Local News Archives

U of M Gets Funds For Autonomous Vehicle Research

The University of Michigan is set to receive $27 million from a Chinese investment firm to aid in the institution’s driverless vehicle and robotics research. The university’s President Mark Schlissel and Vice President for Research S. Jack Hu signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday in Shenzhen, China, with Front Capital Management Ltd. The funding will establish a joint research center at the university and assist the construction of a previously announced robotics laboratory and garage. It’ll also provide engineering service and consulting fees for university researchers to advise the firm on design of an autonomous vehicle test facility in Shenzhen. Schlissel said in a statement that the firm’s investment will help advance mobility across the world. Officials say they expect the investments to be made over five years, but a starting time hasn’t been finalized.. ...Read Full Story

BH Public Safety Chief: “We Have Nothing To Hide” In Shooting

Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis says they stand ready to release body camera footage of a police-involved shooting early this morning on Pavone once the family of the victim sees it and it’s cleared by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office. McGinnis says a 28-year-old man was shot and killed after opening fire on police responding to a call of someone holding another person at gunpoint in a home.. ...Read Full Story

Romney Speaking To Econ Club Tonight

Former Massachusetts governor and one-time Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is speaking in southwest Michigan tonight. He’ll be addressing the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College Campus. Romney had been scheduled to speak as part of the 2014-2015 speaker series, but had to cancel. He lost the 2012 presidential election to President Obama. A Michigan native, Romney enacted a massive reform of healthcare in Massachusetts which served as a bit of a model for the Affordable Care Act. He also founded the venture capital and investment firm Bain Capital, and is the director of Marriott International.. ...Read Full Story

Officer Involved Shooting in Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor authorities are investigating and officer involved shooting around 2:00 this morning. It happened near east Empire near the Benton Harbor High School. No details yet on what led up to the shooting, or the extent of any injuries. Detectives have crime scene tape surrounding the area. WSJM Jacob Holmes is on the scene and will provide updates as it becomes available.. ...Read Full Story

Goodwill Mentoring Program Working With MI Youth

A mentoring program run by Goodwill Industries aims to connect Michigan young people with positive influences who can guide them through the toughest parts of growing up. Kim Owens, the branch manager for GoodGuides in Flint, says she knew one teen who didn’t think he would make it through high school before he started working with a mentor.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commission Tables Budget Amendment

Benton Harbor City Commissioners want to take a look at how public safety officers are trained as they work to reduce the amount that has to be spent on the department. On Monday, the commission shot down a budget amendment sought by City Manager Darwin Watson, shifting $65,000 more into its overtime fund. Watson said officers have to be paid overtime if they put in more than 40 hours training, but commissioners wanted more information. Mayor Marcus Muhammad told WSJM News he has several questions about how the money would be spent.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Office In Bloomingdale Next Week

Coming next week to the Bloomingdale branch of the Van Buren District Library will be the Michigan Secretary of State’s mobile office. The SOS mobile branch is a fully-functional office of the Secretary of State where anyone can get titles, address changes, or sign up for the organ donor registry, among other things. The mobile branch office will be at the Bloomingdale library Monday from noon to 6 p.m. It’s been touring the state this fall, having stopped at several college campuses registering young people to vote.. ...Read Full Story

This is School Bus Safety Week

This is School Bus Safety Week, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is reminding all drivers of the need to pay attention in school zones and around school buses. Deputy Kelly Laesch tells WSJM News distractions are the biggest problem on the road.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Association Of Realtors Getting New Leader

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors is getting a new leader. The organization announced this week that Executive Vice President Gary Walter is retiring next month after having served for the past 32 years. Walter will be replaced by Philip Amodeo, from Arlington, Texas. Amodeo has been a realtor in Indiana, Nevada, and Texas during his more than 25 years in the business. Paul Dumke, President of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, says the group will miss Gary Walter’s “unparalleled commitment to our association and community.”. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On New Development In Downtown Bridgman

