Local News Archives

MSP Reminds Residents To Have Winter Emergency Plans

With winter almost here, Michigan State Police say now is a good time to get prepared for cold weather emergencies. The MSP office of emergency preparedness tells us it’s a good idea to set aside a kit with supplies for three days in case of a natural disaster. The kit should have water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, batteries, a radio, emergency lighting , extra blankets and warm clothing. Some other good things to do this time of year are installing extra insulation in your home, getting the furnace checked, insulate water lines, and clear out the gutters to prevent ice dams. You can get more tips at Michigan.gov/MIready.. ...Read Full Story

Three Arrested After Chase In South Haven

Three people are facing charges after South Haven police this week got a report of someone chasing others around with a knife. The call came in around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, and when police went out to the scene at Kalamazoo and Edgell and found three people hiding behind a house. After a short foot chase, the three were caught. They’ve been identified as an 18 year old woman, a 22-year-old man, and a 19-year-old man, all from South Haven. All three are now charged with resisting and obstructing and unarmed robbery. The 19-year-oldf is also charged with possession of marijuana.. ...Read Full Story

Recall Issued For Frozen Strawberries

The Berrien County Health Department is working with the state on making sure no recalled strawberries remain on store shelves. The frozen strawberries have been found to be contaminated with Hepatitis A. Guy Miller, with the county health department, tells WSJM News he’s reached out to the distributor of the strawberries to local stores.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Charged In Standoff

A man is facing charges after police say he intentionally struck two women on horseback with a vehicle in Cass County. The prosecutor’s office says 32-year-old Adam Robert Biek faces assault with intent to do great bodily harm, malicious destruction of property, and driving on a suspended license charges. He was arraigned Thursday and returns to court November 16. Police say Biek surrendered Wednesday after barricading himself in his Cass County home. According to authorities, the Dowagiac man struck the women on Tuesday night. Prosecutors say at least one woman and one horse had minor injuries. The standoff began after the 32-year-old refused to talk with investigators.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man Charged With Murder

A South Haven man has been charged with murder in the death of a man reported missing this summer. The South Haven Police Department says 39-year-old Matthew Morin was reported missing on July 9, and his body was found in a wooded area of Barry County on July 12. 48-year-old John Joseph Calgaro was identified as a suspect, and taken into custody on a parole violation charge. He’s remained jailed since. On Friday, police announced he’s been charged with open murder, although they haven’t released any other details. South Haven police and Michigan State Police are working together on the case.. ...Read Full Story

Political Signs Bring Eviction Notices In Traverse City

Public housing residents in Traverse City have removed campaign signs after officials threatened to evict them. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to the Traverse City Housing Commission, calling the eviction notices “heartless.” Michael Steinberg of the ACLU says a ban on displaying window signs without approval is a violation of the First Amendment. The Traverse City Record-Eagle says the housing commission took action after some residents displayed signs in favor of a public vote on buildings taller than 60 feet. That question is on the local ballot Tuesday. Housing director Tony Lentych says some residents complained. He says the signs violate the lease. Lentych says, “If they want to sue us, they can sue us all they want.”. ...Read Full Story

Oldest Mackinac Island Ferry To Stop Service

Mackinac Island’s oldest and longest-running ferry boat company is leaving the passenger business and selling its boats to a competitor.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the financially-struggling Arnold Transit Company is preparing to halt all passenger service to the island for the first time since the 1800s, leaving just two ferry boat services to the island next summer. Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry officials announced Thursday that it tentatively plans to buy six of the Arnold boats, as well as its boatyard and several docks. Terms of the sale, which is expected to close in coming weeks, haven’t been disclosed. Star Line CEO Jerry Fetty says his company plans to refurbish the six Arnold vessels and reintroduce them as Star Line boats.. ...Read Full Story

MI Ballot Selfie Fight Over For Now

The fight over selfies at Michigan voting booths appears to be over for now. A federal appeals court said Thursday it won’t revisit the decision of one of its three-judge panels. A federal judge in Grand Rapids had signed an injunction suspending Michigan’s ban on ballot photos. But in a 2-1 decision, the order was set aside by the appeals court last week. The challenge to Michigan’s ban isn’t dead. But the lawsuit by Joel Crookston
won’t be fully litigated until after the election. Crookston argues that the ban on photos violates the First Amendment. The state says voters are free to declare their political preferences to the world – if they do it away from a polling place. The state says it’s trying to avoid “chaos.”. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Reminds Voters Of Election Day Rules

