Local News Archives

More Than $33,000 Raised For Lakeland Watervliet

More than $33,000 has been raised for Lakeland Hospital in Watervliet, thanks to the Community Hospital Foundation’s annual golf outing held recently at Lake Michigan Hills Golf Club in Benton Harbor. Lakeland says the event hosted 120 golfers who attended an awards lunch and took part in several raffle drawings for things including Whirlpool appliances and a trip to a resort. Lakeland says the annual golf outing is made possible thanks to donors and foundation advocates who helped with registration and served as rangers on the golf course.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested Following Van Buren County Hit & Run

A Van Buren County woman is facing charges after a hit and run crash reported Thursday morning. Michigan State Police out of the Paw Paw post say they were called about a man who’d been hit by a pickup while walking his dog in Porter Township, near Lawton. The 65-year-old was hit in the arm and the ribs when the pickup crossed the centerline and went into the other lane. It then continued on. Not long after their investigation began, troopers found the suspect vehicle at a home nearby. A 50-year-old woman told troopers she’d been reaching for her cell phone and thought she’d hit a mailbox when the incident happened. She said she knew she’s lost her driver’s side mirror, but didn’t stop. The woman was arrested for failure to report an accident causing injury. The victim was treated and released at a local hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Service Held For Slain Berrien County Officer

A service for slain Berrien County Courthouse security chief Joseph Zangaro has been held. The service to remember his life drew thousands to Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center in Benton Township Friday afternoon. A 21-gun salute was held in Zangaro’s honor, a bugler played taps, blue ribbons were seen all over the property, and police agencies from across southwest Michigan were represented. Hundreds of officers were in attendance. Zangaro was shot and killed Monday by a Berrien County Jail inmate who was trying to escape. Also killed was jail security officer Ronald Kienzle. Kienzle’s service will also be at the Mendel Center on Monday at 1 p.m. Visitation will be Sunday from 1-5 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney: Kalamazoo Bike Crash Driver Didn’t Intent Harm

A defense lawyer says a man accused of killing five people by plowing his speeding pickup truck into a group of Kalamazoo area bicyclists hadn’t intended to harm them. The comment from lawyer Alan Koenig followed the release this week of police reports saying 50-year-old Charles Pickett Jr. had taken pain pills and muscle relaxers less than two hours before the June 7 crash in Kalamazoo County. Koenig offered thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families in an email to The Associated Press on Friday. Pickett is charged with second-degree murder and driving while intoxicated causing death. He returns to court next month. Another four bicyclists were injured when they were struck from behind on a two-lane road in Cooper Township.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Two-Thirds Graduate From MI Universities Within Six Years

Nearly two-thirds of students who enroll in Michigan universities earn a degree within six years, according to a state report. Just 36% graduate within four years. The success rate for students at community colleges is lower. About 35% earn a two-year degree or a transfer to a four-year institution within six years of enrollment. The figures were reported for the first time this week using what officials say is a new and improved methodology. It reflects both part- and full-time enrollment and adjusts for students transferring between colleges. Officials say the data will keep schools accountable and help the institutions better serve students. Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information began collecting student-level data in 2009-10, so this is the first cohort with six years of available data.. ...Read Full Story

Large Turnout Expected For Zangaro Funeral Today

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the funeral today for Joe Zangaro, one of two bailiffs shot and killed Monday at the Berrien County Courthouse. His visitation was yesterday at Starks & Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph, and Berrien County Chief Judge Gary Bruce spoke with our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 about the loss of Zangaro and Ron Kienzle.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Health Now Posting Estimated Waiting Times Online

You can now find out how long you’ll be waiting to see a doctor when going to the emergency department and walk-in clinic at Lakeland Health. It’s now got a waiting time posted right on the front page of LakelandHealth.org. The new service will help patients know how much time to set aside for their visit. Ray Cruse, Lakeland Vice President of Business Strategy and Hospitality Services, says the new service also allows patients to make a more educated decision about where they choose to receive care while offering transparency. Lakeland notes that those experiencing serious, life-threatening emergencies continue to receive treatment immediately.. ...Read Full Story

Program Allows Free State Park Access With Library Card

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, state Senator John Proos has a suggestion — check out one of the state’s parks using a free pass you can get at your local library. Proos says the state’s Michigan Activity Pass Program enables anyone to print out a pass to a state park using their library card. Just go to the library, and then take in some of southwest Michigan’s most scenic places.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Foundation: Drivers Admit To Road Rage

