Local News Archives

Four Suffer Minor Injuries In Allegan County Plane Crash

Two people were injured in an Allegan County plane crash Friday. The sheriff’s department tells us the small plane crashed along the side of US-131 just outside the Plainwell Municipal Airport around 1 p.m. It had four people on board, and injured were the pilot and one passenger. They’re expected to recover from minor injuries. The other two on board were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The crash backed up traffic along the northbound side of US-131. Police have not yet released details about the cause of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Dave Ramsey To Address Economic Club Of SWM This Year

We’ve now had a sneak peak of at least one guest speaker coming to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan this year. The Mendel Center tells us radio host and financial guru Dave Ramsey will stop by on September 19. Ramsey should be well-known to listeners of News/Talk 94.9 WSJM, as he’s on every weekday afternoon. Ramsey takes calls from folks seeking financial guidance and also offers his own philosophy. Plus, he’s a best-selling author. Ramsey’s visit this September was teased by the Mendel Center this week when it announced its season lineup for 2017-2018. The Mendel Center recently took over the Southwestern Michigan Economic Club to help reduce costs.. ...Read Full Story

Four Educators Charged In Child Abuse Case

Four educators are facing charges from Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic for not intervening in a child abuse case involving a 12-year-old student in 2015 and 2016. The boy was found near railroad tracks in Galien Township last August dehydrated, bruised, and extremely underweight at just 47-pounds. His father, Aaron Zemke and stepmother, Alicia Zemke, are both serving 20-to-80 years in prison after pleading no contest to child abuse and torture earlier this year. Now charged are Three Oaks Elementary School principal Heidi Clark; guidance counselor Matt Cook; special education teacher Diane Balling; and elementary teacher Sherrie Bender for not reporting what they knew about the boy’s abuse. They are all due to be in court for pre-trial conferences the week of June 5 in St. Joseph. Each is charged with two misdemeanors that carry 93-day jail sentences if convicted.. ...Read Full Story

Activist Pinkney To Be Freed

Freedom is imminent for Benton Harbor political activist Edward Pinkney. He has been in prison since 2014 for election fraud related to a failed recall attempt of former Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. Pinkney forged petition signatures and changed dates on the documents to make it appear all the necessary signatures were collected in time to force the recall. That election was called off, but a subsequent recall went forward with then-City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad defeating Hightower. The Michigan Department of Corrections lists his release date as June 13, which would be two-and-a-half years after he began what could have been a decade-long incarceration. Pinkney has a criminal history of election crimes dating back to 2005, with a dozen convictions on his record.. ...Read Full Story

Lest We Forget Program Moved To August

Things are being shaken up a little for this summer’s Lest We Forget program. The organization has staged World War II simulations each summer in southwest Michigan for years, and the group’s Don Alsboro tells WSJM News they’re moving from the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport this year to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. There, they’ll have some Marines on hand.. ...Read Full Story

Former South Haven Mayor Dies

A former South Haven mayor has passed away. David Paull was Mayor from 1990 to 1995 and served on the planning commission. He was also instrumental in the process of development of Riverfront Park and the Southside Marina. Partly as a result of his efforts, the city was awarded the Governor’s Tourism Award in 1992. David Paull passed away on May 21. A memorial will be held on Friday, June 2nd, in Council Chambers at City Hall from 2 to 4.. ...Read Full Story

Parents, Teachers Learn About Opioid Addiction At BH School Event

Parents and teachers in Benton Harbor have had a chance to learn about opioid addiction and anti-overdose drugs, thanks to an event Thursday at Benton Harbor High School. It was the Benton Harbor Area Schools Summer Safety Fair. The kids played basketball and had ice cream while the adults heard from Nancy King, with Families Against Narcotics of Southwest Michigan. She told WSJM News knowing addiction and how to use Naloxone is increasingly important.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Announces Next Season Lineup

