Local News Archives

Van Buren Youth Fair Starts Saturday

Fair season in southwest Michigan starts Saturday. The Van Buren Youth Fair will run from July 15-22. Monster trucks will be featured this year for the first time with the Michigan Monster Truck Shootout Wednesday night. Friday night will close with a fireworks show, and the last evening event next Saturday will be the demolition derby. This is the 62nd year for the Van Buren Youth Fair.. ...Read Full Story

Websites Push For Net Neutrality

Wednesday was Net Neutrality Day of Action as websites of all stripes posted messages to their visitors asking them to reach out to the FCC on the issue of maintaining an open internet. The agency is on the verge of repealing rules which require internet service providers to allow equal access to all sites. Industry consultant Amanda Lotz, with the University of Michigan, tells us consumers will pay the price if some websites receive a lower level of service because they can’t pay.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Police Body Camera Legislation

From the Associated Press — Beginning in January, Michigan will have rules in place for the disclosure and retention of audio or video recordings from body cameras worn by police officers. Legislation signed by Governor Rick Snyder Wednesday exempts the recordings from
public-records request under certain circumstances, including if the recordings were made in a “private place.” Recordings also will be kept private during ongoing criminal or internal investigations but only for listed reasons such as public disclosure interfering with law enforcement proceedings or invading personal privacy. Body camera recordings retained as part of civil lawsuits will not be considered public records.
The law also requires law enforcement agencies that use body-worn cameras to develop a written policy regarding their use by officers.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release Identify Of Man Killed Overnight In SJ Township

Police have identified a man killed in St. Joseph Township this week when he was struck by a vehicle. 23-year-old James Servillas, of St. Joseph, was pronounced dead from his injuries at Lakeland Hospital Wednesday morning. He was found laying in the road in the area of South Lakeshore Drive near Victoria Path, just north of Kay Manufacturing, shortly before 3 a.m. The driver who hit him and a passenger, both juveniles, returned to the scene and spoke to police. The accident report will be sent to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves “Good Jobs for Michigan” Plan

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has approved the Good Jobs for Michigan tax incentives plan. Qualified companies that create hundreds or thousands of Michigan jobs would receive state tax incentives under bills approved by lawmakers. The votes Wednesday come six years after Governor Rick Snyder and fellow Republicans ended such breaks in favor of a scaled-back economic development program. Advocates say the new incentives are structured better and will help Michigan compete with other states to land new good-paying jobs. Critics call the Snyder-backed legislation “crony capitalism” and say it comes at the expense of individuals who also deserve a tax break.
Snyder has pushed for passage of the “Good Jobs” program this summer, as Michigan tries to persuade Taiwanese electronics contractor Foxconn to build a 5,000-employee display panel factory in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Pedestrian Killed In St. Joseph Twp

A deadly hit-and-run accident this morning is under investigation in St. Joseph Township. WSJM News has learned a person was found laying in the road in the area of South Lakeshore Drive near Victoria Path, just north of Kay Manufacturing, shortly before 3 a.m. That victim was pronounced dead from his injuries at Lakeland Hospital. The driver and passenger, both of whom are juveniles, returned to the scene and were questioned by police. The accident report will be sent to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for review and possible charges. It’s not clear at this point if either youngster were taken into custody. No names have yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Storms Knock Out Power In Berrien County

Strong thunderstorms are responsible for several thousand Indiana Michigan Power customers being without any electricity this morning. After the first round of storms rolled through, there were 4,655 customers in the dark in Berrien County, with 23 separate outages. Nearly 15-hundred of those were in the Benton Harbor area, with just over 500 south of Coloma. More outages are possible throughout the day as storms continue to push through.. ...Read Full Story

Hundreds Turn Out For Courthouse Memorial Walk, Vigil

Several hundred people have marched to remember two fallen heroes and to express support for law enforcement in southwest Michigan. A memorial walk on the one year anniversary of the Berrien County Courthouse shootings was held Tuesday night. The procession took everyone from the courthouse to the Law Enforcement Memorial along the bluff in St. Joseph to remember Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle, two court security officers killed last year when an inmate grabbed a court security officer’s gun. Denise Fisher, with the Fraternal Order of Police, told us the community has really come out in support for police in the last year.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Schools To Hold Town Hall

A town hall is planned for this week in South Haven for everyone to learn more about what the programs offered at the local public school district. South Haven Public Schools spokesperson Amy Nichols tells WSJM News this is a sort of “State of the Schools” event to spread the word about the district.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Area Double Murder Suspect Going To Trial

The man charged in a 2016 double murder case in Coloma is going to trial. On Tuesday, a Berrien County judge found there is enough evidence for Alex Perez to be tried in the deaths of Renee Mitchell and her father, John Mitchell. The two were found beaten to death in their Coloma area home on January 15 of last year. Perez was later arrested in Colorado. Mitchell relative Stephanie Kopaceski told WSJM News there was a lot on her mind in the courtroom.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Man Charged After Tuesday Chase With Police

