Local News Archives

Man Dies After Falling From Boat At West MI Marina


From the Associated Press — Authorities say a 71-year-old man has died after falling from a sailboat while working on the vessel at a marina in southwestern Michigan. The Allegan County sheriff’s department says John Edward DeBoer, of Kalamazoo, was found in Kalamazoo Lake less than 15 minutes after falling Thursday. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where the sheriff’s department says he was pronounced dead.
He had been working on the 25-foot sailboat at Sergeant Marina in Saugatuck. Investigators are trying to determine why he fell.. ...Read Full Story

Florida Man Jailed After High Speed Highway Chase


A Florida man is in the Berrien County Jail following a high-speed chase with police Thursday evening. Michigan State Police tell us the 33-year-old suspect first came to their attention when he committed a theft at Firekeepers Casino near Battle Creek around 7:30 p.m. Kalamazoo County dispatch issued a notice to be on the lookout for the man, and sheriff’s deputies did spot his vehicle on I-94 in that county. They tried to pull the suspect over, but he took off with them in pursuit. The chase went on into Van Buren County, where Michigan State Police troopers spotted the suspect and gave chase. That continued on into Berrien County, where the suspect finally crashed his vehicle into the median cable barriers near the 33 mile marker. He got out of the car and tried to run, but troopers caught him. The suspect was first taken to Lakeland Hospital and then to the jail and is facing a variety of charges.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Department Offers Help To Quit Smoking


The Berrien County Health Department is once again offering a Freedom from Smoking program. Developed by the American Lung Association, Freedom from Smoking will be led by a certified facilitator who will go over a step-by-step plan for kicking the habit. It’s all about adopting a different lifestyle, and the program uses techniques proven to work in many cases. The seven-week program is held on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. starting next Tuesday and running through August 1. It’s $10. Anyone interested in signing up can do so by calling the Berrien County Health Department.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Votes To Keep Coach Elliot Uzelac


Elliot Uzelac will remain the head football coach at Benton Harbor High School. The board of education voted Thursday night to keep him in the position, while also reprimanding him and ordering cultural sensitivity training for all coaches after some controversy last month involving a text Coach Uzelac wrote about a student. Remarking on a picture of the student posing in front of a hot rod with a stack of cash, the coach asked, “How much drugs did he sell to rent that?” He apologized, and trustees are willing to move on. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker spoke with WSJM News abut the school board’s decision.. ...Read Full Story

Burglary Suspects Caught In Breedsville


The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it was able to nab a couple of home break-in suspects last week after they were reported in the act. It happened last Thursday in Breedsville. Someone called police about an active home invasion. and when deputies showed up, they were told the two suspects had run off into the woods. A K9 was brought in and the two were caught. All of the items they stole were returned to their owner. The suspects are Robert Dellin Taylor and a juvenile. Taylor has been arraigned on a home invasion charge and is free on bond.. ...Read Full Story

More Information Released On Couple Charged In Courthouse Incident


A couple from Wyoming, Michigan remains in the Berrien County Jail facing a variety of charges after an incident involving a gun at the courthouse in St. Joseph this week. 40-year-old Arnelda Jackson and 37-year-old Molly Jackson tried to run when a gun in the woman’s purse was found by the court x-rays. They were arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting and obstructing, and tampering with evidence, among other things. Arnelda Jackson is also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. They could get up to five years in prison. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us the couple was at the courthouse because the man faced a charge of possession of counterfeit money. That case has been delayed. A preliminary exam for the gun incident is now scheduled for both suspects on June 9.. ...Read Full Story

Many Indiana Toll Road Drivers Seeing Big Rate Increase


If you’ve got an E-ZPass transponder, you’re not saving any money on the Indiana Toll Road starting today compared to using cash. Big increases are taking effect with the expiration of a state subsidy from the state’s lease of the highway more than a decade ago. The new rates taking effect Thursday will see cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles with electronic transponders being charged more than double previous levels. Drivers with E-ZPass transponders now will pay $10.52 to travel the Toll Road’s full length, up from $4.65.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder: Schools, Municipalities Need Resolution Of Budget