The next lineup for the Mendel Center Mainstage has been announced. The venue at Lake Michigan College announced the 2017-2018 visitors this week, telling us the whole thing will kick off September 8 with a performance by the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra featuring the Texas Tenors. What will follow is a season featuring 13 additional guests which include comedian Howie Mandell, Riverdance, a touring production of Cabaret, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, and Art Garfunkel. Mendel Center management adds there will likely be a couple of additions to be announced later. You can find the whole lineup and get tickets at TheMendelCenter.com.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Looks To Fill Vacancy

If you’re interested in serving on the Berrien County Road Commission, you may be in luck. They’ve got a vacancy on the board. The seat representing District 1 is currently empty, and the county is taking applications. District 1 represents Coloma, Watervliet, Hagar, Bainbridge, Pipestone, and Sodus Townships. You don’t have to be from one of those places to get the seat, but there is a preference for applicants who are. The Berrien County Road Commission is responsible for more than 1,400 miles of county roads, and is governed by a board of five. Meetings are held every other Wednesday, and the District 1 term will expire at the end of 2019. You can get an application by stopping by the Berrien County Administration office in St. Joseph or BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill To Make Overdose Drug More Available

Governor Rick Snyder has authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a standing order pre-authorizing
pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals. Snyder’s office said Thursday that pharmacies that obtain the standing order will be able to dispense naloxone to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose and to family members, friends, or others who might be able to help such individuals. Naloxone currently is only available to be administered by law enforcement and other first responders.
Health and Human Service Department chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells says the shorter response time allowed by the standing order is a vital step in  reducing opioid-related deaths in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Introduces Hotel Carbon Monoxide Bill

The carbon monoxide poisoning death of a teenager at a Quality Inn hotel in Niles last month is prompting a potential new law. Republican state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs is teaming up with Democratic Senator Steve Bieda of Warren to introduce bills requiring all hotels have carbon monoxide detectors. It’s mandatory for new hotels, but this would ensure older ones add them, as well. Eleven people were sickened by the odorless gas from malfunctioning equipment in the pool area over spring break at the Niles Quality Inn. A lawsuit has been filed by the family of Bryan Douglas-Watts. Thirteen states already have the requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Agency: Ending Pensions For New Teachers Costs Billions

From the Associated Press — Legislative economists estimate that it would cost $410 million in the first year to close Michigan’s pension system to newly hired teachers and instead provide them a 401(k) only. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency released its analysis Wednesday, a day
after Republican-sponsored legislation was introduced. The bill would affect new school employees hired after September 30. The analysis
estimates transition costs would total $2.3 billion in the first full five years, or about $465 million annually. Majority Republican lawmakers say the pension plan should be closed to new hires so the state stops accumulating debt. Governor Rick Snyder and Democrats say a 7-year-old hybrid pension/401(k) plan is working and upfront costs of a switch are too high.. ...Read Full Story

BH Event Focuses Attention On Plight Of The Transgendered

The struggle faced by transgendered Americans is being highlighted by the OutCenter in Benton Harbor. It held an event with Equality Michigan Wednesday to bring attention to the economic and other problems the transgendered face. Natalie Mooney is the mother of a transgendered southwest Michigan man. She said people need to think about the language they’re using, and also about how they can make things better for others.. ...Read Full Story

Owner Of Allegan County Antique Shop Killed In Shooting

The owner of a Casco Township antiques shop is dead following a Wednesday morning shooting. Michigan State Police tell MLive 58-year-old Robert Hill was killed by his 27-year-old stepson at Hill’s home in the 1,100 block of Blue Star Highway. The stepson’s name has not been released, and he gave himself up without incident. The victim’s wife was home at the time, but police say she wasn’t hurt. Police are investigating the circumstances of the shooting. Hill was the owner of Farmhouse Glenn Antique Shop, located on the same property.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Charged With Selling Heroin

