Local News Archives

Illinois Man Arrested After Chase In Stolen Van

Michigan State Police say an Illinois man is in the Van Buren County Jail following a chase on I-94 Friday. It started around 6:30 p.m. when troopers tried to pull over a mini van for speeding on the westbound side of the highway near Hartford. The driver took off with police in pursuit. He finally stopped around Coloma when he hit some stop sticks. It turned out the van the man was driving had been stolen out of Detroit earlier in the day, and a search of it turned up marijuana, a large amount of cash, and an assault rifle. The 19-year-old is now facing five felony charges. His name hasn’t yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Plans For Closed Captioning At Celebration Cinema Several Years In The Making

A representative of Celebration Cinema says the theater chain’s decision to add closed captioning services to all of its locations had everything to do with a lawsuit filed against the company, and nothing to do with it. A St. Joseph man filed suit this month against Celebration for its lack of accommodations to the deaf. Celebration Cinema spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News the chain had been holding off on installing that technology, but realized it was time to act.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan AG Asks Supreme Court To Uphold Straight Party Voting Ban

Michigan’s attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene so a new ban on straight-party voting can take effect for the
November election. The emergency request filed Friday says a federal district judge and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrongly blocked the law when “all Michigan has done is adopt an approach that 40 other states already follow.” The ban would prevent voters from supporting all candidates from one party with a single mark. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette says a response from the justices is needed by next Thursday so election officials can start printing ballots. The lower courts ruled that the GOP-sponsored law – which is opposed by Democrats – would disproportionately burden black voters by creating longer lines.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Dowagiac Gas Station Robbery

A suspect has been arrested in the robbery of a Marathon station in Dowagiac this week. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 30-year-old Christopher Rhodes is charged with robbery, larceny, and felony firearm. Police say he walked into the Marathon station on Spruce Street Monday night flashing a handgun, and made off with the cash from the register and a customer’s wallet. Rhodes was tracked down with the help of a state parole officer, and arrested in Coloma. Police are looking into whether he was also responsible for a gas station robbery in South Haven Monday night. Rhodes was arraigned on Friday afternoon with bond set at $500,000.. ...Read Full Story

State Lists Worst Schools

Many of the schools on Michigan’s newest bottom 5% list are in Detroit and will not be closed by the state until 2019 at the earliest because of how the laws enacting a financial bailout of the district were written. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration on Thursday made public the lowest-performing schools across the state. 58 of the 116 open schools are in Detroit’s district or will be folded back into the district when a state-created turnaround entity dissolves next year. A Snyder spokeswoman says the state will not force the closure of Detroit schools for at least three years because of the legislation that created a new debt-free district. Also Thursday, Michigan’s School Reform Office released seven schools from “priority” status after students improved their test results. Among those is Decatur High School.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Gas Pump Skimmers

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is again warning drivers about gas pump skimming devices. The skimmers can be attached to a gas pump to steal your credit card information when you pay outside. Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton says about 70 of them have been found in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly $10,000 Raised For United Way With Cardboard Boat Races

Nearly $10,000 has been raised for the United Way of Southwest Michigan, thanks to everyone who took part in the Whirlpool “Rock the Boat” cardboard boat races Thursday. The event featured seven entries, which were judged according to creativity, theme, and speed once the vessels were raced in the river outside the Inn at Harbor Shores. Ryan Cheevers braved the waters in the United Way’s Titanic-themed boat.. ...Read Full Story

Search For Missing Swimmers Becomes Recovery Effort

Authorities say the search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan has become a recovery effort. Authorities who gathered at Holland State Park in western Michigan say four teenage boys were swimming 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they were dragged out by strong currents and high waves. Two boys managed to get out of the water, while boats and helicopters tried to rescue the others.
Before 11 p.m., authorities said the water was too rough and they temporarily halted the search. But the U.S. Coast Guard says its crews actively searched through the night. The Ottawa County sheriff’s department returned to the water Thursday. The department has identified the missing boys as 14-year-old Vincent Green and 17-year-old Christopher Mimis, both of the Holland area.. ...Read Full Story

