Local News Archives

State, Foundation Partner On Mental Health, Suicide Campaign

(Lansing, MI – AP) – The state of Michigan and a foundation are working together on a campaign to raise awareness of mental illness and combat suicide. The Opening Minds Ending Stigma campaign began over the weekend with the airing of a 30-minute documentary in the Detroit and Grand Rapids TV markets. The documentary can be seen for free at www.endingstigma.org. Internet and social media campaigns, including public service announcements, also are planned.. ...Read Full Story

Audit Finds MI School Bus Inspections Inadequate

An audit says the Michigan State Police division that inspects school buses is understaffed and has failed to ensure problems are fixed. The Michigan Office of the Auditor General looked at the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, which keeps tabs on the condition of thousands of buses. The audit found initial inspections were done, but inspectors relied too heavily on the word of school districts that problems were fixed. The audit found that 30 to 40 percent of repairs were certified by state employees between 2013 and 2015. Randy Coplin, assistant commander for the division, tells WOOD-TV staffing and funding have been cut, but the inspection program is “one of the best in the country.” He says a school bus “is the safest form of transportation to and from school.”. ...Read Full Story

Ride To Remember Honors Fallen Berrien County Deputies

Remembering the Americans who lost there lives in the 911 attacks was evident Sunday as hundreds gathered for the 16th Ride to Remember in Southwest Michigan. The annual motorcycle ride is to raise money for the American Red Cross. The event was also in honor of the two Berrien County Deputies who lost their lives on July 11th. Berrien County Sheriff Bailey told the crowd, that as Americans, we stand together.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Seeking To Close Failing Detroit Schools

Republican legislative leaders are asking Michigan’s attorney general to issue an opinion on the state’s authority to close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit as soon as the end of this academic year. The letter released Friday was written by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter. They want Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette to weigh in because Republican Governor Rick Snyder interprets a law  rescuing the Detroit district from debt to mean the State School Reform/Redesign Officer cannot close any district school until 2019. The top lawmakers say the law’s “plain language” authorizes Detroit school closures by the end of this school year and to say otherwise ignores legislative intent. Attorney general opinions are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by a court.. ...Read Full Story

Courser, Gamrat Suing Over Scandal Investigation

Two Republicans who were forced out of the Michigan Legislature in a sex scandal have filed lawsuits, claiming their rights were violated during the investigation by their House colleagues. Todd Courser of Lapeer County is seeking millions of dollars. Cindy Gamrat of Allegan County is seeking at least $25,000. They filed separate lawsuits this week in federal court in western Michigan. Gamrat is serving as her own lawyer.
Courser quit the House last year while Gamrat was expelled by lawmakers. Courser was accused of soliciting an aide to send a phony email to cover up an affair with Gamrat. Separately, Courser is facing criminal charges related to the scandal. He denies wrongdoing. Charges against Gamrat were dismissed by a judge.. ...Read Full Story

“Ride To Remember” Tomorrow

The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 will be remembered this weekend with a special motorcycle ride through southwest Michigan. Berrien Riders President Todd Kimball tells WSJM News the 16th Ride to Remember leaves from the Berrien County Courthouse at noon Sunday. He says hundreds of riders show up.. ...Read Full Story

Chemical, Tire Recycling Event Coming Up In Van Buren County

Residents of Van Buren County who are looking to get rid of old tires or household chemicals will have a chance to do so this month with some help from the Van Buren Conservation District. It’s holding a recycling event on Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Haven Public Works building on 8th Avenue. You can drop off passenger tires there for free, and they’ll take latex paint for $2 per gallon and household chemicals for $1.10 per pound. Also, they’ll take hearing aids, eye glasses, walking canes, American flags which will be donated to the local Lions Club and VFW. You can find out more at VanBurenCD.org/recycling.. ...Read Full Story

Several Lane Closures Planned For SWM Roads Next Week

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be busy in the next several weeks, and it’s advising drivers of several highway lane closures coming up. First, there’s a single lane closure planned for eastbound I-94 at the Pipestone Road exit in Benton Harbor while bridge repairs are made. It will be in effect on Monday. Up next is a single lane closure with flag controls on M-40 between I-94 and County Road 653 near Paw Paw starting Monday and running through September 19 while they do repairs. Also, MDOT plans to close the ramp from westbound I-94 to the I-94 business loop at exit 33 in Benton Harbor starting Monday. It’ll reopen Wednesday after some pavement repairs are finished. Last but not least is a single-lane closure planned for eastbound I-94 from Mile Marker 25 to M-63, or the Niles Avenue exit in St. Joseph Township. They’ll be doing pavement repairs and the closure will be just for one day. You can stay on top of all MDOT projects with its MIDrive app.. ...Read Full Story

