Local News Archives

Berrien Springs Woman Killed In Crash Identified

A 28-year-old woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. She has been identified as Ashley Rae Grubb of Berrien Springs. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

Disaster Drill Planned In Lawrence

A mock disaster drill is planned for Lawrence tomorrow. Emergency service agencies from Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties will be helping students from the fire academy, emergency medical technician and law enforcement classes. This is the 19th year for the mock disaster drill, which is the capstone project for students. Instructors have a special disaster being planned, with realistic surprises awaiting those taking part. An Air Care helicopter will be on hand helping the students load the victims to be airlifted to Bronson and Borgess hospitals in Kalamazoo. Cosmetology students are also involved to make the injuries look as realistic as possible. The drill will be on the grounds of Van Buren Tech tomorrow, but the precise location and full nature of the disaster are not being revealed.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Early Morning Crash In St. Joseph

A 28-year-old Berrien Springs woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated. The woman’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Rejects Claim Over Rosa Parks Coat

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a dispute over a coat that belonged to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. The court rejected an appeal Monday. A lawyer for the trustee of Parks’ estate says relatives reneged on a deal to turn over a wool coat that Parks wore when she was arrested on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955. But a niece insists she doesn’t have the coat.
Steven Cohen turned to the Supreme Court after exhausting appeals in Michigan courts. Despite the loss, he predicts the “controversy will continue.” In 2014, the foundation of philanthropist Howard Buffett purchased hundreds of Parks’ personal belongings for $4.5 million, without the coat. Cohen says Buffett subsequently donated them to the Library of Congress. Parks died in 2005.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commissioners Get Tax Abatement Tutorial

Tax abatements have been a bit of a hot topic at St. Joseph City Commission meetings in the past few months, with some commissioners expressing concern about whether offering such incentives for companies to expand or locate here is a good long-term move. To explain it further, the city brought in Cornerstone Alliance president and CEO Rob Cleveland for a lesson. Commissioners said they understand the pros, but wanted his take on the cons of incentives.. ...Read Full Story

Open House Next Week For US-31 Completion Project

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning an open house next week for everyone to learn more about plans to finish the US-31 connection to I-94. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’ll get to work on the $111 million project starting next year. The plan is to make it possible to take US-31 to 94 without having to get off on Napier Avenue, as you do now.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Pick Up Trash In Benton Harbor

A community cleanup in Benton Harbor this weekend has resulted in a whole lot of trash being collected. Mayor Marcus Muhammad writes on his Facebook page items including “boats, toilets, couches, mattresses, plywood, tires, refrigerators, stoves, chairs” and more were brought to Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. City staff tell us they are working to remove all of the debris. The mayor says some people have complained about how it looks, but he has learned “you cannot please everyone.” Muhammad said he’s been assured everything would be picked up quickly, and he asked that no further items be dropped off.. ...Read Full Story

4H Cleanup Of Lake Michigan Beach This Month

The Van Buren Voyagers 4-H Club is planning a beach cleanup along Lake Michigan for this month, and everyone’s invited to help. The club’s Envirothon Teams will be at the Casco Township Nature Preserve in South Haven on May 28 starting at 4 p.m. They’ll be picking up trash and logging it for research purposes. The Great Lakes Water Alliance estimates 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year. Right now, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary hosts the only National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fresh water debris assessment. They’ll collect and study the amount and types of trash that wash up on the shore at the Casco Township Nature Preserve beach. Volunteers of all ages are invited to go and help with the 4H cleanup. You can register at GreatLakes.org.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools CEO Interviewing For Superintendent Post In Farmington This Week

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is looking for employment elsewhere. He’s scheduled to be interviewed for the position of superintendent of Farmington Public Schools in the Detroit area on Wednesday night. Herrera is one of seven candidates being interviewed for that post this week. Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education Trustee Joseph Taylor told our newsgathering partners at WSBT the news is shocking, given that Herrera still has three years on his contract.. ...Read Full Story