Straight Party Voting Ban Remains Blocked

Michigan residents still will be allowed to use the state’s long-standing straight-party voting option in the November election. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati Thursday rejected Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s request that the full court immediately review
a panel’s 3-0 decision that kept intact an injunction blocking the ban. A majority of 15 active judges did not favor an initial “en banc” hearing.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain blocked the Republican-backed law last month, saying an increase in long lines would disproportionately burden blacks in the November election. Straight-ticket voting is popular in Michigan cities with large African-American populations. It has been on the books for 125 years and has been a common choice in some counties that are steadfastly loyal to Republicans, too.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Cinema Adding Closed Captioning Services

Celebration Cinema has announced it’s adding closed captioning and descriptive audio services to all of its theaters. The movie theater chain was sued earlier this month by a St. Joseph man for not offering closed captioning for the deaf. On Thursday, Celebration Cinema announced it’s going to start doing just that. The closed captioning devices soon to be at all of its locations will be small screens that attach to the seat cup holder. The screens can be adjusted with a flexible arm so the movie goer can see them. The descriptive hearing devices for the blind are headsets that provide narrative about key things happening on screen. Celebration Cinema says it’ll be rolling out the technology to its theaters in phases through mid-October. WSJM News has reached out to Celebration Cinema to find out if the move is in response to the lawsuit it’s facing, but has so far not heard back.. ...Read Full Story

2 Teens Missing In Lake Michigan Near Holland State Park

Emergency crews have temporarily suspended their search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan. Authorities at the scene in Holland State Park say four teenage boys were swimming Wednesday evening when they were pulled out by strong currents and high waves around 7:30 p.m. Two boys managed to get out of the water, and boats and helicopters were used to search for the other two. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department plan to resume searching for the teenagers today.. ...Read Full Story

Foreclosure Possible For Orchards Mall

The future of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is cloudy at best. Foreclosure next year by the Berrien County Treasurer’s Office is a possibility, as mall owner Mike Kohan owes $324,000 in property taxes dating back to 2014, the year he bought the facility. Treasurer Bret Witkowski says unless Kohan starts making payments, the county could wind up taking ownership of the mall. It could be put up for auction at that point. Witkowski says vendors are worried about the possibility of the mall being foreclosed, and he’s working on getting answers for them. There are just two dozen tenants at Orchards Mall, with 14 of those being retailers.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Committee Findings On Violent Crime In Michigan

State Senator John Proos says Michigan is doing a better job of catching violent criminals with recent programs it’s put in place. Proos co-chaired a hearing recently on violent crime where he outlined statistics that show while the overall prison population is down, the percentage of violent crimes to be solved is up 10% over 10 years. Proos says the offenders are where they belong.. ...Read Full Story

Doctor Offers Tips On Back To School Sleep Schedule

School starts for most students next Tuesday, and parents are already trying to get their little ones to go to bed earlier. Dr. Alice Doe is a sleep specialist at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo and says to get the body clock of kids reset off summer hours, they’ll need a routine which could include reading, putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and other activities to trigger sleep.. ...Read Full Story

Upton To Visit Flint Thursday

Congressman Fred Upton will be in Flint Thursday to learn more about what’s been done to solve the city’s water crisis. He tells WSJM News there are still things Congress can do to ensure more cities don’t wind up with lead tainting their water supply.. ...Read Full Story

MI Officials: No Asian Carp DNA Found In State Waters This Year

Officials say no genetic material from invasive bighead or silver carp has been detected in Michigan waters this year. The state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are searching Michigan’s Great Lakes tributary rivers for Asian carp DNA. After this year’s work is completed, more than 7,000 water samples will have been collected since 2013. One sample from the Kalamazoo River tested positive in 2014, but officials say the source probably was a boat or angler from another water body. The DNR says it is waiting for results of a final round of sampling from the St. Joseph, Grand, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Macatawa, Galien and Black rivers. But thus far, no samples this year have turned up signs of Asian carp.. ...Read Full Story