Local News Archives

Pedestrian Killed On US-12 In Galien

A woman is dead after she was hit by a car in Galien on Tuesday evening. Michigan State Police tell us 50-year-old Gracie Harper was walking in the middle of the westbound side of US-12 on the west end of the village around 6:30 p.m. when she was struck by a westbound vehicle. The driver was unable to see her because it was dark and the road isn’t lit there. Police don’t believe alcohol or drugs were a factor for the driver, who was not hurt. They’re still waiting on lab results from the victim.. ...Read Full Story

211 Service Now Available In Every Part Of Michigan

State officials say the 2-1-1 information service phone number will be available to Michigan residents across the state. The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Tuesday that service was approved for St. Clair County. The move means that 2-1-1 is available in every corner of the state. The abbreviated phone number is designed to connect residents with services,
like for energy assistance. It can also be used during a crisis, like during severe weather. The commission says there are eight community resource call centers in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Not Guilty Pleas Entered In Flint Water Case

Not-guilty pleas have been entered by three of the four people newly charged in the Flint water investigation. Gerald Ambrose, Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson briefly appeared in court Tuesday. They are charged with conspiracy and other crimes.
Ambrose is Flint’s former state-appointed emergency manager. Croft is Flint’s former public works director, and Johnson is the former utilities director. They’re all accused of keeping Flint on Flint River water and using a water treatment plant that wasn’t ready for service. The water wasn’t treated to control corrosion. As a result, lead leached from pipes and old fixtures.
Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley also is charged. He hasn’t appeared in court.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutors Still Waiting For Perez Murder Case To Proceed

The man charged in a January double murder in Coloma is still not going to trial. Alex Perez is charged in the deaths of Renee and John Mitchell, who were found beaten to death in their Coloma home on January 15th. Perez was later arrested in Colorado. In June, he was found incompetent to stand trial. However, the ruling also said he could be made competent through treatment at a state psychiatric center. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us a status report in court on Tuesday revealed Perez has still not been admitted to the center. His trial can’t happen until he is admitted and treated. The prosecutor says the office is still waiting for space to open up.. ...Read Full Story

Mercy Hospital Chimney Taken Down, Demolition On Schedule

In a sign of the continuing work on the building’s demolition, the chimney at the former Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor is now gone. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News it was removed Tuesday. Demolition is on track to be done at the end of the month, and next, Witkowski says they’ll have to clean up the property and find a buyer.. ...Read Full Story

State Commission Reviewing Utility’s Request To Stop Buying Power From Palisades

The Michigan Public Service Commission wants to know how the early closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant will affect the state’s reserve energy capacity. That’s just one of the things the MPSC is looking at as it reviews Consumers Energy’s request to end its Palisades contract in 2018, rather than 2022. Spokesperson Judy Palnau tells our newsroom reserve capacity was in danger of going below the recommended level to begin with.. ...Read Full Story

Joique Bell Helps Local Kids Shop With A Cop

Some Benton Harbor area kids have once again been treated to a bit of a shopping spree with the Shop with a Cop program, thanks to Meijer, local police departments, and Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell. He was on hand Tuesday morning as a group of kids, identified by local schools as needing help, took to Meijer in Benton Township to pick out about $100 worth of items for themselves. Bell’s foundation is a backer of the annual Shop with a Cop event. This year, parents also got to get in on the action by picking out up to $300 worth of food, clothes, or gifts.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Woman Gives Birth To Identical Triplets

A Grand Rapids woman has given birth to three identical babies. WZZM-TV reports that Ivan, William and Harrison Vandermolen were born three weeks ago, just minutes apart. The triplets have been doing well in the hospital, and their parents, John and Julie Vandermolen, hope to bring them home in the next few days. The Vandermolens had been trying to have a baby for a while. Julie Vandermolen had a miscarriage, and later became pregnant with the triplets shortly after the
death of her father. Julie Vandermolen says it’s easy to tell the boys apart right now because they’re three very different sizes. John Vandermolen says that task might be a little more difficult in six months, and that they’ll have to get bracelets or
stickers to identify them.. ...Read Full Story