Report: 3M Covered Up PFAS Information For Decades

Accusations of decades of a cover-up are being thrown at Minnesota-based 3M over PFAS. Attorney Nicholas Coulson is representing the city of Parchment in its class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia Pacific, and says a “Detroit Free Press” investigation has found internal documents showing 3M covered up the health and environmental effects from the chemicals dating back to the 1950s.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Resurface M-43 In Van Buren County Between Bangor & Waverly Township

Orange barrels will line M-43 in Van Buren County for 13-and-a-half miles starting next Monday. The Michigan Department of Transportation will start a resurfacing project between Bangor and Waverly Township on May 20, and it’s expected to wrap up on Friday, June 28. Crews will be doing $2.3 million worth of work to repave the highway and work on sidewalk ramps, pavement markings and make curb and gutter improvements. One lane will remain open in each direction during construction.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Take Unexpected Dip

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are down about 11¢ from a week ago to about $2.80 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for regular is about 13¢ less than a year ago. AAA described the drop as a surprise and said it could be a result of unpredictable weather curbing demand. Typically, gas prices rise heading toward the Memorial Day holiday. The state’s highest average was about $2.85 a gallon in the Marquette area, the lowest is in Flint at $2.71. Prices locally in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are averaging $2.79, down 11¢ from last week. In South Haven, GasBuddy puts the average even lower, coming in at $2.69.. ...Read Full Story

LGBTQ Civil Rights Town Hall This Month

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is planning to host a town hall this month on discrimination faced by LGBTQ Michiganders and the protections they have. Set for May 16 at Lake Michigan College, the presentation will feature guest speaker Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Michigan. He’ll talk about case law and current policy developments, and also take questions. The event is being held as part of the OutCenter VOICES program. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell says she often hears from people who want to know about the protections in place for them, and this will be a chance for many to learn more. The town hall will be Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Todd Center.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Open House Coming Up In Niles

The public will have another chance next week to weigh in on the Berrien County Parks Department’s plans for the next few years with two open houses next week. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News earlier this spring the department is working on its master plan for 2020 through 2024. The plan outlines what developments could be coming to Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River County Parks.. ...Read Full Story

Program Helps Seniors Get Free Hearing Aids

A new program has been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation to give free hearing aids to low-income seniors. The foundation’s Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News the Starkey Hearing Foundation is expanding to Berrien County this year thanks to the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. As part of the Hear Now Mission, the BCF is working with Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph to get these hearing aids to those in need.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In New Buffalo Township Crash

One person is dead following a three-vehicle crash in New Buffalo Township Saturday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened just before 4 p.m. at M-239 just south of Wilson Road. Responding officers learned a Honda CRV crossed
the center line of M239 and struck two vehicles. There were no injuries in one of them. The second vehicle, which was struck head-one, had four passengers and one was killed. Three others are in critical condition. The driver of the Honda CRV, a 21-year-old Laporte, Indiana woman, and the driver of the vehicle she hit, a 40-year-old Elkhart man, were both listed as stable after receiving treatment for their injuries. All injured were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Accident Investigation Team was called to the scene and are assisting with the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Matching Grant For Watervliet Parcourse Announced

As renovations continue at the Watervliet Parcourse behind Lakeland Hospital Watervliet, a new matching grant for the project has been announced by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Lakeland Health Foundations Development Officer Mark Libs tells WSJM News the MEDC has offered a match of up to $35,000 for the parcourse’s crowdfunding campaign.. ...Read Full Story

Data Security Issue At Spectrum Health Lakeland

Spectrum Health Lakeland is notifying another 1,000 patients of a data security issue discovered with one of its vendors. Lakeland says the vendor is OS, Incorporated, a billing services company. It has confirmed to Lakeland an unauthorized individual accessed an email account of one of its employees. That could have exposed information about some Spectrum Health Lakeland patients. Lakeland learned of the issue on March 8, and says it’s been working with its own technology experts since. The information in question includes patient names and addresses, the type of health services provided, dates, diagnosis information, and health insurance providers. Spectrum Health has arranged for free identity theft protection services through Experian for affected patients for one year, and is also recommending those patients monitor their accounts closely. It’s in the process of reaching out to the patients who may have been affected.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs Program Employs Youth For Summer

