Local News Archives

Business Group Praises New Tax Incentives For Job Creation

Higher wages for people in Michigan are just some of the expected benefits of the recently-enacted “Good Jobs for Michigan” law. Business Leaders for Michigan’s Doug Rothwell tells WSJM that he’s proud of state lawmakers for passing the bills this summer, and says the law will help people who feel left behind by the state’s economic recovery since the recession.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Alleges State Improper Aided Anti-Gerrymandering Group

From the Associated Press — A Republican strategist has filed a complaint against Michigan’s elections bureau, alleging staff improperly gave advice on the wording and legality of an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative. The Board of State Canvassers approved the petition form last week, and the group Voters Not Politicians is collecting signatures to qualify for a 2018 statewide vote. But Bob LaBrant, a longtime GOP political adviser, said in a complaint Thursday that elections staffers “engaged in mission creep” and ignored rules that
limit them to reviewing petition formatting and other technical issues. The secretary of state’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. The redistricting initiative would create an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative seats. The Legislature and governor currently control the once-a-decade process.. ...Read Full Story

SMC President Marks 20 Year Milestone

Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David M. Mathews is celebrating 20 years with the school. He received a service pin from the board of trustees on Monday. Mathews tells us when he joined the school in July 1997, SMC had 45 faculty and a replacement value of $26 million. Today, he says they have 60 full-time faculty and a replacement value of $116 million. SMC Chairman Thomas Jerdon tells us, “David checks all the boxes we could ever want in a president.” Mathews joined SMC as the dean of arts for science and instructional innovation. He was appointed Vice President of Instruction in 1998 and became the college’s seventh president in 2001.. ...Read Full Story

Second Suspect Charged In Benton Harbor Shooting

A second suspect has been charged in a shooting death in Benton Harbor this month. 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee was shot twice and killed outside of the River Terrace apartment complex on August 15. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News police believe Lee was killed during a robbery attempt. Already charged in the case is 19-year-old Davion Turner of Conyers, Georgia. The newest charges are against 21-year-old Antonio Hall of Benton Harbor. He was arraigned Wednesday on charges of Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, and Felony Firearm. He’ll be back in court on September 1. Police believe there were two other suspects involved in the robbery. They continue to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Crash That Killed Southwest Michigan Fire Chief

From the Associated Press — A 24-year-old man has been charged with reckless driving in the death of a fire chief who was hit while responding to a crash in southwestern Michigan. Brandon Clevenger of Springfield was charged Tuesday with reckless driving causing death. The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s office says he was driving nearly 90 mph and distracted by his phone just seconds before hitting a cement median wall. The car then crossed lanes on Interstate 94 and struck Ed Switalski. Switalski served as chief of Comstock Township Fire and Rescue for four years. The 55-year-old Switalski worked at the Kalamazoo-area department after more than three decades at the Pleasantview Fire District in suburban Chicago. WOOD-TV reports a judge Wednesday set Clevenger’s bond at $5,000. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago-Area Kids Arrested After Stolen Car Crash

A wild overnight incident for Michigan State Police along with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and police from the city of St. Joseph, St. Joe Township and Lincoln Township. All of those departments were involved in the search for six young people out of the Chicago area after troopers tried to pull over what turned out to be a stolen car from Chicago on I-94 just before 2 a.m. Wednesday. The driver took off, got off on M-139, and crashed into a house. Three people were arrested there, but the others ran and stole a second car in the Wyndwicke neighborhood. They then crashed that one trying to get away, and were caught after a search of the area. Three of them, all girls 17 and younger, were released, while three juvenile boys are going to be facing multiple charges including possessing a stolen vehicle, hit and run, and theft of a motor vehicle. Somehow, no one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Pipestone Freeway Exits To Shut Down For Construction

Some traffic changes are coming to I-94 in Berrien County this week as a result of construction. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells WSJM News the ramps to both east and westbound 94 from Pipestone Road in Benton Township will be shut down starting this Wednesday. They’ll stay that way through November 30 while MDOT does bridge repairs. Also, it notes there will be some lane closures in effect on Pipestone under the highway. Additionally, lane closures on the I-94 Business Loop at exit 23 in Stevensville take effect Wednesday as a result of bridge work in that area. Once again, the project will run through November 30.. ...Read Full Story

Powerball Jackpot Up To $700 Million

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is now up to $700 million. That’s the second highest it’s ever been. The Michigan Lottery’s Jeff Holyfield tells WSJM News he’s met Lotto players who have won some of those massive jackpots, and they tend to have something in common.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Charged In Child Porn, Meth Case

