Local News Archives

Bill To Ban Shining Lasers At Aircraft Sent To Snyder

From the Associated Press — Michigan would make it a crime to intentionally shine a laser at an aircraft under legislation going to Governor Rick Snyder for his expected signature. Pointing a laser at an aircraft — which can temporarily blind the pilot — is currently a federal crime punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But the Michigan State Police says a state law would deter strikes and help authorities catch people who are increasingly “lasing” aircraft, often near airports. The main bill passed the House 106-2 Tuesday. It would make shining a laser at
an aircraft or moving train a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Exceptions would be made for research conducted by the military or aviation industry.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Dept To Honor Former Rep. Pscholka

Former state Representative Al Pscholka will be getting another honor this week. It’s already been announced he will be given a distinguished service award by Lake Michigan College on Sunday at LMC’s 70th annual commencement. Now comes word the Berrien County Health Department will name him this year’s recipient of the Friend of Public Health Award. Pscholka is currently the state budget director. His legislation creating the Good Samaritan law protecting people from prosecution for reporting a possible drug overdose and his work to expand Medicaid in Michigan are among the accomplishments listed by the health department. He will receive the award at a ceremony on Wednesday prior to the Berrien County Board of Health meeting.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Reject Repayment Of Federal Housing Rehab Funds

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have rejected a request by the city manager to repay about $140,000 to the federal government for the rehabilitation of a home. In 2012, the city put the house at 1111 Superior Street on the market, but it never sold. City Manager Darwin Watson said the city has to pay the NSP 1 funds for the rehab back as a result. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats tells WSJM News they could have demolished the house and sought a waiver, but that wasn’t attempted.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Benton Township Shooting

An argument of some sort ended with gunshots and one person dead in Benton Township Monday night. There aren’t a lot of details as yet, but police say 37-year-old Nicholaus Kling of Eau Claire stopped another vehicle at North Benton Center and Red Arrow Highway and got into a confrontation with the passenger of the other vehicle. During that fight, that passenger, 22-year-old Derrick Bailey of Coloma, shot Kling several times in the chest with a semi-automatic handgun. Kling was pronounced dead at the scene, and Bailey was arrested. It happened just after 7:30 last night. Exact charges against Bailey have not been announced. He’s awaiting arraignment in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commissioners Assert Authority Over Construction Contracts

Complications arising from a traffic light replacement project have led the Benton Harbor City Commission to assert its authority on construction contracts. Commissioners last year approved some traffic light replacements near Pipestone and Wall Streets. Cornerstone Alliance has property there, and because some of the work extended to their sidewalk, it agreed to chip in up to $15,000. Mayor Marcus Muhammad told WSJM News the deal was organized by the city manager, and he thinks it should have been brought to the commission.. ...Read Full Story

May Day Rallies Held In Lansing

From the Associated Press — Social justice advocates have held a May Day rally in front of Michigan’s Capitol to show solidarity with immigrants and refugees.Members from Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union and others gathered Monday afternoon in protest of President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration actions. Lansing is one of seven communities in Michigan – and roughly 200 cities across the nation – holding May Day events. Angela Waters Austin, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Lansing, says she came to support her neighbors as well as those immigrants and those seeking asylum. Mario Quintero is an immigrant from Mexico City living in the U.S. illegally. He says many families are suffering and he attended the rally with them in mind. The White House had no immediate response to the demonstrations.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Collect 597 Pounds Of Medications Saturday

Michigan State Police tell us they were able to collect more than 597 pounds of medication this past weekend as a result of their annual drug takeback event with the Drug Enforcement Agency. MSP posts all across the state took unwanted pills from folks looking to get rid of them, and the DEA will make sure those medications are destroyed in a safe manner. The state police post in Niles collected more than 19 pounds of pills alone. MSP and the DEA ask folks to get rid of medications in this way so they don’t wind up in the environment or in the wrong hands. You can still drop off unneeded drugs at MSP posts on weekdays during business hours. The service is free and anonymous.. ...Read Full Story

