Local News Archives

WMU Football Players Appear In Court For Armed Robbery

Two Western Michigan football players who were kicked off the team after their arrest have appeared in court on armed robbery charges. Bond was set Monday at $100,000 each for freshmen Ron George of Pittsburgh and Bryson White of Mason, Ohio. They’re accused of using a gun and knife to rob a woman at her Kalamazoo apartment Friday night. They’re charged with armed robbery, first-degree home invasion and larceny in a building. George, a linebacker, asked for a court-appointed lawyer. White, a wide receiver, said he has an attorney, but he appeared by video from jail without one. Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck removed them from the team Sunday, saying “we are moving forward.”. ...Read Full Story

Schools Of Choice, Charters Getting Large Share Of MI Students

More than 20 percent of students in Michigan public schools were in a charter school last year or a school in another district. MLive says it analyzed state data on where kids attended public school in fall 2015. The new year in most districts starts next week. MLive says 144,000 students were in charter schools, which get state aid like traditional public schools. Another 182,000 students were in public schools outside their home district. School-of-choice programs can have a negative impact on budgets in urban districts because state aid is based on enrollment.
More than 60 percent of students in the Westwood Heights district in Genesee County came from outside the district, many from Flint. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says “people are voting with their feet.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gas Prices Rise 7¢

Gas prices have spiked one more time as summer winds down to Labor Day and the last surge of vacationers hits the highway. AAA Michigan says prices are up 7¢ a gallon since last week, averaging about $2.39 per gallon statewide. GasBuddy.com’s Patrick DeHaan says higher crude oil prices are fueling the increase but he expects prices to begin falling again after Labor Day.. ...Read Full Story

State Loses Court Fight Over Welfare Benefits

An appeals court has ruled against the state of Michigan in a dispute over cutting off public aid to some people accused of crimes. In 2015, a federal judge in Ann Arbor said the state can’t stop food aid and other benefits unless someone is intentionally fleeing and is being actively
pursued by police. Judge Judith Levy had put limits on a Michigan policy that was causing severe hardships, especially when law enforcement databases contained wrong or misleading information. In a 3-0 decision Thursday, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati affirmed Levy’s ruling. The class-action lawsuit has affected thousands of people.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Adding More Courthouse Security Staff

Two new security officers for the court system in Berrien County will be hired following action this week by the board of commissioners. On Thursday, they approved adding another bailiff at the St. Joseph Courthouse and a new jail guard at the Niles Courthouse. That follows a security review by a committee, says court administrator Brian Ray.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Celebrates Completion Of Hanson Technology Center

Lake Michigan College’s Hanson Technology Center is now open for business. LMC broke ground on the $12 million facility at its Napier Avenue campus just last year, and on Tuesday, the grand opening was held. LMC President Dr. Bob Harrison says the Hanson Tech Center will serve as a modern manufacturing training ground, but that’s not all.. ...Read Full Story

Reward Offered In Death Of West MI Bison

A $500 reward is being offered to solve the fatal shooting of a 4-year-old bison in western Michigan. The owners had assumed that the bison, named Goliath, died of natural causes this week near Stanton in Montcalm County. The Morning Sun and WZZM-TV report that a taxidermist later found bullet holes. Chad Stewart says Goliath was one of 20 bison at the Douglas Township ranch. He says the other animals knew that Goliath was gone and gathered Wednesday at the exact spot where he died.. ...Read Full Story

Guns, Meth Seized In Van Buren County

A variety of charges are likely to be filed after a raid resulting in the seizure of guns and drugs on Friday on Van Buren County. The sheriff’s department says deputies were sent to a property in the 39,000 block of 76th Avenue in Decatur Township around 8 p.m. to look for a fugitive when they found several suspects there with outstanding warrants. A quick search of them turned up meth, marijuana, and guns. Police also found a couple of stolen pop-up campers on site with meth and guns stashed inside of them, along with a small child. Arrested were 57-year-old Nina Sparks and 35-year-old Walter Nicks, both of Decatur, and a 27-year-old Decatur woman whose name has not yet been released. Another three people, all from Decatur, could also be facing charges once the case is reviewed by the prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

Man Pleads Guilty To Lying In Missing Person Case

A 47-year-old western Michigan man has pleaded guilty to lying to police about the disappearance of a gas station clerk. Kevin Bluhm appeared Friday in Muskegon County Circuit Court. Bluhm is the cousin of Jeffrey Willis, who is being investigated in the 2013 disappearance of Jessica Heeringa, a clerk in Norton Shores. Authorities say Bluhm told police Willis was responsible, but later told police he made it up. He will be sentenced in September. Willis is charged with abducting a 16-year-old girl in April and the 2014 slaying of 36-year-old jogger Rebekah Bletsch in Dalton Township. Bluhm waived a preliminary examination last month on a charge of lying to police in the Bletsch case.. ...Read Full Story