A Cass County man could get life in prison in a case involving a total of 59 charges, many of which are child porn related. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us 44-year-old Jason Ryans is charged with using a computer to commit a crime, possession of child sexually abusive material, habitual child sexually abusive activity, and possession of meth, among other things. He’s accused of committing those crimes between the start of this year and mid-July. Bond for Ryans has been set at $200,000, and police ask anyone with additional information on the case to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Schools Superintendent Receives Positive Performance Evaluation

The St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education has released the results of Superintendent Ann Cardon’s annual evaluation. The board this week congratulated Cardon on what it called an outstanding performance with highly effective outcomes for the 2016-17 school year. The board writes, “Ann is a leader who cultivates an inclusive, caring and supportive school community that promotes academic success for each student in our district.” The board also applauded Cardon for presenting what it called sound methodologies in regards to staff development, school improvement, and instructional practices. Trustees say they forward to a continued partnership with Cardon.. ...Read Full Story

Water Company Employee Accused Of Stealing Drugs From Customer Homes

An employee of a water supply company is facing charges in Van Buren County after police say he used his position to break into the homes of customers to steal prescription drugs. Sheriff’s deputies were called out to the 27,000 block of Second Avenue in Pine Grove Township on Monday to investigate a breaking and entering complaint. That led them to the 35-year-old suspect. They say he’d been breaking into customers’ homes during his shift, and they’re looking for other possible victims. The name of the suspect has not yet been released. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Facing Charges Over Theft From Utility Drop Box

One man is facing felony charges following a break-in to a utility payment drop box in Dowagiac this month. The police department tells us 53-year-old Garry Means was picked up on a warrant August 13 while charges were pursued in the theft case. Means is accused of stealing money from a drop box located along Pennsylvania Ave and New York Ave south of Commercial Street. He’s in the Cass County Jail with bond set at $200,000. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Dowagiac Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Two Benton Harbor Schools Damaged By Vandals

Benton Harbor Areas Schools has suffered a blow just ahead of the start of a new academic year. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News two of the district’s buildings were vandalized over the weekend, with “significant” damage done to them. Walker says it happened either late Saturday or early Sunday at the STEAM Academy at MLK on East Britain and the Discovery Enrichment Center on South McCord. She couldn’t tell us exactly what the vandals did, but says they damaged about 15 classrooms at STEAM and also damaged some modular classrooms at Discovery. The district is taking donations for anyone who wants to help it recover. They can be given to the Berrien Community Foundation. Also, anyone who knows anything about the crime is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Coloma Township Crash

A motorcyclist is dead after a crash with a car on eastbound I-94 in Coloma Township Monday night. The Coloma Township Police Department tells WSJM News the crash happened around 9 p.m. The motorcyclist has been identified as 66-year-old Michael Feller of Wellston, Michigan. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the passenger vehicle, 23-year-old Hannah Joseph of Grand Blanc, suffered minor injuries. The cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Getting A Biggby Coffee

Paw Paw is the latest southwest Michigan community to get a Biggby Coffee. The new establishment opens for business Tuesday at the corner of Kalamazoo Street and Berrien Street just off of I-94. Owner Linda Marcon says she thought a Biggby would be the perfect fit for her as an business owner, as well as for her hometown. Macron is active with several community organizations, and adds she looks forward to tying them in with her new venture. Biggby Coffee opened in 1995 in East Lansing, and has since expanded to 254 locations in nine states.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Honor Retired State Police Trooper

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have honored a local Michigan State Police trooper with a key to the city. Trooper Maurice Burton retired this year after serving the state police since 1986. He’d been the city’s community service trooper since the Granholm administration and told WSJM News he’s seen the community’s police presence change a lot since then.. ...Read Full Story

Crowds Gather To View Solar Eclipse

Crowds around southwest Michigan have had their chance to check out this week’s solar eclipse. Viewing parties were held around the region on Monday as the sun was totally obscured by the moon for a few minutes. The Lincoln Township Library held one party, with organizer Vicki Rausch telling WSJM News she was pleased with the turnout.. ...Read Full Story

Parking To Be Temporarily Limited At Berrien County Building

If you have business to do at the Berrien County Administration Center in St. Joseph, then be advised that parking will be temporarily limited starting later this week. The county tells us they’re replacing the parking lot, meaning fewer spaces until the project is done on Monday, September 4. Handicapped parking spaces are being marked off along Pearl Street while the project is underway. The county also reminds everyone many of its services area vailable online. They include ordering a copy of a birth certificate, paying taxes, veterans forms, soil and erosion permits, and job applications. The website is BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Triple Stabbing Near Paw Paw

