Local News Archives

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

Berrien County Clerk Preparing For Election Day

This is a busy time for the Berrien County Clerk’s office, with the big November 8 election looming. Clerk Sharon Tyler tells WSJM News everyone’s doing election training, and they’re testing all of the equipment to make sure it’s accurate. As for voters, she reminds them of what they should do come November 8.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Scream Park Welcomes 1.8 Millionth Visitor

The Niles Scream Park has welcomed its 1.8 millionth visitor. A woman from Elkhart got the lucky distinction on Sunday, October 16. She was at the park with a couple of friends from Michigan when she learned she was the big winner. Cindy Bowers was given a pack of goodies. The Niles Scream Park has been providing thrills and chills for more than 40 years now, operating as a non-profit and donating proceeds to charity. It’s got plenty planned for this weekend as Halloween approaches. As for the big holiday — the scream park plans to mark Halloween with a marriage. A South Bend couple will be married on the midway Monday at 8 p.m. Visitors are welcome to witness the event and cheer the couple on.. ...Read Full Story

Grant Awarded To New Troy Company For Improvements

A New Troy company has been awarded a state grant that will enable it to improve its facility and buy new equipment. The office of state Senator John Proos says Vickers Engineering is receiving a $160,000 Michigan Business Development Program grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The company plans to use the money as part of a $5.1 million investment in capital equipment and building improvements, resulting in an estimated 50 jobs. Vickers Engineering, established in 1970, makes precision machine and prototyping for the automotive industry, among other things. Senator Proos says the grant is “outstanding news for Berrien County and the entire Southwest Michigan region.”. ...Read Full Story

Today Is World Stroke Day

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recognizing Saturday as World Stroke Day. It’s a chance for everyone to take a moment to become familiar with the signs of a stroke. A stroke happens when the blood supply to any part of the brain is disrupted. The department of health says stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Michigan, as well as a major cause of disabilities, and the key to treating one is quick action when symptoms appear. Those include face weakness, arm weakness, and difficulty speaking. Everyone’s urged to learn more about the risk factors and take steps to lead a healthier life. You can find out more at Stroke.org.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Library Halloween Celebration Today

The Hartford Library is celebrating the season today with its 6th annual Halloween Fun Festival. Everyone’s welcome to show up between 1 and 3 p.m. for games, prizes, face painting, crafts, food, and fun for kids of all ages. Also dress up if you like, as there will be a prize for the best costume. The event is free for anyone to stop by.. ...Read Full Story

Battle Creek Man Jailed In Dog’s Death

A southern Michigan man convicted of beating a dog that later had to be euthanized has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. 55-year-old David Hursley of Battle Creek was convicted last month of felony torturing a dog and misdemeanor cruelty to animals. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports a Calhoun County judge sentenced him Friday to three years and 10 months. Hursley could have received up to 15 years.
Police say Hursley hit a dog with a baseball bat and shot it with a pellet gun in February. He told officers the dog had bit another man. Assistant Calhoun County Prosecutor Dana Porter said Hursley’s attack was excessive compared with the dog’s actions. His attorney told the judge the case has been about emotion, rather than the law.. ...Read Full Story

MI School Board Candidate Asking People Not To Vote For Her

A Michigan woman whose name is on the ballot for a school board seat in her community is encouraging people not to vote for her. Bridget Smith filed earlier this year to run for one of three four-year terms on Frankenmuth’s school board, but afterward was hired to serve as city manager for Frankenmuth, a Bavarian-themed community about 75 miles northwest of Detroit. When she was being hired as city manager she indicated that she would drop her school board bid. But the deadline to withdraw had passed and her name remains on the November 8 ballot.
She tells The Saginaw News she’s “out there desperately trying to get people to not vote for me,” but still wants people to vote in the election.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Twp Culvert Replacement Almost Finished

The $1.4 million replacement of a culvert on Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County is almost finished. The Berrien County Road Commission says the road is ready for asphalt paving, the guardrails have to be installed, and then the road can be reopened. The project to replace the nearly 80-year-old culvert near Cherry Beach Road began in August. It was originally slated to start in April, but local business owners complained it would damage the busy tourist season, so the road commission agreed to a delay. The work has meant the closure of Red Arrow Highway between between Three Oaks Road and Warren Woods Road. The road commission says traffic can get back to normal very soon.. ...Read Full Story