Voters are being reminded of the rules they need to follow when they head to the polls next Tuesday. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says the ballot selfie ban remains in effect, so don’t take any pictures or video while you’re in the polling place. Also, you’re not allowed to wear any t-shirts or buttons in support of a particular candidate or party. The secretary of state adds that it’s illegal to show your ballot to anyone under the secret balloting rules. Finally, everyone who votes has to bring along a valid ID. You can find out all the information you need about your polling place at Michigan.gov/Vote.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Victims Service Unit Given Award

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s Victims Services Unit has received an award. It’s been named the Victims Services Unit of the Year by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association. The Berrien County VCU has been around for seven years now. It works to support crime victims and their families while relieving some stress for certified police officers. When the program started, teams of two volunteers would go along with deputies when a death notification was given and stay with the next of kin until their friends or family could come. The Berrien County unit handled 58 calls in the past year, helping 686 victims.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Tourism Leaders See Benefits Of Pure Michigan

A report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy this week concluded there’s no evidence that the Pure Michigan tourism campaign is worth the money, but if you ask local tourism leaders, they’ll tell you otherwise. Millicent Huminsky, with the Southwest Michigan Tourism Council, tells WSJM News the boom that the industry has seen recent years is partly due to the ad campaign.. ...Read Full Story

All Clear At Three Oaks School After Thursday Evacuation

Everything’s clear at Middle High School in Three Oaks after a threatening note was found in a bathroom Thursday. The building was evacuated while police were called in to check the place out. The school district sent parents a message to let them know what was going on and moved all of the kids to other buildings, depending on their grade level. A bomb sniffing dog was brought in by Michigan State Police and found nothing. The school says the message was found written on a bathroom stall around 10 a.m., and all was clear by 2:30. The case remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago To Honor Cubs With Parade Friday

Chicago plans to honor its World Series champion Cubs with a parade and rally on Friday. The celebration will start about 10 a.m. when the team leaves Wrigley Field and heads for downtown Chicago. The official parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., traveling along Michigan Avenue and then along Columbus Drive near Lake Michigan before heading to Grant Park. Fans are encouraged to line that route. Officials expect the Cubs motorcade to arrive in Grant Park around noon, when there will be a rally at Hutchinson Field. The rally and parade come two days after the team won its first World Series championship in 108 years. The city says closed water bottles will be allowed into the rally and food vendors will be on site.. ...Read Full Story

Voting Open In Latest Celebrated Service Awards

Voting has opened in the sixth annual Celebrated Service Awards. The awards are handed out each year by Celebration Cinema to recognize businesses in each of its service areas that give their customers the best treatment. In the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area, the nominees this year are All Star Family Chiropractic, Biggby Coffee, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cafe Mosaic, the Chatterbox Bar & Grill, the Hilton Garden Inn, Jimmy Johns of Benton Harbor, the Mason Jar Cafe, Silver Harbor Brewing Company, and Zoup. The winner will receive special promotions on Celebration Cinema screens and $5,000. You can vote for your favorite at CelebratedService.com. Or, you can vote via text message this year. Below are the instructions.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Slowing Pace Of Charter Schools

The rapid growth of charter schools could lead to the privatization of America’s public school system, according to a new report from the Independent Media Institute. It says 40% of the nation’s 6,700 charter schools are part of corporate chains or franchises. Stan Salett, report co-author, says most major -S cities are now divided into private and public tracks, and argues the future of one of the nation’s few institutions where people from diverse backgrounds come together is at risk.. ...Read Full Story

10-Year-Old Boy Hit By Vehicle, Killed, In Kalamazoo County

Authorities say a 10-year-old boy has died after being struck by a vehicle while crossing a street in Kalamazoo County. Police in Kalamazoo Township say the boy was trying to cross Wednesday night in an area where there was no crosswalk or stoplight. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports
he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name wasn’t immediately released. Conditions were described as dark and rainy at the time. Police earlier said the boy was among a group of young people in the area. Police say the 52-year-old Kalamazoo man who was driving the vehicle wasn’t injured. The child’s death is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Audit: One Doctor Approved 11,800 Marijuana Patients In One Year

