Local News Archives

Kalamazoo County Approves New ID Card Program

From the Associated Press — Kalamazoo County has decided to create an identification card program for residents who lack documents needed to get a state ID. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the county Board of Commissioners’ 6-5 vote Wednesday was split along party lines, but the Democratic majority approved a resolution creating the program. The resolution authorizes an initial budget of $60,000 to begin the program in
January. It also creates an advisory board that would report to the Board of Commissioners. The program will ensure an estimated 27,000 residents without a state-issued ID still have access to government and commercial services. Residents would be required to prove their residency status with several documents. However, state and federal programs may not recognize the ID.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan AG: Schools With Native American Nicknames Can’t Lose State Aid

From the Associated Press — Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Michigan school superintendent doesn’t have authority to cut off tax dollars to districts with American Indian mascots or logos. Schuette’s opinion was sought by state Rep. Tim Kelly, a Republican from Saginaw County.
Critics of schools with Indian mascots say they create a hostile environment and are culturally insensitive. But supporters say they’re signs of respect. In an opinion dated Monday, Schuette says state law lists specific grounds for a superintendent to stop state aid to a school district, but having an Indian mascot isn’t among them. In March, Superintendent Brian Whiston proposed cutting up to 10 percent of a district’s annual payments if he had authority. In Paw Paw, the school board in February voted to keep the Redskins nickname.. ...Read Full Story

Double Murder Suspect Found Competent

There is some movement in a Berrien County double murder case. The “Herald-Palladium” reports Alex Perez has been found competent for trial after several months of treatment. He is accused of killing Renee Mitchell and her father, John, in their Hagar Township home in January 2016, and trying to flee to California with his two children he had with her. Perez and the children were found in Colorado the next day after a nationwide Amber Alert was issued. He is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. Perez is due in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing and is being held on five-million-dollars bond in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Concerns About Possible Water Rule Changes

The public comment period on the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule is expected to begin this week. The move would reverse pollution protections for streams and wetlands that supply one third of the nation’s drinking water. Jan Goldman-Carter, with the National Wildlife Federation, tells us a majority of the nation’s stream miles and wetland acres are at stake.. ...Read Full Story

Group Aims to Create Park Celebrating Italian Culture In Benton Harbor

An effort is underway to spruce up an area of Benton Harbor that used to be known as Little Italy. Al DiBrito, of St. Joseph, tells WSJM News the plan is to turn land near Territorial and 2nd Street into a park celebrating Italian culture. He told city commissioners this week about its history as an Italian neighborhood, and outlined what he has in mind for the park property.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Planning Major Expansion Of Nursing Program

An effort is underway to expand Southwestern Michigan College’s nursing program. The college plans to update the nursing instruction building with the latest technology and also double its size. The $9.6 million initiative is in response a shortage of nurses in the region. SMC says the goal is to increase nursing program enrollment by 40%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting 19% job growth for registered nurses by 2022, and more than 1 million job openings in the field. SMC’s nursing expansion is expected to be finished by the state of classes in the fall of 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Five Arrested In Two BH Drug Raids

Five people are facing charges following a couple of drug raids in Benton Harbor in recent days. First, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team searched a home in the 1,300 block of Union Avenue on Friday and found crack, two handguns, and evidence of drug trafficking. 48-year-old Margaret Casnave and 33-year-old Marcus Willis were arrested on charges of possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine and maintaining a drug house. They were taken to the Berrien County Jail. The second drug bust happened Wednesday morning in the 800 block of East High Street in Benton Harbor. Three people were arrested when officers found two pounds of marijuana and three handguns. The names of the suspects, who are also accused of drug trafficking, have not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Company Looking To Build Solar Farm In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Huron County is developing a solar energy ordinance after a renewable energy company said it wants to build about a dozen solar farms in the area. MLive reports California-based Cypress Creek Renewables has been pitching the idea to county residents in the county at the northern tip of Michigan’s Thumb region. Cypress Creek Director of Development Casey May says the company hopes to build the farms “in a staggered fashion” between late 2018 and 2020. Each solar farm is about 20 to 25 acres. Huron County Board Chairman Sami Khoury says the board adopted a one-year moratorium on solar farm development to give commissioners time to approve an ordinance. Khoury says “this way they just don’t put them wherever.” May says the farms would provide power throughout the county.. ...Read Full Story

