Local News Archives

Detroit Red Wings To Honor Berrien County Bailiffs Killed On Duty

The Detroit Red Wings are honoring law enforcers, especially five Michigan officers killed in the line of duty this year. The Red Wings play the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday. The team says the opening ceremony will be dedicated to the fallen officers – three from Detroit and two from Berrien County. They are Wayne State University Sergeant Collin Rose, Detroit Sergeant Ken Steil, Detroit Officer Myron Jarrett and Berrien County courthouse officers Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro. You’ll remember Kienzle and Zangaro were killed in a shootout with a man who tried to escape from the courthouse on July 11. The Red Wings say more than 1,100 police officers and their families will attend the game.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Helping Harbor Country Kids For Christmas

As Christmas approaches, the Pokagon Fund is stepping up donations to groups that can help kids have a good holiday. It’s given $9,000 to Toys for Tots to provide more than 400 kids in Harbor Country with presents this year. Also, the fund is helping out the Harbor Country Rotary Club’s Hats and Mittens project with a donation of $3,000, and backing Operation Good Cheer. That’s a department of human services program that gives holiday presents to foster kids. Pokagon Fund leaders tell us they want to make sure every child in Harbor Country has a good Christmas.. ...Read Full Story

Baby Found Dead In Benton Township

A medical examination will determine the cause of death for a 7-week-old baby found on Wednesday in Benton Township. The police department tells us officers were called to a home in the 1,400 block of Rose Avenue just before 1 p.m. on a report of an unresponsive child. They arrived to find the baby had died. An exam is scheduled for Thursday morning in Grand Rapids. The case is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE — Sheriff’s Department Sergeant In Hospital After I-94 Crash Near Watervliet

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on I-94 Wednesday that closed the highway for a few hours. It happened shortly after 1 p.m. on eastbound I-94 near M-140 in Watervliet. Troopers say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was escorting a slower moving semi off the road when a pick-up driven by a 32-year-old Hartford man crashed into the back of the patrol car. That caused the patrol car to crash into the semi in front of it, and then into another semi to the side. The sergeant in the patrol car was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital and the driver of the pick-up was taken to a hospital in Kalamazoo. The crash caused traffic on eastbound 94 in the area to be rerouted on to I-196. The road was back open around 4 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Vigil Calls For Electors To “Vote Their Conscience”

A group of southwest Michigan residents concerned about the result of the presidential election are braving the cold each evening until the Electoral College meets to hold vigils in front of St. Joseph City Hall. They’re asking electors to vote their conscience. Katie Kwon is one of them who told WSJM News the electors have the power to stop Donald Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance, Energy Policy On MI Legislative Agenda

Michigan lawmakers are continuing talks on energy policy and changes to the state’s auto insurance system. Legislators now have two days left in the two-year session. They voted Tuesday for higher speed limits on rural highways and to give schools more flexibility on “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements. But some major items, including a rewrite of 2008 energy laws, remain bottled up. Majority Republicans also have proposed a scaled-back plan to rein in medical costs for people seriously injured in car crashes.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Asks For Study On Municipal Retiree Health Benefits

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants municipalities and labor unions to jointly study how best to tackle retiree health care costs after Republican lawmakers removed a contentious proposal to aggressively curb the benefits from the post-election agenda. The governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that unfunded liabilities remain as an “important issue,” and he plans to create a broad task force to “put the facts on the table.” The group could be formed in early January and be given three or four months to work, with legislation to follow. Snyder had questioned quickly passing bills in the lame-duck session, but the problem is still a priority for him in 2017. He says the recent legislative debate was “too general” and there are several dimensions to the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Buys New Utility Truck

The city of Dowagiac has taken a step to ensure reliable electric service to residents. The city runs its own utilities, and so is responsible for keeping the lights on in town and this week, the city council approved buying a new line truck. The 2015 model replaces a 28-year-old truck that had been deemed unfit for use. It’ll be brought to town this week at a cost of $186,000. The line truck will be used to fix downed power poles and lines, and also to set street lights. The city gets about 10 to 15 power poles knocked down per year, mostly due to weather or car crashes. Just last year, they replaced 30 poles.. ...Read Full Story

Crash Injures Berrien Deputy Sheriff

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on eastbound I-94 Wednesday afternoon that closed the highway for a few hours. They say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was hit from behind by a pickup on the highway near M-140 in Watervliet shortly after 1 p.m. The officer in the patrol car was taken to Lakeland Hospital to be treated for injuries, while the driver of the pickup was airlifted to a hospital. More information on the crash will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers Ease School Expulsion And Suspension Rules

Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to legislation that would soften “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements by inserting what backers say is some common sense into the process. Bills approved overwhelmingly by the House Wednesday would require school officials to consider certain factors before expelling or suspending students. They include the pupil’s age, disciplinary history and whether the misconduct threatened the safety of others. Other factors would include whether the student has a disability, if a lesser punishment could address the violation and whether “restorative” meetings between the offender and a victim could help. Bringing a gun to school would remain an automatic expulsion. Backers say too many kids are being harshly disciplined for inadvertently bringing weapons to school. The legislation goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his expected signature.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Cities Invited To Seek “Tree City” Designation

Michigan communities, college campuses and utilities can seek a state designation honoring their commitment to high-quality tree care.
Applications for certification as a Tree City, Tree Campus or Tree Line USA must be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources by January 16. The Arbor Day Foundation sponsors the annual programs, which state forestry agencies administer. Successful applicants must meet foundation criteria. The Tree City program began in 1976 as a bicentennial project promoting tree planting in urban areas. It recognizes the economic, health and aesthetic benefits trees provide. The DNR says 123 communities, two utilities and four campuses won designations
last year. Michigan ranks ninth among states in the number of communities certified. They range in size from the city of Detroit to the village of Richland.. ...Read Full Story

Snowmobiles To Cross Mackinac Bridge Saturday

Vintage snowmobiles will be allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge during a special event. The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway and the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau are teaming up to host the ride Saturday. MLive.com reports only snowmobiles at those least 25 years old can participate. They must be outfitted with wheel kits, and the wheels must be at least 2 inches wide without studs or cleats. There’s a fee of $35 per snowmobile. Participants will leave their machines in Mackinaw City and drive their trailers to the north end of the bridge in St. Ignace. A shuttle will return participants to their snowmobiles. It’s believed this will be the first time snowmobiles will be allowed to cross
the bridge linking the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Identifies Four Finalists For President

Lake Michigan College has released the names of its four finalists for president. The LMC Board of Trustees plans to bring in the four for in-person interviews next month. In no order, the first candidate is Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, Vice President of Milwaukee Area Technical College. Up next is Dr. Jon Mandrell, VP of Academic Services at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois. Next is Dr. Orinthia Montague, VP of Student Affairs at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, and finally, there’s Dr. Dr. Rebekah Woods, Provost of Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan. The board of trustees hopes to have the new president on board in March. In the meantime, Dr. Bob Harrison continues to serve as interim president.. ...Read Full Story

Toys For Tots Donation Jar Stolen In Dowagiac

Police could use your help in finding the Grinch who stole a Toys for Tots donation jar from a gas station in Dowagiac. The department of public safety tells our newsroom it happened at the Shell Mart on North Front Street late Sunday. Police have released photos of the suspect, who’s a white man wearing a dark coat. He was driving a white car. Anyone who can identify the man is asked to call Dowagiac Public Safety. You can see surveillance pictures below.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers Approve Greater Access To Overdose Drug

Pharmacists across Michigan could dispense, without a prescription, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose under legislation going to Governor Rick Snyder. The state House unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. The sponsor, Republican Representative Anthony Forlini of Harrison Township, says the measure would help stem rising opioid overdose deaths. He says the bill would put the antidote in the hands of more people who might be present when someone overdoses.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Pleads Guilty In Death Of 8-Month-Old Boy

A Benton Harbor man has pleaded guilty for the death of an eight-month-old boy. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us Brandon Beshires pleaded guilty Monday to first degree premeditated murder in the death of Carter Donovan back in February. Beshires was supposed to be caring for the boy while his mother was at an appointment, but instead, the baby died from trauma to the head. Prosecutor Michael Sepic says Beshires was in court for an evidence hearing Monday, but instead entered the plea. A charge of child abuse and a charge of felony murder have been dropped in the case, but it won’t make any difference at sentencing. Beshires will be sentenced to life in prison on January 30. Also that day, the baby’s mother, Autumn Atchley, will be sentenced for being an accessory after the fact in the case.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan Stands To Lose With ACA Repeal

With Congress poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, about 887,000 people in Michigan stand to lose their health insurance. That’s according to a report from the Urban Institute. Joan Alker, with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, tells us the folks who lose out aren’t just low income.. ...Read Full Story

GPS Technology Helps MDOT Better Track Plows

Thanks to GPS and other technology, the Michigan Department of Transportation is able to better coordinate and supply its snow plows this winter. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tell us they put automatic vehicle location devices in all the plows in 2013, and drivers can also check in on where plows are located.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance Unveils Five Year Plan

