Local News Archives

Benton Harbor, Benton Township Hosting National Night Out

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety and the Benton Township Police Department are teaming up for a second straight year to host a National Night Out event on Tuesday. The program will start at 5 p.m. at the Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park in downtown Benton Harbor. Officers say the event is meant to help foster positive relationships between the public and the police. Free food, snow cones, games and a book bag giveaway for kids will be among the highlights of the night.. ...Read Full Story

Free Well Water Testing In Van Buren County

Van Buren County residents will have a chance to get their well water tested next month, thanks to the Van Buren Conservation District and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. The conservation district says samples can be brought in to its office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the month of August. The office is located at 1035 East Michigan Avenue in Paw Paw, next to the Secretary of State. Samples will be screened for nitrates and nitrites which reach drinking water when nitrogen from the soil works its way deep into aquifers. The sampling is open to anyone with a private drinking water well. To find out more about how to collect your sample, call the Van Buren Conservation District at 269-657-4030, extension 116.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Injuries In I-94 Crash Near Lawrence

A woman suffered injuries when her vehicle was struck by a semi on I-94 Tuesday morning. Michigan State Police say the crash happened around 7:30 a.m. on eastbound I-94 in Lawrence Township. The woman told police she was merging into the right lane when she became blinded by the sun. Her vehicle was hit by the semi, struck a guardrail, was side swiped by the same semi, and then went into the ditch. The semi also wound up in the ditch. The woman was taken to Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo with non-life threatening injuries. The semi driver was not hurt.. ...Read Full Story

MI Democrats Hope For Unity

Some of Michigan’s top Democrats believe a united front will emerge at the party’s national convention. The DNC chair will be stepping down after the event, essentially taking the heat after leaked emails indicated party leaders favored Hillary Clinton during the primaries over Senator Bernie Sanders. Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott is on the ground in Philadelphia this week, and says Democrats are ready to move forward together.. ...Read Full Story

State Approves Funding For Autonomous Vehicle Testing Site

Michigan has approved $17 million in funding to help convert the site of a former General Motors plant that once pumped out World War II-era bombers into an autonomous car testing facility. Also Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $5.7 million performance-based loan for an auto industry supplier in Flint. The American Center for Mobility is planned for 311 acres at the Willow Run site in Washtenaw County’s Ypsilanti Township. The money is for design and construction of research facilities. Governor Rick Snyder says in a statement Tuesday that Michigan is “making a major commitment to the next chapter of the state’s legendary automotive history.” In Flint, the state says C3 Venture plans a $9.7 million investment. The state says about 380 new jobs are expected.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Funeral Director Sentenced For Fraud

A former western Michigan funeral director has been sentenced to eight months in jail for fraud. Thomas Clock III also was sentenced Monday in Muskegon County Circuit Court to two months’ probation and fines. Clock pleaded no contest in June in separate cases of common-law fraud. One case included an additional count of providing mortuary services without a license. His January arrest led to the discovery of a woman’s body in Clock’s parked funeral van. Authorities say Clock buried an empty urn and misled relatives that it contained her cremated remains.
He faced another fraud charge after a container intended for the cremated remains of a baby was found empty. Clock owned and operated the former Clock Funeral Home of White Lake in Whitehall.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Signing Of Opioid Legislation

Legislation designed to reduce the number of deaths caused by opioid abuse has been signed into law by President Obama. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is designed to strengthen treatment options, treat infants born to addiction, and increase state prescription monitoring programs. The plan was championed by Congressman Fred Upton in the House, with Upton saying deaths as a result of opioids have become a national health crisis. The package was approved by both the Senate and House by a wide margin with bipartisan support. Congressman Upton says it’s a “thoughtful solution that attacks the opioid epidemic from all sides — one that zeros in on treatment for addiction and overdoses, reforms prescribing practices, and works with law enforcement.”. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commissioners Approve Changes To Harbor Shores Development

The St. Joseph City Commission has signed off on an amendment for a Harbor Shores planned unit development along the riverfront. At Monday’s meeting, commissioners heard from Andrew VonMaur, a consultant for the development at 800 Whitwam Drive, on the north side of the river. The plan was originally for 138 residential units, and now, they’ve updated it for 78 units of six different types, including cottages and row houses. VonMaur says the somewhat scaled-back development will be better suited to St. Joe.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Woman Arrested After Short Chase