Weekend Event Helps 1,500 Pets Find New Homes

The Bissell Pet Foundation’s latest Empty the Shelters event, held this past Saturday, has resulted in more than 1,500 dogs and cats finding new homes. The Grand Rapids-based organization paid the adoption fees for folks looking to pick up a critter, says spokesperson Holly Kroeze. She tells WSJM News the events make a big difference.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Township Police Warn A bout Stolen Kayaks, Canoes

The Coloma Township Police Department is urging the owners of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats to write down their serial numbers and to keep them in a secure location. That’s because it’s seen an increase in the theft of the watercraft recently. The Coloma Township PD tells us you should also jot down any other identifying information about your craft so it can be found quickly if stolen. Police ask anyone who notice anything to give them a call, or to call Berrien County Dispatch.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Spending Plan

A spending bill designed to keep the federal government open through October is being praised by Congressman Fred Upton. The plan being advanced this week will prevent a government shutdown. Congressman Upton tells us it maintains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, something he fought for with his 21st Century Cures legislation. The spending plan does not include money for President Trump’s border wall, but it does include another $1.5 billion for border security, which Upton says is a good thing. He adds the process hasn’t been perfect, but he’s pleased to see an agreement go forward.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Man Killed In Friday Crash

Police continue to investigate the cause of a fatal crash on I-94 near Coloma on Friday. It happened in the eastbound lanes around 1:50 p.m. and involved two semis and a pick-up. Coloma Police tell us the driver of the pick-up, 55-year-old Regil Mattson, of Watervliet, was killed. The drivers of the semis, from Ontario and Nebraska, were not hurt. The crash caused I-94 to be shut down on the eastbound side for several hours.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Average Gas Price Falls 10¢

We are paying about a dime less per gallon around the state to start the week. Triple-A Michigan’s survey of stations statewide finds a $2.42 average per gallon, with our prices in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor down 13¢ from last week at $2.40. The state’s most expensive gas is in Jackson at $2.51, while Traverse City drivers pay the least in the areas surveyed by the auto club at $2.35. South Haven prices are even lower, with GasBuddy spotters pegging those at $2.33. According to Triple-A, one of the reasons for recent drops in crude oil prices is skepticism about whether OPEC countries and others will extend their pledge to cut production by another six months. Global inventories are viewed as bloated, and the market isn’t sure if Russia will keep cutting its production after the end of June.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Officer Shot, Suspect Killed

A Detroit police officer is in critical condition after being shot while responding to a call about a domestic dispute. Police say the suspected gunman was shot and killed.  Detroit Police Chief James Craig says the officer, a 14-year veteran, was in surgery early Monday with a gunshot wound to the head. The police department’s Twitter page reported that the officer was in “very critical condition but is alive.” The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. on the city’s west side. Craig says since September, there have been eight officers either shot or murdered in the line of duty in Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Volunteers Help Sign Flint Residents Up For New Water Pipes

This week marked three years since the start of the Flint water crisis, and Saturday, volunteers from AARP Michigan hit the streets to help the city rebuild. Paula Cunningham, the state director of AARP Michigan, tells us volunteers are signing people up to get their water pipes replaced. She add it’s critical to get the word out that replacing the pipes is the only long-term solution.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Casco Township Barn

Nobody was hurt, but a Casco Township barn has been completely destroyed in a Sunday morning fire. Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services, and Columbia, Ganges and Lee townships were called in, with Bangor giving backup i South Haven during the response. The barn contained equipment for the fruit farm. What started the fire remains under investigation. The fire started around 6 a.m. at 111th Avenue near 67th Street.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Commission To Spray For Brush This Summer

The Van Buren County Road Commission is letting property owners know it’s about to start spraying for brush and weeds along county right of ways. The commission has hired a Zeeland company to do the spraying so visibility for drivers is maintained. The areas to be sprayed will include bridge approaches and overpasses, guardrail sections, and intersections. The county notes there will not be spraying done near orchards, vineyards, or farms. Anyone who wants to get their property excluded from the program affected can call the road commission. The spraying starts on May 10, and will wrap up September 17.. ...Read Full Story