There’s a big new development on the way for downtown Bridgman. The vacant buildings on the south side of Red Arrow Highway at Lake Street downtown will soon be the site of the Monogram Centre, a residential and commercial development planned by Marty and Chris Mason. Chris tells WSJM News his dad bought the property because he wants to see activity there.. ...Read Full Story

MI GOP To Remove Grassroots Leader

The Michigan Republican Party is planning to remove its grassroots leader for her refusal to back Donald Trump in the presidential election.
GOP spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said Monday that grassroots vice chairwoman Wendy Day’s position is at odds with a bylaw requiring the party’s elected leaders to support the Republican ticket. Day is refusing to resign and says her stance against Trump will “protect what the party has stood for.” Anderson says Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel hopes to make Day’s position vacant later Monday. Anderson says Republicans are welcome to their own opinion on the presidential race, but Day – as one of 12 elected leaders – must back the entire GOP ticket.
Matt Hall, a state committee member, asked McDaniel on Saturday to remove Day from her post.. ...Read Full Story

Vandalia Woman Found Safe

A Vandalia woman who was reported missing last week has been found. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News 48-year-old Ramona Huffman left on her own free will, and is not in any danger. She was last seen in the area Tuesday evening. Now that she’s been located, the case is closed.. ...Read Full Story

Next Presidential Debate Wednesday

Wednesday is the last time the presidential candidates will share a stage before November’s election — as the final debate is set to take place at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Ed Sidlow, a political science professor at Eastern Michigan University, says this year is similar to elections of the past.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Gets Donation From Hanson Family For Expansion

Construction will get underway in the spring on a massive expansion of Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph. The new Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion will include the Hanson Heart Center, named for donors Merlin and Carolyn Hanson and their family. Lakeland Health President and CEO Dr. Loren Hamel talked to WSJM News about the family’s $1.5 million donation, which was announced this week.. ...Read Full Story

Worker At Detroit Auto Plant Has Legionnaires’ Disease

(Detroit, MI – AP) Fiat Chrysler says an employee at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The automaker says in a statement Friday that it hasn’t been determined where the employee may have come in contact with bacteria that cause the disease. FCA says that “out of an abundance of caution” the automaker is testing water sources at the plant. The company says it’s in contact with appropriate agencies, which would include health officials, and plans to cooperate as needed with them. Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. Cooling systems can be a carrier. The disease has received recent attention in the Flint area, where there’s been an outbreak amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Police To Release Use-Of-Force Information

(South Bend, IN – AP) The mayor of South Bend says the city’s police department will begin releasing information about its use of force, citizen complaints and training. Mayor Peter Buttigieg said Thursday that the releases will be part of an initiative led by the White House. Communities participating in the effort agree to publish data about the use of force and police accountability. Buttigieg says South Bend will start releasing data on the city’s open data portal over the coming months. He didn’t specify what information the department would release. President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing inspired the White House Police Data Initiative, which includes nearly 130 communities. Buttigieg says it’s “never been more important to use the power of information to build accountability and trust around law enforcement.”. ...Read Full Story

States To Reduce Salmon, Trout Stocking In Lake Michigan

States adjacent to Lake Michigan have agreed to cut back on stocking the lake with chinook salmon and lake trout over the next two years. The Lake Michigan Committee says chinook stocking rates will drop by 27% in 2017, while lake trout stocking will decrease by 12 percent. Further cuts are planned in 2018. The committee says the reductions are necessary because of a decline in fish that salmon and trout eat, such as alewife and rainbow smelt. The prey fish slump results from changes brought on by invasive quagga and zebra mussels, which filter out plankton that smaller fish need. The committee represents Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and a tribal organization called the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority. Each will decide how to work toward the goal in their jurisdictions.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Pushing For Millage Approval