A Van Buren County woman is jailed after police say she led them on a low-speed chase while drunk on Sunday night. The Van Buren County Sheriff”s Department says a deputy tried to pull over a LeBaron driven by 31-year-old Jennifer Vernier on 57th Street near Baseline Road around 10 p.m. for driving erratically. The vehicle didn’t stop, and continued on to Baseline for about a half mile. When the driver did pull over, deputies say she resisted them as they arrested her. The woman was found to be drunk, and wanted on a warrant. She was taken to the Van Buren County Jail on charges of resisting and obstructing, drunk driving, possession of open intoxicants in a vehicle, and other offenses.. ...Read Full Story

DNC Attendees Debate Superdelegate Question

The Democratic National Convention has opened up with an attempt to end the superdelegate system being squashed. Superdelegates are appointed by party leaders and vote for whoever they choose, regardless of who wins the presidential primary in their state. There are 17 in Michigan. On Saturday, the convention’s rules committee rejected petitions signed by more than a half-million people calling for an end to superdelegates. Rhode Island state Representative Aaron Regunberg serves on the committee.. ...Read Full Story

Attendance Up At Silver Beach This Summer

Attendance at Silver Beach County Park is up this year, especially when it comes to visitors who live outside of Berrien County. That’s according to Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey, who says through the end of June, non-resident attendance was almost double what it was at the same time last year.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Pike Named Pure Michigan Byway

The West Michigan Pike has been named a state Pure Michigan Byway. Pure Michigan byways are routes designated by Travel Michigan as ways that visitors can experience historically significant, culturally active and naturally beautiful areas of the state. On Monday, a celebration was held in Muskegon for the West Michigan Pike’s inclusion on the list. The West Michigan Pike is made up of several roads along Lake Michigan, including stretches of I-94, US-12, Red Arrow Highway, and Blue Star Highway. It passes through Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, South Haven, Saugatuck, Grand Haven, Holland, and Muskegon, among other places. The pike was originally designated as a tourist route in the 1920s. The effort to name it a Pure Michigan Byway began in 2006.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Police Help Woman, Baby Stranded In Heat

Two Kalamazoo Public Safety officers have helped a driver and her 2-month-old baby successfully get back on the road after being stranded in the heat. Carmen Higbee tells MLive that she was driving home from a local farmers market Saturday when she pulled into a gas station to fill up her near-empty tank. But the gas station was out of gas, and her tank hit empty before she was able reach the next one. Higbee called the police department, and officer Larison Suglik responded to the scene. Suglik said there weren’t any businesses nearby. The temperature in the area reached the 90s on Saturday. Suglik had Higbee and her daughter, Myla, sit in her air-conditioned patrol car while officer Ondreya Townsend brought a 1-gallon gas can for Higbee’s tan. ...Read Full Story

Yacht Sinks While Crossing Lake Michigan

A 48-foot yacht sank in a storm while competing in the annual Chicago to Mackinac Island race across Lake Michigan. Chicago Yacht Club spokeswoman Morgan Kinney says the WhoDo yacht’s crew reported it was taking on water Sunday afternoon after the rudder shaft broke
between the hull and the deck. MLive reports that crew members boarded a life raft and were pulled from the water by the crew of another boat. Kinney says none of the crew members requested medical attention and all were reported in good condition. She says conditions this year “have definitely been trying.” She says boats have suffered “a lot of wear and tear.” Nineteen of the 326 boats entered have withdrawn from the 333-mile race, which ends Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Abigail Kopf Suffers Setback In Shooting Recovery

Abigail Kopf, the youngest victim of February’s mass shooting in Kalamazoo is back in the hospital after an infection made a comeback. A brief note on her recovery Facebook page and the family’s GoFundMe says a MRSA infection has returned. It appeared in June after a surgery in Kalamazoo to insert a plastic plate to close a gap in her skull. Because of the infection, doctors had to remove the plate, delaying her recovery at that time. The update gives no details about the nature of this new infection or the prognosis for the 14-year-old. She had hoped to return to school this fall, but the setbacks mean she will be tutored at home.. ...Read Full Story

