Local News Archives

National Christian Choir To Perform At Andrews University

Coming soon to the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrews University will be the National Christian Choir. They’ll perform there on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. and admission will be free. The choir is based in Washington, D.C. and is known internationally for its radio program, Psalm 95. The choir is composed of 175 people, coming from more than 100 churches in five states, and all members are volunteers. It typically does 12 to 14 concerts per year. Everyone’s welcome to attend the Andrews University performance, and you can learn more about the National Christian Choir at NationalChristianChoir.org.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Sees Growth In March

The housing market in southwest Michigan is looking strong. According to the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, compared to a year ago, the market was up by double digits in the number of units sold and the average selling price. The association notes the inventory has gone down by 17% since last year, pushing prices higher. The number of houses sold in March of 2017 increased 17% from March of 2016. Also, the average price in March was up by 15% from March the year before. Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors President George Lucas says the improvement over 2016 is significant because 2016 was a peak year for the market.. ...Read Full Story

SHOUT For South Haven Launches New Website

SHOUT for South Haven has launched a new website. SHOUT for South Haven is an organization that uses the power of volunteers and donations to run several programs throughout the community. Among other things, the group displays flowers around town, runs the antique clocks, and pays for historic street markers and lights. SHOUT for South Haven’s history is outlined in the new site, and you can also apply to become a member there. The website is ShoutForSouthHaven.org.. ...Read Full Story

More MI Residents Taking Cruises

More Michigan residents are taking to the sea for their vacations. AAA spokesperson Susan Hiltz tells WKZO News a recent survey found there’s a 14% increase in cruise bookings, which she attributes to an improving economy. Michiganders are cruising all around the world.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Pregnant Women To Be Tested For STDs

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging pregnant women to consider the importance of being tested for sexually transmitted diseases. It says many STD infections in a pregnant woman can also affect their babies, but there are also ways to prevent that from happening if the disease is caught early enough. The state recommends every pregnant woman be tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis at their first prenatal visit. It also recommends more testing at 26 to 28 weeks. The department of health tells us, in the past five years, Michigan has had three preventable cases of perinatal hepatitis B, three cases of congenital syphilis, and three babies born with an HIV infection. You can find out more at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.. ...Read Full Story

Post Office Planning Food Drive For Next Month

Post offices around southwest Michigan are joining the 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive next month. The drive last year collected about 42,000 pounds of food around Berrien and Cass Counties. Each May, the National Association of Letter Carriers runs the effort, asking folks along their route to leave non-perishable food items by the mailbox. Nationwide, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive collected more than 80 million pounds of food last year. You can leave food items out for pick-up at your mailbox on May 13, or drop off items at a post office between May 7 and May 13. The U.S. Postal Service tells WSJM News the donated items all stay local. This is the 25th year for the drive.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Cinema Renovations On Schedule

Celebration Cinema expects the ongoing renovations at its Benton Harbor location to be finished in June. Spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News they’ve added the new luxury recliners to six of the theater’s 14 auditoriums so far. By the end of next week, they’ll have finished eight. He tells us they want to make the movie going experience special.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Break-In At The DANK

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a break-in at the DANK in Sodus Township. It says the break-in at the facility on Pipestone occurred sometime between 4 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 a.m. Friday. The suspects made off with a large amount of alcohol and electronics. Anyone with information that could lead to the suspects is asked to contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In Child Abuse Case Involving 3-Month-Old

An arrest has been made in a Berrien County child abuse case involving a baby. Michigan State Police tell WSJM News they were called out to investigate a suspected case of abuse on Thursday in Weesaw Township. They arrived to find a 3-month-old had suffered critical injuries to the skull. The baby was first taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, and then to Helen Devos Childrens Hospital in Grand Rapids. The infant was listed in stable condition as of Friday morning. A 33-year-old suspect has been charged with child abuse in the case, along with assault and probation violation. State police say the investigation continues, and more information will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remove More Than 100 Cats From MI Home

From the Associated Press — Authorities say they temporarily evacuated a home in southern Michigan after a woman was found living with more than 100 cats. The animal control divisions of the Calhoun County sheriff’s department and the Battle Creek Police Department went to the home in Athens on Thursday as part of an investigation into suspected animal cruelty. The sheriff’s department says the 113 cats were found “in various conditions of health and sanitation” and they were removed from the home. Investigators say the 64-year-old woman living with them was cooperative. County health officials say the home is habitable, but tests found high levels of ammonia and methane as well as decreased oxygen levels. The home was evacuated for the night so it could be appropriately ventilated. The woman could face charges.. ...Read Full Story

