Local News Archives

Proos Introduces Plan To Help Young Offenders Graduate, Clear Their Records

Legislation has been introduced by state Senator John Proos to help young people get themselves back on track after they’ve become caughtup in the criminal justice system. He tells WSJM News the plan would let juvenile offenders enroll in the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy. It’s a residency program in Battle Creek where those who have dropped out can get their diploma and even college credit. Proos tells us, under his bill, if a young person completes the camp, he or she can have their crimes expunged from their record.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Deputy Receives Award For Work With Vulnerable Adults

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Laesch has been honored with the 2017 Elder Justice Good Neighbor Award. She got the accolade Wednesday at the annual Elder Justice and At-Risk Adult Resource Project’s summit in Mount Pleasant. Laesch was nominated by the Berrien and Cass County Departments of Health and Human Services for her work helping Adult Protective Services. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Laesch routinely works with vulnerable adults, and has developed a special way of communicating with them. She also runs the Project Lifesaver Program.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Pleased With New State Budget

State Representative Kim LaSata tells WSJM News the new state budget, approved by lawmakers this week, puts Michigan in a good position for the future. She says it pays down debt while reducing long-term obligations. LaSata adds it also increases support for law enforcement.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Suspect In Thursday Morning Chase

Police are looking for a suspect who led them on a highway chase in Berrien County Thursday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News a Baroda-Lake Township officer tried to pull over a vehicle on westbound I-94 around 5 a.m. near John Beers Road. The vehicle didn’t stop and continued all the way into Indiana, where the chase was ended for safety reasons. Police tell us the vehicle had been involved in break-ins throughout Calhoun, Van Buren, and Kalamazoo Counties. It was later found abandoned in the area of Cleveland and Glendora Roads. Anyone with information should reach out to the sheriff’s department.. ...Read Full Story

More Information Released On Child Killed In Farm Accident

More information has been released on a child who was killed Wednesday in a Cass County farming accident. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened at a farm in the 19,000 block of Dewey Lake Street in Volonia Township. The 6-year-old boy had been with two other children riding a short distance down the driveway in a Skid Steer front-end loader that was being used to do some landscaping. The boy fell out and was partially run over by the loader. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The sheriff’s department tells us it is not releasing his name out of respect for the family.. ...Read Full Story

State Senate Approves Budget

From the Associated Press — A $56.7 billion state budget is headed toward Governor Rick Snyder’s desk after the Republican-led Senate gave it final approval on mostly party-line votes. The bills approved Thursday include more money for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges. There is less for prison spending and environmental cleanup. Republicans say the budget includes record spending on K-12 education, money to train new state troopers and addresses debt in the teacher retirement system. Democrats say while the plan is better than one adopted earlier by GOP lawmakers, money used to steer newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit should have been used to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.. ...Read Full Story

7 Children Among 12 Injured In Kalamazoo County Crash

Seven children and five adults have been injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Kalamazoo County. The sheriff’s department says says a vehicle driven by an 18-year-old Kalamazoo man crossed the median on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo Township about noon Wednesday and struck two other vehicles headed in the opposite direction. Ages of the injured children range from six months to 13 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Canadian Man Accused Of Terrorism Attack In Flint

A 50-year-old Canadian man is in federal custody in Flint after what the FBI is calling a terrorist attack on a police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint. Amor Ftouhi of Montreal is accused of stabbing the officer in the neck yesterday while yelling “God is great” in Arabic, and Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios says they believe he acted alone.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced For Assault On State Trooper

The man convicted of assaulting a Michigan State Police trooper along the side of US-31 near Buchanan back in February has been sentenced to a minimum of 14 years in prison for the incident. 21-year-old Michael Barber was found guilty of six counts last month. Prosecutors say he and his brother assaulted Trooper Garry Guild on February 20 after Michael Barber crashed a stolen motorcycle. He was sentenced Wednesday by Berrien County Judge Angela Pasula. According to our reporting partners at WNDU News Center 16, the prosecution had asked Pasula for the longest sentence possible. Barber’s lengthy juvenile criminal history was also discussed in court. Barber’s brother is being tried separately.. ...Read Full Story

Samaritans Who Helped State Trooper Honored In Lansing

Two men who helped out a Michigan State Police trooper who was under attack by a couple of criminal suspects back in February have received special state accolades. Jerry Burnham, of Berrien Springs, and Keith Pepple, of Plainwell, were honored on the state Senate floor Wednesday by Senators John Proos and Tonya Schuitmaker. Proos said it was a good thing the two came along while Trooper Gerry Guild was under attack along the side of US-31 in February.. ...Read Full Story

Surprise Guilty Plea In Cass County Rape Case

A Cass County rape trial has been ended early after the suspect confessed and pleaded guilty Wednesday morning. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 21-year-old Markal Leneal Jackson, of Benton Harbor, halted the proceedings just as an investigating officer was about to testify. He’s pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct. It’s alleged Jackson raped a 13-year-old girl while staying at her family’s Dowagiac home last March. The victim testified she’s viewed him “as a brother.” Jackson is now scheduled to be sentenced August 4.. ...Read Full Story

