Local News Archives

Police Looking For Van Buren County Runaway

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department could use the public’s help in finding a missing Bangor Township girl. It tells us 14-year-old Ariel Wescott left her home on Wednesday evening, leaving her father a note that said she was going to a friend’s house and would be back in the morning. When she did not return Thursday morning, the father called the friend’s house and learned his daughter had not been there. He then noticed the key to a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer he had parked in Dowagiac was missing. After checking, the father learned the vehicle was not where he’d left it. Police say Ariel Wescott may have gotten a ride to Dowagiac where she took off in her father’s Trailblazer. It’s maroon and has plate number 3222J2, which is expired. Ariel is described as about 5’6, about 188 pounds, and with straight, sandy blonde hair that goes down to just below her shoulders. Anyone who sees her is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren State Rep Discusses Mental Health Hearing

South Haven area state Representative Mary Whiteford tells us that she learned a great deal at a mental health task force meeting held this week. She’s one of 14 members of the House selected for the bipartisan body which is meeting in locations all over Michigan to discuss how the state could craft better policies to serve those who are struggling. Whiteford tells WSJM News there are several angles to consider.. ...Read Full Story

Some Big Equipment To Be Moved Out Of The Cook Plant Next Week

The Cook nuclear power plant near Bridgman is about to move some large equipment. Spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News they’ll be transporting three 175-ton and three 75-ton retired turbine casings from the plant to a barge on the St. Joseph River. That’s after a replacement project of Unit 2’s turbines last year. The moves will start on Monday night with a turbine casing loaded on to an 18 wheel truck. Schalk says the route includes as many side roads as possible.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly 350 Marijuana Plants Seized In Berrien County

Police have seized nearly 350 marijuana plants in a Berrien County raid. The Southwest Enforcement Team tells WSJM News it searched property at 1645 Mallard Drive in Bertrand Township on August 15 after police noticed signs of a marijuana grow operation there. In the house, officers found 347 marijuana plants, about 8.8 pounds of processed marijuana, marijuana wax, and grow equipment. One person fled the scene, but was caught later. He’s been identified as 41-year-old Byron Paul-Ricardo Sambat. He’s now charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, and maintaining a drug house. The Southwest Enforcement Team is made up of police agencies from all over southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

BH Murder Suspect Turns Himself In

The suspect in a fatal shooting this week in Benton Harbor has turned himself in. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 19-year-old Davion Turner of Conyers, Georgia surrendered to police on Thursday. He’s charged with Open Murder and Felony Firearm in the shooting death of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee on Tuesday night. Police say Lee was shot while sitting in a vehicle outside of the River Terrace apartment complex. They believe it may have been an attempted robbery. Turner, the suspect, was arraigned on Friday with bond set at $1 million. He’ll be back in court on August 25. He could get up to life in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Murdered Woman’s Vehicle Found

The vehicle that belonged to a murdered Niles woman has been found. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News that the Mazda CX-9 of Carla Lewis was found abandoned in a Cass County corn field. It’s been impounded and police are going through it for evidence. Her husband, John Lewis, is held on $1 million bond in the Berrien County Jail on a charge of first degree premeditated murder. He told police Sunday that two black men had broken into their home and shot his wife, but authorities found evidence to the contrary at the scene. Lewis was initially arrested for violating the state’s medical marijuana laws, with the murder charge added earlier this week. He faces life in prison if found guilty.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Department Organizing Eclipse Viewing Trip

Next Monday’s eclipse is prompting some Andrews University students to hit the road, and they’re also inviting you to come along. Kelly Youngberg, with the school’s physics department, tells WSJM News a group of about 40 have signed up to take a bus over to Portland, Tennessee. The eclipse viewing there will be almost as optimal as in South Carolina. Youngberg is excited for the big event.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Benefits Of Girls On The Run

A new report takes a look at how Girls on the Run affects the young ladies who take part, finding the program has long-term benefits for them. Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the organization caught up with individuals who took part in Girls on the Run all over the country.. ...Read Full Story

State Panel Allows Three Petition Drives To Move Forward

From the Associated Press — The Michigan elections board has cleared three more groups to proceed with drives to put statewide proposals on the 2018 ballot. Advocates of empowering an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts had the form of their petition approved Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers. The legislature and governor currently handle redistricting, drawing complaints that the process is too partisan. The board also approved petition forms for groups wanting to guarantee paid sick leave for employees and to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Another marijuana legalization initiative is well underway. Unlike that one, the new proposal would not tax the drug. Activists must now gather hundreds of thousands of valid voter signatures in a six-month window to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Suspect In Benton Harbor Shooting Death

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety has identified a suspect in a fatal shooting which occurred on Tuesday night. It tells WSJM News it’s looking for Davion Turner in the shooting of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee at the River Terrace apartment complex in the city. Turner, the suspect, is described as being about 5’11 and 150 pounds. He also has his hair in braids. He’s to be regarded as armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Primary Candidate Focusing On Environment

Bernie Sanders is a big inspiration for a Michigan young Democrat running for political office. 24-year-old Eponine Garrod is seeking the party’s nomination for the Sixth District congressional seat next year. She tells WSJM News she became politically active thanks to Bernie Sanders. Then she got fired up by Donald Trump. She wants to replace Congressman Fred Upton and tells us environmental issues are her biggest priorities.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed By Amtrak Train In Lawton