A state audit says one physician was able to certify more than 11,800 Michigan medical marijuana patients in one year. The audit released Thursday criticized the state’s medical marijuana program for not verifying doctor certifications to combat potential fraud. Auditors found 22 other physicians who certified nearly 47,000 applicants, an average of eight per work day. The state says it began randomly auditing doctor certifications in late September. Under Michigan law, 211,000 patients registered with the state are growing their own marijuana or obtaining it from 37,000 designated caregivers who supply a limited number of people. Patients can legally use marijuana if they have a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer and or a disease with side effects such as seizures or severe and chronic pain.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Urges Early Voters To Change Their Ballots

Donald Trump is urging some early voters for Hillary Clinton to change their ballots for him. But it’s unlikely enough will heed his call to affect the presidential race. Trump urged early voters in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan on Tuesday to change their ballots for him if they’re having a “bad case of buyer’s remorse” after voting for Clinton. Those states do allow early voters to change their ballots. But the deadline was Tuesday in Minnesota and deadlines in the other states are fast approaching. Election officials say voters rarely change absentee ballots. University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Barry Burden says he doesn’t expect large numbers of people will change their minds this year. He said early voters tend to be especially enthusiastic about their favorite candidate.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Commission Marks 100 Years

It’s been 100 years for the Van Buren County Road Commission, and this week, they’ll hold a birthday celebration. The road commission’s Greg Pardike tells WSJM News the agency was formed a few years after a 1909 state law called for uniformity in road standards. It had one employee, and the roads then were much different.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor: Shooting Of Inmate Was Justified

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office has found the July 11 shooting of a jail inmate by court officers to be justified. The office released its analysis of the incident on Wednesday, laying out the circumstances that led to inmate Larry Gordon seizing of an officer’s gun and killing two security officers before being fatally shot by bailiffs. The report says Gordon knew he was facing a lengthy prison sentence, and had told other inmates in the Berrien County Jail he would not be able to do serve it. He also asked them about the courthouse layout. The prosecutor describes how Gordon came to get a gun, take hostages, and then shoot two officers. It says no criminal charges will be filed in Gordon’s shooting. You can see the full analysis below.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seize $30,000 Worth Of Drugs In BH Raid

Two people are facing charges following a drug bust in Benton Harbor Wednesday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us officers raided an apartment at 525 Columbus Avenue around 7 a.m. finding 92 grams of heroin, 188 grams of crack, and three loaded semi-automatic handguns. Police say the estimated value of the drugs alone is about $30,000. The two people arrested both have criminal records. They’re now facing a variety of new charges. Police note the apartment building is less than 1,000 feet from a school.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Standoff Ends Peacefully

A standoff that began after two women on horseback were struck by a vehicle in Cass County has ended peacefully. Michigan State Police say a man surrendered Wednesday morning after barricading himself in his Cass County home Tuesday night. Troopers tell us the man intentionally struck them on Tuesday night, and the women and horses have minor injuries. The standoff began after the 32-year-old refused to talk with investigators, and negotiators were called in because the suspect had weapons in the home. The man, whose name wasn’t immediately released, faces charges of assault and driving without a license.. ...Read Full Story

EMU Students Protest Racist Graffitti

Students at Eastern Michigan University are protesting after more anti-black graffiti was discovered on campus this week. The protests include a sit-in early Wednesday at the EMU Student Center on the school’s Ypsilanti campus. The university says the graffiti was discovered Monday spray-painted on the exterior of Ford Hall and was immediately removed. On Tuesday, school President Jim Smith announced the creation of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. He says in a message to campus that the vandalism is “hateful” and says the school is working to foster respect, equity and inclusion. The university has said that a reward for information about similar graffiti that appeared in late September has been doubled to $10,000 and applies to the latest incident as well. The earlier graffiti led to protests.. ...Read Full Story

Cancer Claims Van Buren 911 Dispatch Director

The director of 911 dispatch in Van Buren County has died from cancer. Jeri Tapper was 59 and died yesterday after a four-year battle against the disease. According to her obituary, Tapper had been at the helm of Van Buren County 911 Dispatch for 29 years. The Paw Paw native is survived by her husband, two children, seven grandchildren, both parents, and two sisters. Tapper’s visitation will be Friday morning at 10 at Adams Funeral Home in Paw Paw, with her funeral to follow at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka To Receive Farm Bureau Award