Demolition Of St. Joseph House Remains On Track

The demolition of a blighted home in St. Joseph remains on track. At a hearing this week, the city’s Property Maintenance Board of Appeals upheld a previous order that the structure at Niles Avenue near Hoyt Street be torn down. The home, which has had a tarp on its roof since last spring, has been the subject of complaints from neighbors for several months. City inspectors ordered it to be torn down in February after doing an inspection and finding the entire structure to be badly damaged. The owner then appealed. However, the city now tells us the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals ruled against him Thursday. The home is scheduled for demolition in 45 days. The matter is still being appealed in court.. ...Read Full Story

Flash Flood Watch Tonight Through Monday Morning

Two to four inches of rain are expected for our area tonight through Monday. This is prompting a FLASH FLOOD WATCH from this evening through Monday morning for Berrien and Cass Counties. Periods of heavy rainfall are expected tonight through Sunday night. In addition to potential flooding of streets and roads in flood prone areas, area rivers and streams are also likely to experience flooding as well. A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Stay with News/Talk 94.9 WSJM for updated forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

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WMU Holding Commencement Today

Western Michigan University will hand out more than 2,600 degrees this Saturday during its spring commencement ceremonies. It’s the last time President Dr. John Dunn will hand out diplomas before his summer retirement. He tells WKZO News it’s an honor.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Drug Take Back Event His Saturday

If you’ve got a bunch of old pills sitting in your medicine cabinet, Michigan State Police are offering you a way to do some spring cleaning this weekend. Just stop by any post and drop off unwanted medications, no questions asked. The MSP’s Lori Dougovito tells WSJM News they team up with the DEA a couple times a year for takebacks.. ...Read Full Story

Pet Oxygen Masks Donated To Van Buren County Fire Departments

Six pet oxygen masks have been donated to Van Buren County fire departments. This week, Invisible Fence of Western Michigan gave the masks to South Haven Area Emergency Services, along with the Bangor, Columbia, and Covert Township Fire Departments. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells WSJM News the donations were in response to an incident just last month in which the department was able to save a semi-conscious dog from a house fire. For that rescue, firefighters did not have the specially-fitted masks, but now they’ll be better equipped. More than 18,200 pet oxygen masks have been donated by Invisible Fence to fire departments across the country.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Enable MI Students To Pursue STEM Certification

New legislation aims to create incentives for Michigan students to study math and science while giving them guidance when choosing their careers. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News his plan would allow a student to receive a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — or, STEM — certification. It also would require Michigan schools to provide students with the latest career outlook pamphlet for their economic region. Proos tells us, that way, they can choose wisely.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka To Be Honored At LMC Commencement Next Week

Former state Representative and current Michigan Budget Director Al Pscholka will be honored next week at Lake Michigan College’s commencement ceremony. LMC is graduating 514 students that day and also handing out alumni awards. The Distinguished Service Award is going to Pscholka. LMC is saluting him for helping to support the college’s mission, as he does in one of its promotional videos.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Wins Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

The winners of this year’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament are the Watervliet Panthers. The contest is held each year by state Senator John Proos. His office takes photo submissions from different schools within his district, asking them all to show off how they have the most pride. Proos pits the schools against each other in a bracket-style competition which goes on for several weeks, March Madness style. The Watervliet Panthers came out on top in the final round, over the Marcellus Wildcats, this year. Proos tells us he’s thrilled by the response the tournament got. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Bicyclist Clipped By Semi In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a bicyclist was clipped by a semi Friday morning. It says deputies were called out to Lakeland Hospital in Niles when a 22-year-old man showed up seeking treatment. He said he’d been riding his bike to work along M-60 between Yankee Street and Reum Road in Howard Township around 5 a.m. when he was hit by the tractor-trailer. He continued on to work, and from there was sent to the hospital to seek treatment. His injuries were not life-threatening. Police have not identified the semi that hit him.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Signs Letter Asking EPA Not To Close Chicago Office

Congressman Fred Upton has joined with his colleagues in the Michigan delegation in signing a letter to the chief administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking that the Chicago office of the EPA not be shut down. They say the rumored EPA office closure would threaten the Great Lakes, pointing to the office’s proximity to Lake Michigan. They also list some of the threats faced by the Great Lakes, including the spread of the Asian carp, and say continued vigilance is needed to keep them healthy. A total of 8 Michigan representatives have signed the letter.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In I-94 Crash Near Coloma