We won’t have any statewide ballot proposals before us on November 8, but Lake Michigan College is urging people to go all the way through the ballot and vote on its millage request. Security upgrades will be paid for by the funding if the millage is approved, but also interim president Dr. Bob Harrison says they will be working on updates in the classroom and to the curriculum. He says the job situation in the area is similar to the late 1990s right now – employers can’t find people with the right skills for the work available.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka Honored By Michigan Sheriff’s Association

State Representative Al Pscholka is capping off his six years in the House by being named the Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association. The Stevensville Republican called the recognition from law enforcement something that means a “great deal” to him personally. The MSA notes Pscholka was among the driving forces behind a new law that extendes benefits for the survivors of law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty. State Senator Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City, who championed that issue in the upper chamber, won the honor in the Senate. Pscholka and Schmidt will have awards presented to them on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

USS Detroit Arrives In Namesake City For Commissioning

(Detroit, MI – AP) – The USS Detroit naval vessel has arrived in its namesake city for a commissioning ceremony next week. The $440 million Freedom-class ship docked Friday afternoon on the Detroit River in front of the GM Renaissance Center as hundreds of people watched. It traveled from Marinette, Wisconsin, where it was built. The USS Detroit is designed to work in shallow waters and operate with speed and agility. It can be quickly modified to take on different missions. John Peracchio, committee chair for the USS Detroit Commissioning Committee, says it’s one of the most technologically advanced warships in the U.S. Navy. Following a week of festivities and tours, the ship will be commissioned October 22.. ...Read Full Story

State Police: No Criminal Wrongdoing By Suspended BH Principal

Michigan State Police investigators have found no evidence to back up allegations included in a document from Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker that a suspended principal had child pornography. Detective Mike Spring tells WSJM News their Major Crimes Task Force in Benton Harbor looked into the accusations against Rodger Tripplett, and found no criminal wrongdoing. The case is closed on their end. As far as Tripplett’s fate with the school district, that remains up in the air. The school board will meet next week to discuss it’s next steps.. ...Read Full Story

Suspended BHHS Principal Speaks Out

Suspended Benton Harbor High School Principal Rodger Tripplett is firing back against accusations included in a 17-page document from Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker that he allowed dozens of students to graduate without meeting state requirements and that he possessed and shared child pornography involving a 12 or 13-year-old student. That document has been obtained by the “St. Joseph Herald Palladium.” Tripplett spoke to reporters outside the district’s administration building Friday morning after a meeting on his suspension was canceled without a reason given.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Board Cancels Meeting On Suspended HS Principal

The fate of suspended Benton Harbor High School Principal Rodger Tripplett remains in limbo. The school board had been scheduled to meet in closed session Friday morning at 11 to discuss where to go after putting him on paid administrative leave on June 20. The “St. Joseph Herald Palladium” has obtained a copy of Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker’s 17-page letter outlining allegations against Tripplett, including sharing and possessing child pornography. Tripplett is accused of possessing a video of a 12 or 13-year-old student engaged in sexual activity and not reporting it to police. Walker’s letter states the suspended principal got the video in order to document its existence and that it was being shared by students. Tripplett’s sister, Sharon James, resigned from her post as the Benton Harbor School Board President on Monday. No reasons have been given for James’ resignation or for the cancellation of Friday’s special meeting by the board.. ...Read Full Story

Project Personal Care Under Way

A wide variety of personal care items are being collected at Village Market in South Haven to help the needy in Van Buren County. Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency and SuperHits 103.7 COSY FM are once again conducting Project Personal Care through 2 p.m. Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Boy Bitten By Rabid Bat

Two Grand Junction boys are being treated with preventative rabies shots after one of them was bitten by a rabid bat in his sleep. MLive reports Brian Cripps was bitten on his finger around 5 a.m. on October 3 while in bed, waking up to find the bat still on his finger. The 11-year-old grabbed the bat, woke up his younger brother, and then got the attention of their parents. Cripps’ 10-year-old brother is also being treated in case he was bitten without realizing it. The boys’ mother says they have occasionally had bats inside their home during their six years there, and normally have been able to chase them out if the family’s cats hadn’t killed them first. So far this year, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 33 bats in the state have tested positive for rabies along with four skunks.. ...Read Full Story

