Local News Archives

Chikaming Twp Police Looking For Burglary Suspects

Police in Chikaming Township are looking for a couple of burglary suspects who they say fired off a gun as they got away on Friday. Shortly after midnight, officers were called to a home on Sawyer Road on a report of a burglary in progress. They were told by the homeowner two men had gone into his barn. He went outside to confront them, and one of them came out and pointed a long gun at him. The two suspects then ran off while one fired the gun, possibly at the homeonwer’s dogs. The two men are described as white males wearing Carhart-style clothing. Police remind everyone to lock their cars and outbuildings at night.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Being Taken

The Berrien Community Foundation is once again taking applications for Heart of Cook grants. Heart of Cook is a grant program funded by the Cook nuclear power plant that goes to non-profits around Berrien County each year. Last year, they gave out $53,000 in funding to programs in the fields of education, human services, and environmental protection. In all, a total of 29 organizations benefited. Anyone thinking of applying for a grant for their own group can do so at BerrienCommunity.org/HOC. The deadline is February 6.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Wine Delivery Legislation

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan stores ship wine directly to in-state customers using common carriers such as FedEx or UPS but ban out-of-state retailers from sending beer and wine to Michigan customers. Beer and wine wholesalers say the law enacted Monday will crack down on illegal wine shipments from online wine retailers and “wine clubs,” and customers can still get wines directly shipped from wineries. But wine sellers say the “poorly written” bill should have been vetoed because it is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court. The law had allowed wine retailers to deliver to Michigan consumers only using their own trucks. Under the new law, common carriers such as FedEx or UPS will have to submit quarterly reports about each delivery.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago Cubs Bringing World Series Trophy To St. Joseph

If you want to get up close and personal with the World Series Trophy, also called the Commissioner’s Trophy, you’ll have your chance next month. It will be in St. Joseph on Monday, February 20 along with Kalamazoo on the same day. The World Series champion Chicago Cubs are taking the trophy on a tour of the Midwest following their first title in 108 years last fall. The time and location for the St. Joseph and Kalamazoo displays of the trophy are yet to be announced. The Cubs will also take the 24-inch trophy to South Bend on January 21st and will show it off at the South Bend Cubs’ Performance Center at Four Winds Field and Purcell Pavilion on the Notre Dame campus.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Continue Rising

Gas prices continue to go skyward in Michigan. Triple-A puts the statewide average to start the week at $2.51, up 15¢ from last week and higher than last year by 59¢ a gallon. In the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area, we’re paying $2.49 on average, which is up 16¢. The state’s cheapest fuel in the ten areas surveyed by the auto club is found in Flint at $2.48, while drivers in Ann Arbor pay the most at $2.53. Michigan’s average price is the ninth-highest in the nation and the highest in the Midwest. AAA says the oil markets are being driven higher by OPEC’s decision to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Store Robbed Twice Since December 26

Thieves have hit JB Party Store on East Empire in Benton Harbor not once, but twice since the day after Christmas. Both armed robberies resulted in the suspects getting away with what public safety considers a “large amount of cash,” but no exact amount has been released. The most recent robbery was early last Thursday morning, and during that one, one of the suspects actually fired a shot into the ceiling. No one was hurt. Investigators have released surveillance photos of the suspects in the hope someone recognizes them and turns them in to police. Benton Harbor Public Safety officers believe the two robberies on December 26 and January 5 are related.12262016 1 jb 12262016 3 jb 01052017 6 jb 01052017 4 jb 01052017 3 jb 01052017 2 jb 01052017 1 jb. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Begins First Term As State Representative

Newly-elected state Representative Kim LaSata is settling into her Lansing office. WSJM News checked in with her this week, and she told us lawmakers are meeting to set an agenda ahead of next Wednesday’s official start of business. LaSata’s ready to get to work on finding ways to provide more job training around the state.. ...Read Full Story

Dogs Helping To Detect E-Coli In Berrien County Waterways

A program to test Berrien County waterways for E-coli contamination is utilizing dogs to help do the initial detecting. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the dogs can detect human waste in the water, and from there, the researchers take samples. Getting them helps pinpoint where runoff and leaks are causing the E-coli contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Ann Arbor To Hold Another Deer Hunt

State wildlife officials have signed off on Ann Arbor’s plan to kill up to 100 deer and sterilize dozens more. The Ann Arbor News says 11 parks and nature areas will be closed from 3 p.m. to midnight during the 15-day hunt, which starts January 30. The shooting will be performed by sharpshooters from White Buffalo Inc. Ann Arbor wants to reduce the deer population to protect plants and animals and to reduce deer-vehicle crashes. A deer management plan was approved by the city council, 9-2, in November. Mayor Christopher Taylor opposed it, saying the $250,000 cost to manage deer is too expensive. Taylor says the killing of deer in parks “shakes people” and “undermines their sense of home.”. ...Read Full Story

