Local News Archives

Health Department Talks Emergency Preparedness

The Berrien County Health Department says now is the time to make sure you and your family are prepared for a disaster. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the recent flooding has been proof of that. First, she recommends everyone have an easily moveable emergency kit in case they have to clear out quickly.. ...Read Full Story

IRS Reminds Taxpayers Of Credit

It’s the tax credit many people don’t know they’re eligible for, and it could mean some big bucks coming back from Uncle Sam. Luis Garcia at the IRS says only 17% of filers in Michigan claimed the earned income tax credit in 2015, but he thinks many more would have qualified.. ...Read Full Story

MSP Trooper Released From Hospital After Crash

A Michigan State Police trooper whose patrol vehicle was rear-ended by a semi on I-94 Wednesday morning has been released from the hospital and is back at work. State police tell us Trooper Russell Bawks is a 20 year veteran of the MSP. The crash happened around 7 a.m. Wednesday near mile marker 31. After hitting the patrol car, the semi jackknifed and hit the patrol car again. Trooper Bawks was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph to be treated for minor injuries. The driver of the semi, 23-year-old Jordan Howell of Canton, Ohio, was ticketed for reckless driving.. ...Read Full Story

State Trooper Hurt In I-94 Crash

A Michigan State Police trooper is being treated at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph for minor injuries after his patrol car was rear-ended by a semi near mile marker 31 on eastbound I-94. The crash happened just after 7 a.m. today, and the semi jackknifed and hit the patrol car a second time. The driver of the truck is from Ohio and was not hurt. Michigan State Police tell WSJM News the trooper was driving behind a pair of Department of Transportation plow trucks treating the icy highway at the time of the crash. The accident was one of many on slick roads around southwest Michigan this morning.. ...Read Full Story

New Flood Relief Effort Underway In Berrien County

A veteran-led non-profit has stepped up to help Berrien County residents affected by flooding. Team Rubicon has launched Operation Barren Heart to support residents by conducting damage assessments, muckout operations, and debris removal for free where needed. Team Rubicon was founded by Marine Corps veterans Jake Wood and William McNulty in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. Anyone who wants to support TeamRubicon can go to TeamRubiconUSA.org. To find out about getting the group’s assistance, call 211. Additionally, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is reminding all of the flood-affected folks to turn in their damage assessment forms. You can find the page to do so right here.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill To Raise 911 Fees

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law an increase in 911 fees to upgrade Michigan’s emergency response system. The law enacted Tuesday will boost the monthly surcharge on phone bills by 6 cents, from 19 cents to 25 cents. The surcharge on prepaid wireless plans will rise to 5 percent per retail transaction. It is currently under 2 percent. The fee hikes will generate $20 million more a year. Supporters say the 911 system is in dire need of upgrades. Technology is being used that hasn’t been updated in nearly 60 years. Backers say first responders will be better equipped to respond to a scene with more information _ pictures, videos, text, GPS _ helping to pinpoint disoriented callers.. ...Read Full Story

Another Delay In Berrien Murder Case

The ongoing murder case against a man accused of beating two people to death in Hagar Township is facing another delay. Alex Perez is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of the mother of his two daughters and her father. 27-year-old Renee and 67-year-old John Mitchell were found in their home on January 15 of 2016, and Perez was later arrested in Colorado. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us the Perez case has been delayed multiple times by psychiatric examinations, and attorneys for Perez this week sought another adjournment for more testing. It was granted. The date for the proceedings to resume isn’t yet known, but it will likely be in May or June. Sepic tells us the court needs to determine if Perez can be considered criminally responsible. He tells us the criminal responsibility question needs to be answered. Otherwise, there could be an issue with appeals. Perez remains in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects School Safety Bill Next Week

The first federal legislation inspired by last month’s school massacre in Parkland, Florida could get a vote in the U.S. House next week. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he’s been a co-chair of the Working Group on Response to Parkland Shooting which is part of the bi-partisan group calling itself the Problem Solvers. He says next week’s legislation will not include gun control measures.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Candidate For Governor Speaks In BH

Democratic candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed has had a chance to speak to voters in southwest Michigan. He led a town hall in Benton Harbor Tuesday, laying out a progressive agenda that includes single payer healthcare, a $15 an hour minimum wage, protecting the LGBTQ community, and shutting down Enbridge’s pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. He told WSJM News it’s time for the power of people to guide state government.. ...Read Full Story

Sluggish MI Population Growth May Be Related To Jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Michigan’s population grew 0.4 percent from April 2010 to July 2016. That’s a slower rate than other nearby states. Western Michigan University Economics Professor Susan Pozo tells WSJM News a reason could be the mix of jobs in Michigan. She says the population numbers show how mobile the U.S. economy is becoming for recent graduates.. ...Read Full Story

Michiganders Urged To Watch Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one health issue for both men and women, and a doctor who’s been treating people with heart problems for more than three decades says preventive cardiology should be the rule, not the exception. Dr. Harry Cohen, a cardiologist based in Chicago, advises people not to wait until they’re sick to change their habits. Instead, he says you should start taking care of yourself now. Cohen tells us people with heart conditions are living longer, and much of the credit can be given to researchers.. ...Read Full Story

