Local News Archives

St. Joseph Girl Scout Builds A Little Free Library

A St. Joseph Girl Scout is making good in the community by encouraging young people to read. Elise Voglewede is about to enter the ninth grade at St. Joe High School, and she’s built a Little Free Library as she pursues a Girl Scout Silver Award. Elise tells WSJM News her Little Free Library will be stationed outside of E.P. Clarke Elementary School in St. Joseph starting on September 12.. ...Read Full Story

Suicide Prevention Candlelight Vigil Planned In St. Joseph

A candlelight vigil for suicide victims will be held next month in St. Joseph. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the local event will take place on the veranda of the Whitcomb from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition Vice Chair Trent Watford tells WSJM News everyone is welcome to come out for the event. He says, too often, those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not talk about them, perhaps because of a perceived stigma.. ...Read Full Story

Charges Filed In Paw Paw-Area Stabbing

Two charges of assault with intent to murder are now faced by a 47-year-old man from Missouri for a stabbing attack on two people in a vehicle near Paw Paw late Sunday night. Boyd Hicks is in the Van Buren County Jail on a one-million dollar bond. The sheriff’s department has not released any details on what led up to the attack on M-43 near Hidden Pines Drive in Almena Township. The two victims have been released from the hospital after undergoing surgeries. Hicks is due back in court on September 6. In addition to the attempted murder charges, he’s also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Commissioners Continue Road Discussions

Another public hearing has been held on the question of the Berrien County Road Commission. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the board is thinking about creating a new county roads department to take over the functions of the road commission. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public at the Thursday session. There’s one more to go, set to be held in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata planning Energy Town Hall

State Representative Kim LaSata is planning an energy town hall. Her office tells us the meeting is specifically about clean energy issues. LaSata notes there are more than 80,000 clean energy jobs right here in Michigan, and on hand for her town hall will be speakers from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. They’ll talk about where clean energy in Michigan is heading and what people can do to help. The meeting will be at the Kinexus building on Main Street in Benton Harbor on Thursday, August 31. It will start at 5:30 p.m. and everyone’s invited.. ...Read Full Story

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