Suitcases For Kids Campaign Begins

It’s time once again for the Realtors Association of Southwest Michigan’s Suitcases for Kids drive. Each year, the group collects duffel bags, backpacks, and personal care items to be given to children in the local foster care system. Realtors Association Director Gary Walter tells WSJM News they need all the help they can get.. ...Read Full Story

Coalition Asks Presidential Candidates To Protect Federal Land

The federal government owns an estimated 640 million acres of land, including about 3.6 million acres in Michigan, and a coalition of more than three dozen sportsman, wildlife, and environmental groups is asking presidential candidates to commit to keeping these lands public. Collin O’Mara, with the National Wildlife Federation says people need to keep fighting to maintain access to public lands.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation To Help Development Of Driverless Cars Moving Forward

Legislation to help automakers develop autonomous cars is expected to make its way through the Michigan legislature soon. State Representative Brandt Iden, of Kalamazoo County, says the bills would let companies test autonomous vehicles without a human researcher in the driver’s seat. They would also help with the development of a new test facility, and allow automakers to operate an on-demand vehicle network. Iden is also expecting the package to move quickly through the House.. ...Read Full Story

Ride To Remember This Sunday

This Sunday brings the 16th Ride to Remember in southwest Michigan. It’s a motorcycle ride to raise money for the American Red Cross. Berrien Riders President Todd Kimball tells WSJM News registration starts at the Berrien County Courthouse at 10 a.m. and the ride begins at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Straight Party Voting Will Still Be Allowed In November

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to let Michigan’s new ban on straight-party voting take effect for the November election. The court on Friday rejected a request by state officials to halt lower court rulings that blocked the Republican-sponsored law signed by Governor Rick Snyder. The court’s decision means Michigan voters will still be able to use the popular straight-ticket option, which allows them to support all candidates from one party with a single mark. In issuing a preliminary injunction, a federal district judge ruled the law would create longer lines and disproportionately burden black voters who are more likely to use the straight-ticket option. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a stay pending appeal. Forty other states prohibit straight-party voting.. ...Read Full Story

GasBuddy Expecting A Jump At The Pump

The price at the pump is on the way up. Patrick DeHaan with Gas Buddy says supplies are low because they were “likely affected by Hurricane Hermine.” He adds the storm “shut down a lot of the infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.” A lot of the large crude carriers can hold up to two-million barrels of crude oil, and if there’s a large storm that would affect how quickly the oil can be offloaded and brought into the country, supply will take a hit.. ...Read Full Story

Two Main Streets In South Bend Closed Since May Reopen

(South Bend, IN – AP) – Two primary streets in South Bend closed since May have reopened. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and other city officials on Thursday removed a barricade, reopening Michigan Street, which goes through downtown South Bend. That street and Main Street were closed to install roundabouts and to prepare to convert the streets from one-way to two-way. Full conversion of the two streets will occur in three phases over the next two months. The goal of the $20 million project is to make the city’s downtown friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists and to slow down vehicles traveling through downtown. The project also included new curbs, sidewalks and trees.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Auto Repair Shop Burglarized

A burglary at a Van Buren County auto repair shop is under investigation. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says someone broke into Complete Care Automotive on M-43 in Almena Township overnight Wednesday and stole some expensive tools. The department also notes Kalamazoo Fence Company, about two miles to the west, was also broken into that night, although it doesn’t know yet if the crimes are related. Anyone with information on the break-ins is asked to contact police.. ...Read Full Story

Theater Chain Closed Captioning Lawsuit Settled

A settlement has been announced in a lawsuit filed against the owners of Celebration Cinema. Last month, the National Association of the Deaf and a deaf St. Joseph resident sued Loeks Theaters over the chain’s lack of closed captioning services. The suit alleged a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and sought remedial action. Last week, Celebration Cinema announced it is adding closed captioning technology at all of its locations. It’s also installing descriptive audio devices for the blind. On Thursday of this week, the settlement of the suit was announced, with the CEO of the National Association of the Deaf saying the organization is pleased with Celebration Cinema’s recent changes. The closed captioning tech will be in all of its locations by mid-October.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Offering Citizens Academy