Party Leaders To Pick Supreme Court Candidates, Other Nominees

Democratic and Republican party activists will meet to pick Supreme Court candidates and other nominees for the November ballot. At their convention Saturday in Grand Rapids, the GOP will tout two incumbent justices – David Viviano for an eight-year term and Joan Larsen to fill a
partial two-year term. Democrats gathering in Lansing are expected to nominate Wayne County Circuit Judges Frank Szymanski and Deborah Thomas. It would be Thomas’ third Supreme Court bid. Convention delegates also will choose nominees for two state Board of Education positions and two spots each on the governing boards of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
The parties also will rally activists to help win the presidential race, congressional races and control of the Michigan House.. ...Read Full Story

Lansing Library Books Returned After 40 Years

Two books about NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar have been returned to a library in Lansing nearly 40 years after they were due. The Lansing State Journal reports that the books were found early this week in the book drop at the downtown Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Library system. The books, “Kareem Abdul Jabbar: The Story of Lew Alcindor,” and “Jabbar: Giant of the NBA,” were supposed to be returned to the library December 2, 1976. Scott Duimstra, senior associate director for the library system, says there’s no way to tell which unpunctual patron returned the books because the library doesn’t keep records from 1976. Duimstra said overdue books are common, but that he can’t remember a book returned after such a long period.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance Winners Announced

The winners of the 12th annual Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance car show have been announced. The show is held at St. Joseph’s Lake Bluff Park each August for the owners of classic vehicles to show them off, and entries can receive awards in a variety of categories. For this year’s Concours, held on August 13, the best of show was a 1910 Stoddard Dayton K owned by Don and Joan Lyons, of Dowagiac. They also won the people’s choice award. Taking the Chairman’s Choice award was a 1960 Vespa 400 Microcar owned by Rob and Patty Gerring, Elkhart, and going home with the award for founder’s choice was a 1924 Nash 690 Touring owned by Doug and Jennifer Williams, out of Prudenville, Michigan. You can see a full list of the winners below.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Redneck Games Saturday

This Saturday brings the third annual Redneck Games at the Baroda American Legion. The event raises money for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan, and will feature team competitions that include Hungry Hungry Human Hippos, Horseshoes, a Home Run Derby, and a Balloon Bonanza Obstacle Course. Food will be provided by Baja Tacos, and there will be a cash bar. They’ll also have a “Flea on Me” Market. It’s not too late to sign up a five-person team to compete. To do so costs $125, and the winning team will get $1,000. You can also show up as a spectator and cheer on your favorite redneck team for free. The games begin at noon. Registration is at 11 a.m. To find out more, go to HumaneSocietySWM.org.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Slows Down In July

The housing market in Southwest Michigan slowed down a bit during the month of July. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors says the market has been setting records for several months, but in July, there was a decrease in the number of homes sold and in the average selling price. The number of houses sold dropped 5% from June, and 4% from July of last year. Meanwhile, the average selling price fell 12%. Nevertheless, the regional market this year has shown strength, with the total number of homes sold up 8%. The association of realtors says it remains a good time to sell, as the median selling price in July set the record as the highest for the month since 2006.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Restaurant Accused Of Re-Serving Food

A viral Facebook post by the family of a former server at South Haven’s Su Casa Restaurant has prompted a Van Buren County Health Department investigation. The post accused the restaurant of re-serving food that wasn’t eaten by other customers, including chips and salsa. Restaurant owner Edgar Suarez tells Kalamazoo’s WWMT-TV he didn’t know that wasn’t legal, and they’re no longer doing it. The health department is still investigating, and has issued a citation to the restaurant. The Facebook post by Kristie Bowie has been shared nearly 2,800 times.. ...Read Full Story

Pence Seeks Disaster Loans After Heavy Rains In South Bend

The state of Indiana is seeking low-interest disaster loans to help people, businesses and certain nonprofit organizations who sustained damage when a record rainfall hit the South Bend area nearly two weeks ago. Governor Mike Pence announced he has requested the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program for St. Joseph County and six adjacent counties, including Berrien and Cass in Michigan. The National Weather Service said a record 8.49 inches of rain fell on South Bend in a 24-hour period on August 15-16.. ...Read Full Story

Events Aim To Connect Veterans With Services

According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, less than a quarter of Michigan’s veterans used their health benefits in 2013, and many are also losing out on other benefits including life insurance and education. The AARP of Michigan is hoping to change that with events around the state in the coming weeks. The organization’s Melissa Seifert says representatives from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will also be available to answer questions.. ...Read Full Story