Governor Snyder says the state budget should be resolved soon because K-12 school districts and many municipalities start their fiscal year three months before the state does. The Republican governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a stalemate between him and GOP legislative leaders who want to close the pension system to newly hired teachers not only threatens a six-year streak of completing Michigan’s spending plan by early June. He says further delay would “make it challenging” for schools and local governments that rely on state funding and must plan for their fiscal years that begin July 1. Top Republicans cut Snyder out when setting “target” spending. They want to move new school employees from a hybrid pension/401(k) plan to a 401(k)-only system, which Snyder opposes.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Calling For Part-Time Legislature


From the Associated Press — Likely gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley is leading a ballot drive to make Michigan’s Legislature part-time.
The Republican lieutenant governor announced the Clean MI Government proposal Tuesday. It would amend the constitution to limit lawmakers to meeting no more than 90 consecutive calendar days a year. They currently are in session off and on throughout the year.
The proposal would cut legislators’ pay by more than half so it’s commensurate with an average teacher’s compensation and based on how many days they’re in session compared with the number of school days. Calley says lawmakers, who make nearly $72,000 annually, are paid the
fourth-most in the country. He says having a part-time Legislature would leave “plenty of time to do the state’s business. There will just be less time for procrastination.”. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Secretary Of State Office Moving


The Michigan Secretary of State’s office in Paw Paw is relocating. The SOS tells us the office on East Michigan Avenue will be shut down from June 12 to June 16. The office is moving to the 32,000 block of Red Arrow Highway. The new place will have a 24 hour self-serve station for license plate renewals, along with public restrooms, a larger parking area, and other conveniences for customers. While the office is closed, customers can go to the Secretary of State locations in Kalamazoo or Allegan.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Driver Involved In Hit & Run


Police are looking for the driver of a vehicle involved in a hit and run in Cass County Wednesday. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened on US-12 west of M-217 around noon. The 19-year-old driver of a motorcycle struck the rear of a beige four-door Ford vehicle with Michigan plates. He called police, but the Ford took off. The motorcyclist told police the driver was a woman. He suffered minor injuries. Police ask anyone with information on the identity of the other driver to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Proos STEM Education Plan Approved By Committee


Legislation designed to encourage young people in Michigan to study STEM subjects has moved forward in the Michigan Senate. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News the plan would require schools to provide students with the latest regional economic outlook report so they can know which fields are in need of the most workers.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Attorney General Announces New Anti-Opioid Team


A new law enforcement team designed to help fight the opioid epidemic has been formed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Spokesperson Andrea Bitely tells WSJM News the team will be focused on catching traffickers, dealers, and doctors who prescribe too many opioids. She notes the opioid issue is of particular significance in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Two Facing Charges Over Cass County Dog Attack


Two people are facing charges over a Cass County dog attack. The prosecutor’s office tells us three people were injured on or around April 9 in Calvin Township when a dog bit them. The dog’s two owners are facing charges of failure to vaccinate, failure to license, interfering with law enforcement, and having a dog at large. Their names have not been released. The two are expected to turn themselves in this week.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Suspects In Theft Of Bertrand Township Construction Equipment


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is looking for suspects in the theft of some construction equipment in Bertrand Township this month. It tells us the crime happened in the 1,700 block of Mayflower Road the morning of May 19. Someone broke into a Selge Construction trailer and took a Trimble laser system worth as much as $40,000. Crimestoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.  You can reach them at at 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Man Saved From Cass County Lake After Boat Capsizes