Gobles Man Killed In Personal Water Craft Accident

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a deadly personal water craft accident on Magician Lake. They tell WSJM News 28-year-old Derek Jackson of Gobles hit a wave and was thrown off the water craft, and it then hit him after he landed in the water. He was pronounced dead after being airlifted to South Bend Memorial Hospital. The coroner’s office in St. Joseph County, Indiana has ruled Jackson’s death a drowning. Police say he was wearing a life jacket, but there was no alcohol involved in the incident. It happened just after 5 p.m. yesterday.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Holding Pesticide Collection Event

If you have pesticides you need to get rid of, you’re in luck. On July 26, Berrien County will hold a pesticide collection event in Benton Township. However, you have to register in advance, and the deadline is July 12. Berrien County Parks Department Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells our newsroom they hold these events each year. She says it’s much better to drop off such chemicals at the event than it is to throw the chemicals away.. ...Read Full Story

Celebrate Bridgman Begins Wednesday

This is the week to Celebrate Bridgman. Mayor Hannah Anderson tells WSJM News the city is holding a series of events throughout the week, Wednesday through Sunday. Everything kicks off with a walk from the library to Weko Beach on Wednesday. Thursday brings the Curious Kids Show and then the dances start.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man in Jail After Pursuit

A South Haven man remains in jail after a Police pursuit. About 11:20 Monday night, troopers from the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation on Gull Road near Sprinkle Road in Comstock Township. The vehicle fled and a pursuit continued into the City of Kalamazoo. While travelling West on West North Street, the suspect vehicle ran a red light at South Park Street and crashed into a passenger vehicle that was travelling North on North Park Street. The driver of the suspect vehicle is a 27 year old South Haven man and he alone in his vehicle. He was treated for injuries at Bronson Hospital and is currently being held in the Kalamazoo County Jail. Upon arrest, Troopers found the suspect had multiple warrants for his arrest, a suspended driver’s license and was in possession of open intoxicants and marijuana at the time of the crash. The suspect’s name is being withheld pending arraignment. The 3 occupants of the other vehicle the suspect hit were transported to Bronson Hospital where they were treated for their injuries. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

How To Properly Display Your Flag

This Fourth of July, many Americans are showing their patriotic spirit by flying the Stars and Stripes, and they’re being asked to keep flag etiquette in mind. Mark Sutton, with the American Legion Department of Michigan, tells us the American flag should be respected because it represents freedom, democracy, and the values of a nation that many have fought to defend.. ...Read Full Story

Car vs Motorcycle Accident

A man and a woman remain in the hospital after the motorcycle they were riding on collided with a car early Tuesday morning. Around 12:15am Berrien County Deputies located a car vs. motorcycle accident on M-63 near Central Avenue in Hagar Township. Authorities reports the couple from the motorcycle received severe injuries and were transported to Lakeland Hospital. They also say they were not wearing helmets. The driver of the car was not injured. Alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in the accident. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Crash Investigation Team is still investigating this incident.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan: No Personal Data Will Be Given To Trump Commission

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s secretary of state says she will comply with some requests for voter information from President Donald Trump’s voting commission, but personal data won’t be released. Ruth Johnson posted a response on Facebook on Monday, five days after the commission said it was asking states for information, including partial Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Birth years are fair game, but Johnson says Michigan law puts a shield on Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. She says some basic voter information has been public for decades, including registrations and election participation history. Trump’s national commission was formed to investigate allegations of U.S. election fraud. Michigan found that at least 31 people voted twice last fall, although their names haven’t been released.. ...Read Full Story