Police: No Foul Play In Death Of Saugatuck Woman

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department says a woman whose body was found at a Saugatuck Township playground this week died as a result of hypothermia. The woman has been identified as 40-year-old Jamie Jon Dollar, from the Saugatuck area. She was discovered Sunday by some children at the playground near a mobile home park on Blue Star Highway. Police are waiting for toxicology results to find out if alcohol and drugs were a factor. They don’t believe the death is the result of foul play.. ...Read Full Story

Former Emergency Managers Charged In Flint Water Crisis

More charges have been filed by Michigan’s attorney general in the investigation into the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan, including against two former state-appointed emergency managers. Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday charged former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose with multiple 20-year felonies for their failure to protect the residents of Flint from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water. Schuette also charged Earley, Ambrose and Flint city employees Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson with felony counts of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses in the issuance of bonds to pay for a portion of the water project that led to the crisis.. ...Read Full Story

New Charges To Be Announced In Flint Water Crisis

(Flint, MI – AP) The Michigan attorney general is announcing more criminal charges in the Flint water investigation. Attorney General Bill Schuette has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday. Nine people so far have been charged in an investigation of Flint’s lead-tainted water system and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Those nine are eight current or former state employees and a Flint water plant employee.. ...Read Full Story

GM To Temporarily Idle Five Factories

General Motors will temporarily close five factories next month as it tries to reduce a growing inventory of cars. Spokeswoman Dayna Hart says the factories will close anywhere from one to three weeks due to the continuing U.S. market shift toward trucks and SUVs. Just over 10,000 workers will be idled. The company’s Detroit-Hamtramck and Kansas City, Kansas, factories will be shut down for three weeks, while a plant in Lansing, Michigan, will be down for two weeks. Factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, each will be idled for one week. The factories make just about every car in the General Motors lineup. Last month, almost 62 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales were trucks and SUVs.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Leaders Salute Local Success Story

The Benton Harbor City Commission has saluted a local success story. At Monday’s meeting, a key to the city was presented to Psychelia Terry, the founder of UI Global Brands. She graduated from Benton Harbor High School, went to Western Michigan University, worked for Whirlpool, and then started a lingerie company that’s now a multi-million dollar cosmetics and apparel operation. Terry told WSJM News she was thrilled to come home for the honor.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers Praised For Bipartisanship

Michigan lawmakers have wrapped up all voting for the year, and groups from both sides of the aisle are commending them for managing to get a few things done in a bipartisan way. Rachel Richards, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us one bright spot is a plan to ease some of the rules for expelling students.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Deals With Jump In Service Calls

AAA of Michigan has been plenty busy the last several days. They tell us calls for roadside assistance were up every day throughout the weekend as frigid wintry weather clobbered Michigan. On Friday, calls were up 112%, on Saturday, they were up 81%, and on Sunday, they were up 33%. When it’s extra cold, the most common type of call is about a dead battery. AAA reminds everyone to get their car batteries checked, be aware of the travel and weather conditions before heading out, and to not travel is it’s not necessary. If you get stranded, you’re advised to stay in your car if it’s safe and make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka Completes Term Without Missing Any Votes

State Representative Al Pscholka has made it through all six of his years in the Michigan House without missing a single vote. The last day of voting was last week, and throughout that session, Pscholka cast 1,263 votes. In total, Pscholka has voted more than 4,100 times in the House. He tells WSJM News lawmakers accomplished some big things since 2010.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Begins Ice Breaking Operations In Lake Superior

The U.S. Coast Guard has started ice-breaking operations in response to developing ice conditions in commercial ports along
western Lake Superior and the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Officials say Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie started Operation Taconite Monday. It encompasses Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Marys River. Coast Guard Cutter Alder is directed to manage the ice-breaking needs of western Lake Superior. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay has been dispatched to break ice in the St Marys River. Additional Coast Guard icebreakers will join the operation as ice growth continues on the Great Lakes in the coming days and weeks.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Average MI Household Gives 3% Of Income To Charity

Charitable donations reported to the IRS show that the average household in Michigan donated about 3% of their income to
charity. The most recent data from the IRS shows that Michigan residents who filed taxes deducted almost $5 billion in charitable contributions on their 2014 tax returns. MLive reports the IRS numbers are the best window to individual giving, but the data is limited to taxpayers who file a Schedule A, which allows them to itemize deductions such as home mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable deductions. About 27% of tax returns in Michigan included a Schedule A in 2014.
The remainder of Michigan residents who filed taxes took the standard deduction. The IRS doesn’t have information on charitable giving for those tax filers.. ...Read Full Story