An investigation is underway into the death of a man in his 20s in Lawton. He was hit and killed by a westbound Amtrak train around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday a bit west of Main Street. Police are trying to figure out what the man was doing on Amtrak property when he was killed. The accident caused the Chicago-bound train to be parked in Lawton for a few hours last night.. ...Read Full Story

Spraying For Invasive Species To Take Place Next Week In VB County

The Van Buren County Road Commission is letting the public know about some spraying for invasive species that will be going on next month. Starting Labor Day, a firm out of Zeeland will perform herbicide spraying along primary and local roads around the county. The goal is to protect the line of sight along the roads. The road commission tells us spraying will not take place in urban areas, or along orchards and grape vineyards. Nor will it be done near certified organic farms that have been registered on the Michigan Specialty Crop Site Registry. The invasive species they’re going after include the Japanese knotweed.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Kayaks In U.P. To Promote Tourism

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has kayaked around Grand Island in Lake Superior to promote tourism. Snyder began a tour of the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday by paddling near Munising and later visiting the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center. He says he and other
officials went under an arch and into a “beautiful” cave, calling the experience “pure Michigan.” He told reporters he saw three eagles in one tree alone. Officials are focused on promoting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and other popular tourism spots as a destination other times of the year — not just summer. Later, Snyder promoted professional trades instruction programs at a high school in Ishpeming. His U.P. tour will continue Wednesday in Marquette, Kingsford, and Hermansville.. ...Read Full Story

Now The Time To Apply For Home Heating Credit

Although summer is still in full swing, now is the time to think about heating your home this winter. That’s because tax credits are still available to help residents of modest means stay warm. Whitney Skeans with Consumers Energy tells us even if your income doesn’t require you to file taxes, you may still qualify for the credit.. ...Read Full Story

Campaign Aims To Increase Michigan Vaccinations

A new campaign is aiming to convince Michigan parents to get their kids vaccinated ahead of the new school year. A coalition which includes the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is hoping everyone goes to the “I Vaccinate” website. Andrea Poole, a spokesperson with the campaign, tells us too many parents aren’t getting their kids fully vaccinated.. ...Read Full Story

1st Source Bank Donates $100,000 To Lakeland Pavilion Project

There’s been another big donation to Lakeland Medical Center’s new pavilion project. 1st Source Bank has given $100,000 to the project. Specifically, it’s in support of two new private glass-enclosed meeting rooms to be located in the courtyard cafe on the second floor. The bank says the donation represents its commitment to the community. So far, the community has donated more than $4.9 million to the Lakeland pavilion project. The plan is to put in a new five-story structure to feature medical and surgical suites, a short stay unit, imaging centers, an intensive care unit, and education and community rooms. Lakeland is putting a total of $160 million into the overall project, which also includes a new main entrance to the facility with a focus on amenities for visitors. The goal is to be finished around 2020.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Comments On White Supremacist Groups

Following controversy over President Trump’s comments this week about a white supremacist rally in Virginia, Congressman Fred Upton has issued a statement that does not mention Trump, but appears to rebuke him. On Facebook Tuesday night, Upton wrote, “There are no ‘very fine’ white supremacists. I join with many others in denouncing this sort of unacceptable racism and bigotry and condemning white supremacy, neo-Nazi, and KKK groups…” Upton then goes on to say his father fought Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, and “that kind of evil and hatred must be stamped out.” President Trump has been under fire from many since statements on Tuesday in which he defended some of the rally’s attendees, and also placed blame for Saturday’s violence on “both sides.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lowers Requirements For English Proficiency Test

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Education has announced it will reduce the overall score students need to receive on an English-proficiency test after an earlier change made it more difficult for students to transition out of English learner status. MLive reports that educators and school districts in the state had expressed concern over the WIDA ACCESS test’s rigorous scoring system after less than 1
percent of Michigan students reached the minimum score during the 2016-17 school year. Data from the department says typically between 13 and 15 percent of the state’s more than 97,000 English language learners receive an overall score high enough to transition. In addition to a minimum score on the test, students must demonstrate proficiency on state reading assessments in order to transition.. ...Read Full Story

32-Year-Old Killed In Benton Harbor Shooting

A murder investigation is underway in Benton Harbor. The city’s public safety department tells WSJM News a 32-year-old Benton Harbor man was shot to death overnight, dying of his gunshot wounds at Lakeland Hospital. Officers were called to the River Terrace apartment complex around 11:45 for a shooting. Several people have been questioned, but no arrests have been made as yet. The name of the victim is being withheld until Benton Harbor Public Safety is able to get in touch with his family. The circumstances surrounding the shooting also aren’t being made public.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Youth Fair Continues All Week

The Berrien County Youth Fair continues through the rest of the week in Berrien Springs. Fair Director Karen Klug tells WSJM News they had more than 18,000 come out for the first official day on Monday. Tuesday was Kids Day featuring a circus, and Wednesday will feature the country music sensations the Brothers Osborne. Looking ahead to Thursday…. ...Read Full Story