Local News Archives

I&M Sending Crews To Puerto Rico

Indiana Michigan Power is sending some crews down to Puerto Rico to help out with hurricane restoration efforts. I&M tells us nine of its linemen are currently on their way to the island which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September. This group of I&M employees will be working in some of the most heavily damaged and remote areas of the island for about 30 days. In February, I&M plans to relieve this group by sending a different team of linemen to Puerto Rico. In addition to employees, I&M deployed six fleet vehicles to the island, including bucket trucks. The nine linemen headed to Puerto Rico are based throughout I&M’s service territory, including Benton Harbor and Buchanan, along with many places in Indiana. I&M is one of several energy companies providing resources and workers to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in partnership with the Edison Electric Institute.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Catholic Schools

State Senator John Proos this week took a moment on the Senate floor to celebrate the impact Catholic schools have on thousands of students in Michigan. Proos said there are more than 52,000 Michigan students attending 222 Catholic schools in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Holding Payment Plan Meetings

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has scheduled three meetings for next month to help property owners who are behind on their taxes avoid foreclosure. He tells us there are about 1,200 property owners in Berrien County right now in danger, and notes his office’s payment plans have a success rate of 93%. Witkowski tells WSJM News he wants to get people signed up for them because of a recent change in state rules for foreclosures.. ...Read Full Story

Expert Weighs In On Moving Forward After Nassar Scandal

The sexual-assault case against Larry Nassar has many people in Michigan and around the country wondering what more needs to be done to protect students and athletes, but one expert says the issue goes far beyond sports. Dr. Eddie O’Connor, a clinical and sports psychologist from Grand Rapids tells us while the attention has been rightly focused on the women who testified this week, true change needs to come from the other locker room.. ...Read Full Story

$75,000 Grant Going To Hartford Company

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced two grants for ag companies in west Michigan. The grants come as part of the state’s Food and Agriculture Investment Program, says the department’s Peter Anastor. He tells WSJM News $75,000 is going to Hartford Farm Supply so it can ensure more of the agricultural production process remains in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Faith-Based Police Partnership Expanding To Van Buren County

A partnership between Michigan State Police and faith-based groups is being expanded to the Paw Paw MSP post. The CAUTION program was launched in 2012 and teams up responding police officers with local clergy. The church leaders attend state police training sessions to learn about security and community relations, and then the clergy go to crime scenes when a crowd has developed to help work with the public. CAUTION has been operating in Benton Harbor for a few years now, and includes 18 local pastors. Now that Michigan State Police are rolling the program out to all of their posts, clergy interested in taking part are also being sought in Van Buren County. Any church groups who are interested can contact Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff Hands Out Lifesaving Awards

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey this week recognized eight of his deputies, one nurse, and two citizens for their life saving efforts in 2017. The ceremony was on Thursday at the Berrien County Courthouse. Sheriff Bailey tells us he saluted deputies for saving lives with AEDs, CPR, and quick thinking. Among the award winners this week were Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Mark McKie and Deputy Chad Frantz, who got lifesaving awards for helping to respond to a carbon monoxide leak at the Quality Inn and Suites in Niles last year. Others were honored for saving the lives of jail inmates. Below is a list of all of this week’s award recipients.. ...Read Full Story

Man Denied Murder Charge Appeal In Kalamazoo County Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has decided against hearing an appeal of murder charges against a man involved in a crash that killed and injured multiple bicyclists. Kalamazoo County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Scott Brower tells the Kalamazoo Gazette that following Wednesday’s order by the state’s highest court the case will move toward a possible trial. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016, killing five and
injuring four. His girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before driving. Pickett’s lawyer has argued that the evidence wasn’t enough to send Pickett to trial for second-degree murder. He said the evidence established, at most, the elements of reckless driving causing death.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Asks MSU For Information On Nassar Case

State Representative Kim LaSata is one of the lawmakers who have sent a letter to Michigan State University seeking information related to the school’s inquiries into sexual assault allegations against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. LaSata, who is the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, tells WSJM News it’s time for MSU to be transparent when it comes to protecting students from predators.. ...Read Full Story

Human Trafficking Task Force Pleased With Increased Public Awareness

The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force says it is thrilled Michigan State Police are making push this week to educate the public on the crime. MSP has been visiting rest stops and hotels to tell staff and truckers about how to spot trafficking victims. The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task force’s Cathy Knauf tells WSJM News she appreciates the increasing state police and public awareness.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Facing Charges After Tuesday Shooting

Michigan State Police say a Cass County man is charged with attempted murder after he was arrested in Indiana this week for a shooting. Troopers from the Niles post tell us officers from St. Joseph County, Indiana responded to a Steak N Shake on State Road 933 on Tuesday on a report of a victim of a shooting. Officers found a woman with a gunshot wound, and she was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital. Her estranged husband was identified as the shooter and taken into custody. He was first jailed in South Bend pending extradition back to Michigan where the shooting took place. Michigan State Police tell us the man shot the woman and then tried to drive her to the hospital in South Bend. He wound up getting picked up by police at the Steak N Shake. The wife’s injuries were not life-threatening. The man, 56-year-old James Lampson, is charged in Cass County with attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment, and domestic violence, among other things. The woman, Jennifer Lampson of Ceresco, is expected to recover.. ...Read Full Story

