Local News Archives

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department Offering Boating Safety Classes

With the arrival of summer just around the corner, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is now signing people up for boating safety classes. Each year the department’s marine division offers the classes free of charge so boaters can remain up to date on the state’s boating laws. In order to legally operate a watercraft in Michigan, one must be at least 16 years of age and possess a boating safety certificate. The classes offered by the sheriff’s department help you get that. Different classes are being offered at different locations around the county starting April 29 and running through July 17.  Below is a list of them, along with a link to register.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release More Information On Weekend Motorcycle Crash

Police continue to investigate a weekend crash in Berrien Springs which resulted in the deaths of two motorcyclists. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us David and Christine Cox, both from Granger, Indiana, were killed Saturday when their motorcycle collided with a vehicle making a turn at Garr and Shawnee Roads. The driver of the other vehicle has been identified as 80-year-old Charles Habenicht. Police haven’t said if he’ll be charged in the crash. They’ll release more information once the accident reconstruction has been completed.. ...Read Full Story

Report: U.S. Air Quality Improving

The American Lung Association has issued a new report on air quality in the United States. Spokesperson Janice Nolan tells WKZO News air quality nationwide has been improving, and Michigan is making particular progress. That’s not to mean the state doesn’t still have problems, though.. ...Read Full Story

Justices Turn Away GM Appeal Over Ignition Switches

From the Associated Press — The Supreme Court has turned away an appeal from General Motors seeking to block dozens of lawsuits over faulty ignition switches that could expose the company to billions of dollars in additional claims. The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy did not shield it from liability in the cases. A federal appeals court ruled last year that GM remains responsible for ignition-switch injuries and deaths that occurred pre-bankruptcy because the company knew about the problem for more than a decade but kept it secret from the bankruptcy court. The company said well-established bankruptcy law allowed the newly reorganized GM to obtain the old company’s assets “free and clear” of liabilities.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Is State’s Largest Water User, But…

There is a lot of debate in the state over Nestle wanting to increase the amount of groundwater it’s pulling for its Ice Mountain bottled water plant in Mecosta County, which has prompted a “Detroit Free Press” report into the top water users in the state. The entity which uses the most water in Michigan is the DC Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman at over 765-billion gallons in 2015. Plant spokesman Bill Schalk says the plant “absolutely” is the largest water user on the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Woman Arrested After Chase, Crash

Formal charges are expected to be filed soon against a 27-year-old Dowagiac woman who had an outstanding warrant after she took police on a chase over the weekend. She fled a traffic stop early Sunday morning, with the chase ending when she crashed her car on Johnson Street. The woman then ran and hid in some thick underbrush and weeds near the scene and was found by a Cass County Sheriff’s Department K-9. She was taken to the Cass County Jail after being evaluated at Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital. She is facing charges including fleeing and eluding, driving without a license, marijuana possession and leaving the scene of a crash along with the original charge for which she was wanted.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Signals 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is signaling his candidacy to be Michigan’s next governor. Early this morning, he launched a website with a one-minute online ad in which he talks about his daughter’s autism and how the experience helped him to help others. He also touts right-to-work and tax laws enacted by Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

State Promoting Safe Infant Delivery Law

A state law designed to help protect the safety of unwanted newborns is being highlighted this week. As part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it allows a new parent to leave a baby with police, firefighters, or nurses within 72 hours of its birth, no questions asked.. ...Read Full Story

Oronoko Twp Crash Kills Two

Police are investigating a double-fatal crash in Oronoko Township between a car and a motorcycle. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department tells WSJM News David Allen Cox and Christine Marie Cox, both from Granger, Indiana, were killed when their motorcycle was hit by a vehicle driven by a 79-year-old Buchanan man who was turning left from Shawnee Road to Garr Road. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not said if the driver of the vehicle the motorcycle hit will face any charges or was ticketed for the crash. The Saturday afternoon accident is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Inn At Harbor Shores Awarded With Energy Rebate By Indiana Michigan Power

Indiana Michigan Power is rewarding the Inn at Harbor Shores next week for its efforts to save energy. It’s presenting the inn with a $7,000 rebate check for its efficient lighting. I&M says that by switching out incandescent fixtures to more efficient, longer-lasting LEDs at the Inn at Harbor Shores, more than 119,000 kilowatts of power have been saved there. That’s about enough juice to run 13 homes for a year. When entities like the Inn at Harbor Shores take such steps to save energy, I&M rewards them through its IM Work Energy Efficiency programs. The inn will be presented with its $7,000 check at 2 p.m. Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

