Local News Archives

Economic Club Of SWM Announces Next List Of Speakers

The next round of speakers set to address the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan has been announced. The club says its 2016-2017 speaker series will kick off on October 17 with former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Following that will be former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino on November 14, followed by astronaut Scott Kelly on March 22 and physicist Michio Kaku on April 20. The speaker series will wrap up with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on May 17. Also this week, the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan announced it’s going to allow the public a chance to see some of its speakers. Individuals can now sign up for memberships or buy single meeting tickets through The Mendel Center Box Office.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Charge Against BH Man Dismissed

A murder charge against a Benton Harbor man has been dropped thanks to a review of cell phone records which show he may not have been in town when the crime occurred. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office says Reginald Collins was charged in the December 8, 2014 shooting death of Richard Street early last year. Police found Street’s body in a backyard along Union Street on the morning of the 9th, and believed the murder took place sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. the night before. They also had a witness who told them he saw Collins shoot Street. However, a review of Collins’ cell phone calls has shown he was in South Bend around 8:45 p.m. the night of the shooting. Prosecutors say that creates reasonable doubt he could have committed the murder. Collins will now likely be transported to Georgia, where he faces a probation violation charge.. ...Read Full Story

MI College Students Facing Increased Tuition, Debt

Some discouraging news for Michigan college students digging into the fall semester, as new data shows tuition in the state nearly has doubled at universities since 2003. The Back to School Report from the Michigan League for Public Policy also shows that more than 60% of students in Michigan graduate with debt. Peter Ruark, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, says investment in higher education is crucial to ensure the state has an educated workforce for the jobs of the future.. ...Read Full Story

Two Teens Shot In Kalamazoo

Two teenagers have been shot and killed in southwestern Michigan. Police report that Marsavious Frazier and Daqarion Hunter, both 17, were found in an alley Monday night in Kalamazoo. Officers initially responded to a report of one person shot in the city’s Edison neighborhood.
Police say both teens were pronounced dead at the scene after 9 p.m. Monday. The deaths are under investigation and no arrests have been reported.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Trending Down

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have dropped 10 cents per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.28 per gallon on Sunday. That’s about 9 cents less than it was at the same point last year.
Of the 10 metro areas surveyed by AAA, Lansing and East Lansing have the lowest average price of about $2.15 per gallon. The highest average is about $2.38 per gallon in the Ann Arbor area. AAA says the average price in the Detroit area is about $2.35 per gallon, about 7 cents less than the same point last week. AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.. ...Read Full Story

Search for Missing Teen Suspended

Family and friends of a 17-year-old who is presumed drowned in Lake Michigan last week are upset that the search for him was called off over the holiday weekend. The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department say they will continue to watch the shoreline if he washes up on the beach. They say murky water and high waves late last week made it difficult to search. The two teens who drowned off Holland last week were the 72nd and 73rd to drown on one of the five Great Lakes this summer season, and two of ten to have died on West Michigan beaches. Lake Michigan has a reputation as the deadliest of the Great Lakes, primarily because it has the largest population surrounding it and large popular beaches, and the best and the worst beach weather. Long stretches of beach that run north and south, perpendicular to the westerly winds can create rip tides and under tows that can drag uninformed or unsuspecting swimmers to their deaths. Critics say tourism bureaus spend millions luring people from all over the region to Great Lakes beaches and do little to educate them about the dangers.. ...Read Full Story

Silent Observer Launches New App

They’re trying to catch more criminals in west Michigan. Silent Observer has launched a new web app called “Caught in the Act.” Executive Director Chris Cameron says the page features surveillance photos of people who have allegedly committed crimes.. ...Read Full Story

Gang Leader Gets More Than 120 Years In Prison

A man accused by federal authorities of being the Michigan leader of a Chicago-based gang has been sentenced to 121/2 years in prison after being convicted of heroin distribution and conspiracy. The Grand Rapids Press reports assistant U.S. attorneys in court documents described Kenton Taylor as the highest-ranking member of the Black P Stone Nation gang in Michigan. They say the gang used religion to “gloss over” its
actual mission of trafficking in drugs and guns. Taylor and three others were charged with conspiracy to distribute more than
100 grams of heroin and heroin trafficking. The others took plea deals. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff on Wednesday also ordered Taylor to serve eight years on supervised release after being released from prison.. ...Read Full Story