New Editions Of Michigan Duck Stamp And Prints Released

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Duck Hunters Association and the state Department of Natural Resources are introducing the 2017 collector’s edition Michigan duck stamp and prints. The Michigan Waterfowl Stamp Program was established in 1976 and has become popular with hunters, conservationists and collectors around the nation. Proceeds from the stamp sales are used for projects that help conserve wetlands and other waterfowl habitat. This year’s duck stamp features a pair of northern shovelers, painted by wildlife artist Guy Crittenden of Richmond, Virginia. People interested in buying limited-edition prints and collector’s edition stamps can learn more at www.michigan.gov/waterfowl .. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Challenging Public Funding For Detroit Arena Dropped

A federal lawsuit seeking to block some public funding for the Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs has been dropped. The lawsuit was filed by activist Robert Davis and city clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon. They argue the project shouldn’t be funded without a vote from Detroit residents. Their attorney submitted a court notice Saturday to voluntarily dismiss the case.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gas Prices Fall For July 4th Holiday

Gas prices in Michigan continue to buck the historical summertime upward trend, falling 6-cents a gallon this week to a statewide average of $2.29. Locally, AAA Michigan says the price in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area is down 11-cents to $2.23, which is also two-cents lower than this time last year. The auto club notes the Great Lakes region is finally experiencing some price stability, and Michigan’s price drop over the past week and the last month is the second-largest in the nation. The lowest prices in Michigan are in the Saginaw-Bay City-Midland area at $2.22, while Ann Arbor drivers are paying the most for the third straight week at $2.35 a gallon. GasBuddy spotters put the South Haven average at $2.14, though just one station is selling gas for more than $2.13 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Boating Accident Sends One To Hospital

A 25-year-old is being treated at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph following a boating accident on Round Lake in Van Buren County’s Keeler Township. Deputies tell WSJM News there were two people on a tube being pulled by a boat when a second boat dumped a waterskier in front of them. Their boat operator turned to avoid the skier and hit a raft, tossing the two on the tube to be thrown off. A 22-year-old woman who was on the tube wasn’t hurt, and neither was the waterskier. The driver of the boat, however, was cited for traveling at a greater than slow-no-wake speed within 100 feet of a dock, raft, or other fixed object. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

NWS Confirms Landspout Tornado

An EF-0 landspout tornado was on the ground near Grand Junction for a brief time Friday night. The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has confirmed the small twister, which had peak winds of 60-miles-per-hour and was on the ground for about two-tenths of a mile. No one was hurt, and no damage was done. Landspout tornadoes are formed from either heavy rain storms or weak thunderstorms, and meteorologists say they typically dissipate quickly.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Sheriff’s Department Preparing For Fourth Of July Enforcement

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will have its eye on you this Fourth of July at Silver Beach. Sheriff Paul Bailey addressed St. Joseph City Commissioners this past week to assure them his department and St. Joseph Public Safety are working closely together to keep it safe. Bailey told WSJM News he’ll have a lot of uniformed deputies and deputies in plain clothes roaming the beach all day and until everyone leaves.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Prohibit Left Turns On Portion Of Phoenix Street

Traffic is about to change in South Haven. Starting next week, the city of South Haven will have “No Left Turn” signs posted along westbound Phoenix Street from Broadway to Water Street. They’re being given a 90 day trial to see if they improve traffic flow. Phoenix Street is the main street running through South Haven’s downtown. During the summer, a long line of traffic headed to the beach often causes congestion as drivers try to make left turns. It’s hoped the No Left Turn signs might help. The South Haven City Council will review the results at the end of the 90 day trial.. ...Read Full Story

Crash Sends Woman To Hospital

A one car crash, just before midnight last night, sends a woman to the hospital with critical injuries. Around 11:45 Saturday night, officers were dispatched to a one car accident on Maudlin Rd near Behner Rd in New Buffalo Township.  When they arrived, they found that a vehicle driven by 57-year-old Reba Waterson of Dowagiac had failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway which caused her to lose control and run off of the road striking a large cement structure in a front yard.  Waterson was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City with critical injuries.  Authorities believe alcohol was not a factor in the crash  It remains under investigation by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. . ...Read Full Story