Covert Township Home Damaged In Fire

A Covert Township home has suffered serious damage in a fire that broke out Monday morning. Firefighters from four departments were sent to the scene on 77th Street, south of County Road 376, around 10 a.m. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells our newsroom a neighbor reported the fire when he went to feed the pets of the woman who owns the place. The dogs, cats, and birds appear to have died in the fire. It broke out in the basement, and the cause is still under investigation. The homeowner wasn’t there at the time. One South Haven Area Emergency Services firefighter was injured when he fell off a ladder, and he was taken to a local hospital. He’s expected to recover.. ...Read Full Story

Kids Find Woman’s Body On Saugatuck Playground

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the discovery of a woman’s body on a playground in a trailer park in Saugatuck Township over the weekend. Children found the woman’s body around 2 p.m. Sunday near a trailer in the Shangrai-La Mobile Home Park on Blue Star Highway. Deputies say the 40-year-old woman appeared to have been dead “for some time.” An autopsy will be performed Tuesday, and police plan to release more information at that point. The woman’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Crash Claims Indiana Teen

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a deadly weekend crash in Newburg Township. Deputies tell WSJM News the head-on crash on M-40 yesterday just after noon killed 18-year-old Matthew Miller of Middlebury, Indiana. He was a passenger in a car driven by 17-year-old Lucas Lambright of Millersburg. Lambright lost control on M-40 and went into the path of a southbound vehicle driven by a Grand Rapids woman. That woman and her passenger were taken to Three Rivers Hospital, as was Lambright. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Electors In Line To Vote For Donald Trump

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Electors in Michigan are in line to obey state law and vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump. The state requires the 16 members of the Electoral College convening Monday at the statehouse to vote according to the results of the Michigan’s presidential election, which Trump won by .2 percentage points. Still, electors surveyed by The Associated Press say they support him regardless. Elector Joseph Guzman, a Michigan State University assistant professor, says Trump is “my candidate,” and he would vote for him even “if there were no rules.” Electors say they aren’t swayed by missives from people urging votes for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or another Republican. Hank Fuhs, an elector from Grand Rapids, says it’s their right to express opinions but “they don’t understand” or “appreciate” the electoral process.. ...Read Full Story

AAA: Benton Harbor Area Has State’s Lowest Gas Prices

If you’re looking for Michigan’s lowest price on gasoline, you’re not going to have to go far. Triple-A Michigan says the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area is the lowest in the state to start the week at $2.20 on average. Our prices locally have fallen 8¢ a gallon from a week ago, far more than the statewide drop of 2¢. The state average is $2.25, a penny higher than the national average and up 41¢ from this time last year. The most expensive gas in Michigan is in the U.P. in Marquette at $2.30.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Sheriff K9 Unit Gets Boost From Local Businesses

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department K9 program has gotten a boost from some local businesses. This week, a check for $1,370 was presented to Undersheriff Mike Larsen from the owners of Pet Klips and Studio H Pet Photography. The two businesses teamed up for their second annual fundraiser by taking photos of dogs and donating the proceeds. Pet Klips is the year-round groomer for the sheriff’s department K9s. The undersheriff presented both businesses with a certificate of appreciation for their help this holiday season.. ...Read Full Story

Applications Being Taken For Van Buren Citizens Police Academy

If you’re interested in what it’s like to work in law enforcement, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is offering a chance to find out starting next month. Its 20th annual Citizens Police Academy begins January 11, and runs for 11 weeks. The goal is to promote a positive relationship between the sheriff’s department and the public by teaching regular folks all about the things a police officer has to do. Those who sign up will get to learn about different positions in the sheriff’s department, ask questions of staff, and see demonstrations. To learn more or sign up, just go to VanBurenCountySheriff.com to submit an application. You have to be at least 18, and the academy is free.. ...Read Full Story