National Christian Choir To Perform At Andrews University

Coming soon to the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrews University will be the National Christian Choir. They’ll perform there on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. and admission will be free. The choir is based in Washington, D.C. and is known internationally for its radio program, Psalm 95. The choir is composed of 175 people, coming from more than 100 churches in five states, and all members are volunteers. It typically does 12 to 14 concerts per year. Everyone’s welcome to attend the Andrews University performance, and you can learn more about the National Christian Choir at NationalChristianChoir.org.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Sees Growth In March

The housing market in southwest Michigan is looking strong. According to the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, compared to a year ago, the market was up by double digits in the number of units sold and the average selling price. The association notes the inventory has gone down by 17% since last year, pushing prices higher. The number of houses sold in March of 2017 increased 17% from March of 2016. Also, the average price in March was up by 15% from March the year before. Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors President George Lucas says the improvement over 2016 is significant because 2016 was a peak year for the market.. ...Read Full Story

SHOUT For South Haven Launches New Website

SHOUT for South Haven has launched a new website. SHOUT for South Haven is an organization that uses the power of volunteers and donations to run several programs throughout the community. Among other things, the group displays flowers around town, runs the antique clocks, and pays for historic street markers and lights. SHOUT for South Haven’s history is outlined in the new site, and you can also apply to become a member there. The website is ShoutForSouthHaven.org.. ...Read Full Story

More MI Residents Taking Cruises

More Michigan residents are taking to the sea for their vacations. AAA spokesperson Susan Hiltz tells WKZO News a recent survey found there’s a 14% increase in cruise bookings, which she attributes to an improving economy. Michiganders are cruising all around the world.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Pregnant Women To Be Tested For STDs

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging pregnant women to consider the importance of being tested for sexually transmitted diseases. It says many STD infections in a pregnant woman can also affect their babies, but there are also ways to prevent that from happening if the disease is caught early enough. The state recommends every pregnant woman be tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis at their first prenatal visit. It also recommends more testing at 26 to 28 weeks. The department of health tells us, in the past five years, Michigan has had three preventable cases of perinatal hepatitis B, three cases of congenital syphilis, and three babies born with an HIV infection. You can find out more at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.. ...Read Full Story

Post Office Planning Food Drive For Next Month

Post offices around southwest Michigan are joining the 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive next month. The drive last year collected about 42,000 pounds of food around Berrien and Cass Counties. Each May, the National Association of Letter Carriers runs the effort, asking folks along their route to leave non-perishable food items by the mailbox. Nationwide, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive collected more than 80 million pounds of food last year. You can leave food items out for pick-up at your mailbox on May 13, or drop off items at a post office between May 7 and May 13. The U.S. Postal Service tells WSJM News the donated items all stay local. This is the 25th year for the drive.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Cinema Renovations On Schedule

Celebration Cinema expects the ongoing renovations at its Benton Harbor location to be finished in June. Spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News they’ve added the new luxury recliners to six of the theater’s 14 auditoriums so far. By the end of next week, they’ll have finished eight. He tells us they want to make the movie going experience special.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Break-In At The DANK

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a break-in at the DANK in Sodus Township. It says the break-in at the facility on Pipestone occurred sometime between 4 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 a.m. Friday. The suspects made off with a large amount of alcohol and electronics. Anyone with information that could lead to the suspects is asked to contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In Child Abuse Case Involving 3-Month-Old

An arrest has been made in a Berrien County child abuse case involving a baby. Michigan State Police tell WSJM News they were called out to investigate a suspected case of abuse on Thursday in Weesaw Township. They arrived to find a 3-month-old had suffered critical injuries to the skull. The baby was first taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, and then to Helen Devos Childrens Hospital in Grand Rapids. The infant was listed in stable condition as of Friday morning. A 33-year-old suspect has been charged with child abuse in the case, along with assault and probation violation. State police say the investigation continues, and more information will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remove More Than 100 Cats From MI Home

From the Associated Press — Authorities say they temporarily evacuated a home in southern Michigan after a woman was found living with more than 100 cats. The animal control divisions of the Calhoun County sheriff’s department and the Battle Creek Police Department went to the home in Athens on Thursday as part of an investigation into suspected animal cruelty. The sheriff’s department says the 113 cats were found “in various conditions of health and sanitation” and they were removed from the home. Investigators say the 64-year-old woman living with them was cooperative. County health officials say the home is habitable, but tests found high levels of ammonia and methane as well as decreased oxygen levels. The home was evacuated for the night so it could be appropriately ventilated. The woman could face charges.. ...Read Full Story