Another Win For “Pellet Gun” Krause At Cherry Pit Spitting Championship

Experience ruled the day as Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause took the top prize in Saturday’s 44th annual Cherry Pit Spitting Championship at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire. The 63-year-old Krause captured his 17th victory. His winning spit was 57 feet and eleven inches. Second place went to Paul Marek, of Traverse City. The 45th International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship will be July 7, 2018 at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Applauds EPA Decision To Drop Water Rule

Congressman Fred Upton is applauding the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to withdraw a controversial rule. He tells WSJM News the EPA is dropping the Waters of the United States rule classifying ditches and standing water in farmers’ low-lying fields as federally regulated waterways. Upton tells us he’s heard from frustrated southwest Michigan farmers about this rule for years. He issued a statement this week saying he applauds “the EPA and the Trump administration for ditching this harmful rule once and for all.” Upton’s office notes the U.S. House in 2015 voted on a bipartisan basis to stop the rule.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Vetoes “Choose Life” License Plate

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is disappointed Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have created a “Choose Life” license plate in Michigan. The specialty plate created by Senate Bill 163 would have raised money for programs supported by Right to Life, which is an anti-abortion group. The governor says he vetoed the bill because he thought it would be inappropriate for the state to be delivering a political message with license plates. Senator Schuitmaker tells us the “voluntary license plate would have raised funds to provide resources and services for women facing an unexpected pregnancy.” She adds she’ll continue to advocate for pro-life policies and solutions.. ...Read Full Story

Buoy Deployed In Lake Michigan Off South Haven

The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners has given its thumbs up to a buoy stationed off South Haven in Lake Michigan. This week, the board approved spending $5,000 to help pay for the buoy provided by an Ann Arbor company. Van Buren County Administrator John Faul tells WSJM News the info it collects is available to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Sheriff’s Deputy Receives Life Saving Award

A sergeant with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has been honored with a Life Saving Award for his role in helping a fellow officer who had a heart attack last month. The sheriff’s department tells us Sergeant Casey Davis was at a charity hockey game at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo on May 20 when a fellow officer from Grand Rapids collapsed in the locker room. Davis sprang into action, calling for an AED and starting chest compressions on Officer Bill Kelly. Kelly, who was just 20 months from retirement at the time, survived. Sergeant Davis received his Life Saving Award on Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

“Operation Dry Water” Underway This Weekend

This is the weekend for Operation Dry Water. That’s when law enforcement agencies across the country send out extra patrols on waterways to look for drunk boaters. Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Nathan Penning tells WSJM News they’re going to make contact with boaters throughout the holiday weekend to make sure everyone’s obeying the rules.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department K9 Passes Away

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of one of its K9s. Vento passed away this week from natural causes. Vento had served the county for several years. The sheriff’s department tells us Vento was 13 years old. The department held a ceremony to officially relieve Vento of the K9’s duties. It says Vento “served Van Buren County with the utmost drive and enthusiasm.” It also wishes the K9 Godspeed.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Blue Star Highway Bridge Reopens

The Blue Star Highway bridge over the Black River just north of South Haven is back open. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells WSJM News the Michigan Department of Transportation opened up the bridge on Friday afternoon. Drivers have faced a major traffic reroute for several months as a result of work being down on the bridge. MDOT did a total reconstruction of it. The access to the Kal-Haven Trail in South Haven has now been reopened to its normal route. Aerial photos of the new bridge were taken this past weekend as the work was being finished.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species “Blitz” Planned For This Coming Week

Conservation groups from around southwest Michigan are planning an invasive species blitz for this weekend and next week. Eleanor Serocki, with the Van Buren County Conservation district, tells WSJM News events to educate boaters on how to avoid spreading invasive aquatic and plant species will be held in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties. She tells us invasive species can become a major problem for a body of water.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Seek Volunteers For Anti Drug Program