One person is dead following a three-vehicle crash on I-94 near Coloma on Friday afternoon. It happened shortly after 1:30 in the eastbound lanes of the highway near mile marker 37. Coloma police tell us the crash involved two semis and a pick-up. The driver of the pick-up was killed. The drivers of the semis were not hurt. The Michigan State Police Crash Reconstruction Team is still investigating the cause of the crash. None of the names of the drivers have been released.. ...Read Full Story

Three Trials To Be Held For Man Accused Of West MI Murders

From the Associated Press — A judge has turned down a prosecutor’s request to hold one trial for a western Michigan man who is accused of killing two women and abducting a teen in three separate incidents. Muskegon County Judge William Marietti says the three cases have common
threads. But he said Friday that one trial would require “significant mental gymnastics” for jurors as they consider the evidence. Jeffrey Willis is charged with killing a gas station clerk in 2013 and a jogger in 2014. A teenager escaped his van and went to police last year. Defense attorney Brian Hosticka argued that the three incidents are “completely separate.” Nick Winberg, father of the slain jogger, Rebekah Bletsch, says he supports separate trials. He wants a “clean, crisp trial” in his daughter’s case.. ...Read Full Story

Free Pet Adoption Event This Weekend

If you’re looking for a new pet, there’s another Empty the Shelters Day this Saturday at shelters throughout Michigan. It’s sponsored by the Bissell Pet Foundation, who’s paying the adoption fees at about 65 shelters including the Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven, Van Buren County Animal Control in Hartford, and Cass County Animal Control in Cassopolis. Cathy Bissell is the founder of the foundation.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Bill Banning Party Names, Logos On Ballots

From the Associated Press — Names and logos of political parties no longer would be allowed on election ballots under two bills approved by Michigan’s state House. The legislation passed Thursday in Lansing and now heads to the GOP-controlled state Senate. Opponents of the current bills say party logos are necessary to help some voters identify the political parties of candidates appearing on election ballots. The two bills are sponsored by Republican Representatives Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville and Edward Canfield of Sebewaing. The bills were introduced last session to address a Senate bill that would have eliminated straight-ticket voting in Michigan. The Senate bill was signed into law in 2015 by Gov. Rick Snyder but later blocked by a federal district judge ahead of the 2016 November election.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Investigation In Benton Harbor

A murder investigation is underway in Benton Harbor. 37-year-old Tavaris Brummette was found badly wounded by gunshots in the Heyward Wells apartment complex this morning around 12:30 by public safety officers, and he died after being taken to Lakeland in St. Joseph. Several people have been interviewed by police, but no suspects have yet been identified. Authorities have not indicated what may have led to the shooting, and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who has information is urged to call Benton Harbor Public Safety or Crime Stoppers.. ...Read Full Story

MI legislature Approves Funding For Flint Water Crisis

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Legislature is sending Flint $100 million in federal funding to address the water crisis. Then-President Barack Obama and Congress approved the aid in December. State lawmakers voted Thursday to officially pass the money along to Flint. The federal funding requires a $20 million state match, which will be provided from funding already authorized last year. The new money will be used to replace corroded pipes that leached lead and to update aging water mains and infrastructure. Water meters will be replaced and
an engineering study will be done. This week marked the three-year anniversary of the city’s fateful switch to using the Flint River for municipal water while under state management. Residents are still using water filters or bottled water.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Manufacturer To Receive State Expansion Grant

A Stevensville-based manufacturer is getting a $135,000 Michigan Business Development Program grant to help with an expansion project. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News Falcon Lakeside Manufacturing will invest $1.8 million in Berrien County. He thinks it serves the state well to work with businesses that might otherwise expand across the border instead.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Charged In Dowagiac Knife Attack

A Kalamazoo woman is in the Cass County Jail following a knife attack on her boyfriend at Southwestern Michigan College Thursday. The Dowagiac Police Department tells us officers were sent out to the dorms at SMC around 11:30 a.m. on a report that a woman was trying to stab herself. They got there and found a 20-year-old man who told them his girlfriend cut him while he was trying to get a knife away from her. Officers found the woman in her dorm and arrested her, while the victim was treated by EMTs. The 18-year-old woman was taken to a hospital to be checked out and then to the jail. She’s charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence. Her name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