Clinton Campaign Office Opens In St. Joseph

The race for president has come to Berrien County, with the Democratic party opening a campaign office for Hillary Clinton in St. Joseph over the weekend. WNDU reports the office is now up and running at 2700 Niles Avenue. There, Democrats can make calls, get campaign materials, and mingle. Polls show Clinton leading in Michigan, and Democrats hope to keep it that way. A Clinton campaign office also opened in Traverse City Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Battle Creek Considers Panhandling Ban

Battle Creek city commissioners are scheduled to cast final votes Tuesday on ordinances aimed to regulating panhandling and loitering. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the proposals would outlaw remaining “idly” within 25 feet of an intersection and soliciting money from anyone waiting in line or near building entrances. Last month five commissioners voted in favor of the ordinances and four dissented. The proposals have led to debate about whether laws are needed to protect those who feel threatened by panhandlers and whether such laws are constitutional.
Federal court rulings have found bans on begging violate the First Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to city officials arguing the proposals “would not survive constitutional scrutiny.” City attorneys say those issues have been addressed.. ...Read Full Story

EPA: Flint Water Needs More Testing

Federal officials say it will take at least three months of testing before Flint can distribute water from a new pipeline in the in the wake of its crisis with lead-tainted water. The Flint Journal reports Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told city and state officials that Flint must
demonstrate its ability to treat water from the Karegnondi Water Authority. Flint switched from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money, but the corrosive river water caused lead to leach from aging pipes into homes. Flint has switched back to Detroit water. It was done as a cost-saving measure in anticipation of eventually going with Karegnondi when it starts taking water from Lake Huron.. ...Read Full Story

Professor Installing Stress Sensors On Mackinac Bridge

A Michigan State University engineering professor plans to install sensors on the Mackinac Bridge to monitor stress on the aging structure.
Professor Nizar Lajnef tells the Lansing State Journal the stress sensors that will be placed on the bridge later this month are a test of a project he’s been working on for seven years with funding from the Federal Highway Administration. A recent grant of $1.5 million to MSU, Washington University at St. Louis and the University of Nevada-Reno will put sensor prototypes in place at several spots around the country. He says if it works, the stress sensors could become commonplace on structures around the country. The 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s two peninsulas is the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Rolling Out Smart Meters Statewide

Consumers Energy says its customers will be able to choose their own billing dates as the utility rolls out new smart meter technology statewide. The company says smart meters enable residents to check out how much power they’ve been using on a day to day level. The meters also make billing more accurate. As Consumers Energy gets more of the meters installed in homes, it says customers will be able to pick when they’re billed by logging into their accounts at the company’s website. The utility is now in the process of installing smart meters, and will roll them out in more cities throughout the fall.. ...Read Full Story

Group Puts Up Billboard Reminding GM Of Safety Promises

A group associated with victims of General Motors Company’s faulty ignition switches is putting up a billboard in Detroit aimed at reminding the
company about its promise to improve its safety record. The billboard paid for by GM Recall Survivors is scheduled to go up Monday along Interstate 75 and reads: “Let’s make sure they never forget.” The billboard shows six people who died in crashes. In 2014, GM recalled 2.6 million cars worldwide to replace the faulty switches and ordered a record 84 recalls. Last year it announced it had settled 1,385 death and injury cases for $275 million and a class-action shareholders’ lawsuit for $300 million. The company paid nearly $600 million to settle 399 claims made to a fund it established, covering 124 deaths and 275 injuries.. ...Read Full Story

State Legislature Returns To Work This Week

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature returns for voting this week after a three-month summer break, with plans for an abbreviated
calendar before the crucial November election determines which party controls the House. Both chambers will have three weeks in session before the election, or nine days. There could be a lot on the docket, but lawmakers may leave until the post-election “lame duck” period final resolution of high-priority items such as energy and criminal justice legislation. There is little, if anything, that absolutely must be passed now. But
legislators will want to make progress on some bills or risk them being crowded out by more pressing issues in November and December.
Bills related to autonomous vehicles, medical marijuana, public records requests and third-grade reading could be voted on this year.. ...Read Full Story