Break-In Prior To Charity Golf Outing In Bloomingdale

Police are trying to find whoever broke in at Jeptha Lake Golf Course and stole about $473 in charity money for a benefit golf outing that was taking place on Saturday. The break-in happened between 2 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the course in Bloomingdale Township. The money was stolen from the main office building and was discovered missing around 9 a.m. The money was meant to help a Grand Junction family with the funeral expenses for their 33-year-old daughter, who had recently died. No suspects have been identified, and investigators urge anyone who knows what happened to call or text the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Webcam Provides Close-Up Look At Fish In State Hatchery Pond

The outdoor network CarbonTV is displaying live webcam video from a display pond at the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Mattawan. The Wolf Lake Fish Cam offers a real-time, round-the-clock view of different species fending for food. They include Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, northern pike, northern muskellunge, walleye, largemouth bass, a variety of sunfish and two 6-foot lake sturgeon. Interpreter Shana Ramsey says the webcam gives you a close-up look from home at fish in their natural habitat. Ramsey says Carbon Media has partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on other projects, including a popular live Eagle Cam at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. The Wolf Lake Hatchery Visitor Center provides information about Michigan’s Great Lakes fisheries and the role of hatcheries.. ...Read Full Story

Freak Lake Michigan Accident Injures Man

A Grand Rapids man found out the hard way that water isn’t soft when you’re bouncing off it while being pulled by a jet ski. 19-year-old Conner Carruthers had to be taken to South Haven Hospital after being thrown off the watercraft and getting tangled in the rope used to pull someone on an inner tube. Carruthers was smacked against the water as he was dragged by 16-year-old Hannah Ash of Fort Gratiot, suffering cuts, bruises, and possibly even a broken leg. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says Carruthers was acting as a spotter for Ash when he was tossed off Saturday afternoon near Van Buren State Park.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Lagoon Shut Down Following Death Of 21 Animals

An outdoor lagoon at a western Michigan zoo is being shut down following the deaths of 21 stingrays and sharks. MLive reports Friday that the exhibit at the John Ball Zoo has been dismantled. 18 cownose stingrays and three spotted bamboo sharks were found dead July 8 after mechanical malfunction shut off one of two pumps to the lagoon. Low oxygen levels were found in water samples. Zoo Chief Executive Peter D’Arienzo says “staff intends to work with aquatic consultants to determine what is needed to build a state-of-the-art stingray facility that is weather protected and includes the redundancies that might be needed to assure the animals’ safety.” D’Arienzo says “no new stingray exhibit will be built” until zoo officials “know that can be done.”. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University To Hold Summer Commencement Next Week

Andrews University in Berrien Springs will hold its summer commencement celebration next weekend. Everything will begin with the Friday evening consecration service at Pioneer Memorial Church, while Saturday night will bring the president’s reception, and Sunday will feature the commencement ceremony. The commencement address will be given by Myrna Costa, Vice President of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It’s title will be “What God Wants to Teach You,” and it’s set for 9 a.m. at Pioneer Memorial Church. Commencement seating is by ticket only, while a live stream of the event will be provided at Andrews.edu/Graduation.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Art Exhibit Celebrates The Olympics

A new exhibit celebrating the Olympics and western Michigan athletes is going on display. The exhibit titled “An Olympic View” opens Saturday at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. It allows visitors to learn more about this summer’s host city of Rio de Janeiro as well as the history of ancient Greece. Artifacts include jewelry and Brazilian coins. In the modern era, the museum says a dozen athletes from Grand Rapids have
competed in the Olympics. “An Olympic View” also lets visitors explore the locations of the modern Olympics. And an interactive photo opportunity allows visitors to pose as a gold medalist. The display, which is being promoted as a mini-exhibit, ends August 21.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases Eat Safe Fish Guides

Officials have released the 2016 editions of Michigan’s regional Eat Safe Fish Guides. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the guides help to ensure that people who eat fish are minimizing exposure to chemicals that can build up in fish. Chemicals in fish are a worldwide problem, but officials say it’s important to note that fish from some areas in Michigan and the Great Lakes region are more contaminated than others. MDHHS tests the portions of fish that people eat, typically the filets. The results from the state laboratory are used to determine what is safe for people to consume over the long-term. The guides aren’t laws or regulations, so following them isn’t required but is recommended. The guide is free online at Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish.. ...Read Full Story