A new AAA Foundation report reveals road rage continues to be a major concern. The agency conducted a survey of 2,700 drivers around the country, finding nearly 80% of them experienced aggression or anger while behind the wheel in the past year. AAA’s Gary Bubar says some people create dangerous situations on the road because of anger.. ...Read Full Story

Local Candidate Forum Rescheduled

A local candidate forum organized by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce has been rescheduled. The event had been slated for Friday in Stevensville, but the chamber has moved it to next week out of respect for the Berrien County court security officers who were killed this week. Services for court security chief Joseph Zangaro are planned for this Friday, and a chamber representative tells us they didn’t want to have their forum the same day. It’s now been bumped back to next Friday, July 22. The candidates who had been scheduled to appear have been notified, and most of them can still make it to the rescheduled event. It will still be held at noon at the Super 8 Conference Center on Red Arrow Highway.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Sheriff’s Department Identifies Suspects In High School Break In

Surveillance video has helped the Cass County Sheriff’s Department quickly solve a school break in case. It says three suspects broke into Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis overnight Tuesday. They damaged IT equipment, fiber optic lines, and the school’s server. Some items were also stolen. Some images from surveillance video were send around to other law enforcement agencies and put on the sheriff’s department’s Facebook page, leading to the suspects being identified within 45 minutes. The sheriff’s department thanks the public for its help in solving the case.. ...Read Full Story

This Is National Disability Voter Registration Week

During National Disability Voter Registration Week, advocates are hoping to convince county election officials around Michigan before the November election to make sure polling places are set up for people with disabilities. RoAnne Chaney, Executive Director of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, says some election policies can also block access or create long lines that are difficult for some people to stand in.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Flags To Be Flown At Half Staff Through Monday

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution calling for flags at all county offices to be flown at half-staff in honor of the men killed in Monday’s courthouse shootings in St. Joseph. All flags of the state of Michigan and the United States will remain at half-mast on all county properties through sundown next Monday. The resolution states the action is being done as a “statement of condolence for the victims of the cowardly acts and heinous crimes perpetuated” and also as a mark of respect for the the bravery of Ronald Kienzle and Joseph Zangaro. They were shot and killed by a Berrien County Jail inmate who was trying to escape. Also shot were deputy sheriff James Atterberry Jr. and Kenya Eliis, both of whom are expected to recover.. ...Read Full Story

Group Purchases West MI Sand Dune Property

Officials from the Land Conservancy of West Michigan say White River Township in Muskegon County has closed two acres of Lake Michigan sand dunes after raising $970,000 to purchase the land. MLive reports that the announcement Wednesday comes after a year of fundraising and a decades-long fight to protect the area from development, including a drive that would’ve run through the middle of the dunes. The Land Conservancy and White River Township began a campaign in July 2015 to raise the funds to purchase the property from its current owner, Bro G Land Company, and expand the White River Township Barrier Dunes Sanctuary. The property will be added to the sanctuary, which is just north of White Lake. A dedication will be held Aug. 15 to celebrate the protection of the property.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Island Restricts Use Of Drones

Mackinac Island is restricting drones amid worries that such unmanned aircraft may startle the island’s horses and interfere with its historic charm. The Detroit News reports the restriction is expected to go into effect July 26 requiring visitors and residents on the northern Michigan island to seek permission from officials before flying drones. City Council recently approved the ordinance. According to the ordinance, potential drone operators will need to request a permit before flying their devices. Violators could be subject to a fine. Officials note that the island has a tourist-based economy that is heavily reliant on its historic character, its prohibition of motor vehicles and its use of horse-drawn vehicles. City Clerk Michelle Wightman says the ordinance builds upon one for the island’s state parkland.. ...Read Full Story

Body Of Missing South Haven Man Found

The body of a South Haven man missing since July 5 has been found. Police say Matthew Morin’s remains were located Tuesday in Barry County and identified by fingerprints. Authorities are not disclosing a possible cause of his death, but do say they have a person of interest in custody on unrelated charges. South Haven police were helped in the investigation by Michigan State Police in the search for Morin.. ...Read Full Story

Funeral Arrangements Announced For Ron Kienzle

Funeral arrangements are now set for Berrien County court bailiff Ron Kienzle. Visitation will be Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Starks and Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph, with his funeral Monday at 1 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center. Those are the same locations for the visitation today and the funeral tomorrow for Joe Zangaro. Both men were shot and killed by an inmate in the courthouse on Monday when he was being transfered from a holding cell to a courtroom. The suspect, Larry Gordon, was shot and killed by responding officers.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven PD: Fewer Arrests July 3 Than Reported