Child Dies In Cass County Farming Accident

A child is dead following a farming accident in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News it happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 19,000 block of Dewey Lake Street in Volinia Township. The child was riding on a piece of farming equipment and fell under it. The equipment then rolled partially on to him. He was taken to Borgess/Lee Memorial Hospital where he passed away. The sheriff’s department is continuing its investigation. Police have not released the name or age of the boy.. ...Read Full Story

Board Doesn’t Vote On Part Time Legislature Petition

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s elections board has declined to vote on the form of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s part-time Legislature ballot drive petition because he said a member has a conflict of interest and he urged the board not to act. Calley said Wednesday that Norm Shinkle, the board’s chairman, has a consulting contract with the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund – whose officials have criticized the proposal to make the legislature part-time. Calley, a likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, says it would be “inappropriate” for the board to consider the petition form. He says securing pre-approval of the petition form is optional and signature gathering is ongoing. Shinkle says he has no conflict of interest and was unaware of the Freedom Fund opposing the petition. He says he has always supported a part-time legislature.. ...Read Full Story

Everything Back To Normal At Leco

Everything’s back to normal at Leco Corporation in St. Joseph following an investigation of suspicious activity Wednesday. Around 1:30 p.m. police issued a lockdown order for the area around Leco, saying a suspect who was possibly armed had been spotted nearby. Leco evacuated the property while the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety searched the entire facility. They found nothing. The potential suspect they were looking for was later found in another county. Police say no one was injured and there were no incidents of criminal activity or work place violence there.. ...Read Full Story

Leco In St. Joseph Evacuated, Potential Suspect Later Found

A tense situation Wednesday afternoon at Leco Corporation in St. Joseph as the building was evacuated due to a possible threat that now appears to be resolved. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety issued an emergency alert around 1:30 p.m. asking everyone to avoid the area saying there may have been an armed individual there. Specifically, they asked people to avoid State Street near Hilltop Avenue in the south part of the city. The Berrien County Sheriff’s department tells us the potential suspect thought to have been seen at the building has now been located outside of the county. Police are conducting a search of the building as a precautionary measure. St. Joseph Public Safety says the lockdown order is “essentially” over.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Collecting Food For Local Pantries Wednesday

Volunteers from the United Way of Southwest Michigan are spending Wednesday helping eleven local food pantries stock up for the summer. The United Way’s Charlotte Rogers tells WSJM News it’s Christmas in June as they aim to beef up the donations given to the food pantries at a time when, usually, donations go down. Plus, the need is up right now.. ...Read Full Story

“Invasive Species Blitz” Planned For Next Month

An effort will be made around southwest Michigan early next month to fight invasive species. The Southwest by Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, or CISMA, is staging a public education blitz. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News they’re going to hold events in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties to wash boats and remind boaters that’s the best way to stop invasive species.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Gets New Interim Director

There’s a new interim director in charge at the Berrien County Road Commission. Road Commission Board Chair August Zielke tells WSJM News they’ve picked current accounts payable specialist Lindie Delk to take over the leadership role. Zielke tells us Delk has been with the commission for several years, wearing a variety of hats. He says she’s the perfect person for the job. Delk is just the interim managing director, and the commission’s board is still taking applications for the permanent post. She could wind up with it. The board posted the position about three weeks ago. The Berrien County Road Commission has been without a director since Louis Csokasy retired in April.. ...Read Full Story

Two Injured When Car Leaves Road, Hits Tree In Oronoko Township

Two people are recovering after their vehicle crashed into a tree in Oronoko Township Monday morning. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township police tell WSJM News it happened about 4:30 a.m. on Shawnee Road near Hartline Road. An SUV driven by 43-year-old Gretchen Wessendorf, of Stevensville, was eastbound on Shawnee when it left the road because a westbound vehicle veered into its lane. The driver lost control and the SUV went airborne before hitting the tree. The woman was trapped inside, while her 10-year-old son was able to free himself. Both were taken to a hospital after the driver was freed with the Jaws of Life.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Woman Wins $300,000 In Michigan Lottery

A Berrien County woman is celebrating this week because she’s a big lottery winner. The 61-year-old from Bridgman, who wishes to remain anonymous, won $300,000 in the Double Bonus Cashword scratch off game Monday. The Michigan Lottery tells WSJM News she picked up the winning ticket at Midtown Liquor Store in Bridgman and cashed in her winnings Tuesday. The lucky winner decided to keep it a surprise from her husband until after getting the check. She plans to buy a new car, and the money will help her husband retire a little early. She told the Michigan Lotto she always felt like she’s win one day. It just took her a while.. ...Read Full Story