Apple Growers Enjoying Bumper Crop

Apple growers around southwest Michigan say they’re pleased with this year’s crop. The Michigan Apple Committee announced this week 2016’s harvest will be much larger than usual, and Sarah Jollay, with Jollay Orchards in Coloma, tells WSJM News that sounds right to her.. ...Read Full Story

150,000 Jobs Added In August

The latest numbers from the United States Labor Department show employers added 151,000 jobs in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s about half of what was added in July and June. Michigan News Network business editor Murray Feldman says people were hired in food service and technology, while manufacturing and mining jobs went down.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Helps MI college Students Compete In Motor Sports

Michigan college students who compete in motor sports around the country have found a unique ally in Ford Motor Company. Since 2004, Ford has been allowing students at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Western Michigan University to test their vehicles in its wind tunnel. Ford’s Steve Wergryn tells WSJM News the automaker uses the tunnel to test for noise and other comfort factors for drivers. However, the college races are mostly interested in aerodynamics.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County GOP Headquarters To Open Wednesday

Republicans in Cass County are preparing to open a new headquarters as they work for victory in November. On Wednesday, September 7, state and local dignitaries will gather at 120 South Broad Street in Cassopolis as Republicans hold a grand opening for the new “Victory Headquarters.” Yard signs, campaign literature, and volunteer opportunities will be offered at the headquarters throughout September, October, and early November. Its hours will be Monday through Friday 5 to 9 p.m. and weekends from 9-11 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

70 Card Skimmers Found In MI Gas Pumps So Far

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is again warning drivers about gas pump skimming devices. The skimmers can be attached to a gas pump to steal your credit card information when you pay outside. Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton tells WSJM News about 70 of them have been found in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Protesters Greet Trump In Detroit

Area clergy and several hundred city residents have denounced a visit by Donald Trump to a Detroit church as the Republican presidential
candidate hopes to convince black voters to cast their ballots for him. Trump attended an attendance-by-ticket-only Saturday morning service inside Great Faith Ministries International as protesters picketed loudly outdoors. Chanting “No Trump!” and “Dump Trump,” some tried to push through barriers closing off the church parking lot, but were stopped by security guards and police officers. The Reverend Lawrence Glass said Trump represents “politics of fear and hate” and that “minorities of all kinds have much to lose taking a chance on someone like” Trump.
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson invited Trump to the church and was expected to interview him in private for the pastor’s Christian television network.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Sales Down In August

U.S. sales of new cars and trucks were expected to drop in August, ending summer on a low note for the auto industry. Ford’s sales were down 8 percent compared to last August. More automakers will report sales later Thursday. Overall industry sales were expected to slip 5 percent to 1.5 million vehicles, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. It would be the fourth month this year that sales have been flat or have declined on a year-over-year basis. This isn’t unexpected. After six straight years of growth – and record sales of 17.5 million new vehicles last year – the industry has been bracing for a plateau as consumer demand wanes. Total sales through August are now expected to be flat compared to a year ago.. ...Read Full Story

No Charges To Be Filed In Shooting By Muskegon Police Officer

No charges will be filed against a western Michigan police officer who shot and wounded a knife-wielding 15-year-old girl as she tried to attack a 16-year-old boy. MLive reports that Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson made the announcement earlier this week and said evidence showed the officer was justified in shooting the teenager to prevent her from assaulting the teen boy. According to Hilson, video from the police cruiser shows Officer Doug Conrad walking up to the apartment when the boy emerges fleeing from the pursuing girl. The officer repeatedly warned the girl before he fired four times. She was struck in the leg. Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis says the officer will remain on
administrative leave until the city completes an internal review of the incident.. ...Read Full Story

Hiring Slows In August

The latest numbers from the United States Labor Department show employers added 151,000 jobs in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s about half of what was added in July and June. Michigan News Network business editor Murray Feldman says people were hired in food service and technology, while manufacturing and mining jobs went down.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Payday Lending Abuses

