Local News Archives

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

Lakeshore Schools Could Seek Improvement Bond

Lakeshore Schools could be pursuing another improvement bond. Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News he’s proposing a more than $20 million bond for next year to complete upgrades proposed in a 2012 facilities study. The work would include reconstructed parking lots, door replacements, and lighting updates at the elementary and middle school buildings. Also, there’s some work needed at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Two In Cloning Of St. Joseph Woman’s Credit Card

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department could use your help in finding the people responsible for stealing a St. Joseph woman’s identify. It says on March 28, St. Joseph Public Safety responded to a complain about illegal use of the woman’s credit card. A cloned card was used by two suspects at several Walmart stores around west Michigan. Police have released surveillance photos of the suspects, which you can see above. The sheriff’s department tells us if you can identify the suspects, Crimestoppers could pay you up to $1,000. The number is 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

17-Year-Old Arraigned In Shooting Of St. Joseph Man

A 17-year-old is facing several charges in the shooting of a St. Joseph man over the weekend. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Dakota Matthew Stanley was arraigned this week on charges of assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He’s accused of shooting 33-year-old Thomas Lewallen on Sunday morning following a dispute between Lewallen and his wife at a home in Milton Township. The prosecutor says Stanley intervened in that fight, shooting Lewallen once. Lewallen was taken to a hospital for treatment, while Stanley was arrested. At his arraignment Monday, Stanley’s bond was set at $200,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Votes To Help Identify People With Special Needs

From the Associated Press — Legislation designed to help identify lost or injured people with special needs will soon reach Governor Rick Snyder. Michigan allows for the fingerprinting of children under age 17 if parents or guardians request it. The legislature voted Wednesday to let parents and guardians of those who have special needs to ask law enforcement for fingerprints and photos to be taken. Supporters say the move would assist law enforcement in reuniting families when those with special needs are scared or unable to identify themselves. A sponsor,
Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, says the caregivers would pay the state police for the extra cost of fingerprinting and taking photos. The bills won unanimous approval and will be enrolled Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Celebrate 100 Years

From the Associated Press — In 100 years, the Michigan State Police has gone from being a temporary wartime emergency force of 300 men to a full-service law enforcement agency with nearly 10 times more employees. The agency marked its centennial Wednesday at the Capitol building in Lansing. Visitors saw displays about the state police’s history. Governor Rick Snyder and other top officials thanked troopers at a reception.
The agency’s roots originated in World War I, when then-Gov. Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force for domestic security. Snyder says the mission remains the same despite technological advances, increased diversity and other changes within the state police. He says it’s “about helping people” and “keeping people safe.” The agency last year rendered aid in about 43,000 traffic crashes and made
nearly 73,000 arrests.. ...Read Full Story