Turns out,there were some inflated arrest numbers following the disturbance on North Beach in South Haven prior to the “Light up the Lake” fireworks on July 3. South Haven police tell us there were 13 arrests, not the 50 that had been widely reported. None of the arrests were people from South Haven, as three were from Kalamazoo, three came from Battle Creek, two were in town from suburban Detroit, another two arrested are from Otsego, and one was from suburban Indianapolis. One of the Kalamazoo suspects is charged with inciting a riot.. ...Read Full Story

MI Democrats Propose Constitutional Amendment To Expand Early Voting

Michigan Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment to expand early voting that’s unlikely to gain support in the Republican-controlled legislature. The measure announced Wednesday calls for “no-reason” absentee voting and in-person early voting starting 15 days before an election. Another provision would provide for automatic voter registration for people issued a driver’s license or state ID card.
Democratic Representatives Gretchen Driskell, of Saline, and Jon Hoadley, of Kalamazoo, call their proposal a “voter bill of rights.” They say voting access must be improved especially after Republicans eliminated straight-party voting in January. A spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the resolution has been referred to committee. The constitutional amendment would need support from two-thirds of the House
and Senate by September 9 to qualify for a statewide vote in November.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Points To Land Conservation Efforts

The Pokagon Fund is highlighting its land conservation efforts around southwest Michigan. It says since it awarded a $900,000 grant to Chikaming Open Lands in 2011, the organization has been able to preserve 242 acres in southern Berrien County. Chikaming Open Land’s Bob Tatina says that’s among roughly 1,600 acres the group has preserved since its inception. It buys property that would otherwise be developed, and preserves it for educational and recreation purposes.. ...Read Full Story

Local Candidate Forum Set For This This Week

A forum with local political candidates is planned for this week. It’s being organized by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, and will be held at the Super 8 Conference Center on Red Arrow Highway in Stevensville. On hand will be Democratic congressional candidate Paul Clements, as well as a representative of Congressman Fred Upton, four candidates for the state House in the 79th District, two candidates for Berrien County Drain Commissioner, and some candidates for county commission. The forum will be Friday at noon. Organizers say everyone’s welcome to come out and bring some questions for those running.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Deputy Released From Hospital

Berrien County Deputy Sheriff James Atterberry Jr. has been released from the hospital. Atterberry was shot on Monday when jail inmate Larry Gordon grabbed his gun while being led out of a courtroom. Two court security officers, Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle, were killed in the incident, while Atterberry was taken to Lakeland Hospital for treatment. A civilian, Kenya Eliis, was also shot and taken to the hospital. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says Atterberry is now recovering at home, and his family asks for privacy. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department is planning a press conference for Thursday morning to give an update on its investigation into Monday’s courthouse shootings.. ...Read Full Story

Good Samaritan Expansion Moving Forward In State Senate

An expansion to state Representative Al Pscholka’s Good Samaritan legislation has taken another step forward. On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee approved the plan to remove the age limit on who can be exempt from criminal prosecution when reporting an overdose of certain controlled substances. Pscholka’s original Good Samaritan legislation allowed the exemption for only those under 21. The current Good Samaritan law was introduced by Pscholka last year following the overdose death of 16-year-old Mason Mizwicki, of Watervliet. He died of an overdose that others knew about but didn’t report. The expansion now goes on to the full state Senate. It’s already been approved by the House.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects President To Sign Opioid Package Next Week

The US Senate has advanced legislation designed to fight the abuse of opioid prescriptions. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which has been hailed by Congressman Fred Upton, contains provisions to improve treatment for overdoses, give law enforcement more training, helping veterans with addiction, and strengthen prescription tracking systems.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutors Release Details About Charges Against Courthouse Shooter

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office has released more details about the charges that had been faced by courthouse shooter Larry Gordon. It says the 44-year-old Coloma man was arrested on April 20 when police went to his home on Tannery Road to pick him up for a misdemeanor domestic violence warrant. Upon arrival, officers noticed a light on in a shed on the property and found Gordon inside. He barricaded himself in, and then escaped through a back entrance. Gordon was picked up not long after in a different area of the neighborhood, but once police got into the shed, they learned he’d been holding a 17-year-old girl there for about two weeks against her will. Prosecutors say he’d been giving her meth in exchange for sex, and also forced sex on her. Gordon was charged with a variety of offenses which included first degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, production of child sexually abusive material, and strangulation. He’d been looking at life in prison. Gordon shot and killed two Berrien County court security officers on Monday after grabbing the gun of a sheriff’s deputy. He was later shot and killed by police.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Doing Aerial Search For Marijuana Operations