MI Trump Delegates Satisfied With Candidate

Michigan’s Donald Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention this year say they’re pleased with what they heard from the candidate. West Michigan delegate Matt Hall was on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena when Trump have his acceptance speech Thursday, and says he liked the billionaire’s message.. ...Read Full Story

First Michigan Case Of West Nile Virus This Year Found

Michigan’s first human case of West Nile virus this year has been found in Livingston County. The state health department said Friday an “older adult” is recovering. No other details were released. Mosquitoes pick up the virus from infected birds and then pass it to people. The elderly and people with a weak immune system are considered to be at greatest risk for death. Thirteen birds have tested positive for West Nile. Michigan has plenty of what the virus needs to become potent: hot weather. Many people who are infected won’t develop any symptoms, which can include
body aches, joint pain and diarrhea.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested On Weapon And Drug Charges Following Traffic Stop

A Dowagiac woman is facing multiple charges after police say they found drugs and weapons in her vehicle during a traffic stop this week. Around 1 a.m. on Thursday, officers stopped 20-year-old Cheyenne Kiggins on Edwards Street near East Division Street. They learned Kiggins did not have a valid driver’s license. Officers then used a K9 to search the vehicle, leading them to 30 packages of suspected methamphetamine, a small amount of suspected heroin, and various methamphetamine-related items. Police also found two loaded handguns, multiple knives, and brass knuckles. Kiggins was arrested and charged with various drug and weapons offenses. She remains in the Cass County Jail with bond set at $20,000.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Strong In June

The housing market in southwest Michigan remains strong, with prices up for the month of June, while total unit sales were slightly down. Gary Walter, with the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, says the most striking thing about the month was the average price.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Reports Record Second Quarter Earnings

Whirlpool Corporation has reported record second-quarter financial results. The latest numbers were released Friday, showing second-quarter net earnings of $320 million, or $4.15 per diluted share, compared to $177 million, or $2.21 per diluted share, reported for the same period last year. CEO Jeff Fettig says the Benton Harbor-based appliance maker “delivered another quarter of record earnings and margin expansion while overcoming challenges in several key countries through focused execution of our plans.” Whirlpool says second-quarter net sales of $5.2 billion were flat compared to the same prior-year period, and excluding the impact of currency, sales increased by 3 percent. Fettig added the company is confident it can continue delivering record financial results.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Animal Control Shows Off New Shelter

The public has had a chance to check out the new Berrien County Animal Control facility in Benton Township. An open house was held Friday as residents came out to tour the shelter and see all of its new features. Animal Control Director Val Grimes says the shelter is an improvement over the old one in Berrien Center in a variety of ways.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Extreme Heat This Weekend

We have another day, and experts are warning people to be careful. Dr. Brad Uren with the University of Michigan’s Department of Emergency Medicine explains children under age two and elderly adults cannot regulate their temperatures as well as others and are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat. He notes signs to look for that may indicate emergency help is needed.. ...Read Full Story

New Information Released On Courthouse Shooting

Larry Gordon planned his attempted escape from the Berrien County Jail and courthouse last Monday in an incident that ended with his death and the deaths of courthouse security director Joe Zangaro and bailiff Ron Kienzle. Sheriff’s Department Detective Greg Sanders says officers found a letter Gordon had written to his ex-wife in his cell.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff To Update Courthouse Shooting Investigation

We will know more later today about the shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse last week that killed two court officers. Sheriff Paul Bailey will give his first press conference in over a week at 10 a.m. to detail what their investigation has discovered so far. What we know for sure is jail inmate Larry Gordon somehow managed to get a gun out of the holster of Deputy James Atterberry Jr and shoot him, Kenya Ellis of Benton Harbor, and bailiffs Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle. Zangaro and Kienzle were killed, and other officers killed Gordon. The shooting happened as he was being led back to a holding cell after a court appearance. WSJM plans to carry the press conference live this morning, and it will also be available on our podcast page later today.. ...Read Full Story