Doctors: Get A Flu Shot

Now that the flu season is here, doctors are once again urging everyone to get a shot. Dr. David Davenport, with Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, tells us the most-prevalent strain of the virus this year is covered by the latest vaccine. Still, he says about 60% of people go unvaccinated.. ...Read Full Story

Groups Call For Further Reform Of State Forfeiture Laws

The Mackinac Center of Public Policy and the ACLU are teaming up to call for the continued reform of Michigan’s civil forfeiture laws. The Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup tells WSJM News reforms made in 2015 have helped to reign in, to a degree, how and when often the police can seize property during a criminal investigation. However, he thinks more needs to be done.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Proos Organ Donation Legislation

The Michigan Secretary of State will ask people applying for a driver’s license if they want to sign up to be an organ donor under legislation signed this week by Governor Rick Snyder. The plan was introduced by State Senator John Proos. He says although 90% of Americans support organ donation, only about 30% of adults nationwide have actually signed up as donors. The plan is known as Lauren’s Law, named after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant which she did eventually get. Lauren’s Law was brought to Proos’ attention by John Grinnell, a kidney transplant recipient from Niles.. ...Read Full Story

U.S. Employers Add Jobs In December

U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in December, capping a year of slower but solid hiring. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7%. Michigan News Network Business editor Murray Feldman tells us Michigan is helping to lead the way with health care jobs.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Requires Quicker Public Reporting Of Lead Levels In Water

More than 15 months after Flint’s water emergency broke open, Governor Rick Snyder has signed the first policy bill stemming from the man-made crisis. The governor signed legislation in Flint Friday requiring utilities to more quickly warn water customers if there is too much lead. The deadline is being cut to three business days instead of 30 days. Snyder and lawmakers previously allocated hundreds of millions of dollars toward the crisis. Residents continue drinking either filtered tap water or
bottled water. The last round of testing showed the 90th percentile of lead concentrations in Flint was 8 parts per billion, below the “action level” of 15 parts per billion. Experts will assess the water at a summit in Chicago next week, but the state
says no major announcements are expected.. ...Read Full Story

WMU Looking For New Football Coach

Western Michigan University is looking for a new football coach. PJ Fleck is leaving to take the head coach job at the University of Minnesota, and WMU Athletics Director Kathy Beauregard says she’s confident they can get a top notch leader, despite recruits signing letters of intent soon.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Named Chair Of House Subcommittee On Energy

Congressman Fred Upton has received his latest committee assignment. He’s going to serve as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee, which is under the umbrella of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, works to shape the nation’s energy policy. Upton tells us Michigan has been a leader in promoting 21st century policies when it comes to energy, and he wants to do the same on the federal level. Upton has been replaced as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Congressman Greg Walden, of Oregon. Walden just gave Upton his new assignment Friday, while praising Upton for the work he did as Energy and Commerce Chair.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Declares Emergency In Southeast Michigan Due To Giant Sinkhole

Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency for a county north of Detroit following the collapse of a massive sewage line that – so far – has caused a football field-sized sinkhole. The disaster declaration was made Friday by Governor Rick Snyder and makes state resources available to Macomb County and communities affected by the sewer collapse. It follows a similar determination by Macomb County’s executive. The sewer collapse was discovered Christmas Eve after a family in Fraser awoke to find their home sinking. That house and two others have been condemned. Families in 19 other homes were
evacuated after water and gas services were cut. Snyder’s office says there is a threat of widespread and severe damage to 11
communities, a military base and more than 200,000 homes.. ...Read Full Story

Biden To Visit Michigan Next Week

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to stop in Michigan and Illinois next week, part of a three-state tour in his final days in office. The White House announced Friday that Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday in Detroit at an event for Motor City Match. It’s a grant program to help entrepreneurs. Biden will also travel Tuesday to Chicago, where President Barack Obama is
expected to deliver his farewell address. Obama is planning to give the evening speech at McCormick Place, a convention center in his hometown. Earlier in the week, Biden is expected to travel to California with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Opposes Betsy DeVos For Education Department Secretary

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will vote against Betsy DeVos as the next head of the U.S. Education Department. The Michigan Democrat says she talked to DeVos. Stabenow says DeVos’ support for charter schools has “seriously undermined public education” in the state. DeVos, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, is in favor of giving parents more education options. Her husband, Dick DeVos, started a charter high school in the Grand Rapids area that focuses on aviation and engineering. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan against Jennifer Granholm in 2006.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman To Trump: Renegotiate NAFTA