The Michigan State Police post in Niles is looking for volunteers to help run a program designed to assist people struggling with addiction and reduce drug demand. Michigan State Police have joined with nearly 200 other law enforcement agencies around the country in the Angel Program. Lieutenant Mike Dawson tells WSJM News it allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a police department and ask for help without fear of arrest.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Criticizes Controversial Trump Tweet

Congressman Fred Upton is among those criticizing President Donald Trump’s controversial tweet this week about MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski. Trump made a remark about the Morning Joe co-host attacking her for her physical appearance. Many have called the president’s tweet an act of bullying. Congressman Upton tells WSJM News it was not a good moment for the president.. ...Read Full Story

Tires, Wheels Stolen From Benton Township Auto Dealer

A Benton Township car dealership has been hit by tire thieves. Management at Brookfield Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep tells WSJM News staff showed up Friday morning to find the wheels and tires had been removed from six Ram pick-ups. They estimate the damage to be at least $18,000. The dealership tells us it has been in Benton Township for five years now, and this is the first time they’ve ever had any such problem. They think the crooks are probably pros from outside the area, and say this crime does not reflect the community. In fact, this is the second time an auto dealership in west Michigan has had tires and wheels stolen off vehicles parked in the lot this month. It happened to a Ford dealership in Galesburg last week. Brookfield Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep tells us Benton Township police came out Friday morning and investigated the scene. Surveillance video is also being reviewed.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Pit Spitting Championship Saturday

The 44th annual Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm’s International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship is tomorrow in Eau Claire. Qualifying will start at 10 a.m., with the championships starting at 1 in the afternoon. The farm’s Monica Teichman tells WSJM News the pits can often fly as far as 40 feet, and all the competitors work on developing unique styles.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Saturday For Small Animal Registrations For BCYF

The Berrien County Youth Fair is still about a month and a half away, but for people planning to exhibit small animals, a deadline is looming tomorrow. Fair officials say small animals have to be registered by noon Saturday to be included in this year’s fair, which will be from August 14-19. Animals included in the deadline are cats, dogs, poultry, pocket pets, and rabbits, and exhibitor handbooks and registration forms are available on the fair’s website at bcyf.org. The deadline to register for the BCYF King and Queen and Prince and Princess contests is July 12, and for all other still exhibit areas, you have until August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Plenty Of Fireworks Shows Scheduled For This Weekend

Just about everyone loves a good fireworks show, and there are plenty of them planned for this weekend around southwest Michigan. The fun begins Friday with a show in Dowagiac. It’ll be at Russom Park. Saturday will bring fireworks shows at Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, Lions Park in Sister Lakes, and Hays Park in Watervliet. If you’re in the mood Monday for fireworks, they’ll have them at the American Legion in Baroda, New Buffalo Beach in New Buffalo, the Apple Festival Fairgrounds in Niles, Eagle Lake in Edwardsburg, and the north pier in South Haven. Finally, there will be shows on Tuesday, the Fourth of July, at the middle school in Berrien Springs, Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Silver Beach in St. Joseph, and at the high school in Decatur. All shows begin at dusk.. ...Read Full Story

Intensive Search Turns Up No Additional Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — Officials say an intensive search so far has turned up no additional Asian carp in a Chicago-area waterway system where one of the invasive fish recently was found. The discovery of a live silver carp June 22 about 9 miles from Lake Michigan raised fears that Asian carp might be evading an electric barrier meant to keep them out of the Great Lakes. It triggered a hunt by commercial fishers and crews with federal and state agencies using nets and devices that stun fish so they can be caught and examined. The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee says the search covers a 13-mile area and will continue through July 7. The silver carp has been sent to Southern Illinois University to determine its age and where it came from.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance Rate Hike Takes Effect Saturday

Auto insurance costs are about to go up in Michigan. Insurance Alliance of Michigan spokesperson Lori Conarton tells WSJM News it’s because the cost every driver has to pay for unlimited medical benefits as required by the state’s insurance law are going up from $160 to $170. The alliance is calling for changes.. ...Read Full Story