Local News Archives

MI Traffic Fatalities Up In 2016

Michigan State Police say traffic fatalities are up this year. As of December 6, the state has had 987 deaths on the road. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Michael Shaw tells us distracted driving is a big reason. He says it’s time for folks to start paying attention to the road.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Meijer Fires Employees For Sharing Woman’s Photos

The Meijer supermarket chain says it’s fired some employees who shared a Michigan couple’s photo card announcing their pregnancy. A Meijer spokesman declined to say how many workers were fired at its Plainwell store. But the company says its photo department workers “are required to adhere to a strict confidentiality policy.” A Plainwell couple says the incident ruined their big surprise. 23-year-old Jordan Areaux tells WWMT-TV she brought photos to the  store for printing into a Christmas card announcing she’s pregnant with “the first grandbaby in our family.” Areaux says she was angry when she received a text with a screenshot of her planned announcement. She says she went to high school with some of the photo lab workers, who took photos of her photos and began texting them around.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Limits When Children Can Be Restrained In School

Michigan public schools will be banned from physically restraining or secluding students except in emergencies under legislation signed Thursday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. The laws require the state Department of Education to develop a state policy on seclusion and restraint that is consistent with the bills. Local school boards will have to create their own corresponding policies by the start of the 2017-28 academic year. Calley, an advocate for the disabled, signed the legislation at an “inclusion” rally at the Troy Community Center. Seclusion and restraint methods are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. If school officials do resort to seclusion or restraint methods, they would have to report it to administrators and parents. Calley has said Michigan lags other states because it has no rules or reporting requirements.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In New Buffalo Bus Crash

One person is dead following a bus crash in New Buffalo Township Thursday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us 65-year-old Edmund Hillman, the driver of the Four Winds Casino bus, was killed when the vehicle went off Maudlin Road and hit a tree about 9:45 a.m. Hillman was the only one in the bus, and no other vehicles were involved. The crash happened about a quarter mile from the south entrance to the casino, and police think the driver may have been having a medical issue. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Signs Bill To Require CPR Instruction In Grades 7-12

Michigan schools will have to provide CPR instruction under legislation signed by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. The law enacted this week takes effect in the next academic year. The measure requires that schools provide instruction in CPR and the use of defibrillators at least one time between grades 7 and 12. The instruction can be for hands-only CPR, a simpler type of training that does not require certification or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. To meet the requirement, schools can incorporate the training into an existing health class that students must take to graduate. Health advocates say the law is a simple way to have more CPR-trained lifesavers in Michigan. Calley signed the bill because Governor Rick Snyder is vacationing out of state.. ...Read Full Story

Substitute Shortage Challenges Michigan Schools

Schools in Michigan are struggling to cope when teachers are absent because of an increasing shortage of substitute teachers in the state. Macomb Intermediate School District chief academic officer Judy Pritchett told the Detroit Free Press that the shortage is “a symptom of a much bigger problem” and that it reflects a decline in the number of people pursuing teaching as a full-time career. Wayne-Westland district Superintendent Michele Harmala says the state must look at why students aren’t going into education. EDUStaff, a company that provides staffing, including substitute teachers, to more than 300 school districts statewide, has put up about 40 billboards on Michigan highways, hoping to lure potential teachers into subbing.. ...Read Full Story

How To Pick End Of Year Charities

Americans made almost $260 billion in charitable donations in 2014, but it’s not always easy to tell which charities are on the up and up. One expert says there’s plenty of help online and by phone to help you make a decision. Attorney Beverly Salhanick tells us it’s easy to check if a non-profit is really legitimate.. ...Read Full Story

Police Offer Tips On Post Christmas Safety

Now that Christmas has passed, police remind everyone of a few things they can do to prevent themselves from becoming post-holiday victims. For one thing, burglars might be paying attention to the boxes you leave out on the curb, so if you got an expensive gift, don’t advertise it. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey adds you should take other steps with your trash.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Finishes Six Years In House With No Missed Votes

State Representative Aric Nesbitt has closed out his six years in Lansing with a perfect attendance record. His office says the last session has wrapped up with Nesbitt not missing a single vote in all three terms that he’s represented the 66th House District. In all, Nesbitt took part in 4,123 votes since January of 2011. He says he had an obligation to serve the communities in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties that elected him. He tells us one of the most important things to come up in the House during his time there was a landmark energy policy just approved. Nesbitt isn’t the only southwest Michigan lawmaker to miss no votes during his six years in Lansing recently. We reported last week that state Representative Al Pscholka also had a perfect voting record.. ...Read Full Story

Township Supervisor Moves To Remain On Berrien Road Commission

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is not happy with Bainbridge Township Supervisor Bill Hodge. Hodge was recently sworn in to serve in the township position, which according to the county board, means he’s no longer eligible to sit on the road commission. So, the county board this month declared Hodge’s road commission seat vacant. Now, Hodge has asked the Berrien County Trial Court to issue an injunction on that decision so he can remain on the road commission. The county board Wednesday issued a statement saying Michigan law prevents someone from serving in two such posts. Administration Committee Chair R. McKinley Elliott says, in the past 30 years, he can’t think of any elected or appointed official who “faced the potential of violating the Incompatible Offices Act that did not take the necessary steps to remedy that situation.” The matter will be decided by a judge January 12.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Cities Now Barred From Banning Plastic Bags

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has signed legislation to prohibit Michigan communities from regulating plastic shopping bags. The law approved Wednesday takes effect in 90 days. It bans municipalities from regulating, prohibiting or adding fees to the use or sale of “auxiliary containers” – reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants. More than 150 municipalities across the country have banned the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags or charged fees. Washtenaw County has OK’d a 10-cent fee on disposable grocery bags and was expected to begin enforcing it in April, but the Republican-sponsored law pre-empts local ordinances. Critics had called for a veto, saying residents deserve a say in business operations in their communities. Calley signed the bill because the Republican governor is vacationing out of
state.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Police Cars Being Equipped With Defibrillators

The Grand Rapids Police Department is equipping its police cruisers with automated external defibrillators in an effort to save
lives. The western Michigan city on Tuesday announced the installation of 75 defibrillators in every cruiser. The devices are the same as those in fire and emergency medical services vehicles. Officials say police officers will be in a better position to deal with a cardiac arrest if they are the first to arrive. The devices only deliver a shock to a patient if equipment advises a user to do so.. ...Read Full Story

New House Leader Interested In Prisoner Mental Health

The next leader of the Michigan House says he wants to bring experts together to discuss mental health treatment. The number of mentally ill prisoners in the prison system has grown 14 percent since 2012 to roughly 9,400. Tom Leonard of DeWitt, who soon will become House speaker, says “early intervention” for people with mental illness saves money
and can keep the public safe. The Detroit News reports that many mentally ill inmates cost an average of $95,000 to house at a special prison in Whitmore Lake. Leonard, a Republican, says he doesn’t have a “silver bullet.” He wants to hear from experts.
Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz says there’s been a slow but steady increase in treating mentally ill prisoners.. ...Read Full Story

Hunters Have Until Saturday To Apply For Pure Michigan Hunt

Michigan hunters have until Saturday to apply to win one of three prized state hunting packages. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources randomly selects three winners every year for the Pure Michigan Hunt . The hunt includes licenses for elk,
bear, spring and fall turkey, anterless deer and a first pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area. Winners also receive prizes like crossbows, rifles, guided hunts and cameras. Applications cost $5 and are available online or where hunting licenses are
sold. There’s no limit to the number of applications that can be purchased. Non-residents can enter too but they won’t receive the elk license because elk hunting is limited to Michigan residents only.. ...Read Full Story

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