Flint area Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee doesn’t oppose everything President-elect Donald Trump has suggested. For example, he’s all for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Kildee tells us Canada and Mexico should agree to tougher environmental standards. Trump promised to renegotiate NAFTA when he stumped in Michigan, but Kildee says we need real action.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland On Silver Beach Recognized As Top Wedding Venue

Shadowland on Silver Beach has been recognized as one of the best venues for a wedding in Michigan by TheKnot.com. The Knot, which is a wedding site, added Shadowland to its “Best of Weddings” list, which recommends vendors soon-to-be-married couples should hire for their big day. It’s the only venue in southwest Michigan to show up there. Shadowland tells us The Knot looked at nearly a million reviews as it compiled the Best of Weddings list. This is the fifth year Shadowland has been on it.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill Allowing Some Higher Speed Limits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan motorists drive faster on at least 1,500 miles of rural highways as long as safety studies say the higher speed limits are OK. The bill enacted Thursday authorizes a 75 mph speed limit on 600 miles of freeways and a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of other roads. The limits will be raised within a year if a study shows it is safe and the new limits are no more than what 15 percent of traffic is exceeding. Proponents say speed limits are too low in rural areas.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Insurance System Incorrectly Accuses 20,000 People Of Fraud

The director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned after at least 20,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud by the agency’s automated system. Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday that UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey will now work on special projects. Bruce Noll, TIA’s legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the unemployment agency during a search for a new director to replace Moffett-Massey. A state review of unemployment fraud cases found an error rate of 93 percent in auto-adjudicated cases between October 2013 and early August 2015, according to U.S. Congressman Sander Levin. Of some 22,000 cases reviewed, fraud determinations were upheld in just 1,462 cases. Stokes says staff now are reviewing potential fraud cases and not solely relying on the software.. ...Read Full Story

Official: Great Lakes Region’s Waters Deserve More Respect

The director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes says the region should be known nationally for vast water resources instead of faded industrial glory. Jon Allan says he was disappointed during the recent election campaign to hear Michigan and other Great Lakes states described repeatedly as the “rust belt.” He says they’ve worked hard to restore their lakes, rivers and streams, and should develop a reputation for durable and healthy waterways. Allan delivered his message in Michigan’s annual “State of the Great Lakes” report. It outlines progress made in the past year and challenges that remain. Governor Snyder says in the report his administration will emphasize safe drinking water, harbor investments, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing phosphorus runoff and developing water trails.. ...Read Full Story

Patrick Miles To Resign As US Attorney For Western Michigan

The U.S. attorney assigned to Michigan’s Western District plans to step down from his post later this month. Patrick Miles Jr. has announced his resignation at the end of President Obama’s administration. It will be effective at noon on January 20. The 49-year-old Miles spent 21 years in private law practice as a business attorney in Grand Rapids. He has been U.S. attorney for western Michigan since 2012. The office covers 49 counties, including Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. During his tenure, the office obtained 31 federal racketeering, firearm, drug distribution and other convictions against members of the Holland Latin Kings gang.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Defends Penalties For Live Streaming House Protests

Republicans in the U.S. House this week failed to gut an ethics panel, but they did pass new rules to retaliate against Democrats for live streaming a gun control protest last year when the House was not in session and the CSPAN cameras were off. New penalties have been introduced to fine House members for live streaming such protests. Critics say the GOP retaliation against Democrats is a violation of free speech, but St. Joseph Republican Congressman Fred Upton says there’s a right way and a wrong way to hold a protest.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata, Griffin Open Lansing Offices

Kim LaSata and Beth Griffin are getting situated in Lansing. The two were elected in November to represent parts of southwest Michigan in the state House, and their offices are now up and running. LaSata represents the 79th District in Berrien County, while Griffin represents Van Buren County’s 66th District. Griffin says she plans to “take a common-sense approach to a more effective and efficient government,” while LaSata tells us she’s eager to get to work. They’ve been holding meetings in Lansing, and both say they’ll soon schedule local office hours to meet with folks. You can reach LaSata’s office at (517) 373-1403, while Griffin’s office can be reached at (517) 373-0839.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Ranked Second Most Miserable State During Winter

Michigan is the second most miserable state during the winter, according to a list released by Thrillist. The popular rankings website says only Minnesota is more miserable this time of year. In the article published this week, the length of Michigan’s winters is noted, while recreation opportunities here are dismissed. Thrillist writes, “You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt.” Rounding out the five most miserable states for winter are Alaska, North Dakota, and Maine. The best place to be in winter? Hawaii. You can find the full article here.. ...Read Full Story