Muskegon Heights Financial Emergency Declared Over

Governor Rick Snyder says a financial emergency has been resolved in the Muskegon Heights School District in western Michigan after several years of state oversight. Snyder’s office announced Friday that a Receivership Transition Advisory Board has been appointed to ensure a smooth transition to local control. The district’s emergency manager Steve Schiller notified the governor last week of his determination about the district’s improving finances. Snyder says in a statement this marks “a new day for Muskegon Heights.” A financial emergency was declared in 2012. Since then, the state says the district’s deficit has declined $9.9 million to a projected $2 million earlier this year. And the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy was created as a charter school authorized by the district.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors Completes Major Solar Project

General Motors and DTE Energy have unveiled a recently completed power solar array at the automaker’s Warren Transmission plant in
suburban Detroit.Officials say the 900-kilowatt solar array is the largest on a GM site in the state. It has more than 2,800 panels and is installed on four acres. Detroit-based DTE now has 28 solar arrays in Michigan. The utility has three additional large-scale solar arrays under construction in Detroit and Lapeer. DTE Vice President of Business and Development Irene Dimitry says the utility has made $2 billion in investments in solar and wind power since 2008. GM has said it is committed to meet the electricity needs of its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Fire Brigade Competing In Alabama

Some members of the Palisades nuclear power plant’s fire brigade have spent the past week taking part in what ESPN calls “the toughest two minutes in sports” down in Alabama. They’re in Montgomery for the 25th annual Scott World Firefighter Combat Challenge. It’s a firefighter championship that attracts hundreds of people from departments all over the country each year. The competition mimics some of the more difficult tasks a firefighter has to perform as the contestants, wearing full fire gear, climb a 5-story tower, hoist hoses all over the place, and rescue a 175-pound dummy. The Palisades Fire Brigade has qualified for Worlds more than a dozen times now, and is the only nuclear plant team at the competition. It wraps up on Saturday. You can follow the brigade’s progress at its Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Accused Of Delaying Sexual Assault Reports

Ottawa County authorities say Grand Valley State University has a policy discouraging prompt reporting of sexual assaults, which undermines their ability to gather evidence and successfully prosecute the crimes. Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald Frantz tells MLive the process is concerning because it hampers the ability to build cases. The university’s police department investigates sexual assaults on campus and
is supposed to forward cases with enough evidence to the prosecutor’s office. Frantz says reports trickle in from the university weeks, and sometimes months, late. Frantz’s claims come as the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department investigates a string of four off-campus assaults this fall near the university’s main campus in Allendale. University spokeswoman Mary Eilleen Lyon says the school has no policy discouraging prompt reporting of sexual assaults, but rather one that encourages quick reporting with respect for the victim’s needs.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Men Adopt Stray Dog, Puppies At Bachelor Party

A group of men from Michigan have returned from a bachelor party in Tennessee with a stray dog and her litter of puppies in tow. MLive reports that groom-to-be Mitchel Craddock and his friends were on a 5-day trip at a cabin in the woods when a stray dog approached their front door.
She wouldn’t come inside, but wolfed down the food and water the men gave her. Craddock says the group eventually noticed she was producing milk. They found her seven puppies in a den down the road from the cabin. Craddock says the puppies looked like they were 5- to 6-weeks old and were very healthy. Each of the men took one of the puppies home. Craddock’s grandparents took the mother and one of her puppies.. ...Read Full Story

Report: More MI Children Now Insured

More kids in Michigan have health insurance these days. That’s according to a report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. It says that in 2015, 95% of kids nationally were insured, while 97% of Michigan kids had care. CEO of Michigan’s Children Matt Gillard says that’s great, but there’s still a need to invest in programs that serve the educational, economic, and social needs of families.. ...Read Full Story

Martin’s To Serve Free Meals To Veterans Next Month

Martin’s Supermarkets will once again be serving up free meals to veterans this Veterans Day. Every location of the supermarket chain will offer the meals to vets on Friday, November 11. Any active, inactive, or retired military veteran can stop by between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to get a meal from the deli. All you need to do is bring along a military ID, and you don’t have to buy anything. This year’s Honor Meal will be fried chicken, mashed potatoes, ice cream, and cake. Veterans can also enter a raffle to win a $50 Martin’s gift card.. ...Read Full Story

New Kitchen Helps Train LMC Culinary Students

Lake Michigan College has a new feature to help teach its culinary management students. A temporary kitchen, resembling a restaurant kitchen, is now up and running at the Napier Avenue campus. The board of trustees was given a tour this week. LMC VP of Academic Services Leslie Kellogg tells WSJM News the kitchen helps train students for the tourism industry in the region.. ...Read Full Story