Local News Archives

DNA Helps ID Michigan Man Who Died In Arkansas In 1989

Michigan State Police say a man who died along an Arkansas highway in 1989 has been identified as a long-missing Battle Creek man. Charles Cornell was 30 when he was last seen by relatives in 1986. They filed a police report this year after State Police suggested they do so. Cornell’s mother and sister then submitted their DNA, which was entered in a national database of unidentified remains. Their DNA determined that a man fatally struck by a semi-truck in Arkansas in 1989 was Cornell. They learned of the match Tuesday. Photos, medical and dental records and fingerprints remained on file in Arkansas, but the cases weren’t linked until Cornell’s relatives submitted DNA. Detective-Sgt. Sarah Krebs says it’s important for families of missing people to get their DNA on file.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Hunting Bills

You can count state Senator John Proos as among the lawmakers in favor of a couple of hunting bills approved during the last session. The first bill requires the DNR to create an app that would let hunters display their licenses via smart phone. Proos tells us that could affect a lot of people in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Drill Team Heading To Washington For Inaugural Parade

A group from Michigan has received a big honor. For the 3rd consecutive presidential inauguration, Michigan’s Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard will perform in the Inaugural Parade. The Parade theme is We the People: Our American Journey. That’s something the group took into consideration when filing an application to participate, says co-founder Lorenzo Veal.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Named House Member Of The Year By News Agency

State Representative Aric Nesbitt has received another distinction as he prepares to leave office. The Lawton Republican has been named the MIRS News House Member of the Year. MIRS, or the Michigan Information and Research Service, is an online publication for Lansing insiders. It’s picked Nesbitt for the honor due to his work on a energy policy that was just approved by the governor. Nesbitt tells our our newsroom it’s an honor to be saluted by MIRS, which he calls a “respected news organization.” Other accomplishments he says he’s proud of in the last six years include making technical education more available, hosting veterans workshops in Van Buren County, and protecting gun rights. Nesbitt leaves office soon due to term limits.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Police Lift Ban On Beards

Detroit police have the right to remain bearded- to a point. The department’s rule banning beards has been lifted. A new policy allows officers to sport trimmed beards and goatees. City police had been allowed only neatly trimmed mustaches, though officers could seek approval to grow a beard if they had a skin condition. The lightly mustachioed Chief James Craig tells the Detroit Free Press for a story Sunday there’s no need to keep a rule that has “no bearing on how good they would do on the job.” Craig says another rule change allows female officers to wear one pair of stud earrings on the job. The chief says he would consider extending that rule change to men “if a lot of people made enough noise.”. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Bridge Reopens After Falling Ice Causes Closure

Mackinac Bridge authorities say they have reopened the span connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas after falling ice forced a temporary closure. Bridge officials said Monday that weather conditions have improved and they have given the all clear to resume traffic in both directions. Earlier in the day, all lanes had been closed because ice was falling from the cables and
towers. The nearly five-mile span crosses the waterway where lakes Huron and Michigan meet.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE — Sisters Killed In Weesaw Township Crash

Two sisters from Chicago are dead following a crash in Weesaw Township Sunday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened at Warren Woods and Cleveland roads around 4 p.m. when the driver of a sedan ran a stop sign and the car was hit by a pick-up. Two passengers in the sedan were killed, and they’ve been identified as 37-year-old Bre Anne Sutherland, and 41-year-old Laurel Ashley Sutherland. Both are from Chicago. The driver of the car, a 66-year-old man from the Niles area, was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. Two other passengers and the driver of the pick-up were also taken to the hospital. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Two Killed In Weesaw Township Crash

Two women are dead and a man from Howard Township is being treated for what police say are life-threatening injuries after a crash in Weesaw Township Monday afternoon. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the man was driving a Chevrolet sedan when he went through a stop sign at Warren Woods and Cleveland roads shortly after 4 p.m., and was hit by a Dodge pickup. The two women killed were back seat passengers in the Chevy. Deputies say one was a 41-year-old from Illinois, while the other was a 37-year-old from Howard Township. Both drivers and two other passengers in the sedan are being treated at South Bend Memorial Hospital. Deputies tell our newsroom it doesn’t appear weather or road conditions were factors in the crash. Whether other issues like alcohol, drugs, or a medical issue were involved remains under investigation. No names have yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Report: High Tax Rate Leads To More Cigarette Smuggling