Kinexus is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Transportation for a summer jobs program for young people. 60 youths will be hired for the Youth Development Mentoring Program, says its director, Don Marshall. He tells us the program is all about preparing young people for the jobs market, working on road projects while making real money.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Stresses Importance Of Vaccinations

With a measles outbreak going around the country this year, the Berrien County Health Department is reminding everyone to make sure they are vaccinated, and also to be sure their kids get all the vaccines they need. Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News some adults are unsure if they got all the measles vaccine. She suggests contacting the health department.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Casino Night Tonight

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is hoping people will come out to gamble their tails off tonight for the first ever Bets for Pets Casino Night. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the event will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Flags Going Up For Foster Kids

Throughout this month, flags will be displayed at locations around Michigan to raise awareness of the state’s foster children. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News there are about 13,500 foster kids in Michigan, most as a result of abuse and neglect. Volunteers are putting up blue and white flags all over the state to honor them.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Announces New Texting Service

The Berrien County Treasurer’s office is starting a new text message service to let people know when their property tax payments are due. The treasurer tells us taxpayers will start getting those messages this month to remind them of their next payment. It’s in an effort to improve efficiency and reduce the use of paper for monthly invoicing. There are currently 891 Berrien County property owners in monthly payment plans to avoid foreclosure and to get caught up. The treasurer says those payment plans have a 92% success rate. Anyone who is in a payment plan is automatically enrolled in the text service.. ...Read Full Story

Three SWM Communities Receive Road Improvement Grants

Three southwest Michigan communities are receiving state grants to improve their roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the road funding grants through a new Community Service Infrastructure Fund program on Thursday. 23 grants are going out statewide, and they are all for communities with populations of less than 10,000. Among the recipients are Bloomingdale and Breedsville in Van Buren County, and Marcellus in Cass County. Breedsville is getting $38,000 for work on East Main Street, Bloomingdale is getting $154,000 for work on Miller Road, and Marcellus is getting $46,000 for work on Maple, Reed, Woodland, Wordon, Jones, Centre, Burney, and Dibble. The governor’s office says the projects were picked because they’re shovel-ready, paired with infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, and focused on extending the useful life of the road. The state grants are intended to help the selected communities get to work this year. You can find out more about the projects right here.. ...Read Full Story

Young Children Reading Events This Month

Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this month. RESA Director of Early Education Kerenda Applebey tells WSJM  News the Parents as Teachers Program and libraries of Berrien County are teaming up for Read Around the County. It’s for kids ages five and under. They can hear some of their favorite stories read by characters in costume on May 21 in Niles and May 23 in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks House Auto Insurance Plan

The auto insurance reform plan approved this week by the Michigan House will now be reconciled with the plan approved by the Michigan Senate as state lawmakers work to reduce rates for drivers. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News that work will likely continue throughout the week. We asked her what she thought of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s non-so-positive response to the plans.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Man Hurt In ATV Crash In South Haven

An ATV crash has a 40-year-old Mattawan man hospitalized in Kalamazoo. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says he was riding the vehicle on trails owned by KGC ATV Rental in South Haven when he crashed. The man was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital, and the extent of his injuries has not been released. The South Haven Fire Department brought out a side-by-side UTV to allow first responders to reach the injured man. Police say no charges are being sought, and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Twp To MDOT: Rethink US-12 Plans Without Michigan Left Turns

Rethink the plans. That’s the message from the Niles Township board to the Michigan Department of Transportation when it comes to changes to the intersection of US 12 and Third Street. MDOT is planning to install indirect left turns, better known around here as Michigan Lefts, saying their studies show they cut down on the number of crashes where they’re built. The township board isn’t buying the explanation and our partners at WSBT report they’ve passed a resolution asking MDOT to come up with a different solution. Their main worry is over gas tanker trucks that go through the area and are concerned about potentially catastrophic crashes involving those trucks.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Driver Killed In US-31 Crash