Lansing Serial Killer Up For Parole

A man who admitted to killing four mid-Michigan women in the 1970s is up for parole. The Lansing State Journal reports Thursday that 61-year-old Donald Miller is scheduled to meet next month with a member of the state parole board. Miller was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in 1979 for the rape and attempted murder of two Delta Township teenagers. He also confessed to killing four women, but a lack of evidence forced the Ingham County prosecutor to offer him reduced charges in exchange for leading them to the bodies. Seven parole hearings were held between 1989 and 1997. Relatives of the dead women and officials have opposed parole over the years. Miller is being held at a correctional facility in Jackson and declined an interview.. ...Read Full Story

Open House At Berrien County Animal Shelter Friday

Anyone interested in seeing the new Berrien County Animal Control facility in Benton Township will have a chance to do so Friday. Animal Control Director Val Grimes says everyone is welcome to come out between 1 and 7 p.m. to take a tour and even walk a dog. She says she’s very pleased with the new building and the public should see it.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor Files Sentencing Motions In Ten Juvenile Murder Cases

Sentences of life in prison without parole are being sought for a second time by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office in ten cases that go as far back as 1967. The prosecutor’s office on Thursday announced it has filed motions seeking that sentence in response to a couple of Supreme Court rulings striking down mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Since the 2012 ruling, judges have the option of handing down life without parole to a juvenile, but they can also impose a lesser sentence. The ruling in 2016 was made retroactive. The prosecutor’s office says in all ten local cases affected by the rulings, it’s asking once again for just that sentence. The prosecutor had until the end of this week to file motions with the request. All ten cases involve murder.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Spill Settlement Renews Calls To Shut Down Line 5

The settlement reached in the Kalamazoo River oil spill is intensifying calls from citizen and environmental groups to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. A $177 million federal oil spill settlement with Enbridge Energy Partners was announced Wednesday for the 2010 pipeline rupture. Deb Hansen, with Concerned Citizens of Cheboygan and Emmet County, contends the settlement is inadequate, and says it shows the risk the state is taking for continuing to allow Enbridge pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.. ...Read Full Story

Straight Party Ticket Ban Struck Down By Judge

A federal judge has blocked Michigan’s new ban on straight-party voting, a law that was passed by Republicans but criticized by Democrats as a
way to discourage turnout among minorities. Judge Gershwin Drain signed an injunction Thursday, a week after hearing arguments. He says the law would place a “disproportionate burden” on the rights of black citizens to vote in the fall election. Lawyers say more than 70 percent of ballots in Detroit and Flint have been cast as straight-party — votes that go for all candidates of one party with just a single mark. The state attorney general’s office, which is defending the law in court, says Michigan joined 40 other states in banning straight-party voting. The judge says that’s irrelevant.. ...Read Full Story

Cotter: Prevailing Wage Repeal Off Table

It was a priority for Michigan Republicans when this legislative session began, but not anymore. Speaker Kevin Cotter says an attempt to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law is off the table for the remaining 20 legislative days in this session. Cotter told Michigan’s Big Show that the Governor opposes the bill because it is contrary to his efforts to promote and encourage skilled trades in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Courthouse Shooter Was School Volunteer

New information coming from our reporting partners at WKZO radio in Kalamazoo that Larry Gordon, the man who shot and killed two bailiffs at the Berrien County Courthouse, was also a volunteer at his daughter’s elementary school. Watervliet Public Schools superintendent Kevin Schooley confirms they only do security screens using fingerprints for employees, and did not know of Gordon’s extensive criminal history.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Conference Seeks To Help Combat Human Trafficking

Efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking and combat the problem will be the focus of a fall conference in Ann Arbor. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission on Thursday announced the September 29 event. The commission, the State Court Administrative Office and the Department of Health and Human Services are involved. The conference is open to law enforcement, legal professionals, victim service providers, protective services workers, judiciary staff and other human trafficking-related groups. Details are posted online. Michigan has stepped up efforts in recent years to shield minor victims from prosecution and crack down criminals involved in human trafficking. Notices are being posted at rest stops, airports and bus stations to educate the public and
offer help for victims.. ...Read Full Story