A new report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy takes a look at the prevalence of cigarette smuggling and finds the higher your state’s cigarette taxes are, the more likely smokes are being sneaked in from states with lower taxes. Police Director Michael LaFaive tells WSJM News the amount of illegal cigarettes brought into Michigan has been going down as other states raise the tax and we don’t.. ...Read Full Story

Christmas Day Fire Kills Marcellus Man

The cause of a deadly fire in southwest Michigan on Christmas Day is under investigation.  The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says the fire killed 63-year-old Gordon Booz at his home in Marcellus.  Firefighters and deputies were called to his home around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, and found his body after the flames were out.. ...Read Full Story

State Commission Questions Deal To Close Palisades

The Michigan Public Service Commission wants to know how the early closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant will affect the state’s reserve energy capacity. That’s just one of the things the MPSC is looking at as it reviews Consumers Energy’s request to end its Palisades contract in 2018, rather than 2022. Spokesperson Judy Palnau tells our newsroom reserve capacity was in danger of going below the recommended level to begin with.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Parks Projects Get Extra Boost

Two parks projects in South Haven will benefit from a couple of grants announced this week. First up is $300,000 for the development of a new $4.1 million park near the Van Buren State Park Trail. It’ll include new ball fields and trails. South Haven Schools Superintendent Robert Herrera tells us the projects are good news.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Offering “Financial Aid Fridays”

Lake Michigan College is preparing to hold a series of regular workshops for students interested in finding out how they can apply for and get financial aid. Financial Aid Fridays will be held each Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. starting January 6 and running through March 24. They’ll be done at the Benton Township, Niles, and South Haven campuses. Any students who want to come and apply should bring their Social Security number, driver’s license, and federal student aid ID, if they have one. LMC students received more than $9 million in federal aid during the 2015-2016 academic year, as well as more than $600,000 in scholarships from the Lake Michigan College Foundation. You can find out more at LakeMichiganCollege.edu/Finaid.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Ends Week With Several Bill Signings

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that allows community colleges to pursue expanding their tax districts, which could increase the number of students paying lower, residential tuition rates. Snyder signed the legislation this week that passed earlier this month with broad support in the Michigan legislature. Expanding the districts into communities the schools do not border would require approval by local governments and voters. The governor signed several other bills, including one that would require the Natural Resources Commission to review and determine if additional colors are safe and effective for hunters to wear, including “hunter pink.” Another new law would eliminate the requirement that a physician assistant must practice under a physician’s supervision but requires an assistant to obtain a practice agreement from a doctor.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Asking For Holiday Blood Donations

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare in the next couple of weeks, the Red Cross could use your help. Spokesperson Todd Kulman tells our newsroom blood donations go down this time of year because everyone’s so busy. If you give blood between now and January 8, the Red Cross will give you a special present.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Bill Authorizing Wolf Hunt

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that would authorize wolf hunting if Congress or federal courts revisit the issue. State lawmakers quickly passed the bill after the Michigan appeals court recently declared a 2014 law unconstitutional. The law signed Wednesday defines wolves as a game species and authorizes the Natural Resources Commission to designate game.
Money in the law related to Asian carp control could shield it from a statewide referendum. Wolf hunting is not allowed in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota because of a 2014 federal court ruling. A judge threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. Michigan’s only hunt was in 2013, when 22 wolves were killed in the Upper Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department: With Holidays Here, Get Rid Of Unused Medications

The Berrien County Health Department is once again reminding everyone that this is a good time of year to clean out your medicine cabinets. With the holidays upon us, many folks will have family over. The health department tells us more than 70% of young people who abuse prescription medications get them from family, sometimes by just swiping them from the bathroom. So, it’s better to get rid of any medications you won’t use. Just drop them into a MedReturn drop off box. Those can be found at Lakeland and Walgreen Pharmacies, and also at many police stations. Within the past year, more than 2,500 pounds of unwanted and expired medications were collected from the various drop off locations in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Doctor Offers Tips To Avoid Holiday Stress

This is the time of the year many people get all too wrapped up in the hustle of the holidays, and doctors say that can affect their health. Dr. A.K. Misra, with U.S. Health Works, tells us eating balanced meals and healthy snacks is a much better way of keeping your energy up than relying on caffeine, fast food and holiday sugar fixes.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remind Residents To Be Careful About Holiday Packages

Police are warning everyone to take some precautions about packages left outside their doors as Christmas rolls in. A video of someone stealing a package left outside of a Benton Township home earlier this month has gone viral in the past week, prompting a reminder. The video is now all over Facebook. If you’re expecting a last minute package, the U.S. Postal Service says you can ask a neighbor to watch out for it, or have the carrier hold it so you can go and get it from them. Also this holiday weekend, some police agencies are offering to perform free checks on homes. If you’re going to be out of town, call your local cops and let them know. Among agencies who will check up on properties this weekend is the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Urges Caution On Ice As Weather Warms