A Missouri man is likely to be facing attempted murder charges for a triple stabbing near Paw Paw late Sunday night. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says the man is accused of stabbing three people in a car on M-43 near Hidden Pines Drive in Almena Township. Investigators haven’t been able to determine what led up to the attack, and have not given information on the conditions of the victims. The suspect is in the Van Buren County Jail awaiting arraignment, and the incident is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

Clouds Might Obscure Eclipse In Michigan

Chances aren’t great that we’ll get a really good look at today’s eclipse. Cloud cover in the Lower Peninsula is forecast to be around 70 to 80% according to the National Weather Service, while in the U.P., it’s only going to be around 40-to-50% obscured by clouds. If the clouds break, we’re expected to get about 80% of the eclipse, as totality will be much further south. The next solar eclipse that will be visible throughout all of North America will be in 2024, and this is the first for us since 1979.. ...Read Full Story

Three Stabbed In Vehicle Near Paw Paw

Three people are hospitalized with stab wounds following what police call a domestic violence incident near Paw Paw. Police were called to a vehicle on M-43 at 30th Street just before 11 last night. The three victims are expected to recover. The circumstances leading up to the stabbings have not been disclosed yet by police. The incident closed M-43 for several hours, and it reopened shortly before 3:30 this morning.. ...Read Full Story

State Aims To Increase Vaccination Rates

A new campaign is aiming to convince Michigan parents to get their kids vaccinated ahead of the new school year. A coalition which includes the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is hoping everyone goes to the “I Vaccinate” website. Andrea Poole, a spokesperson with the campaign, tells us too many parents aren’t getting their kids fully vaccinated.. ...Read Full Story

Drowning in Selkirk Lake

An accidental drowning is being investigated in Wayland Township. Just before midnight Saturday night, Allegan Central Dispatch received a call of a missing swimmer at Selkirk Lake. The caller reported that two older females were swimming in the lake when one of them did not come back to shore.  Road Patrol and Marine Patrol deputies were dispatched to the scene as well as the Sheriff’s Office Dive / Rescue & Recovery Team. A search was conducted and the woman was located near a floating raft which was anchored in the lake.  She was brought to shore to awaiting EMS personnel who attempted to revive her however were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The preliminary investigation indicates that the incident is accidental in nature and medical issues along with alcohol may have been contributing factors.  The woman was missing for approximately 45 minutes and was found in approximately 10 feet of water.  She was not from the area however did have friends who reside on the lake.  Her name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Woman Wins Cruise From Lottery Game

A Buchanan woman is the latest Berrien County resident to win a big Michigan Lottery prize. Rachel Tidey is one of five state residents to have won the Cruisin’ instant game second chance drawing. She’ll now get a five-night western Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean “Brilliance of the Seas.” The state lottery tells us her trip will also include round trip airfare to Tampa, Florida and a hotel stay before the cruise departs. Another $150,000 in cash prizes will be awarded throughout the trip. The other winners of the cruise hail from Warren, Byron, Chesaning, and Almont. Those who don’t win on their $2 Cruisin’ lotto tickets can go to the state lottery website and enter a code for a chance to get those second prize trips.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Hires New Women’s Basketball, Volleyball Coaches

Lake Michigan College has hired some coaches for its women’s basketball and volleyball teams. It tells us Brooklyn Kohlheim is now the head women’s basketball coach, and Rob Elliott-Schnafitz is now head coach of the volleyball program. Kohlheim comes to LMC from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she was assistant women’s basketball coach for six years. Elliott-Schnafitz has played and coached volleyball for more than twenty years with experience that includes varsity-level coaching at St. Joseph and Lake Michigan Catholic High Schools in St. Joseph. You can go to Redhawks.LakeMichiganCollege.edu to learn more about LMC’s athletics programs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Van Buren County Runaway

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department could use the public’s help in finding a missing Bangor Township girl. It tells us 14-year-old Ariel Wescott left her home on Wednesday evening, leaving her father a note that said she was going to a friend’s house and would be back in the morning. When she did not return Thursday morning, the father called the friend’s house and learned his daughter had not been there. He then noticed the key to a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer he had parked in Dowagiac was missing. After checking, the father learned the vehicle was not where he’d left it. Police say Ariel Wescott may have gotten a ride to Dowagiac where she took off in her father’s Trailblazer. It’s maroon and has plate number 3222J2, which is expired. Ariel is described as about 5’6, about 188 pounds, and with straight, sandy blonde hair that goes down to just below her shoulders. Anyone who sees her is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren State Rep Discusses Mental Health Hearing