A crash between a semi and a Jeep towing a trailer on US 31 in Oronoko Township has resulted in the death of the semi driver. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police say he was 58-year-old David Schultz of Florida and had hit the Jeep and the trailer from behind just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Both were headed south on the highway. Schultz was pronounced dead at the scene. The Jeep driver, 55-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Sr. of Mishawaka, is being treated at Spectrum Health Lakeland, while his son, 26-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Jr., was treated and released. Police say both vehicles hit several trees after going off the road, and Shepley-Minner Jr. was ejected from the Jeep. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Marks 150 Years

The city of South Haven will mark 150 years today. It was on May 10, 1869 that Village President George Hannahs gaveled to order the first meeting of the South Haven Village Council. Exactly 150 years later, South Haven Mayor Scott Smith will lead a celebration at the historic Johnston Park to kick off a full year of activities to mark 150 years. There will be a community picnic from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring free food, entertainment, activities for the kids, and historical information. At 6 p.m. there will be the unveiling of a commemorative plaque from the Historical Society of Michigan. The South Haven History Club and Historical Association of South Haven will also present videos of South Haven’s past.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Graduation Projection Up

It looks like the number of Benton Harbor High School seniors who will graduate this year is dramatically up from a projection made in March. At that time, Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera said only 38 seniors were on track to graduate. According to our reporting partners at WSBT, district officials on Thursday revealed the number is now up to 95 for graduation in June, while another 26 are on track to graduate by August. That’s 121 out of 133 seniors. Benton Harbor Area Schools Assistant Superintendent of Transformation LaWanna Shelton says a combination of human error and problems with the district’s online database led to it appearing as if far more students were off track than really were. She also says students who were behind have been helped with credit recovery programs. Some classes that students had completed weren’t reflected in their transcripts, and computers hadn’t correctly calculated some grades. Much work has been done since March to get everything straight. Now, Benton Harbor High School’s seniors are looking forward to graduation.. ...Read Full Story

Letter Carriers Food Drive Saturday

This Saturday is everyone’s chance to help make a difference for those in need with the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Mark White is a letter carrier in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area who tells WSJM News local food pantries see a need for more donations in the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Wilson Chandler Teaming Up With Cornerstone Alliance For Building Improvements

NBA star Wilson Chandler is teaming up with Cornerstone Alliance to pursue the renovation of the facade of the historic Farmers and Merchants Bank building in downtown Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the building at 92 West Main was first opened in 1888, and it’s hoped a renovation of its front will make way for a new occupant.. ...Read Full Story

Industrial PFAS Site Identified In Hartford

The state of Michigan says a new PFAS contamination site has been found in Van Buren County. Specifically, it’s at the former Du-Wel Metal Products plating facility in the city of Hartford, and residents of Hartford and Hartford Township will be contacted by the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment soon to learn more. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells us no contamination has been found in residential wells, but testing of specific wells will begin in and around the former plating facility on Friday. Local officials are also planning a town hall for the next week for everyone to learn more. Griffin’s office tells us residents of the 50 or so properties with wells in the testing areas can pick up bottled water immediately at the Hartford Fire Department from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m to 1 p.m. on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Convicted In Shooting Incident

A Cass County man with a long criminal history has been found guilty in a shooting case. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us a jury on Wednesday convicted Justin Huffman of assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving and concealing a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, and two counts of felony firearm. He was accused of firing at least two shots outside his parents Vandalia home in August of last year. The prosecutor says trial testimony showed Hoffman was living with his parents when he stole a rifle from them. On August 8, he threatened his father with the gun during a dispute, and police say he also fired it off. Police later found him hiding at a nearby Buddhist Temple. The prosecutor says Hoffman’s criminal record includes convictions of custodial kidnapping and meth making. He could be sentenced to life in prison on May 31.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Signs Bill Limiting Civil Forfeitures

From the Associated Press — Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others. The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities. Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug
crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. Whitmer, a former prosecutor, says citizens have not been treated fairly nor given adequate legal protections, “and that changes today.”. ...Read Full Story

Nine-Year-Old Charged With Murder In Death Of Mother Near Sturgis

A nine-year-old boy is charged with open murder for allegedly shooting his adoptive mother at their home near Sturgis. Investigators say the boy, who came from a troubled home and had a history of mental issues, shot 63 year-old Pauline Randol with a rifle. She was found dead early Monday at their home in Fawn River Township near Sturgis. Randol’s daughter, Harley Martin, says her brother needs treatment, not jail.. ...Read Full Story