Appeals Court Says Public Schools Can Ban Guns

The Michigan appeals court says public schools have the power to ban guns. The court, in a 3-0 opinion, considered gun bans in the Ann Arbor and Clio districts. The court says schools have been “broadly empowered” by the legislature to keep students safe. Each district was challenged by parents with a concealed pistol license. Critics argued that schools can’t restrict guns because state law prohibits local governments from regulating gun possession. But the court says there are differences between schools and a local unit of government. The court says schools are “not formed, organized or operated” by cities, townships or counties and have “very broad powers of self-governance.” The opinion released Friday was written by Judge Elizabeth Gleicher and joined by judges Kirsten Frank Kelly and Douglas Shapiro.. ...Read Full Story

Obama Signs Water Bill, Helping Flint

President Barack Obama has signed a bill authorizing water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, and $558 million to provide relief to drought-stricken California. Obama said Friday the bill advances vital projects across the country to restore watersheds, improve flood control and rebuild water infrastructure, including pipes in Flint, where residents have struggled with lead-tainted water for more than two years.
Obama said the bill will “help assure that California is more resilient in the face of growing water demands and drought-based uncertainty.” Congress approved the $10 billion measure last week, despite complaints from some Democrats that it was a giveaway to California farmers and businesses. Obama said the law will continue to uphold state water quality standards.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Security Experts Talk About Staying Safe Online

With news this week that another billion Yahoo e-mail accounts have been hacked, we thought we’d check in with some Lake Michigan College security experts to find out what you can do to keep your information safe online. Derrick Griffin is LMC’s Assistant Security Engineer, and tells WSJM News one big tip is to have a good password.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Expecting Busy Holiday Travel In Michigan

There will be a lot of us traveling for year-end holidays in Michigan according to Triple-A’s latest travel forecast. The auto club is projecting nearly 3.5 million people in the state will venture at least 50 miles from home, up 2.5% from last year. It’s the highest total volume since Triple-A began tracking holiday travel data in 2001. Low gas prices and increased consumer optimism are factors in the increase.. ...Read Full Story

GM Testing Autonomous Vehicles In SE Michigan

General Motors plans to begin immediately testing autonomous cars on public roads in Michigan. The announcement comes one week after Governor Snyder signed legislation that allows the cars to be tested on public roads without a driver or a steering wheel. The automaker says that for now it will have a human driver as a backup in the Chevrolet Bolts it will use for the tests.. ...Read Full Story

House To MPSC: Deny Palisades Closure

As one of its last pieces of business this session, the state House is calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject Entergy’s proposal to close the Palisades nuclear power plant. The company says it cannot compete with low natural gas prices with nuclear energy and announced plans last Friday to shutter the facility in 2018. The MPSC and federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission still need to approve the shutdown. If that green light is given, the NRC says Entergy will have 60 years to completely decommission the plant and remove all nuclear fuel. If Palisades closes, over 600 jobs will be lost in Van Buren County, though people will continue to work there for years to get it mothballed.. ...Read Full Story

New Energy Policy Bills Sent To Governor Snyder

The Michigan House and Senate have approved a rewrite of state energy laws on the final day of voting for the House during the two-year term. The Republican-led chamber voted Thursday to boost the required use of renewable sources of power and to keep intact some competition in the electricity market on the final day of the two-year term.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Commission Fighting Palisades Closure

The Van Buren County Commission has added its voice to the chorus of those trying to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant open. This week, commissioners approved a resolution asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject Consumers Energy’s request to get out of a contract to buy power from the Covert Township facility by the end of 2018. Commissioners cite the economic importance of Palisades to the region, saying it means $1.8 million for the township, $4.4 million for Covert Schools, and $1.6 million for the county. Commissioners also note the Consumers Energy contract was supposed to go through 2022, adding ending the contract sooner leaves too little time to prepare.. ...Read Full Story

3.5 Million Michiganders Expected To Travel This Month

Estimates from AAA say nearly 3.5 million people from Michigan will travel for the year-end holidays, up 2.5 percent from last year. The auto club says Thursday it’s the highest total volume of people going 50 miles or more from the state since AAA began tracking holiday travel data in 2001. Most will drive. AAA says the increase in holiday travel is being boosted by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, relatively low gas prices and increased consumer optimism are seen as factors. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as December 23 to January 2, one day fewer than last year’s holiday period. It includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.. ...Read Full Story