If you’re interested in law enforcement, the Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw may have the right class for you. It’s offering a citizen’s academy set to start this month. Post Lieutenant Dale Hinz tells WSJM News, for eight weeks, troopers will teach their students all about the tools of their trade.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Approves Expanding Legal Protections For Overdose Reporting

Anyone in Michigan could report drug overdoses without fear of being prosecuted for illegal possession under legislation nearing Governor
Rick Snyder’s desk. The Senate voted 30-7 for legislation Thursday to expand a law exempting people from prosecution if they report an overdose from an illegal substance. The bills won House approval in May and could get a final vote next week.The protections would extend to people of any age for any controlled substance. A 2015 law protects people under 21 from charges when reporting an overdose or medical emergency arising from prescription drug and painkiller use.Michigan also provides immunity to minors helping someone in danger from
alcohol intoxication. One opponent says the new legislation is tantamount to “de facto” drug legalization.. ...Read Full Story

Victim In Fatal I-94 Crash Identified As Mattawan Man

The name of a man killed in a crash on I-94 near Paw Paw Wednesday has been released. Michigan State Police say 38-year-old Ryan Cramer, of Mattawan, was killed when his van crossed over from the westbound side of the highway into the eastbound lanes around 9 a.m. It hit a semi head-on. Police are still investigating why the van crossed the median. The driver of the semi, an Chicago man, was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for injuries.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Tax Rules

Michigan would tax and regulate medical marijuana in a tiered licensing system under legislation that has cleared a big hurdle in the legislature.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 25-12 for a bill Thursday to require a state operating license to grow, process, sell, transport or test marijuana used for medical purposes. Another bill clarifies that allowable marijuana includes non-smokable forms such as oils, food items and pills. “Provisioning centers” that sell marijuana to patients or their caregivers would pay a 3 percent tax on their gross retail income. Advocates say the measures are necessary due to confusion over Michigan’s 2008 voter-approved initiative that legalized medical marijuana. The Senate voted nearly a year after the legislation won House approval. The House could take final votes as early as next week.. ...Read Full Story

[VIDEO] Denise Bohn Golf Outing Raises Over $34,000

More than $34,000 has been raised by the first ever Denise Bohn Strong Golf Outing. The event was held on August 6 at Indian Lake Hills Golf Club in Eau Claire to raise money for the children of Midwest Family Broadcasting’s Denise Bohn, who was murdered in April. Denise’s three kids were left with no parents, and so friends, coworkers, and loved ones organized this month’s golf outing to collect money for their education. Denise’s signature “Save the TaTas” fundraiser for the Komen organization for this year became Denise Bohn Strong. Connie Bohn, Denise’s mother, says the event far exceeded her expectations. She thanked each and every volunteer and golfer who made it all possible.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Trial Begins For Man Accused Of Killing Estranged Wife

A year after her death, the estranged husband of a Grand Junction woman is now on trial for her murder. The trial of Brent Bogseth started this week in Paw Paw, and is expected to continue into next week. Kimberly Bogseth was found naked and in plastic garbage bags near her home on September 9 of last year, a week after she was reported missing. He was arrested in Chicago and extradited to Michigan for the trial. An autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma, with a hammer believed to have been the murder weapon. Prosecutors say that hammer has never been found, but her blood was found in his car along with her cell phone.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Moves To Not Require Human In Driverless Test Cars

Michigan would no longer require that someone be inside a self-driving car while testing it on public roads under bills advancing in the Legislature. The change won unanimous Senate approval Wednesday and could reach Governor Snyder’s desk within months. The legislation is designed to keep the auto industry’s home state ahead of the curve on autonomous vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Vigil To Remember Those Lost To Suicide

The Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition is hoping to bring some attention to programs in the area for those who may need help. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Michigan, and the coalition’s Trent Watford tells WSJM News there were 26 suicides investigated in Berrien County in 2014, and he thinks more went unrecorded.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph High School Football Gets New Scoreboard

When the St. Joe Bears take to the field this Friday for their first game at home of the season, they’ll have a brand new, state-of-the art scoreboard installed at Dickinson Stadium. The district announced Wednesday it’s been able to get the new board after the old one’s message center died last year mid-season and couldn’t be repaired. Superintendent Ann Cardon says she’s amazed by the things accomplished by the boosters and sponsors in making the new addition possible. The district thanks Auto-Owners Insurance, Insurance Management Services, the St. Joseph Improvement Association, and the Southwest Michigan Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine for their help. The Bears face Portage Northern this Friday for their first game of the year at Dickinson Stadium.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Charged In Kalamazoo Rape