A special honor is being given to state Representative Al Pscholka this week. The Berrien County Farm Bureau is presenting him with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture award. The bureau says it’s for Pscholka’s ongoing support of ag interests in Lansing. Among other things, it says Pscholka has worked with state and federal agencies on the great freeze that damaged crops in Southwest Michigan in 2012, and ensured there’s money in the budget for fruit research. Pscholka tells us he started his campaign six years ago at Radom’s Farm in Bainbridge Township to highlight the ag heritage of southwest Michigan, so it’s kind of fitting for his service to come full circle with the award. He’ll get it Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Firefighters Return From Competition

Firefighters for the Palisades nuclear power plant are back home after spending last week competing in the Scott World Firefighter Combat Challenge in Alabama. Fire Brigade Marshal Bill Gruppen tells WSJM News the team took part in what ESPN has called the toughest two minutes in sports. It helps them stay on their toes.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Racers Rally To Help Boy With Leukemia

The mother of a 5-year-old southwest Michigan boy who is battling leukemia is thanking the local racing community for its outpouring of support. Leah Dibble, who co-owns the Hartford Motor Speedway with her husband, Tim, says their son Timmy was diagnosed with the disease last month. He’s been in a Kalamazoo hospital since.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Fire District Chief Arrested On Child Porn Charges

Michigan State Police have arrested the suspended chief of the Allegan Fire District for allegedly making child pornography. Troopers say 34-year-old Matthew Donald Gillies is charged with second degree criminal sexual conduct and manufacturing child sexually abusive material, among other things. They accuse him of uploading videos of himself engaged in sexual activity with a child to the internet. Gillies was suspended last month when the investigation began. If convicted, he could get up to 20 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Clinton Campaign Buying Ads In Michigan

Hillary Clinton is also making plans to air TV commercials in typically Democratic Michigan and New Mexico. Her campaign said Tuesday it will spend more than $100,000 on TV commercials in each of the two states. That announcement came shortly after Republican Donald Trump’s campaign said it would be advertising there. Clinton’s campaign earlier confirmed it will be advertising in Colorado for the first time since July. And it also is deploying ads in Virginia for the first time since early August. Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said the Trump campaign sees a path through these states, but “we’re going to make sure those doors remain shut.” Trump has to win some traditionally Democratic states to secure the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Bridge Marking Birthday Today

On this day in history, the Mackinac Bridge opened to traffic 59 years ago in 1957. We take it for granted now, but what did people do to go from the lower to upper peninsula and vice-versa before the bridge? Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney has an answer.. ...Read Full Story

One Of Berrien County’s Most Wanted Fugitives Caught

One of Berrien County’s most wanted fugitives is now behind bars. Michigan State Police tell us 50-year-old Steven Duane Clark of Benton Township was arrested last evening in the area of Blue Creek and Territorial roads in Benton Township around 6:30. Clark was wanted for a three-count felony warrant for sex offender violations, forgery, and child support. Troopers got a tip of where he might be working yesterday and learned he hadn’t had that job for months. More interviews followed, leading investigators to his vehicle for a traffic stop. Sergeant Steve Barker says the arrest was made “much to the glee of the trick-or-treaters in the area,” and adds parents were also relieved. Clark is now in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Campaign Causing Uneasy Feelings In MI Classrooms

In what used to be a perfect time for a lesson in how government works, the tone of the presidential campaign this year is creating uncomfortable conversations in high school classrooms. Some civics teachers say they’ve been faced with questions that would typically not be topics of conversation in their classrooms. Biology teacher Frank Burger, of Flint Township.. ...Read Full Story

Candidate Forum In Benton Harbor Tuesday

Some candidates for Benton Harbor-area offices and for the state House are expected to appear at a forum in Benton Harbor Tuesday. Partly organized by the Twin Cities Chapter of the NAACP, the forum will be at the library starting at 6 p.m. Organizer Dorothy Parker tells WSJM News everyone can take part.. ...Read Full Story