Cornerstone Alliance has completed its five year plan for the economic development of Berrien County. President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News it comes after six months of working with businesses and communities to find out what Cornerstone can improve. One thing it calls for is telling the southwest Michigan story.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata To Hold Local Swearing In Ceremony This Week

Southwest Michigan’s newest elected officials are being sworn in over the next week. A ceremony is planned for this Thursday at the Berrien County Courthouse to swear in state Representative-election Kim LaSata. Her husband, Judge Charles LaSata, will preside as she takes the oath. The ceremony will be Thursday at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, there’s a swearing in ceremony planned for next week in Van Buren County for a variety of elected officials there. On Monday, the county commission, clerk, treasurer, drain commissioner, state rep, and anyone else you can name will be sworn in at the courthouse. It’ll be at 4 p.m. with special guest Congressman Fred Upton on hand.. ...Read Full Story

Online Retailers Hoping For Big Bucks Today

Cyber retailers have started out the week with some big gains. Monday is Green Monday, a term coined by EBay in 2007 to describe its best sales day in December, traditionally the second Monday of the month. About $2 billion were were expected to be spent online Monday, compared to nearly $3.5 billion for Cyber Monday. Dr. Patricia Huddleston, a retail professor at Michigan State University, says mobile sales will only add to online purchases in the coming years.. ...Read Full Story

One Lane OLf I-94 Bridge Over Red Arrow Highway Closed For Repairs

A crash on Sunday has resulted in the closure of one lane of the westbound in I-94 bridge over Red Arrow Highway in Stevensville. Michigan State Police say a car and a semi crashed into each other, resulting in damage to the bridge wall. Although no one was injured in the crash, the bridge had to be shut down for several hours while it was inspected. Although the bridge itself has been deemed safe for vehicles, the wall needs to be repaired. The left lane of the bridge will be closed until that happens.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release Identify Of Man Found Dead Sunday

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can offer information leading to the arrest of the suspect who shot and killed a Benton Harbor man over the weekend. Police say the body of 28-year-old Joshua Deairest Hutchinson was found in the snow in the 800 block of Superior Street on Sunday. He’d been shot multiple times. Benton Harbor Public Safety is being helped in its investigation by Michigan State Police and the Berrien County Homicide Task Force. You can reach public safety at 927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE: Body Found in Benton Harbor Identified

Police say a man whose body was found in the snow in Benton Harbor over the weekend had been shot several times. According to the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety, the victim is 28-year-old Joshua Deairest Hutchinson. He was found in the 800 block of Superior Street Sunday. The investigation into Hutchinson’s death is underway, and police are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information leading to the arrest of whoever’s responsible. You can reach Benton Harbor Public Safety at 927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Gets New Chief of Police

A 24-year employee of the South Haven Police Department is now the new Chief of Police. Natalie Thompson was selected from a field of thirty-three other candidates who applied for the Police Chief position. The recommendation comes from a ten-person selection committee, made up of representatives from the faith-based community, South Haven Public Schools, South Haven Charter Township, South Haven City Council, South Haven Area Emergency Services, Michigan State Police and South Haven Police Department. During her tenure, Thompson has worked as a patrol officer and undercover detective in the Michigan State Police’s Southwest Enforcement Team. She was promoted to Sergeant in 2008 and then to Deputy Chief in 2013. Since February of this year, Thompson has served the City of South Haven as the Police Department’s Acting Chief.. ...Read Full Story

Study Finds Drowsy Driving A Big Danger

Avoiding alcohol and distractions behind the wheel aren’t the only things you should be doing to help keep the roads safe. AAA has released a new report finding drowsy driving is a huge threat to driver safety, with just one or two hours of missed sleep doubling your crash risk. That’s according to spokesperson Susan Hiltz.. ...Read Full Story

Shop With A Cop Bigger Than Ever

More families and children than ever will have a happier holiday thanks to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division by providing assistance to the community through the “Shop with a Cop” program. The event was held Saturday by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division who partnered up with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain’s, the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department, the Fraternal Order of Police Explorers Program, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Sworn Deputies, and the Saint Joseph City Department of Public Safety. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division along with the partner agencies and organizations assisted 11 families and 40 children by allowing the children to shop for Christmas gifts for themselves, their family members, and their friends. The families and children were from the Watervliet, Niles, Berrien Springs, and Eau Claire area. Following the “shopping”, the children and their families were taken to Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles for lunch and gift wrapping with Mrs. Claus and members of Michiana Christian Embassy. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division also provided food baskets to all 11 families, thus allowing them to have a wonderful holiday dinner and food for the holiday season.. ...Read Full Story