Vandalia Woman Missing

Police are working to find a Vandalia woman who hasn’t been seen since Tuesday night. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News 48-year-old Ramona Huffman left home to walk to a nearby gas station just after 9 p.m., and never returned. At this point, they don’t know if someone took her or if she’s voluntarily missing. She’s described as white, 5’6″, 175 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. Huffman was wearing gray pants, a black T-shirt, and peach-colored zip-up sweatshirt when she disappeared. Anyone with information is urged to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcycle Crash Kills One

A motorcyclist has reportedly been struck and killed in a hit and run crash on I-94 near the Paw Paw exit. 9-1-1 dispatch got calls from several motorists that they stopped to help a man found lying on the pavement at about 6:15 Wednesday morning. His motorcycle was found nearby. He was pronounced dead at the scene by EMT’s when they arrived. Paw Paw police are asking for information from anyone who may have seen the body or witnessed the collision. Information about the victim is being withheld until the family is notified.. ...Read Full Story

Kindergartner Run Over By Lawnmower

A kindergartner from Dowagiac is in critical condition at Bronson Methodist after was run over by a lawnmower yesterday (Wednesday). Five year old Lucas Doyle was reportedly running behind a riding mower being operated by a female relative when she suddenly put it into reverse and ran over the boy. Because of the severity of the injuries and the loss of blood, the boy was transported by AirCare chopper to Bronson Methodist in Kalamazoo, where he underwent emergency surgery. The youngster reportedly suffered extensive internal injuries and lacerations and will require more surgeries. The matter is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Good Samaritan Law Expanded

Michigan’s Good Samaritan law protecting people 21 and younger from being prosecuted if they report an overdose now applies to everyone, regardless of age. Representative Al Pscholka of Stevensville sponsored both the original law and the expansion, and tells WSJM News it’s working.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Chemical Bank Robbed

Police are looking for a man who held up the Chemical Bank branch in the 18-hundred block of South 11th Street in Niles. He gave a note to the teller around 1 p.m., and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. There’s no word from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department if the suspect had, or indicated he had, a weapon. He’s black, 5’8″ with a medium build and was wearing dark clothes. No one was hurt in the robbery.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor School Board President Resigns

There is a vacancy on the Benton Harbor school board. President Sharon James this week resigned on Monday via email after not having attended any meetings since mid-June. During her last meeting, James stormed out and created confusion over whether or not she had just stepped down. It’s now official, and the school board needs to appoint her replacement by November 10. WSJM News has reached out to the Benton Harbor Area Schools for comment on James’ resignation. She stopped attending school board meetings after her brother, Rodger Tripplett, was taken off the job as Benton Harbor High School principal and put on paid administrative leave over the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Graduate Giving $5.3M To Engineering School

(East Lansing, MI – AP) – A graduate of Michigan State University who relied on a scholarship in the 1960s to help complete his college education is giving $5.3 million gift to the school’s College of Engineering. The East Lansing school announced Tuesday that the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, will use cash and estate planning for the gift so endowed scholarships may be offered. The school says the donor grew up on a Michigan farm and is a successful entrepreneur.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Tosses 1st Degree Murder Charge In “Baby Kate” Case

(Ludington, MI – AP) – A judge has acquitted a northern Michigan man of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of his 4-month-old daughter. Mason County Judge Peter Wadel issued a directed verdict Tuesday on the charge against 26-year-old Sean Phillips and said he will allow the jury to consider a second-degree murder charge that doesn’t include premeditation and allows for parole.. ...Read Full Story