If you noticed a Michigan State Police helicopter circling around St. Joseph Township today, there’s no need for concern. Michigan State Police tell us the helicopter was doing a free flying search for illegal marijuana growth operations as part of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program. Every summer, MSP teams up with other agencies to do air surveillance for marijuana all over the state. Today happens to be Berrien County’s day for fly overs. State police tell us they had no particular information there was marijuana growing in the areas covered. They were just looking as part of a routine program.. ...Read Full Story

Prayer Vigil Honors Courthouse Victims

Michigan State Police Trooper Steve Barker says he is thankful to have worked with both Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro in his law enforcement career, which began 18 years ago with the Benton Township Police Department. Barker spoke at a candlelight vigil in downtown St. Joseph last night to remember the two court bailiffs who were killed on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. It had been shut down July 6 due to a rupture in a steam expansion joint bellows which damaged the Turbine Building exterior wall. Indiana Michigan Power says the failure looks to have been caused by vibration-induced metal fatigue. Repairs made include improvements to the expansion joint to ensure it’s reliable until taken off line this fall for a refueling outage. At that point, more comprehensive design change improvements will be made. Unit 2 went back into service at 6 p.m. Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Funeral Arrangements Announced For Joe Zangaro

Southwest Michigan will say goodbye to Joe Zangaro on Friday. The head of courthouse security for Berrien County was among two court officers shot and killed Monday in an attempt by an inmate to escape custody. Visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel on Niles Road in St. Joseph, followed by a Celebration of Life Service Friday at 1 p.m .at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Harbor. No funeral arrangements have been announced yet for Ron Kienzle, who was also shot and killed on Monday at the courthouse in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Company Hired To Assess Straits Of Mackinac Pipeline Risks

The state of Michigan has tapped two companies to analyze the financial risk of an oil pipeline rupture in the Straits of Mackinac and evaluate any alternatives to the pipeline. Enbridge Energy, based in Calgary, Alberta, has agreed to pay $3.5 million but will not oversee the studies. Enbridge owns the twin oil pipelines in the area where lakes Huron and Michigan converge. Det Norske Veritas will determine how much money would be needed to clean up an oil spill. Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems will study alternatives to Line 5. The announcement was made Tuesday. Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily. It runs across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before entering the Straits of Mackinac. It ends in Sarnia, Ontario.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Cleanup Week Starts Saturday

This weekend will bring the start of the next Adopt a Highway cleanup week in Michigan. Dan Weingarten, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, says more than 3,000 groups of all stripes from around the state will take to roads to pick up trash. He says their efforts make a big difference each year.. ...Read Full Story

Unity Walk Planned For Sunday

A unity walk is coming up this weekend. The event is planned by the Mosaic CCDA in response to recent violent events in the news around the country, including Monday’s Berrien County Courthouse shootings. Organizer Jameel McGee says they want everyone to get together and talk with police and other groups about maintaining trust in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Arraignments Held Tuesday For Some Arrested In South Haven Beach Disturbance

Court cases stemming from the Fourth of July weekend melee at South Haven’s North Beach have started to get processed. Van Buren County court officials say about ten people arrested during the disturbance were arraigned Tuesday, with charges that included disturbing the peace, resisting police, and assault. Police say a total of about 50 arrests were made on July 3 when the crowd at North Beach got rowdy. The beach was also evacuated. Additionally, large number of citations were issued for having alcohol on the beach. City officials say they’re reviewing how to to handle next year’s Light Up the Lake fireworks show, and also whether to hold it all.. ...Read Full Story

Courthouse Shooter’s Record Goes Back To 1992

The Berrien County Jail inmate who police say shot and killed two court officers on Monday had been facing a variety of criminal charges. Larry Darnell Gordon had been charged with criminal sexual conduct, first degree, and a host of other offenses that included assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence. He was arrested in April over an incident that allegedly occurred in February. Police also say he had a criminal record going back to 1992 which included convictions for crimes including unarmed robbery, fleeing a police officer, third degree, and burglary. Gordon was fatally shot by a Berrien County sheriff’s deputy after he shot and killed two court security officers Monday. He also shot a sheriff’s deputy who is recovering and a woman identified as Kenya Ellis, who is also recovering.. ...Read Full Story