A Benton Harbor man is recovering after his boat capsized on a lake in Cass County Wednesday. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies were called out to Dewey Lake around 10:30 a.m. on a report of a man clinging to the side of a capsized boat and yelling for help. A police officer and a neighbor were able to help reach the man. 69-year-old James Britanyak told sheriff’s deputies he’d been fishing when his boat started taking on water. He tried making it back to shore but didn’t have enough time. He was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac for treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed By Train In Hartford


One man is dead after being hit by a train in Hartford Wednesday morning. It happened about 8:40 a.m. near Main and Railroad Streets. Hartford Police Chief Tessa Beltran tells WSJM News the victim may not have known a train was approaching as he walked along the tracks.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors Testing “Connected Cars”


General Motors is encouraged by some new experiments in what are known as connected cars. The automaker has been working in Macomb County to wire some stoplights near its company’s Tech Center so that they send information to Cadillac test cars. Steve Martin, with Cadillac, told Michigan News Network early test results are positive.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Preparing To Reimburse Communities For Unpaid Taxes


The office of Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is about to send out checks to local governments across the county to help them make up for the revenue they didn’t get this year due to delinquent taxpayers. He tells WSJM News it’s his job then to pursue those unpaid taxes, as it is for treasurers in every county of Michigan. Witkowski notes some communities have more delinquent taxpayers than others.. ...Read Full Story

July Event To Raise Money For Bridgman Schools


Registrations are now being taken for a new sand sculpting event planned for Weko Beach in Bridgman this summer. Organizer Kim Fenech tells WSJM News she and a friend wanted to help raise money to expand the STEM program at FC Reed Middle School. So, Building Bridgman was born. She says the city and school are helping.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Highway Ramps To Close This Week


The I-94 ramps to and from John Beers Road/Grand Mere Road in Stevensville are about to be closed. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells us on Thursday, it will close those ramps — at exit 22 — for a construction project. Anyone who needs to get on or off the highway in the area will have to use exit 23 on to Red Arrow Highway by the Meijer. The ramps will remain closed through June 15.. ...Read Full Story

Two Charged After Gun Found At Berrien County Courthouse


A couple from Wyoming, Michigan is in the Berrien County Jail after police say they were caught trying to bring a gun into the courthouse in St. Joseph on Tuesday. Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit tells WSJM News it happened about 8:30 a.m. as the Arnelda and Molly Jackson were entering the courthouse. The x-ray scanner spotted the semi automatic handgun in the woman’s purse, and then the man took off running. Heit tells us courthouse security was able to handle it and catch the two as they fled.. ...Read Full Story

Lots Of Candidates File Already For 2018

Dozens of people have signed up to run for the Michigan Legislature in 2018, more than a year before the August primary election. All 38 seats in the Senate will be on the ballot, along with the 110 seats in the House. The Detroit Free Press reports that at least 68 candidates have filed papers with the secretary of state – and the deadline still is many months away.. ...Read Full Story

Banning Hand-Held Phones Behind The Wheel


Hang up the phone and drive — that’s the message in proposed legislation in Lansing which would ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones when behind the wheel. Jim Santilli of the Transportation Improvement Association says the current law banning texting and driving doesn’t go far enough to prevent traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.. ...Read Full Story

New Push For Better Infrastructure


Saying our cars rattle down some of the nation’s worst roads, several groups and organizations today will call on state lawmakers to find a long-term solution to fix Michigan’s aging infrastructure. The County Road Association, Michigan Municipal League, American Society of Civil Engineers, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association will be involved in an 11 a.m. news conference in Lansing. A report released late last year said fixing the state’s infrastructure will cost four-billion dollars each year for the next 20 years.. ...Read Full Story

Lt. Gov. Calley To Make Announcement


Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley plans to make a major announcement this afternoon on Mackinac Island. While he was initially expected to say he’s going to run for governor, Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says he will instead likely announce his support for a part-time legislature. A proposal to put the issue before voters is expected to be submitted to the Board of State Canvassers in the coming weeks. There is also speculation that Calley also will announce sometime this week that he’s running for governor. Nearly 17-hundred political, business and community leaders will be on the island Wednesday through Friday for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference. Organizers say the three topics to be focused on are winning the race in connected technology, increasing economic opportunity and restoring civility in American politics.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Fall To Start Week