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan has taken a look at nearly 10,000 complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about payday lenders and found serious abuses. It’s recommending some changes to federal law to protect people. Kelly Griffith, with the Center for Economic Integrity, says they have to avoid a loophole that would allow companies to make up to six loans to each borrower per year before verifying income.. ...Read Full Story

Illinois Man Arrested After Chase In Stolen Van

Michigan State Police say an Illinois man is in the Van Buren County Jail following a chase on I-94 Friday. It started around 6:30 p.m. when troopers tried to pull over a mini van for speeding on the westbound side of the highway near Hartford. The driver took off with police in pursuit. He finally stopped around Coloma when he hit some stop sticks. It turned out the van the man was driving had been stolen out of Detroit earlier in the day, and a search of it turned up marijuana, a large amount of cash, and an assault rifle. The 19-year-old is now facing five felony charges. His name hasn’t yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Plans For Closed Captioning At Celebration Cinema Several Years In The Making

A representative of Celebration Cinema says the theater chain’s decision to add closed captioning services to all of its locations had everything to do with a lawsuit filed against the company, and nothing to do with it. A St. Joseph man filed suit this month against Celebration for its lack of accommodations to the deaf. Celebration Cinema spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News the chain had been holding off on installing that technology, but realized it was time to act.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan AG Asks Supreme Court To Uphold Straight Party Voting Ban

Michigan’s attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene so a new ban on straight-party voting can take effect for the
November election. The emergency request filed Friday says a federal district judge and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrongly blocked the law when “all Michigan has done is adopt an approach that 40 other states already follow.” The ban would prevent voters from supporting all candidates from one party with a single mark. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette says a response from the justices is needed by next Thursday so election officials can start printing ballots. The lower courts ruled that the GOP-sponsored law – which is opposed by Democrats – would disproportionately burden black voters by creating longer lines.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Dowagiac Gas Station Robbery

A suspect has been arrested in the robbery of a Marathon station in Dowagiac this week. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 30-year-old Christopher Rhodes is charged with robbery, larceny, and felony firearm. Police say he walked into the Marathon station on Spruce Street Monday night flashing a handgun, and made off with the cash from the register and a customer’s wallet. Rhodes was tracked down with the help of a state parole officer, and arrested in Coloma. Police are looking into whether he was also responsible for a gas station robbery in South Haven Monday night. Rhodes was arraigned on Friday afternoon with bond set at $500,000.. ...Read Full Story

State Lists Worst Schools

Many of the schools on Michigan’s newest bottom 5% list are in Detroit and will not be closed by the state until 2019 at the earliest because of how the laws enacting a financial bailout of the district were written. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration on Thursday made public the lowest-performing schools across the state. 58 of the 116 open schools are in Detroit’s district or will be folded back into the district when a state-created turnaround entity dissolves next year. A Snyder spokeswoman says the state will not force the closure of Detroit schools for at least three years because of the legislation that created a new debt-free district. Also Thursday, Michigan’s School Reform Office released seven schools from “priority” status after students improved their test results. Among those is Decatur High School.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Gas Pump Skimmers

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is again warning drivers about gas pump skimming devices. The skimmers can be attached to a gas pump to steal your credit card information when you pay outside. Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton says about 70 of them have been found in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly $10,000 Raised For United Way With Cardboard Boat Races

Nearly $10,000 has been raised for the United Way of Southwest Michigan, thanks to everyone who took part in the Whirlpool “Rock the Boat” cardboard boat races Thursday. The event featured seven entries, which were judged according to creativity, theme, and speed once the vessels were raced in the river outside the Inn at Harbor Shores. Ryan Cheevers braved the waters in the United Way’s Titanic-themed boat.. ...Read Full Story

Search For Missing Swimmers Becomes Recovery Effort

Authorities say the search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan has become a recovery effort. Authorities who gathered at Holland State Park in western Michigan say four teenage boys were swimming 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they were dragged out by strong currents and high waves. Two boys managed to get out of the water, while boats and helicopters tried to rescue the others.
Before 11 p.m., authorities said the water was too rough and they temporarily halted the search. But the U.S. Coast Guard says its crews actively searched through the night. The Ottawa County sheriff’s department returned to the water Thursday. The department has identified the missing boys as 14-year-old Vincent Green and 17-year-old Christopher Mimis, both of the Holland area.. ...Read Full Story