MI Secretary Of State To Keep Some Offices Open Election Day

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office says some branch offices will remain open on election day next Tuesday. Most Michigan government offices will be shut down for the day, but Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says select locations will be staffed for anyone who has emergency business to conduct. Among them is the office in Benton Harbor. Johnson adds that late fees for licenses and registrations expiring on November 8 will be waived if customers renew the next day. She also notes many transactions, like vehicle plate tab and driver’s license renewals, can also be done at ExpressSOS.com.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Campaigns In Michigan

Donald Trump is warning again about voter fraud – but has a solution for his supporters. The Republican nominee once again said there is widespread voter fraud, a claim for which he has produced no evidence. But he told supporters at a rally Monday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that they should “get out and vote by the millions and we won’t have to worry about what is taking place behind the scenes.” Trump made his pitch during a foray into Democrat-leaning Michigan. The state hasn’t gone for a Republican since 1988, but may prove essential for Trump’s
electoral map. Several studies suggest that voter fraud is extremely rare. Trump’s warning in Michigan came a day after he criticized the mail-in voting system in Colorado, suggesting that it is ripe for fraud.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Veteran To Receive World War II Medals Tuesday

An 89-year-old Buchanan man is finally receiving the honors he earned while serving in World War II. Oris Aldrich is to be presented with his service medals by Congressman Fred Upton Tuesday morning. Aldrich was just 17 when he joined the US Navy in 1945. He was assigned to the USS Leo, which was in the Pacific Theater of the war, where he served for 15 months. He sought help from Congressman Upton’s office to get the medals he believed he should receive, and his request has been approved by the Navy. Adrich will get a total of of eight honors on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Mayor Announces Next Round Of Pipe Replacements

Lead and galvanized steel service lines are expected to be replaced this fall in 788 Flint homes as the city continues efforts to stop lead-tainted water from flowing through residential taps. Mayor Karen Weaver on Monday will announce neighborhoods targeted for the work in the third phase of her FAST Start initiative. The work is being paid with $25 million from the state. Water lines were replaced in 218 homes during phase two. Flint was under state financial control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. Officials failed to treat the river water with corrosion-control chemicals which allowed lead to leach from pipes. Tests later showed high lead levels in some Flint children. Flint has since returned to Detroit’s water system.. ...Read Full Story

MI Sees Drop In High-Security Inmates

Michigan Department of Corrections data show the number of prisoners housed in higher-security cells in Michigan’s prison system has
plummeted over the last two decades, while the number of prisoners kept in less expensive, low-security housing units has soared. The Detroit Free Press reports there were nearly 1,700 prisoners with the highest security rating in 1995. There were less than half as many inmates at
that level by 2015. Corrections officers have said the department is pushing down prisoners’ security classifications to save money, but spokesman Chris Gautz has denied that claim. He says some of the classification numbers are misleading because the way some prison beds are classified has changed. The Michigan Corrections Officers union says pushing down security classifications is a dangerous practice that can lead to violent incidents.. ...Read Full Story

Morning Crash Closes Part Of US-31

Four people are recovering after being injured in a crash that shut down part of US-31 in Niles Township Monday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened near Niles Buchanan Road just before 7 a.m. A 2005 Dodge Stratus was headed south on US-31 and straddling the fog line while dealing with a mechanical problem. Another southbound vehicle approached from behind it and crashed into the Stratus. The Niles Township Fire Department had to use the Jaws of Life to free two passengers from the back of the Dodge. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Reward Offered In CMU Hit And Run Case

A cash reward for information about the death of a Central Michigan University student has been increased to $10,000. Police believe the vehicle that hit Ryan Tsatsos nearly a year ago is a dark metallic blue color. The vehicle could likely have front passenger side damage and potentially fender, windshield and hood damage. Julie Lopez of Crime Stoppers says Tsatsos was hit and killed while walking to his residence hall.. ...Read Full Story

September Home Sales Up In Southwest Michigan

Homes sales in southwest Michigan remain strong, as the latest numbers show a 14% jump for the month this year over last year. Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Vice President Gary Walter tells us September’s unit sales were the highest the region has seen in the month for ten years. It’s a good time to buy.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Continues Search For New President

If everything goes as planned, Lake Michigan College will have a new president by the end of March. Board of Trustees Chair Mary Jo Tomasini gave WSJM News an update on the search for a new leader this week, saying the deadline for candidates is next month, and then the college will start whittling them down.. ...Read Full Story