We are starting the week with Michigan’s lowest average gas price in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area. Triple-A Michigan says our average is $2.36, down about 11¢ from last week. The statewide average is $2.42, which is down a nickel, and lower than last year at this time by about 8¢. The state’s most expensive gas is in Marquette, where Upper Peninsula drivers are paying $2.48 a gallon. GasBuddy spotters in South Haven note prices there range from $2.26 to $2.29 per gallon, and are as low as $2.22 in Paw Paw.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Road Commission Taking Applications For Empty Seat


If you’re interested in serving on the Berrien County Road Commission, you may be in luck. They’ve got a vacancy on the board. The seat representing District 1 is currently empty, and the county is taking applications. District 1 represents Coloma, Watervliet, Hagar, Bainbridge, Pipestone, and Sodus Townships. You don’t have to be from one of those places to get the seat, but there is a preference for applicants who are. The Berrien County Road Commission is responsible for more than 1,400 miles of county roads, and is governed by a board of five. Meetings are held every other Wednesday, and the District 1 term will expire at the end of 2019. You can get an application by stopping by the Berrien County Administration office in St. Joseph or BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance To Talk Business With Those Over 50


The AARP Foundation has awarded Cornerstone Alliance a grant to provide workshops on starting a business to those over the age of 50. Cornerstone’s Stacie Stephens tells WSJM News Work for Yourself@50+ workshops serve those who are interested in how the process works. AARP picked Cornerstone Alliance because of its experience with helping businesses get rolling.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Underway For Next Lest We Forget Program


Things are being shaken up a little for this summer’s Lest We Forget program. The organization has staged World War II simulations each summer in southwest Michigan for years, and the group’s Don Alsboro tells WSJM News they’re moving from the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport this year to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. There, they’ll have some Marines on hand.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Issues Warning About Unlicensed Mechanics


The Michigan Secretary of State is warning drivers not to take their cars for repairs at non-licensed shops. With the temperatures now about to get hot, the office tells us you should ask to see your mechanic’s certification before he or she works on your vehicle. It adds under state law, someone who knowingly provides automotive repair services without a registration or certificate is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Another thing to know is that unlicensed repair shot can’t seek legal action for fees owed to them for work performed. You can find a list of licensed repair places in Michigan at Michigan.gov/SOS.. ...Read Full Story

One Man in Jail After Chase


A Niles man is jailed for leading Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies on a chase through Sodus and Pipestone townships. It began late Saturday after authorities failed to pull the 46-year-old over for speeding on Pipestone Road near Evans Road. He was arrested after his vehicle was boxed in at a gas station on Meadowbrook Road in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Sent to Hospital


Sheriff’s deputies in Van Buren County say a 51-year-old had to be airlifted to Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo after being thrown from his all-purpose electric motorcycle in Breedsville. Authorities and medical personnel were dispatched to the dead end of Harmony Lane before 3 p.m. Sunday. Investigators believe the Grand Junction resident lost traction in mud while trying to enter a private blueberry field. They also believe alcohol was a contributing factor.. ...Read Full Story

Dogs Attack Livestock In Bangor


The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is searching for the owner of two dogs who attacked livestock in Bangor. It happened Sunday morning in the 48000 block of M-43, with the attack killing four sheep. Another nine sheep were hurt along with a goat. A deputy had to shoot and kill one of the dogs when it became aggressive toward officers, while the second dog was captured and turned over to Van Buren County Animal Control for quarantine. The dogs are mix breed dogs. Charges against their owner are likely to include damage to livestock and trespassing.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Board Settles On New Admin