State Rep Working To Save Palisades Plant

State Representative Aric Nesbitt has sent a letter to Consumers Energy, Entergy Corporation, and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, imploring them not to shutter the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township. Nesbitt tells us Entergy and Consumers Energy abandoning their electric contract is a raw deal.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor police are investigating after a body was found in the snow on Sunday morning. The department of public safety says the young man was discovered in the 800 block of Superior Street, and describe the death as suspicious in nature. The victim’s name has not been released pending notification of family. Anyone with information is asked to call the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety at 927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Remains In Strong Financial Position

With this week’s announcement that the Palisades nuclear power plant is shutting down, we wondered if this means anything for the Cook plant near Bridgman. Cook spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News shifting market trends have hurt smaller, single unit nuclear plants, but the two-unit Cook plant remains a big asset for its owner, Indiana Michigan Power. He points out I&M is investing big in Cook.. ...Read Full Story

Man Robbed At Gunpoint In Sodus Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an armed home invasion. It happened Saturday morning on Alma Drive in Sodus Township. A 58-year-old man told deputies a male suspect who had been knocking on his door forced his way into the place when the homeowner responded. Another suspect then also came running in. They forced the victim at gunpoint to hand over cash. The suspects then took off in a light-colored or silver minivan. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Saugatuck Visitors Bureau Chief Stepping Down

The longtime director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Visitors Bureau is stepping down. Felicia Fairchild has been with the organization for 27 years, and her contract will end January 7. During Fairchild’s time, the tourism industry in the Saugatuck-Douglas area has grown, meaning $255 million each year to the communities. The visitor’s bureau says Fairchild departs on a high note following a record year for local business owners. She says she’s grateful to have served. Now that she’s stepping down, Fairchild tells the Holland Sentinel she plans to pursue a doctorate abroad, possibly in London.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Native Going Far With The U.S. Navy

A native of Benton Harbor who joined the U.S. Navy in 2009 is now in Norfolk, Virginia, helping to pre-commission one of the nation’s newest and most high-tech aircraft carriers. Petty Officer 2nd Class Angel Rice tells WSJM News she grew up playing sports, but decided on a military career when that didn’t pan out. She’s been all over the world since then, and tells us a life in the Navy will open your eyes.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lets Autonomous Vehicles On The Road With No Driver

Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the
state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development. The package of bills signed into law Friday comes with few specific state regulations and leaves many decisions up to automakers and companies like Google and Uber. But state officials say there are enough safeguards to keep the public out of danger. The bills also allow automakers and tech companies to run autonomous taxi services and permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers as long as humans are in each truck. And they allow the sale of self-driving vehicles to the public once they are tested and certified, according to the state.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Cop Credited With Saving Woman From Choking

An officer with the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety is being credited with saving the life of a 78-year-old woman. The department says officers were called to a home in the 900 block of Wolcott Wednesday to find the woman choking and losing consciousness. PSO Bryan Elliot used the Heimlich maneuver on the woman. That was enough to get her breathing again, and she’s doing fine.. ...Read Full Story

State Representative Fighting To Keep Palisades Open

Van Buren County state Representative Aric Nesbitt is pledging to fight to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant open. The Covert Township facility that employs 600 is slated to close in 2018 after its owner, Entergy, ended a contract to sell power to Consumers Energy. That contract was supposed to run out in 2022. Nesbitt tells WSJM News the move to end it sooner leaves southwest Michigan in the cold.. ...Read Full Story

More Snow On The Way

Just because the winter storm is over doesn’t mean there won’t be continuing snow. WNDU Meteorologist David Harker tells WSJM News we’ll see it snowing for several more days due to a series of systems moving into the region from the plains states.. ...Read Full Story

Three Dead In Thursday Highway Pileup

An Ann Arbor couple was among the three people killed in a 53 car pileup on I-96 near Fowlerville after a whiteout on Thursday. 69-year-old Homer Tew and 62-year-old Theresa Tew were killed. The third victim was a 28 year old man believed to be from Hollywood, Florida. Livingston County Sheriff’s Lieutenent Eric Sanborn says there were some injured, too.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Asks MI Residents To Lower Flags For John Glenn

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations to lower flags to half-staff to honor the memory of former astronaut and statesman John Glenn. Snyder said Friday that in accordance with President Barack Obama’s call,
flags should remain lowered until sunset on the day of Glenn’s burial. Glenn died Thursday at age 95. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 and the oldest man in space at age 77 in 1998. A U.S. Marine and combat pilot, he also served as a U.S. senator from Ohio for more than two decades. Glenn is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.. ...Read Full Story