The U.S. Coast Guard says warming temperatures this weekend could pose safety issues on Lake Michigan and frozen inland rivers, streams and ponds. The Coast Guard is urging people to use extreme caution on the water and melting ice. Ice thickness can vary, even in small areas. Water currents around narrow spots, bridges, inlets and outlets can cause thinner ice. The Coast Guard says stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas. Ice near the shore of a frozen lake may be unsafe and weaker because of shifting, expansion and sunlight reflecting off the bottom. A majority of Coast Guard units around Lake Michigan have winterized their rescue boats. That means the Coast Guard has a reduced ability to respond to anyone in distress on the water.. ...Read Full Story

Repairs Underway On Cook Plant Diesel Generator

Repairs are underway on a diesel generator at the Cook nuclear power plant. Spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News that crews on Wednesday found possible problems in the fuel injection pumps at two generators, one in each of the plant’s units. The diesel generator for Unit 1 was fixed, while the other generator, on Unit 2, will take a few days longer. Since Unit 2 is offline for a refueling outage, anyway, it doesn’t affect operations. The diesel generators are two of several power redundancies at Cook. Schalk says the plant is waiting for some parts to come in for the Unit 2 generator repairs to be complete. The NRC has been notified of the issue, and Cook has until the end of January 4 to fix it. Shalk says the issue doesn’t put the public at risk.. ...Read Full Story

Theft From Three Oaks Baseball Association Results In Jail Time

The former treasurer of a baseball league in a Berrien County town has been sent to jail for stealing $37,000. Meanwhile, the Three Oaks Baseball Association is holding bake sales and scrambling to raise money to buy uniforms for the next season. Amanda Macias was sentenced to six months in jail Thursday in St Joseph. Judge Scott Schofield says she stole “from the children of Three Oaks.” Macias acknowledged her crime but insists she’s still a “good person with a heart of gold.” Her lawyer says she’s working two jobs to repay the league. Adam Williams, president of the group, says the baseball league is far short of the money it needs to start the season.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Sheriff’s Department Finds Alleged Police Impersonator

A man who’s accused of impersonating a police officer this week in Cass County has been found by the sheriff’s department. It says it got a tip about the alleged false officer after someone reported being pulled over by that person. Turns out the man’s a 53-year-old weather spotter and Red Cross volunteer from Jones. He told sheriff’s deputies he turned on his vehicle’s flashing lights Tuesday to stop someone who had cut him off in Newberg Township. He said he told the woman IF he was a cop, she’d be arrested. Police have turned the matter over to the prosecutor’s office to determine if charges are warranted.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Homes Sales Up In November

It’s been a good year for the regional housing market. Philip Amodeo, with the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, tells WSJM News 2016 will likely replace 2006 as a reference year, as the market has finally recovered from the recession. Not only are sales up, but so are the prices.. ...Read Full Story

Penalties For Underage Drinking To Be Reduced

A change has come to the law regarding minors in possession of alcohol. Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that makes the violation a civil infraction with a fine of $100 for a first offense. It used to be a misdemeanor. Republican state Senator Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge, sponsored the legislation and says most young people don’t even think about the consequences of breaking the law.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Laws To Ease Zero Tolerance School Punishment

Governor Rick Snyder has signed laws that will ease zero-tolerance policies in public schools and give districts flexibility to
consider many issues when deciding whether to punish a student. Snyder says students will no longer be automatically expelled or suspended due to misconduct. Schools can consider a student’s age, disciplinary history, a student’s disability and whether safety was at risk. The governor says the package of laws is the result of discussions involving educators, judges and the American Civil Liberties Union. Snyder said Thursday the laws emphasize “restorative justice.”. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan’s Top Baby Names For 2016 Unveiled

The most popular name for baby girls in West Michigan in 2016 is Olivia. Liam tops the list for boys according to the Family Birthplace at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, which delivers more babies than any other hospital in Michigan. The rest of the top five for girls are Charlotte, Evelyn, Ava and Emma, while Levi, James, William and Elijah are the rest of the top five for boy babies. The only names on the list that weren’t there last year were Nora and Abigail for girls, but both were among the top ten in 2014.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Snyder Does Not Expect To Be Charged Over Flint Crisis