A 42-year-old Watervliet man is in the Berrien County Jail following a chase with the Berrien County Weighmaster Tuesday. Michigan State Police tell WSJM News the weighmaster pulled over a vehicle on County Line Road for a traffic violation around 12:15 p.m. While talking to the driver, the suspect’s vehicle took off, dragging the weighmaster with it. He managed to get free, and then chased the suspect north on County Line Road before finally crashing and overturning at 70th Street near 48th Avenue. The weighmaster was taken to a hospital for treatment, while the suspect’s vehicle was found abandoned not long after. A Berrien County Sheriff’s Department K9 found the suspect hiding in the woods. The suspect is now charged with fleeing and eluding, drunk driving, and driving on a suspended license.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Athletic Director Steps Down

Benton Harbor Area Schools is now looking for a new athletic director. Fred Smith has submitted his resignation, effective immediately. Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells us Smith will be missed, adding, “He has been dedicated to Benton Harbor’s success these past two years.” Smith issued a brief statement saying he has not had the time needed to lead Benton Harbor in the direction it needs to go because of family issues. The position of athletic director will be posted shortly.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Casino Looking To Fill 1,200 Jobs

From the Associated Press — Four job fairs are being planned for positions at the tribal casino that’s under construction in northern Indiana.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians expects to have about 1,200 positions at the casino in South Bend when it opens early next year.The job fairs are July 22 and Sept. 9 at Jackson Middle School in South Bend, with the others August 5 at Four Winds Field and Oct. 3 at Century Center. The South Bend Tribune reports Pokagon spokeswoman Paige Risser wouldn’t disclose pay ranges for the jobs, saying only that they’ll be “market competitive.” Risser said she couldn’t yet specify an opening date for the casino. The Pokagon Band currently has Four Winds casinos at three southwestern Michigan locations, with its largest in New Buffalo.. ...Read Full Story

State Expected To Tighten Firewood Rules At Parks

From the Associated Press — Michigan is expected to tighten rules about firewood in state parks and some other public lands starting next year as part of efforts to curb destructive invasive species. Jason Fleming, resource protection and promotion section chief for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division, tells The Holland Sentinel that an official policy is being developed. He says specifics could be
finalized this fall. Fleming notes that invasive species and disease can travel on firewood, whether the wood is brought from another state or just outside the park. Michigan already has some restrictions in place to prevent the spread of invasive pests and tree diseases. MLive.com reports campers, for example, might have to buy firewood at a park from an approved vendor or bring in wood that’s been certified.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial Walk, Candlelight Vigil Today To Remember Courthouse Victims

Today marks one year since the deadly shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph that claimed the lives of security director Joseph Zangaro and bailiff Ron Kienzle. The two were killed by an inmate trying to escape after he had stolen the gun of Deputy James Atterberry Jr. Atterberry survived being shot, as did a woman who was in the courthouse, and responding officers killed the inmate. Berrien Strong Community In Action and the Fraternal Order of Police Blossomland Lodge #100 are holding a memorial walk tonight starting at 8:30 from the courthouse to the Law Enforcement Memorial in St. Joseph, where a candlelight vigil will be held. If you plan to walk, you’re urged to arrive at the courthouse no later than 8:15.. ...Read Full Story

Child Drowns In Galien Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a seven-year-old-girl drowned in a Galien Township pond on Monday. It tells our newsroom deputies were called out to a swimming hole on a rural property along Jeffery Road near Spring Creek Road about 7:15 p.m. Sadie Geigler, of Michigan City, was pulled from the water. Despite efforts by emergency responders to save her, the girl was pronounced dead at Lakeland Hospital in Niles. The sheriff’s department was assisted at the scene by the Three Oaks, Police Department, the Pokagon Tribal Police Department, Three Oaks Ambulance, the Galien Township Fire Department, the Weesaw Township Fire Department, and the Bertrand Township Fire Department.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Approves Whirlpool Tax Break

St. Joseph City Commissioners have taken the biggest step they needed to take in order to help a Whirlpool Tech Center expansion move forward. On Monday, they approved a commercial rehabilitation district certificate for the area of Upton Drive where the tech center work could take place. Rob Cleveland, with Cornerstone Alliance, tells us the next step is to get support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.. ...Read Full Story

Son Of Van Buren Sheriff Charged In Connection With Shooting

The son of Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbot is facing charges in connection with a Bangor murder case early this year. MLive reports 23-year-old Nikolas Abbot is charged with being an accessory after the fact to a felony, felony firearm, and a false report of a felony connected to the February 3 shooting of Eddie Holland at a park. Prosecutors say Holland was shot by Thurman Fletcher, and that Nikolas Abbot provided the gun. Abbott is also accused of later reporting that handgun stolen and then selling it in Benton Harbor. Police have since recovered it. Fletcher is charged with murder in the shooting, which was related to a drug deal. Abbot is due for a preliminary exam on July 26.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder In Support Of “Good Jobs For Michigan” Plan

You can count Governor Rick Snyder as among the supporters of a plan to give a big tax incentive to companies that create a large number of jobs in Michigan. The Good Jobs for Michigan plan would allow employers to capture a portion of the income taxes their new employees pay if the employer has created at least 250 jobs that pay the regional average. Snyder thinks such an incentive could create a whole lot of opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

Paul Clements Talks New Congressional Campaign

Once again running for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth District is Paul Clements. He’s a professor at Western Michigan University who tells WSJM News President Trump and Republicans, in general, have been motivating more to vote Democratic. He thinks he could beat Congressman Fred Upton this time, despite losing to Upton twice.. ...Read Full Story