Six Arrested At Flint Water Meeting

From the Associated Press — Police say six people were arrested for disorderly conduct or other reasons at a Flint church during a town hall meeting related to the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water. Flint police Chief Tim Johnson had asked men arriving at House of Prayer
Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday evening to remove their hats and warned all in attendance not to disrupt the meeting. The Flint Journal reports officers stopped men wearing hats from entering and men who wouldn’t remove them were asked to leave. Arguments occurred and people who used profanity also were escorted from the church. The event was held after Flint Mayor Karen Weaver reversed course Tuesday and
recommended the city continue getting its drinking water from a Detroit-area system long term instead of a new pipeline.. ...Read Full Story

Five Charged In Van Buren County Robbery, Assault

Five people have been charged with a home invasion and assault in Van Buren County early this year. It happened on January 26 in the 15,000 block of 41st Street in Bloomingdale Township. A 53-year-old man was sitting in his home when there was a knock at the door. He opened it, and four people pushed their way inside, held a gun to him, and told him to open his safe. The suspects made off with some guns. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it identified persons of interest right away, and now it has enough evidence to charge them as suspects. They are Jalin Beebe, of Bangor, Caleb Johson, of Bloomingdale, Spencer Marbley, Leo Cottle, and Michael Bird, all from Kalamazoo. They’re charged with armed robbery resulting in injury, home invasion, and felony firearm. The suspects have all been arraigned and bound over for trial.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Safe Delivery Of Newborns Law

A state law designed to help protect the safety of unwanted newborns is being highlighted this week. As part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it allows a new parent to leave a baby with police, firefighters, or nurses within 72 hours of its birth, no questions asked.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce New Grants To Fight Opioid Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a round of grants to help states fight opioid abuse. The grants were created under the 21st Century Cures law, championed by Congressman Fred Upton last year. He tells us a total of $485 million in opioid grants are being administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the money is used to prevent abuse and treat addiction. Upton says opioid abuse is something that seems to have touched just about everyone, and he applauded HHS for being quick about getting the grants out there.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Offering New Tax Payment Plans

A couple of programs allowing delinquent property taxpayers to get a reduced interest rate on what they owe have been started by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News, normally, the interest rate on late payments is either 12 or 18%. However, he’s offering a different arrangement.. ...Read Full Story

Statements Made By Kalamazoo Shooting Spree Suspect To Be Used At Trial

From the Associated Press — Prosecutors cannot use some statements made by a Michigan man who is charged with killing six people in between picking up riders for Uber. Judge Alexander Lipsey said Thursday that Kalamazoo police were too aggressive when Jason Dalton indicated that he didn’t want to talk about a series of shootings in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016. But the judge also says separate statements made to state police can be used as evidence at Dalton’s trial, which is scheduled to begin in June. Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder. Investigators have quoted him as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings. Dalton has been found competent to understand the charges and assist his attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Rate Falls In March

From the Associated Press — The state says Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in March while the number of people entering the workforce continued to grow. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate fell from 5.3 percent in February and compared with a national March rate of 4.5 percent. Last month’s jobless rate in Michigan was two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state’s year-ago rate of 4.9 percent. The agency says the state’s workforce rose by 6,000 with an increase in total employment by 17,000 jobs. The number of unemployed workers fell by 11,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason
Palmer said that while Michigan’s unemployment rate has hovered around 5 percent since mid-2015, the number of employed Michiganders continues to grow.. ...Read Full Story

National Transportation Safety Board Issues Report On Kalamazoo Bike Fatalities

From the Associated Press — The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan. A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs.
The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls. NTSB member Earl Weener disagreed last week. He’s not convinced that communication by dispatchers was a contributing factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Double Murder Found Incompetent For Trial

There’s been another delay in the case of Alex Perez, the man charged in a Coloma double murder last year. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Perez has been found incompetent for trial again. That’s after doctors at a psychiatric center where he’s been staying told a judge he’s unable to assist in his own defense due to delusions. Perez is charged in the deaths of Renee and John Mitchell last January. Police say he killed the father and daughter, and then kidnapped the two children he’d had with Renee Mitchell. He was arrested not long after in Colorado. The Perez case will be reviewed again in July, and at that time, if doctors still say he’s incompetent for trial, he could be committed.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Schools Could Seek Improvement Bond