Safety Campaign Focuses On Roofing Industry

From the Associated Press — A worker safety awareness campaign hopes to reduce deaths from falls in Michigan’s roofing industry. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Stop Falls. Save Lives” effort is continuing into its second year. The agency says the campaign seeks to educate employers and workers about fall hazards. It says falls are preventable with continued training, appropriate
equipment and diligent safety awareness in the workplace or job site. Officials say eight people in Michigan died last year from falls related to roofing activities, compared to four such fatalities in 2016. MIOSHA field staff is expected to closely observe residential and commercial
roofing activities in the coming year. On-the-spot inspections will be initiated if any serious hazards are observed.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Releases List Of Top Consumer Complaints

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has released his office’s annual list of the top consumer complaints for the past year. Complaints about credit and finance companies led the way in 2017. Schuette says the complaints were about debt collection, credit repair, payday lending, and mortgage brokering. Those finance companies have led the AG’s list of top consumer complaints since 2006. Coming in second for 2017 were personal service providers, with Schuette telling us the jump is directly because of the large number of complaints against west Michigan-based gym chain Family Fitness. Closing out the top five are complaints about telecommunications and cable companies, motor vehicles, and online purchases. The attorney general’s office tells you can make a complaint about a business rip-off at the AG’s website. . ...Read Full Story

Proos Launches School Spirit Tournament

It’s time once again for state Senator John Proos’ Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Proos tells us it’s a way for communities throughout his district to demonstrate their support for the local high school, with last year’s winner being Watervliet. Proos asks schools across the district to send him photos showing how they’re filled with pride.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Leader Thanks Cleanup Volunteers

The city of Niles is thanking everyone who helped to clean up flood damage over the weekend. The city administrator’s office tells us on Friday and Saturday, nearly 150 volunteers between the ages of ten and 70 took part in the first wave of flood related clean-up. The work resulted in the filling of twenty-one thirty-yard dumpsters with debris. Niles City Administrator Ric Huff calls the level of support shown for the community “amazing.” The clean-up volunteers came from all over the region, belonging to groups that include the Salvation Army, the Southeastern Berrien County Landfill, the United Way of Southwest Michigan, Andrews University, Niles New Tech, several local churches, and city staff. The city of Niles reminds everyone the United Way of Southwest Michigan continues to collect donations for its disaster relief fund. You can give at UWSM.org/ReliefFund.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Releases 2018 Construction Map

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released its 2018 construction map. Spokesperson Jeff Cranson tells WSJM News the map can help drivers plan their routes ahead of the busy construction season to avoid being stuck in work zones. He says the fiscal year 2018 capital highway program investment is more than $1.6 billion, which still isn’t enough to address all of Michigan’s road needs.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka Takes New Job

Former state Representative Al Pscholka has found a new job. He’s working at Kinexus as the Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs. That role will have the Stevensville-based Pscholka working with government leaders relating to the mission of Kinexus. Kinexus spokesperson Mary Morphey tells us they’re thrilled to have Pscholka on board.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Crisis Leads To Increase In Organ Donations

From the Associated Press — Organs from people who died from opioid overdose helped fuel an increase in organ donations in Michigan last year. The Detroit News reports that overdose victims are often younger than typical donors and can have healthy organs despite their addictions. Gift of Life Michigan is the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. The program says Michigan had 320 donors last year, a 26% increase from the 254 donors in 2014. More than 50 of last year’s donors died by drug overdose, an increase from 20 in 2014. Technology improvements have also allowed for better disease detection, which makes more organs available for transplantation. Improved procedures at transplant centers and organ procurement organizations have ensured more potential donors and their families have the opportunity to contribute.. ...Read Full Story

No Arrests Yet In South Haven-Area Murder

Authorities in Van Buren County are looking for suspects in a murder last Thursday night in Geneva Township. The sheriff’s department says the victim was 47-year-old Shaun Gill, who was a long-time resident of the Ports of Call Mobile Home park. He was found shot to death in his home shortly after 9 p.m. on March 1. Gill’s body was found near the front door, and a woman inside the home called police. Sheriff Daniel Abbott tells WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids they are looking for two suspects, and one showed up at Gill’s door and shot him when he answered. Deputies are treating the case as a robbery attempt that ended in a homicide.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Flees Possible Drunk-Driving Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking for the driver of a vehicle that slammed into a tree around 9 p.m. last night in LaGrange Township, injuring one passenger. The injured man has been identified as 34-year-old Jared Green of Dowagiac, who is being treated at Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital. Another passenger wasn’t hurt and unlike Green, was wearing a seat belt. The driver is believed to have been drunk at the time of the crash, and ran off before deputies arrived. The crash happened on Shurte Street east of M-62.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Shelter Moved In Berrien Springs

Classes are back in session today in Berrien Springs, meaning the flood shelter set up by the American Red Cross has had to move. The organization had been using Berrien Springs Middle School, but moved displaced residents over the weekend to the Village Seventh Day Adventist Church. The shelter is the last one being operated in the state by the Red Cross to help people forced from their homes by flooding, with others having been closed in Niles, Lansing, Kalamazoo, and suburban Grand Rapids. Red Cross officials say they are continuing to help flood victims all over the state with damage assessment, food, and emergency supplies.. ...Read Full Story

Home Heating Tax Credit Available

Many Michiganders are experiencing a bit of sticker shock as they open their energy bills after a bitter cold few months, but assistance is available to help keep the light and heat on this year. The state is now processing home-heating credit applications for low-income households for the 2017 tax year. Whitney Skeans with Consumers Energy tells us tax season is a good time to apply for the credit, although those who don’t make enough to file a return are still eligible. She says this is one way to help vulnerable residents to be proactive about their finances.. ...Read Full Story