A Niles man is facing drug charges after police say he sold heroin to an undercover officer. The Niles Police Department tells WSJM News 29-year-old Daqone Williams was under investigation for possible crack and heroin distribution in the area. They and the Cass County Sheriff’s Department teamed up for a month-long operation in which the heroin sale allegedly took place. Williams was arrested this week after a search of his home that police say turned up heroin, crack, and marijuana. They tell us the drugs have a street value of about $8,000. Williams was arraigned Wednesday with bond set at $20,000.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Planning For Major Infrastructure Work

A whole lot of infrastructure work is needed in St. Joseph, and at a Wednesday meeting, city leaders spoke with residents to find out what work they consider the most pressing. Engineering consultant Shawn Keough tells WSJM News residents have to offer input because the dozens of projects likely in the next several years won’t be cheap.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Votes To Allow Dogs On Restaurant Patios

From the Associated Press — Patrons could bring their dogs along while eating in outdoor areas of restaurants under a bill advancing in the Michigan Legislature. State law generally prohibits live animals at restaurants. The legislation was approved 32-6 by the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the House for consideration. The bill would allow dogs on restaurant patios under certain circumstances. Dogs would have to be leashed and couldn’t pass through the restaurant interior or sit in chairs or on customers’ laps. Patios would have to be free of dog hair. Surfaces contaminated by dog waste would have to be disinfected immediately. The legislation wouldn’t require restaurant owners to allow dogs, and local
communities could pass ordinances prohibiting dogs on restaurant patios.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent Bound Over For Trial

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood will go to trial in August for embezzlement. At a preliminary exam Wednesday, Berrien County Judge Donna Howard found there was enough evidence Seawood knowingly presented falsified documents to members of the school board and the district’s HR office when submitting for reimbursement of unused vacation days. Seawood’s accused of getting about $41,000 he wasn’t supposed to be paid under his contract. The judge found probable cause to let Seawood be bound over. His attorney, Keith Lynch, said they were disappointed, telling us they’re confident a jury knows how hard Seawood worked for the community will find him not guilty. Seawood will be tried starting August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Vows To Protect Great Lakes Funding

President Donald Trump’s administration says state and local governments should pay for cleanups of the Great Lakes and other iconic waterways. The proposed federal budget for 2018 would eliminate $427 million for regional water restoration initiatives. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan told Michigan News Network the money is vital for the environment.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate OKs Big Changes To Natural Resources Fund

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved significant changes in how the state buys and improves land for public recreation. Legislation passed 24-14 Wednesday by the Republican-controlled chamber would empower the Legislature to have more say in decisions that largely are made by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board. Another bill would spend nearly $8 million more on projects this year than recommended. Senators say the state should spend more from the fund. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is opposed to the bill, saying it is an unconstitutional overreach. Attorney General Bill Schuette has been asked to weigh in with a legal opinion. The fund consists of royalties paid by companies to drill for oil and natural gas on state property and is used to buy and improve land for public recreation.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves Bill On Handling Of Police Body Cam Footage

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are looking to create guidelines for body camera footage obtained by law enforcement officers. The state House passed a bill Tuesday that would require police departments to have written policies on using body cameras and maintaining and handling recordings. It would prohibit certain footage from being obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Republican Representative Jim Runestad of White Lake is sponsoring the bill and says there are hardly any rules on how departments should handle footage. Lisa McGraw, public affairs manager for the Michigan Press Association, opposes the legislation and says the footage should be made available to the public because if there is an instance of an officer behaving inappropriately, the public should know. The legislation passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Some Proposed Budget Cuts Are “Non-Starters”

President Trump’s budget proposal is facing opposition from Congressman Fred Upton. He tells us many of the cuts the president lays out in his official budget, released Thursday, are “non-starters.” They include big cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Institutes of Health. Upton issued a statement Wednesday saying, “the president’s budget proposal is just that: a proposal.” He adds he will “continue to advocate for common-sense budgeting that reels in spending, makes government more accountable, but also properly funds essential programs the most vulnerable amongst us depend on.” Upton notes the budgeting process will continue all summer. The plan current in place runs out September 30.. ...Read Full Story