A Niles man has been charged with first degree home invasion and first degree criminal sexual conduct and other charges in Kalamazoo after he allegedly let himself in through the unlocked door of an off-campus apartment near Western Michigan University. WMU Police claim 19-year old Stephen Casper then sexually assaulted the two women who were renting the place. Police say the crime happened at about 4 a.m. Sunday. He is being held on $35,000 bond.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Legalization Will Not Appear On MI November Ballot

Marijuana won’t be on Michigan’s statewide ballot in November. The state appeals court and the Michigan Supreme Court each turned down appeals Wednesday by a group trying to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. A group called the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee submitted 354,000 signatures, apparently enough to get marijuana on the ballot. But the Board of State Canvassers said more than 200,000 were collected outside a 180-day period, a decision that left the group short of enough names. In August, a judge at the Court of Claims said the state had “no clear legal duty” to count the stale signatures.. ...Read Full Story

[VIDEO] Results for Local Sailors in Tri-State Regatta

Several St. Joseph sailors are celebrating success at the Tri-State Regatta this past weekend. The weekend-long boat race started Friday in Chicago, going across Lake Michigan to St. Joseph. The second leg took racers from St. Joseph to Michigan City, and the third leg took them back to Chicago. Of the nine racers from St. Joseph, the boat IMAGINE came in ninth place in its round in the race from Chicago to St. Joseph, but won the race from St. Joseph to Michigan City. The boat Captain Blood came in eighth for its round in the first leg, and finished second in the next. Fuzzy Logic came in fourth and third in the first and second legs, respectively. None of the nine St. Joseph boats competed in the race from Michigan City to Chicago.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In I-94 Crash Near Paw Paw

One person is dead and another injured following a crash on I-94 near Paw Paw this morning. Michigan State Police say it happened in the eastbound lanes, and led to the closure of the highway for several hours. Around 9 a.m. a westbound van crossed the median and hit a semi head-on. The driver of the van was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the truck was taken to Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw. The names of the drivers have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan University Tuition 6th-Highest In US

Michigan’s public universities collectively have the sixth-highest in-state tuition rates in the country, averaging $11,991, according to a new report. The study issued Tuesday by the Michigan League for Public Policy – a Lansing-based advocacy group for the poor – links rising tuition and student debt to decreased state higher education funding and state financial aid. It says Michigan has cut university funding by more than $262 million since 2003, a 30% drop after adjusting for inflation.. ...Read Full Story

Second New York Flight Added At SBN

A second direct flight is now available from South Bend International Airport to the New York City metro area. Airport spokeswoman Julie Curtis says the new flight on United will start today with the arrival of a flight from the Newark Liberty International Airport at 4:52 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Leader May Seek AG Opinion On Closing Detroit Schools

A top Republican lawmaker says he’s considering “all options” to challenge Governor Rick Snyder’s determination that no low-performing
Detroit public schools can be closed by the state for three years. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Tuesday one option is asking
Attorney General Bill Schuette for a legal opinion. Snyder’s office said last week he interprets the law creating a new, debt-free Detroit school district this summer to mean the State School Reform Office can’t close any district school until 2019. Meekhof says the law is “pretty clear” and he’s “confused” by Snyder’s analysis. Meekhof told reporters that passing clarifying legislation isn’t a “great option” because many majority Republicans “have fatigue on Detroit issues.” Attorney general opinions are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by a court.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested For Drunk Boating In Van Buren County Monday

A reminder from police not to drink and boat. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says an Illinois man was busted for boating over the legal limit on Labor Day in Columbia Township’s Scott Lake. Marine deputies ran into the man, who had a child in the boat with him, and while talking, they realized he’d been drinking. He was arrested on a charge of operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level greater than .08. Police remind boaters the same legal limit when driving a car also applies to boats.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Teen Shoots Self After Accidentally Shooting Teen

Police say a distraught teenager in southwestern Michigan killed himself after fatally shooting another teen while playing with a gun. The two shootings occurred Monday night in an alley in Kalamazoo. A witness explained to police what happened. Police didn’t publicly disclose
which victim was accidentally shot, but said there was no argument or altercation. The 17-year-old victims were identified as Marsavious Frazier and Daquarion Hunter. Hunter graduated from Loy Norrix High School in June, while Frazier was a student at Phoenix High School. Counselors were available Tuesday, the first day of school, to talk to students and staff who knew the victims. Nina Ricardo, who lives in the neighborhood, says she heard gunshots and rushed outside to round up her kids.. ...Read Full Story