming equipment and fell under it. The equipment then rolled partially on to him. He was taken to Borgess/Lee Memorial Hospital where he passed away. The sheriff’s department is continuing its investigation. Police have not released the name or age of the boy.. ...Read Full Story

Board Doesn’t Vote On Part Time Legislature Petition

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s elections board has declined to vote on the form of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s part-time Legislature ballot drive petition because he said a member has a conflict of interest and he urged the board not to act. Calley said Wednesday that Norm Shinkle, the board’s chairman, has a consulting contract with the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund – whose officials have criticized the proposal to make the legislature part-time. Calley, a likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, says it would be “inappropriate” for the board to consider the petition form. He says securing pre-approval of the petition form is optional and signature gathering is ongoing. Shinkle says he has no conflict of interest and was unaware of the Freedom Fund opposing the petition. He says he has always supported a part-time legislature.. ...Read Full Story

Everything Back To Normal At Leco

Everything’s back to normal at Leco Corporation in St. Joseph following an investigation of suspicious activity Wednesday. Around 1:30 p.m. police issued a lockdown order for the area around Leco, saying a suspect who was possibly armed had been spotted nearby. Leco evacuated the property while the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety searched the entire facility. They found nothing. The potential suspect they were looking for was later found in another county. Police say no one was injured and there were no incidents of criminal activity or work place violence there.. ...Read Full Story

Leco In St. Joseph Evacuated, Potential Suspect Later Found

A tense situation Wednesday afternoon at Leco Corporation in St. Joseph as the building was evacuated due to a possible threat that now appears to be resolved. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety issued an emergency alert around 1:30 p.m. asking everyone to avoid the area saying there may have been an armed individual there. Specifically, they asked people to avoid State Street near Hilltop Avenue in the south part of the city. The Berrien County Sheriff’s department tells us the potential suspect thought to have been seen at the building has now been located outside of the county. Police are conducting a search of the building as a precautionary measure. St. Joseph Public Safety says the lockdown order is “essentially” over.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Collecting Food For Local Pantries Wednesday

Volunteers from the United Way of Southwest Michigan are spending Wednesday helping eleven local food pantries stock up for the summer. The United Way’s Charlotte Rogers tells WSJM News it’s Christmas in June as they aim to beef up the donations given to the food pantries at a time when, usually, donations go down. Plus, the need is up right now.. ...Read Full Story

“Invasive Species Blitz” Planned For Next Month

An effort will be made around southwest Michigan early next month to fight invasive species. The Southwest by Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, or CISMA, is staging a public education blitz. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News they’re going to hold events in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties to wash boats and remind boaters that’s the best way to stop invasive species.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Gets New Interim Director

There’s a new interim director in charge at the Berrien County Road Commission. Road Commission Board Chair August Zielke tells WSJM News they’ve picked current accounts payable specialist Lindie Delk to take over the leadership role. Zielke tells us Delk has been with the commission for several years, wearing a variety of hats. He says she’s the perfect person for the job. Delk is just the interim managing director, and the commission’s board is still taking applications for the permanent post. She could wind up with it. The board posted the position about three weeks ago. The Berrien County Road Commission has been without a director since Louis Csokasy retired in April.. ...Read Full Story

Two Injured When Car Leaves Road, Hits Tree In Oronoko Township

Two people are recovering after their vehicle crashed into a tree in Oronoko Township Monday morning. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township police tell WSJM News it happened about 4:30 a.m. on Shawnee Road near Hartline Road. An SUV driven by 43-year-old Gretchen Wessendorf, of Stevensville, was eastbound on Shawnee when it left the road because a westbound vehicle veered into its lane. The driver lost control and the SUV went airborne before hitting the tree. The woman was trapped inside, while her 10-year-old son was able to free himself. Both were taken to a hospital after the driver was freed with the Jaws of Life.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Woman Wins $300,000 In Michigan Lottery

A Berrien County woman is celebrating this week because she’s a big lottery winner. The 61-year-old from Bridgman, who wishes to remain anonymous, won $300,000 in the Double Bonus Cashword scratch off game Monday. The Michigan Lottery tells WSJM News she picked up the winning ticket at Midtown Liquor Store in Bridgman and cashed in her winnings Tuesday. The lucky winner decided to keep it a surprise from her husband until after getting the check. She plans to buy a new car, and the money will help her husband retire a little early. She told the Michigan Lotto she always felt like she’s win one day. It just took her a while.. ...Read Full Story

Fettig Stepping Down As Whirlpool CEO

There is a change at the top of the world’s largest home appliance maker. Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool says CEO Jeff Fettig is stepping down from his role as CEO effective October 1. He will remain the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Whirlpool’s new CEO will be Marc Bitzer, currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Fettig has been Chairman and CEO since 2004, and has worked for Whirlpool for 36 years. In a statement, he says his “primary role is to support Whirlpool, Marc and our leadership team in this planned CEO transition.” Bitzer joined the company 18 years ago, and Fettig says he “has a deep understanding of our business throughout the world and has personally led our operations and delivered strong results.” The incoming CEO was named to his current job in October 2015 and previously served as Vice Chairman, which included overall leadership of Whirlpool North America and Whirlpool Europe, Middle East, and Africa.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Teacher Pension Changes

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Legislature has given final approval to legislation to coax more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only benefit instead of one that includes a traditional pension. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill 55-51 Tuesday. It will go to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature after a procedural step in the GOP-led Senate. Republicans say the legislation will keep the state from accumulating more debt and modernize a major public-sector retirement system. Democrats say the bill is an attack on the teaching profession and will make it harder to recruit quality educators. The measure would automatically enroll employees hired on or after February 1, 2018, in a 401(k)-only plan unless they opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current workers do.. ...Read Full Story

State House Approves Budget

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has approved a $56.7 billion state budget after an agreement was finalized between Republican leaders and Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. The GOP-led chamber voted 64-43 for a general budget Tuesday and 72-35 for the education budget. The Senate is expected to take final votes Thursday before the legislature’s summer recess. Majority Republicans say the state would spend about 2 percent more in the fiscal year starting in October, if federal dollars are factored in. They emphasize that overall spending would rise no more than inflation and be down slightly in the general fund. Democrats say money should be diverted from savings to fix deteriorating roads because a GOP-passed 2015 transportation funding plan is being phased in too slowly.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Denies Effort To Block Funding For New Detroit Arena

From the Associated Press — A federal judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause “catastrophic damage” to Detroit. The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit’s public schools. It said a vote from city residents was needed first. Activist Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon, who is running for City Clerk, had sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money. The arena, which will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons, opens this fall.. ...Read Full Story