Local News Archives

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

MDOT Project To Mean Lane Closures In Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers of a road project about to get started in Van Buren County that could affect some commutes. It says there will be lane closures on M-40 between Gobles and M-43 starting Monday while some resurfacing work is done. Flag controls will be in place in the affected areas. The project will wrap up on November 1. Anyone looking for more information on MDOT projects can keep themselves up to date with its app, MIDrive, which is available for both iPhone and Android.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Good Samaritan Expansion

Legislation from state Representative Al Pscholka expanding Michigan’s Good Samaritan law has been signed by Governor Rick Snyder. The new law will allow people of any age to report someone having an overdose without fear of facing criminal charges. Pscholka’s original bill, allowing that exemption only to those under 21, was inspired by the death of a teenager from Watervliet. 16-year-old Mason Mizwicki died from an overdose that none of his friends reported. Pscholka says removing the fear of getting busted will help more people witnessing an overdose call it in, thus saving lives.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Unveils Renovated Lighthouse

The public has finally had a chance to feast its eyes on the newly renovated South Haven lighthouse. The plastic tarps covering the structure were stripped away Friday morning to show off the $300,000 in work the landmark has received. South Haven Historical Society President Amanda Creeden tells WSJM News the community has a vested interest in preserving its lighthouse.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Legislation Designed To Increase Library Access

State Senator John Proos has introduced legislation that would let residents of Michigan and Indiana border communities use library services across state lines. The plan would sign Michigan on to the Interstate Library Compact, which is an agreement that makes libraries in different states available to people in other states also part of the agreement. The compact is made up of 34 states, including Indiana and Ohio. Proos says folks who live close to the Indiana border who want to use resources at some libraries across the state line should be able to do so. His bill is before the Senate Commerce Committee.. ...Read Full Story

New Format Coming To WHFB South Bend

A brand new radio station will go on the air next week in South Bend, thanks to Midwest Family Broadcasting, South Bend. LIVE 99.9 will play top 40 hits and go live at noon on Tuesday. It replaces WHFB, which was a country station. The WHFT call letters have been retired, and the new station’s call letters at WQLQ. You’ll be able to hear hit makers like Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Drake on LIVE 99.9, along with a live weekday morning show, and an electronic dance music show on Saturday nights. Fans of the old WHFB FM are invited to turn a few notches down the dial to get their country fix on 97.9 Y Country.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In Cass County

The Cass County Drug Enforcement Team has nabbed a couple of suspected meth makers following a raid on Thursday. It says officers searched a property in the 70,000 block of Conrad Road in Milton Township after getting a tip. There, police found a meth lab, meth ingredients, and hazardous waste. They also found some meth paraphernalia. Arrest warrants will be issued for the suspects, and the case brought to the Cass County Prosecutor’s office. Police ask anyone with information on drug activity to report it at the Cass County Sheriff’s Department anonymous tip line. It’s 1-800-462-9328.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Designed To Help Stores Sell Fresh Produce

Legislation from state Representative Dave Pagel designed to increase access to fresh fruits and veggies is getting a thumbs up from American Heart Association members. The Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign’s Ted O’Dell says the Healthy Food Assistance Act would create a pot of money for mom and pop shops to set themselves up for the sale of fresh produce.. ...Read Full Story

$6 Million In Criminal Justice Grants Announced For Michigan

Criminal justice agencies across Michigan are getting more than $6 million in federal grants to strengthen crime fighting and anti-drug efforts. The money announced Friday by Michigan State Police comes from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program at the US Justice Department. MSP’s Nancy Becket Bennett tellsWSJM News it can be used a variety of ways.. ...Read Full Story

$5,300 Raised To Flush Out Cancer

$5,300 has been raised to flush out cancer by WSJM sister station 98.3 The Coast. Staff, local celebrities, and community volunteers spent Friday at City Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning in downtown St. Joseph sitting on a pink toilet in one-hour shifts to raise money for Susan G. Komen of Michigan.The sitters also raced toilets around State Street. Last year, the event raised more than $4,000, and the goal for this time around was $5,000. Organizers thanked everyone who came out to show their support. Flushing Out Cancer was held in honor of Denise Bohn, who organized the event last year. To find out about contributing to the cause, contact 98.3 The Coast.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Unveils Renovated Lighthouse

The public has finally had a chance to feast its eyes on the newly renovated South Haven lighthouse. The plastic tarps covering the structure were stripped away Friday morning to show off the $300,000 in work the landmark has received. South Haven Historical Society President Amanda Creeden tells WSJM News the community has a vested interest in preserving its lighthouse.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka’s Good Samaritan Law Expands

Anyone in Michigan may report drug overdoses without fear of being prosecuted for illegal possession or use under legislation signed by Governor Rick Snyder. The House voted last month to exempt people of any age from prosecution if they report an overdose from any illegal substance or they require medical assistance themselves. In a statement following Thursday’s signing, Snyder says it’s “another powerful tool in the efforts to fight prescription drug and opioid abuse across our state.”. ...Read Full Story

Research Warns Of Urban Voting Problems

Voter turnout could play a decisive role in next month’s election, and a new study warns some Americans may have a harder time casting ballots than others. Spencer Overton, with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, says data from the last election points to shortcomings in how polling is managed in urban areas.. ...Read Full Story

Travel Site Ranks Silver Beach Pizza As Best Pizza In Michigan

Silver Beach Pizza in St. Joseph has received another distinction. The pizza joint below the bluff has been cited by Tripping.com as having the best pizza in the state of Michigan. Tripping is a travel website that only selected one pizza place in each state for the list, noting the importance of variety when it comes to getting a good pie. For Indiana, it says the best pizza can be found at Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza in Indianapolis, and in Illinois, it’s Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. The site doesn’t specify any reason why any place it picked is the best, but for St. Joseph residents, an explanation probably isn’t needed. Click here to see the fill list.. ...Read Full Story