Injured State Police Detective Continuing To Recover

Michigan State Police say a detective-sergeant from the Marshall post who was shot in the chest on Wednesday remains in serious but stable condition at a hospital in Kalamazoo. Detective-Sergeant Aaron Steensma was executing a search warrant at a rural home in Branch County when a suspect opened fire on him and Michigan State Police Trooper Daniel Thayer. Both officers were wearing ballistic vests. Trooper Thayer required no medical treatment, but Steensma was brought to the hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Lansing Catholic Diocese Forms Diversity Task Force

From the Associated Press — The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has formed a diversity task force following controversy over the diocese’s approach to racial issues. The Lansing State Journal reports that one of the policies being criticized is Lansing Catholic High School’s decision to punish four athletes who kneeled during the national anthem before games. More than 150 people protested the policy outside the diocese on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The diocese says Bishop Earl Boyea met with parents during the protest. Boyea says asking students to stand and honor the flag isn’t racist, but after speaking with parents he realized that some people view the flag differently.
The task force aims to “listen to and meet the needs of racial and ethnic minorities.” It will present the bishop with recommendations in the fall.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Armed Robbery In Benton Harbor

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating an armed robbery this week. It tells us the robbery happened on Monday evening at the Boost Mobile store at 957 Pipestone. The suspect was waiting outside the store in a dark corner and ordered the employees inside after they started closing for the night. The suspect stole some cash and a cell phone before running off. The Berrien County Sheriff’s department brought in a K9, but the suspect was not found. Police say he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and grey sweatpants with a white bandanna around his face. The suspect was armed with a handgun and police say he stands about 5 foot 4 with a skinny build. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

MSU President Lou Anna Simon Resigns

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is out. She submitted her resignation last night to the MSU Board of Trustees following the sentencing of former university and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for sexually assaulting women and girls for 20 years. Simon letter says “to the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment.” She notes she was planning to retire in December 2016, but stayed on after the Nassar scandal broke. Calls for her resignation had come from the likes of US Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, state House Speaker Tom Leonard, state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, and two MSU trustees, Dianne Byrum and Mitch Lyons.. ...Read Full Story

Curious Kids Discovery Zone Reopens Thursday

The Curious Kids Discovery Zone in the Silver Beach Center in St. Joseph will return to its regular school year hours beginning Thursday. That’s after the Discovery Zone shut down for some floor work last month. Curious Kids Museum tells us it was able to get the work done on time and is glad to open the Discovery Zone’s doors again. It says admission will be half price, only $3, for the first Family Fun Night of 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Police Arrest Suspect After Chase In Van Buren County

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it was able to track down a suspect who had escaped from deputies this week when they tried to pull him over. It happened on Tuesday starting around 8:30 p.m. in the 60,000 block of County Road 665 in Paw Paw Township. Police were sent to the area for a possible drunk driver. After finding a car that matched the description, deputies tried to pull the vehicle over, and the driver took off. They eventually wound up in a neighborhood behind Tractor Supply where the vehicle stopped at a dead end. The driver got out and ran, managing to get away. Fortunately for the sheriff’s deputies, a search of the vehicle turned up information identifying the driver as a Justin Ernst. Deputies were able to find him hiding in a garage in the 37,000 block of Red Arrow Highway, and he was taken into custody. He’s now facing charges of fleeing and eluding and resisting and obstructing.. ...Read Full Story

New Rules For MI Licenses Starting In 2020

Michigan residents who want to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities will have to get upgraded I.D. cards by October 1 of 2020. Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams tells us the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week issued a ruling on how the state can comply with the federal REAL ID law.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor Praises Newspaper For Exposing Sports Doctor

From the Associated Press — A prosecutor is praising an Indiana newspaper for exposing a former sports doctor’s sexual abuse of gymnasts.
Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis spoke at the sentencing hearing Wednesday for Larry Nassar, saying that the case proves society needs “investigative journalists more than ever.” Nassar has admitted abusing gymnasts at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison in a case involving seven victims.
Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander alerted The Indianapolis Star to Nassar’s abuse after reading the newspaper’s 2016 investigation of how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches. Povilaitis told the judge that without Denhollander and the newspaper, Nassar “would still be practicing medicine, treating athletes and abusing kids.”. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers OK Splitting Regional Taxes With Charter Schools

From the ASsociated Press — Legislation heading to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk would let charter schools receive revenue from voter-approved property tax hikes. The Republican-led Senate approved the bill 23-14 Tuesday, largely along party lines. The taxes now go to the counties’ traditional school districts on a per-student basis, on top of their state funding. The legislation would let charter academies get a share of the extra local funding. Charters would only benefit when existing millages are renewed or new millages are approved. The legislation would have the biggest impact in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas. Wayne County districts now receiving $376 per pupil would get $287 once charters are added. In Kent County, a $212 per-student grant would drop to $183. ...Read Full Story