Six Arrested At Flint Water Meeting

From the Associated Press — Police say six people were arrested for disorderly conduct or other reasons at a Flint church during a town hall meeting related to the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water. Flint police Chief Tim Johnson had asked men arriving at House of Prayer
Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday evening to remove their hats and warned all in attendance not to disrupt the meeting. The Flint Journal reports officers stopped men wearing hats from entering and men who wouldn’t remove them were asked to leave. Arguments occurred and people who used profanity also were escorted from the church. The event was held after Flint Mayor Karen Weaver reversed course Tuesday and
recommended the city continue getting its drinking water from a Detroit-area system long term instead of a new pipeline.. ...Read Full Story

Five Charged In Van Buren County Robbery, Assault

Five people have been charged with a home invasion and assault in Van Buren County early this year. It happened on January 26 in the 15,000 block of 41st Street in Bloomingdale Township. A 53-year-old man was sitting in his home when there was a knock at the door. He opened it, and four people pushed their way inside, held a gun to him, and told him to open his safe. The suspects made off with some guns. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it identified persons of interest right away, and now it has enough evidence to charge them as suspects. They are Jalin Beebe, of Bangor, Caleb Johson, of Bloomingdale, Spencer Marbley, Leo Cottle, and Michael Bird, all from Kalamazoo. They’re charged with armed robbery resulting in injury, home invasion, and felony firearm. The suspects have all been arraigned and bound over for trial.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Safe Delivery Of Newborns Law

A state law designed to help protect the safety of unwanted newborns is being highlighted this week. As part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it allows a new parent to leave a baby with police, firefighters, or nurses within 72 hours of its birth, no questions asked.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce New Grants To Fight Opioid Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a round of grants to help states fight opioid abuse. The grants were created under the 21st Century Cures law, championed by Congressman Fred Upton last year. He tells us a total of $485 million in opioid grants are being administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the money is used to prevent abuse and treat addiction. Upton says opioid abuse is something that seems to have touched just about everyone, and he applauded HHS for being quick about getting the grants out there.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Offering New Tax Payment Plans

A couple of programs allowing delinquent property taxpayers to get a reduced interest rate on what they owe have been started by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News, normally, the interest rate on late payments is either 12 or 18%. However, he’s offering a different arrangement.. ...Read Full Story

Statements Made By Kalamazoo Shooting Spree Suspect To Be Used At Trial

From the Associated Press — Prosecutors cannot use some statements made by a Michigan man who is charged with killing six people in between picking up riders for Uber. Judge Alexander Lipsey said Thursday that Kalamazoo police were too aggressive when Jason Dalton indicated that he didn’t want to talk about a series of shootings in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016. But the judge also says separate statements made to state police can be used as evidence at Dalton’s trial, which is scheduled to begin in June. Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder. Investigators have quoted him as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings. Dalton has been found competent to understand the charges and assist his attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Rate Falls In March

From the Associated Press — The state says Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in March while the number of people entering the workforce continued to grow. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate fell from 5.3 percent in February and compared with a national March rate of 4.5 percent. Last month’s jobless rate in Michigan was two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state’s year-ago rate of 4.9 percent. The agency says the state’s workforce rose by 6,000 with an increase in total employment by 17,000 jobs. The number of unemployed workers fell by 11,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason
Palmer said that while Michigan’s unemployment rate has hovered around 5 percent since mid-2015, the number of employed Michiganders continues to grow.. ...Read Full Story

National Transportation Safety Board Issues Report On Kalamazoo Bike Fatalities

From the Associated Press — The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan. A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs.
The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls. NTSB member Earl Weener disagreed last week. He’s not convinced that communication by dispatchers was a contributing factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Double Murder Found Incompetent For Trial

There’s been another delay in the case of Alex Perez, the man charged in a Coloma double murder last year. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Perez has been found incompetent for trial again. That’s after doctors at a psychiatric center where he’s been staying told a judge he’s unable to assist in his own defense due to delusions. Perez is charged in the deaths of Renee and John Mitchell last January. Police say he killed the father and daughter, and then kidnapped the two children he’d had with Renee Mitchell. He was arrested not long after in Colorado. The Perez case will be reviewed again in July, and at that time, if doctors still say he’s incompetent for trial, he could be committed.. ...Read Full Story