South Haven area state Representative Mary Whiteford tells us that she learned a great deal at a mental health task force meeting held this week. She’s one of 14 members of the House selected for the bipartisan body which is meeting in locations all over Michigan to discuss how the state could craft better policies to serve those who are struggling. Whiteford tells WSJM News there are several angles to consider.. ...Read Full Story

Some Big Equipment To Be Moved Out Of The Cook Plant Next Week

The Cook nuclear power plant near Bridgman is about to move some large equipment. Spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News they’ll be transporting three 175-ton and three 75-ton retired turbine casings from the plant to a barge on the St. Joseph River. That’s after a replacement project of Unit 2’s turbines last year. The moves will start on Monday night with a turbine casing loaded on to an 18 wheel truck. Schalk says the route includes as many side roads as possible.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly 350 Marijuana Plants Seized In Berrien County

Police have seized nearly 350 marijuana plants in a Berrien County raid. The Southwest Enforcement Team tells WSJM News it searched property at 1645 Mallard Drive in Bertrand Township on August 15 after police noticed signs of a marijuana grow operation there. In the house, officers found 347 marijuana plants, about 8.8 pounds of processed marijuana, marijuana wax, and grow equipment. One person fled the scene, but was caught later. He’s been identified as 41-year-old Byron Paul-Ricardo Sambat. He’s now charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, and maintaining a drug house. The Southwest Enforcement Team is made up of police agencies from all over southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

BH Murder Suspect Turns Himself In

The suspect in a fatal shooting this week in Benton Harbor has turned himself in. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 19-year-old Davion Turner of Conyers, Georgia surrendered to police on Thursday. He’s charged with Open Murder and Felony Firearm in the shooting death of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee on Tuesday night. Police say Lee was shot while sitting in a vehicle outside of the River Terrace apartment complex. They believe it may have been an attempted robbery. Turner, the suspect, was arraigned on Friday with bond set at $1 million. He’ll be back in court on August 25. He could get up to life in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Murdered Woman’s Vehicle Found

The vehicle that belonged to a murdered Niles woman has been found. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News that the Mazda CX-9 of Carla Lewis was found abandoned in a Cass County corn field. It’s been impounded and police are going through it for evidence. Her husband, John Lewis, is held on $1 million bond in the Berrien County Jail on a charge of first degree premeditated murder. He told police Sunday that two black men had broken into their home and shot his wife, but authorities found evidence to the contrary at the scene. Lewis was initially arrested for violating the state’s medical marijuana laws, with the murder charge added earlier this week. He faces life in prison if found guilty.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Department Organizing Eclipse Viewing Trip

Next Monday’s eclipse is prompting some Andrews University students to hit the road, and they’re also inviting you to come along. Kelly Youngberg, with the school’s physics department, tells WSJM News a group of about 40 have signed up to take a bus over to Portland, Tennessee. The eclipse viewing there will be almost as optimal as in South Carolina. Youngberg is excited for the big event.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Benefits Of Girls On The Run

A new report takes a look at how Girls on the Run affects the young ladies who take part, finding the program has long-term benefits for them. Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the organization caught up with individuals who took part in Girls on the Run all over the country.. ...Read Full Story

State Panel Allows Three Petition Drives To Move Forward

From the Associated Press — The Michigan elections board has cleared three more groups to proceed with drives to put statewide proposals on the 2018 ballot. Advocates of empowering an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts had the form of their petition approved Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers. The legislature and governor currently handle redistricting, drawing complaints that the process is too partisan. The board also approved petition forms for groups wanting to guarantee paid sick leave for employees and to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Another marijuana legalization initiative is well underway. Unlike that one, the new proposal would not tax the drug. Activists must now gather hundreds of thousands of valid voter signatures in a six-month window to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Suspect In Benton Harbor Shooting Death

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety has identified a suspect in a fatal shooting which occurred on Tuesday night. It tells WSJM News it’s looking for Davion Turner in the shooting of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee at the River Terrace apartment complex in the city. Turner, the suspect, is described as being about 5’11 and 150 pounds. He also has his hair in braids. He’s to be regarded as armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Primary Candidate Focusing On Environment

Bernie Sanders is a big inspiration for a Michigan young Democrat running for political office. 24-year-old Eponine Garrod is seeking the party’s nomination for the Sixth District congressional seat next year. She tells WSJM News she became politically active thanks to Bernie Sanders. Then she got fired up by Donald Trump. She wants to replace Congressman Fred Upton and tells us environmental issues are her biggest priorities.. ...Read Full Story