(Lansing, MI – AP) Governor Rick Snyder says he has “no reason to be concerned” about being charged in the Flint water investigation. Snyder’s comments to the “Detroit Free Press” occurred as the bill for his legal fees reached $4.9 million, all paid by taxpayers. The governor says much of the money has been spent on producing documents requested by Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigators. Snyder says investigators “keep on asking” and his lawyers “keep on responding.”. ...Read Full Story

Snyder To Welcome 41 New State Troopers Thursday

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver the keynote address at a graduation ceremony for 41 new Michigan State Police troopers in Lansing on Thursday. Snyder says the graduation of the 131st Trooper Recruit School a stepping stone toward the reconstruction of the state police agency. He’s hoping to not just see officer counts improve in the next year, but he also wants to see bonds improve between law enforcement and the communities they serve.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Lawmakers Say Goodbye In Lansing

State Representative Al Pscholka has said goodbye to the Michigan House. Outgoing lawmakers got to give their farewell messages on the floor Wednesday. Pscholka has a message for the kids of Michigan, telling them even if they get a bit of a rough start in life, they can still go far.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman Criticized For Delaying Treatment Of Son

A Republican congressman said he delayed treatment of his son’s broken arm as an example of the kind of choices Americans will have to make when Republicans’ repeal of the health care law shifts more out-of-pocket costs to consumers. Representative Bill Huizenga told Michigan news site MLive.com that he and his wife opted to place a splint on their son’s arm and wait until the next morning to take him to the doctor rather than seek immediate but more costly treatment at an emergency room. Huizenga is an opponent of President Barack Obama’s health care law and a  supporter of tax-free health savings accounts to help people cover their medical bills. Several liberal websites blasted Huizenga, a father of five.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Officer Cleared In Fatal Shooting

There will be no charges filed in the officer-involved shooting of a Benton Harbor man in October. 28-year-old Darius Wimberly was shot and killed by the officer on October 18 after police say he ambushed them as they responded to a call at a home on Pavone Street. Body camera footage released by the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety shows the ambush occurring. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office says it has determined the officer who shot Wimberly was acting in self defense and in defense of others. Prosecutors say their investigation has revealed Wimberly was having a dispute with someone at that home on Pavone who wasn’t there that night. They say it’s not clear if Wimberly knew he was shooting at police when he ambushed them, as it was dark and they didn’t have their lights on. He had been seen at that home the night before.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Sheriff’s Department Warns Of Possible Police Impersonator

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is warning everyone about a possible police impersonator. It says around 2 p.m. Tuesday, two people called dispatch after someone tried to pull them over on M-40 in Newberg Township. Dispatch had them go to a Shell Mart to wait for deputies to arrive. When they got there, the deputies were told the person who tried to pull them over didn’t present any police ID, but had made statements hinting he was a cop. He’s described as a white male, about 65 years old, with white hair and a bear who was driving a red SUV with equipment racks and gear on top. The SUV also had white flashing lights and large antennas, along with several stickers. It may have said “rescue” on the front. Anyone with information is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Pedestrian Killed On US-12 In Galien

A woman is dead after she was hit by a car in Galien on Tuesday evening. Michigan State Police tell us 50-year-old Gracie Harper was walking in the middle of the westbound side of US-12 on the west end of the village around 6:30 p.m. when she was struck by a westbound vehicle. The driver was unable to see her because it was dark and the road isn’t lit there. Police don’t believe alcohol or drugs were a factor for the driver, who was not hurt. They’re still waiting on lab results from the victim.. ...Read Full Story

211 Service Now Available In Every Part Of Michigan

State officials say the 2-1-1 information service phone number will be available to Michigan residents across the state. The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Tuesday that service was approved for St. Clair County. The move means that 2-1-1 is available in every corner of the state. The abbreviated phone number is designed to connect residents with services,
like for energy assistance. It can also be used during a crisis, like during severe weather. The commission says there are eight community resource call centers in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Not Guilty Pleas Entered In Flint Water Case

Not-guilty pleas have been entered by three of the four people newly charged in the Flint water investigation. Gerald Ambrose, Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson briefly appeared in court Tuesday. They are charged with conspiracy and other crimes.
Ambrose is Flint’s former state-appointed emergency manager. Croft is Flint’s former public works director, and Johnson is the former utilities director. They’re all accused of keeping Flint on Flint River water and using a water treatment plant that wasn’t ready for service. The water wasn’t treated to control corrosion. As a result, lead leached from pipes and old fixtures.
Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley also is charged. He hasn’t appeared in court.. ...Read Full Story