House Votes To Change Charity Gambling Rules Following Crackdown

From the Associated Press — A bill advancing in Michigan’s Legislature would change regulations in the charitable gambling industry after backlash over a state crackdown that charities say has restricted their fundraising. The legislation , approved 100-9 Thursday by the House, relates to casino-style events where nonprofits split cash proceeds with poker rooms that run their Texas Hold ‘Em and other fundraisers.
The bill would rescind rules and require the Gaming Control Board to implement new ones consistent with the legislation. The sponsor, Rep. Tom Barrett, says the agency has overstepped. The agency – given oversight of charitable gambling by Governor Rick Snyder – opposes the bill. It says it would limit its discretion to deny licenses and raise a limit on chips sold. The bill goes to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Cow Tests Positive For Bovine Tuberculosis

From the Associated Press — Authorities say bovine tuberculosis has been found in a cow in a small beef herd in western Michigan’s Lake County. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said Wednesday the infected, 3-year-old cow had been imported from an infected herd in Franklin County, Indiana, before that herd tested positive for bovine TB. The cow was euthanized. The agency says a three-mile surveillance area has been established around the affected farm in Lake County. Farms within the area will have six months to complete bovine TB testing. Indiana last year found two beef herds and one white-tailed deer positive for bovine TB, all within Franklin County in that state’s southeastern corner. Indiana and Michigan are among five states dealing with infected herds, along with New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas.. ...Read Full Story

State Police To Collect Prescription Drugs This Weekend

Michigan State Police will be holding another drug takeback event this weekend. Posts all over Michigan, including those in Paw Paw and Niles, will take part. State police team up with the Drug Enforcement Agency on the effort each spring, asking folks to stop by and drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications so they can be safely disposed, rather than winding up in the ground water or in the wrong hands. During a one-day effort in October, MSP posts collected a total of 871 pounds of prescription drugs. The drop-off event this Saturday will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Just stop by any post and anonymously drop off any pills you have.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Lake Michigan Has Plenty Of Food For Asian Carp

(Traverse City, MI – AP) – A federal study says the most feared types of Asian carp would find plenty of food if they reached Lake Michigan. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey used computer models to estimate the lake’s suitability for bighead and silver carp. They have advanced up the Illinois River, which is linked to Lake Michigan by other waterways. Government agencies are using electric barriers and other strategies to block their path to the lake, where it’s feared the carp would out-compete many native species. Using satellite imagery, the scientists found that nearshore and bay areas of Lake Michigan have plenty of algae, the carps’ food of choice. Study leader Karl Anderson says that means if the carp reach the lake, they’ll likely congregate in coastal areas, where human activity is heaviest.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Sheriff’s Department Names Deputy Of The Year

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has announced its Deputy of the Year. Deputy Angela Baggett was picked by her collegues for the honor this time around. The department tells us Baggett goes above and beyond the call of duty when doing regular road patrols, and is admired by her co-workers for her work ethic. Baggett is one of the top complaint takers at the sheriff’s department, and also one of the lead instructors of the Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD, program. The sheriff’s department cites Baggett’s work to help talk someone out of suicide as a notable accomplishment in the past year.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Praises Education Budget

State Representative Kim LaSata is praising the state House Appropriations Committee for approving a school budget this week. She tells us the plan includes increased funding for K-12 education and higher ed. LaSata is a chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and says they worked hard to craft a spending plan the focuses on the future of Michigan’s university students. Among other things, the plan passed this week by Appropriations includes a 2.3% increase for the state’s public universities, an increase of more than $100 per student for K-12 schools, and $129 million to help at-risk students. Legislative Republicans have tasked themselves with getting a new state budget approved by June.. ...Read Full Story

Plans In The Works For New LMC Wine Facility

Plans are being drafted for the new headquarters of Lake Michigan College’s wine making program. LMC Vice President of Administrative Services Anne Erdman tells WSJM News they’re putting up a whole new building behind the Mendel Center to house the growing wine program. Exact details are still being hammered out.. ...Read Full Story