The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners has found a new county administrator. John Faul, of Mattawan, will replace the recently-retired Doug Cultra. Faul has previously worked for Van Buren County in multiple roles, including as the administrator in the early to mid-2000s. He left in 2006 to work for the Michigan Municipal League and later worked as the assistant county administrator in Kalamazoo County. Now that a contract is in place, Faul will start his new job on June 5. The board of commissioners says it hired him due to his experience.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Order Allows Greater Distribution Of Anti Overdose Drug


Governor Rick Snyder has authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue an order authorizing pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals. Nancy King, with Families Against Narcotics Southwest Michigan, works to spread awareness about naloxone. She tells us it’s been a life saver for many struggling with addiction.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet High School Presented With Spirit Trophy


Watervliet High School has been presented with a trophy by state Senator John Proos for winning his annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Each year, Proos asks schools all throughout his district to submit photos displaying their pride. He then takes more submissions over a period of several weeks to whittle the numbers down in a bracket-style competition. The winner is declared the school with the most pride. This year, it was the Watervliet Panthers, who submitted more than 2,700 photos and got more than 86,000 likes on Facebook. In all, 31 high schools took part.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Reminds Parents Not To Leave Kids In Parked Vehicle


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging everyone to take care to prevent heat stroke this summer. It declared this Friday Heat Stroke Prevention Day, reminding parents not to leave their kids alone in a vehicle. Nationwide, more than 138 children died from heatstroke between 2013 and 2016, and the department says all of those deaths could have been prevented. Health and Human Services tells us the temperatures inside a car can increase 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes, and because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, they’re more susceptible to heatstroke. It also suggests calling 911 if you see a child in a car alone. You can find out more at SafeKids.org/HeatStroke.. ...Read Full Story

Record Amount Raised For Lory’s Place With Latest Run


A record amount has been raised for St. Joseph-based Lory’s Place with its latest Run, Walk, and Rock 5K. The run was held last Saturday, taking supporters of Lory’s Place around the Edgewater area of St. Joseph. More than 1,200 people took part, some running, some walking, and some rocking in chairs along the side of the route to show support. It was the 13th annual Lory’s Place event, and it raised more than $63,000. Lory’s Place provides grief counseling and support services. Lisa Bartoszek, Director of Lory’s Place, thanked everyone for their support.. ...Read Full Story

New Executive Announced For SWM Association Of Realtors


The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has a new executive in charge. Alan Jeffries takes over as association executive for Gary Walter, who in turn had taken over on an interim basis after the resignation of Phil Amodeo in February. Jeffries comes to the organization from the Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors, where he was the board president. He’s previously worked as a manager for Century 21 Advanced Realty and has been an owner of Michigan Real Estate Services in the Kalamazoo area. Jeffries has also served as the township assessor in Saugatuck Township. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells us they’re excited to have him, as he brings more than 20 years of experience to the job.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Outer Harbor To Be Dredged Next Month


The St. Joseph outer harbor will be dredged starting next month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week approved a $374,000 contract with a Holland company to dredge harbors in Holland and in St. Joe. Army Corps Project Manager Melissa Bosman tells WSJM News they’ll start the work mid-month. Without it, the shipping industry would be harmed.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Of Makers Planned For Tomorrow In Buchanan


There’s plenty going on in Buchanan in the next few days. That’s because they’re holding the Memorial Day Parade and the annual Unsanctioned event. Randy Hendrixson, with the chamber of commerce, tells WSJM News Unsanctioned is an celebration put on by downtown merchants who just want people to know about what they do. They started it in 2008, and this year it’s all about makers.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested With Fake Currency


South Bend police have arrested a man accused of using counterfeit money. They say 20-year-old Malik Gardner was found to be in possession of money with “For Motion Picture Use Only” printed on it. That’s the same type of fake money reported earlier this week in several instances around Dowagiac. South Bend police say Gardner was under investigation for an unrelated matter when he was found to have the fakes. Police have not said if Gardner is a suspect in the Dowagiac incidents.. ...Read Full Story