Lakeshore Schools could be pursuing another improvement bond. Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News he’s proposing a more than $20 million bond for next year to complete upgrades proposed in a 2012 facilities study. The work would include reconstructed parking lots, door replacements, and lighting updates at the elementary and middle school buildings. Also, there’s some work needed at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Two In Cloning Of St. Joseph Woman’s Credit Card

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department could use your help in finding the people responsible for stealing a St. Joseph woman’s identify. It says on March 28, St. Joseph Public Safety responded to a complain about illegal use of the woman’s credit card. A cloned card was used by two suspects at several Walmart stores around west Michigan. Police have released surveillance photos of the suspects, which you can see above. The sheriff’s department tells us if you can identify the suspects, Crimestoppers could pay you up to $1,000. The number is 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

17-Year-Old Arraigned In Shooting Of St. Joseph Man

A 17-year-old is facing several charges in the shooting of a St. Joseph man over the weekend. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Dakota Matthew Stanley was arraigned this week on charges of assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He’s accused of shooting 33-year-old Thomas Lewallen on Sunday morning following a dispute between Lewallen and his wife at a home in Milton Township. The prosecutor says Stanley intervened in that fight, shooting Lewallen once. Lewallen was taken to a hospital for treatment, while Stanley was arrested. At his arraignment Monday, Stanley’s bond was set at $200,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Votes To Help Identify People With Special Needs

From the Associated Press — Legislation designed to help identify lost or injured people with special needs will soon reach Governor Rick Snyder. Michigan allows for the fingerprinting of children under age 17 if parents or guardians request it. The legislature voted Wednesday to let parents and guardians of those who have special needs to ask law enforcement for fingerprints and photos to be taken. Supporters say the move would assist law enforcement in reuniting families when those with special needs are scared or unable to identify themselves. A sponsor,
Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, says the caregivers would pay the state police for the extra cost of fingerprinting and taking photos. The bills won unanimous approval and will be enrolled Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Celebrate 100 Years

From the Associated Press — In 100 years, the Michigan State Police has gone from being a temporary wartime emergency force of 300 men to a full-service law enforcement agency with nearly 10 times more employees. The agency marked its centennial Wednesday at the Capitol building in Lansing. Visitors saw displays about the state police’s history. Governor Rick Snyder and other top officials thanked troopers at a reception.
The agency’s roots originated in World War I, when then-Gov. Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force for domestic security. Snyder says the mission remains the same despite technological advances, increased diversity and other changes within the state police. He says it’s “about helping people” and “keeping people safe.” The agency last year rendered aid in about 43,000 traffic crashes and made
nearly 73,000 arrests.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Accused Of Raping Postal Worker Waives Hearing

A 16-year-old charged with sexually assaulting a postal worker as she was delivering mail on his street in Benton Harbor last month remains behind bars on $125,000 bond. He is currently facing charges in juvenile court, but the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office wants him on trial as an adult. If that happens and he’s found guilty of a kidnapping charge, he faces a sentence of life in prison. The assault happened around noon on March 31, and he’s accused of dragging her into the side yard of his house and raping her.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Announces Final Round Of SWM Spirit Tournament

It’s now down to the final two in state Senator John Proos’ Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Each year, Proos asks schools across his district to send him photos showing how they are filled with pride. Proos then pits the different schools up against each other in a bracket-style tournament. The Final Four battles this year were between Watervliet, and Michigan Lutheran and Marcellus and Centreville. Coming out on top to be in the final round are Watervliet and Marcellus. They’ve got about a week left to show Proos which has the most spirit.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Arraigned In Allegan County Standoff

The suspect in an Easter standoff in Allegan County has been arraigned. The sheriff’s department tells us 27-year-old Michael John Vanderberg is charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm over the incident. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in Otsego Township on Easter morning on a report of a man with a gun. When they got there, two people came out of the home, but the suspect remained inside. The sheriff’s department had to bring in the SWAT team, which eventually convinced him to come out. Vanderberg remains in the Allegan County Jail with bond set at $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Opposing Possible EPA Office Closure

The possible closure of the Environmental Protection Agency office in Chicago is being opposed by Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News the EPA is expected to get major cuts in the next federal budget, but he doesn’t think shuttering the office that serves the Great Lakes is a smart move. He’s finding partners who agree.. ...Read Full Story