Security At Berrien County Courthouse To Be Reviewed

Security procedures at the Berrien County Courthouse will be reviewed following Monday’s fatal shootings. Berrien County Chief Judge Gary Bruce says a report will be done, and all of the right questions will be asked in the coming weeks. Speaking to WSJM Tuesday, he said questions about handcuffing practices and other security-related matters at the courthouse will be addressed soon. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Courthouse To Remain Closed To Public Wednesday

The Berrien County Courthouses in both St. Joseph and Niles will remain closed to the public Wednesday. The closure is in response to Monday’s shooting incident. The Berrien County Administrator’s office says court staff should still report for work, and there will be grief counselors on hand for them. It’s not saying when the courthouse will be reopened to the public, and advises everyone to monitor news media for further information. Meanwhile, the Berrien County Health Department at the Niles location will be open Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Man Arrested Following Suspicious Situation

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says a Mattawan man is facing charges after police say he was caught intoxicated with a shotgun Tuesday. It happened around midnight after deputies were called to a home in the 27,000 block of County Road 364 on a report of a possible prowler. Soon after arriving, they heard someone yelling, and found the 19-year-old suspect in a yard. He had a 12-guage shotgun, and police say he was drunk. The man tried to run, but was caught after a short time. He’s now charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, minor in possession, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. His name has not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

[VIDEO] Fallen Bailiffs Honored In Walk to Law Enforcement Memorial

Citizens of Berrien County are honoring the fallen law enforcement officials of Monday’s shooting at the courthouse.
Hundreds braved the heat Tuesday to pay tribute to Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle, the Berrien County Court Bailiffs who were killed during the shooting incident Monday afternoon. The crowd gathered in the courthouse parking lot, and proceeded to walk to the Law Enforcement Memorial on Lake Boulevard, where flowers were placed on the memorial wall and local leaders offered words of encouragement.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff: Gordon Was Handcuffed Before Shootings

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey now says a jail inmate’s hands were cuffed in front when he wrested a gun from a deputy and killed two bailiffs at the courthouse in St. Joseph. Bailey says he had wrong information Monday when he said the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon of Coloma, was not handcuffed. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Bailey says Gordon got into a fight with a deputy while being escorted to a courtroom from a holding cell. Two bailiffs were killed and two people were injured before Gordon was killed by other officers. The sheriff says an investigation will reveal more details about what happened. The deputy who was escorting Gordon is in a hospital with injuries that aren’t life-threatening.. ...Read Full Story

Names Of Victims In Courthouse Shooting Released

Two Berrien County court officers are dead after an inmate of the county jail grabbed one of their guns on Monday afternoon. Sheriff Paul Bailey identified the victims as 61-year-old Joseph Zangaro and 63-year-old Ronald Kienzle. Police say Zangaro was the supervisor of court security and had worked for the court since 2004. He was a retired Michigan State Police Bridgman post commander. Kienzle had worked for the trial court since 2005, and was a retired Benton Township police sergeant. Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy James Atterberry was also shot, and is recovering at Lakeland Hospital, along with a woman whose name hasn’t been released. The inmate has been identified as 45-year-old Larry Darnell Gordon, of Coloma. Bailey says Gordon was able to get an officer’s gun during a struggle.. ...Read Full Story

Reaction To Courthouse Shootings Coming in From Across The Nation

Support for the victims of Monday’s courthouse shootings in St. Joseph is pouring in from all over the country. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted, “Thoughts and prayers with the victims, and their families – along with everyone at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.” Closer to home, Congressman Fred Upton writes, “We have lost two very able public servants and we all grieve for them and their families.” Similar sentiments were expressed by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who wrote he’s “deeply saddened by the tragic shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph.” State Senator John Proos commended the professionalism of local law enforcement in responding, and state Representative Al Pscholka said, “We are in a very difficult time across America right now, and this is hitting very close to home.”. ...Read Full Story

Groups At Odds With Michigan Attorney General Over Transgender Restroom Directive

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette faces some criticism for what opponents say is an attack on the rights of transgender students. Schuette added Michigan to a lawsuit on Friday involving nine other states. It attempts to block a guidance from the Obama administration promoting equal treatment of transgender students in schools, claiming the rules are unlawful.. ...Read Full Story

Elkhart Woman Badly Hurt In Galien Motorcycle Crash

A northern Indiana woman is being treated for serious injuries sustained when her motorcycle hit an SUV head-on Sunday in Galien Township. 50-year-old Gloria Helenbolt wasn’t wearing a helmet. Investigators with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department say she sideswiped two other vehicles on US 12 before going into the east-bound lane and colliding with the SUV. Helenbolt is hospitalized at South Bend Memorial. No one else was hurt.. ...Read Full Story