Straight Party Voting Ban Remains Blocked

Michigan residents still will be allowed to use the state’s long-standing straight-party voting option in the November election. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati Thursday rejected Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s request that the full court immediately review
a panel’s 3-0 decision that kept intact an injunction blocking the ban. A majority of 15 active judges did not favor an initial “en banc” hearing.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain blocked the Republican-backed law last month, saying an increase in long lines would disproportionately burden blacks in the November election. Straight-ticket voting is popular in Michigan cities with large African-American populations. It has been on the books for 125 years and has been a common choice in some counties that are steadfastly loyal to Republicans, too.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Cinema Adding Closed Captioning Services

Celebration Cinema has announced it’s adding closed captioning and descriptive audio services to all of its theaters. The movie theater chain was sued earlier this month by a St. Joseph man for not offering closed captioning for the deaf. On Thursday, Celebration Cinema announced it’s going to start doing just that. The closed captioning devices soon to be at all of its locations will be small screens that attach to the seat cup holder. The screens can be adjusted with a flexible arm so the movie goer can see them. The descriptive hearing devices for the blind are headsets that provide narrative about key things happening on screen. Celebration Cinema says it’ll be rolling out the technology to its theaters in phases through mid-October. WSJM News has reached out to Celebration Cinema to find out if the move is in response to the lawsuit it’s facing, but has so far not heard back.. ...Read Full Story

2 Teens Missing In Lake Michigan Near Holland State Park

Emergency crews have temporarily suspended their search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan. Authorities at the scene in Holland State Park say four teenage boys were swimming Wednesday evening when they were pulled out by strong currents and high waves around 7:30 p.m. Two boys managed to get out of the water, and boats and helicopters were used to search for the other two. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department plan to resume searching for the teenagers today.. ...Read Full Story

Foreclosure Possible For Orchards Mall

The future of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is cloudy at best. Foreclosure next year by the Berrien County Treasurer’s Office is a possibility, as mall owner Mike Kohan owes $324,000 in property taxes dating back to 2014, the year he bought the facility. Treasurer Bret Witkowski says unless Kohan starts making payments, the county could wind up taking ownership of the mall. It could be put up for auction at that point. Witkowski says vendors are worried about the possibility of the mall being foreclosed, and he’s working on getting answers for them. There are just two dozen tenants at Orchards Mall, with 14 of those being retailers.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Committee Findings On Violent Crime In Michigan

State Senator John Proos says Michigan is doing a better job of catching violent criminals with recent programs it’s put in place. Proos co-chaired a hearing recently on violent crime where he outlined statistics that show while the overall prison population is down, the percentage of violent crimes to be solved is up 10% over 10 years. Proos says the offenders are where they belong.. ...Read Full Story

Doctor Offers Tips On Back To School Sleep Schedule

School starts for most students next Tuesday, and parents are already trying to get their little ones to go to bed earlier. Dr. Alice Doe is a sleep specialist at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo and says to get the body clock of kids reset off summer hours, they’ll need a routine which could include reading, putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and other activities to trigger sleep.. ...Read Full Story

Upton To Visit Flint Thursday

Congressman Fred Upton will be in Flint Thursday to learn more about what’s been done to solve the city’s water crisis. He tells WSJM News there are still things Congress can do to ensure more cities don’t wind up with lead tainting their water supply.. ...Read Full Story

MI Officials: No Asian Carp DNA Found In State Waters This Year

Officials say no genetic material from invasive bighead or silver carp has been detected in Michigan waters this year. The state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are searching Michigan’s Great Lakes tributary rivers for Asian carp DNA. After this year’s work is completed, more than 7,000 water samples will have been collected since 2013. One sample from the Kalamazoo River tested positive in 2014, but officials say the source probably was a boat or angler from another water body. The DNR says it is waiting for results of a final round of sampling from the St. Joseph, Grand, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Macatawa, Galien and Black rivers. But thus far, no samples this year have turned up signs of Asian carp.. ...Read Full Story