Kohl’s Putting Up Help Wanted Sign For Holidays

Kohl’s is hiring this weekend at its Benton Township store in the Fairplain Plaza for seasonal help for the holidays. The chain normally stays open around the clock in the last few days before Christmas, and extra help is going to be needed. Seasonal workers will be eligible for an immediate employee discount along with having flexible schedules available. If you’re looking for such a job, the retailer is asking people to apply in advance online at KohlsCareers.com. The hiring event Saturday will be at the store on M-139 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kohl’s officials tell WSJM News they plan to hire about 50 seasonal workers per store.. ...Read Full Story

Congressman Huizenga Says Trump Can’t Quit

There are a lot of people calling for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to exit the race over comments he made to entertainment reporter Billy Bush in 2005 and several interviews over the years with Howard Stern, but he’s vowing to stay in. Congressman Bill Huizenga of Zeeland says Trump can’t just quit at this point.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Identified In Benton Harbor Shooting

Police are trying to find a 19-year-old man suspect accused of a shooting in Benton Harbor. A 35-year-old man was shot Monday afternoon near the corner of Pavone and Empire around 4:40. Cops are now trying to find Jarrod Fitzgerald Guidry, Jr. He also goes by Jayrod. Anyone who has information on where he is is being urged to call Benton Harbor Public Safety or Crime Stoppers. The shooting victim survived and was treated at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Looking To Keep B&B’s Out Of Residential Zones

There will be no moratorium on bed and breakfast establishments in residential zones in St. Joseph. Instead, the city commission plans to amend its zoning laws to ban any future such businesses in R1 zones and possibly R2 residential zones as well. Commissioner Mary Goff says no one has come to her since the last discussion on the issue this fall and said they want a bed and breakfast near them.. ...Read Full Story

More Mastodon Bones Found In The Thumb

Researchers have located more bones from a prehistoric creature that used to roam around Michigan. Giant mastodons are relatives of modern elephants. A backbone was located during a dig for prehistoric bones on Saturday in Mayville, in the Thumb. University of Michigan Paleontology professor Daniel Fisher says the excavation will continue next weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Man Shot In Benton Harbor

An investigation is underway into a shooting in Benton Harbor Monday afternoon. Police say a man was shot shortly before 4 p.m. near the intersection of Empire and Pavone. His injuries are described as non-life threatening and he is expected to survive. Benton Harbor detectives are being helped by Michigan State Police and the FBI in their investigation. Benton Harbor Deputy Public Safety Director Michael Clark indicates they have not yet identified a suspect.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Michigan: Statewide Average Gas Prices Rise 10¢

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 10¢ per gallon in the past week, and we have the state’s lowest average in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area. The Dearborn-based auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.34 per gallon. That’s about 13¢ less than it was at the same point last year. It’s the second week in a row that the statewide average has increased.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe City Commission To Get Update On Vacant Home

Several high-priortity items are before the St. Joseph City Commission tonight. In addition to getting an update from city officials about a long-vacant home in the 900 block of Wayne Street, they will discuss a six-month moratorium on new bed and breakfast establishments in R-1 residential zones ahead of a vote on that in two weeks. They will also vote on the recommendation to hire Sara McCallum as the city’s new Finance Director/City Clerk, with a start date of October 24. If approved, McCallum will earn $80,000 a year plus city benefits. Commissioners will receive the audit of the city’s finances for the last fiscal year from the firm of Abraham & Gaffney as well. The move to that firm follows years of Gerbel & Company handling the city’s yearly audit. Tonight’s meetings start at 6 p.m. with a special meeting followed by the regular city commission session at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph City Hall.. ...Read Full Story

Recommendations For MI Fall Color Tours

It’s almost time to start planning your fall color tour in Michigan, and the state association of road commissions has released its list of recommended routes if you want to get the most spectacular views possible. Director Denise Donohue tells WSJM News you’ll find the best roads away from the major highways.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Looking To Boost Security

Parents are being asked for their thoughts on how security could be improved at Benton Harbor Area Schools. That’s as the district pursues a $2 million state grant to enhance safety and help prevent gang activity. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News she can think of several things they could do for the kids with $2 million.. ...Read Full Story