Program Aims To Monitor E-Coli At Berrien County Beaches

A program to test Berrien County waterways for E-coli contamination is utilizing dogs to help do the initial detecting. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the dogs can detect human waste in the water, and from there, the researchers take samples. Getting them helps pinpoint where runoff and leaks are causing the E-coli contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bills Protecting Cities From Sidewalk Lawsuits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to further shield municipalities from lawsuits filed by people who trip and fall on sidewalks. The law enacted Wednesday lets cities defend themselves by saying sidewalk defects are “open and obvious.”
Supporters say Detroit pays millions annually in sidewalk-injury settlements and should have a defense that is available to businesses. The Michigan Association of Justice, a group of plaintiff’s attorneys, had called for a veto, saying the bill effectively make cities entirely immune and removes incentives to maintain sidewalks. Under existing law, cities aren’t liable unless someone proves the city knew or should have known about the defect at least 30 days before the injury and the unevenness in the walkway is at least 2 inches.. ...Read Full Story

Abigail Kopf Suffers More Setbacks

The family of a teenage girl who survived a shooting rampage in Kalamazoo last year says she has suffered some recent setbacks in her recovery. Police say 14-year-old Abigail Kopf was shot in the head by Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who killed six people during his rampage on February 20 of 2016. On her recovery Facebook page, Abbie’s family writes she “is not doing very well.” She has low blood pressure, and is experiencing memory issues and difficulty with speech. Abbie has received an outpouring of support from all over the country since she survived the attack. She’s still waiting to go into a second surgery to replace part of her skull. You can find a GoFundMe page supporting Abbie’s medical journey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Near Record Auto Sales Reported For 2016

Demand may be slowing, but U.S. consumers still bought a whole lot of cars and trucks in 2016. U.S. sales of new vehicles could hit a new high in 2016. Consulting firm LMC Automotive and car-buying site Edmunds.com both predict sales will squeak past the record set last year and reach 17.5 million in 2016. General Motors Co. said its full-year sales were down 1.3 percent to just over 3 million cars and trucks. That was partly because the company cut back on low-profit sales to rental-car firms. Other automakers report December and full-year sales later Wednesday. LMC expects sales to be up 1.4 percent in December compared with a year ago, with total sales of just over 1.6 million vehicles. GM’s sales were up 10  percent for the month.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Killed When Tree Falls On Truck

A 16-year-old from Lansing is dead after a falling tree hit the pick-up he was riding in Wednesday morning in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says the pick-up was northbound on M-40 in Newberg Township around 6:30 a.m. when the tree fell on to the truck’s cab. The truck then left the road and hit some trees. The driver of the truck, 52-year-old Michael Rinehart, of Lansing, was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries, while the passenger, 16-year-old Nicholas Hewitt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Both were wearing seat belts, and the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Police: Missing Man Drowned

The death of a man whose body was found at a Lincoln Township beach on Sunday has been ruled a drowning. 38-year-old Dilbag Singh was reported missing to the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety on Friday. The next day, his SUV was found crashed off the bluff along Lakeshore Drive. Then, Singh’s body was found Sunday afternoon at Glenlord Beach near Stevensville. St. Joseph Public Safety says a coroner has determined Singh drowned. They say it could take several weeks for toxicology results to come in.. ...Read Full Story

10-Year-Old Killed In MI Skiing Accident

A 10-year-old Illinois girl injured in a New Year’s Day skiing accident in northern Michigan has died. Officials at Crystal Mountain, a ski resort in Michigan’s Benzie County, released a statement on Tuesday saying the accident was Sunday around 2 p.m. during a group ski lesson on an intermediate trail. Officials say the girl was skiing ahead of the class when it appears she lost control and struck a tree. She was wearing a helmet. The girl was transported to a Grand Rapids hospital where she died from her injuries on Monday. Her name has not been released. The girl was visiting from Illinois with her family.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Talk Economic Development With Cornerstone Alliance

Cornerstone Alliance is planning a busy 2017. CEO Rob Cleveland addressed Benton Harbor City Commissioners Tuesday, telling them the organization helped bring $50 million in investment to Berrien County in the last three years. Commissioners wanted to know what’s coming for Benton Harbor. Cleveland said plenty, noting all of the industrial property in the area. He told WSJM News  later, work just started Tuesday on the next batch of projects.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Woman Sentenced In Death Of Infant Daughter

A Kalamazoo woman has been sentenced in the 2014 death of her infant daughter. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that 23-year-old Tekia Wright was sentenced Monday. Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Pamela Lightvoet sentenced Wright
to 28 months to 15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Her 11-month daughter, Gabrielle, died on June 13, 2014. Prosecutors allege Wright left her daughter alone for hours that night. Court documents say the child was dehydrated among other things. A pathologist couldn’t determine the infant’s cause of death. Wright pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter. In the plea deal, second-degree child abuse charges were dropped. Wright’s attorney, Becket Jones, asked the judge to consider a one-year sentence. He’s said Wright was possibly dealing with postpartum and mental issues at the time.. ...Read Full Story