State House Passes No-Fault Reform In Middle Of Night

Under cover of the dead of night, the state House has passed its version of no-fault auto insurance reform. The vote shortly after 2 a.m. overhauls the system and lets drivers completely opt-out of the mandatory unlimited medical coverage for car crashes. The Senate passed a plan earlier in the week, setting up a potential showdown with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if a bill reaches her desk. She has vowed a veto of the Senate bill.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Program To Employ 60 Youths

Kinexus is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Transportation for a summer jobs program for young people. 60 youths will be hired for the Youth Development Mentoring Program, says its director, Don Marshall. He tells us the program is all about preparing young people for the jobs market, working on road projects while making real money.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Parks Open House Next Week

The public will have another chance next week to weigh in on the Berrien County Parks Department’s plans for the next few years with two open houses next week. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News earlier this spring the department is working on its master plan for 2020 through 2024. The plan outlines what developments could be coming to Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River County Parks.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Warns About Data Security Issue

Spectrum Health Lakeland is notifying another 1,000 patients of a data security issue discovered with one of its vendors. Lakeland says the vendor is OS, Incorporated, a billing services company. It has confirmed to Lakeland an unauthorized individual accessed an email account of one of its employees. That could have exposed information about some Spectrum Health Lakeland patients. Lakeland learned of the issue on March 8, and says it’s been working with its own technology experts since. The information in question includes patient names and addresses, the type of health services provided, dates, diagnosis information, and health insurance providers. Spectrum Health has arranged for free identity theft protection services through Experian for affected patients for one year, and is also recommending those patients monitor their accounts closely. It’s in the process of reaching out to the patients who may have been affected.. ...Read Full Story

Supporters Push Anti-Vaping Bills

Supporters are speaking out this week in favor of a pair of anti-vaping bills with opponents saying they don’t go far enough. Michigan Senate Bills 106 and 155 would ban the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors and impose fines of up to $2,500 on retailers who violate the law. State Representative Isaac Robinson is behind the ban, and notes the law applies to more than just liquid nicotine.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Trailer Burns Near South Haven

South Haven Area Emergency Services says no one was hurt on Wednesday when a semi that was hauling vegetables was destroyed by fire on I-196. The vehicle was bound for Grand Rapids when the fire broke out in the area of 109th Avenue in Casco Township around 11:45 a.m. The fire appeared to have started in the wheels of the trailer. The driver was able to disconnect his truck from the trailer after pulling onto the shoulder. The fire had engulfed the trailer of the truck by the time firefighters arrived, and a whole lot of produce was lost. The fire caused northbound traffic on I-196 to be snarled for several hours. Michigan State Police and MDOT assisted with traffic control.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Announces Baroda Investment

Baroda will be getting nearly a million dollars from the federal government to build a roadway through its industrial park. The U.S. Department of Agriculture loan of $983,000 is coming from the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. Village Clerk Tina Martin says they are hoping to begin construction of the road in July after the fireworks. It will connect Hills Road on the other side of the industrial park to 1st Street, and Martin says they’re hoping it will allow some heavy truck traffic to move off the main road. She adds most of the properties have been sold, and the village anticipates the others will sell once the road is complete. Baroda also received a $95,000 grant from the USDA for the work previously, and also secured another loan of over $500,000 from the USDA’s water program for the water and sewer part of the project. In all, the USDA announced $68 million in loans in 13 states and Puerto Rico this afternoon to fund 20 projects. The Village of Baroda will kick in $75,000 for the project.. ...Read Full Story

1986 Cold Case Murder Charges Dropped In Light Of New Evidence

There’s a twist in a cold case murder in southwest Michigan. The Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office has dropped all charges against Michael Leon Curry in the murder of his neighbor, Wilda Wilkinson, in her Bangor home in 1986. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, so he could be charged another time. But Chief Assistant Prosecutor Keith Robinson says DNA evidence is pointing to other suspects and the charges were dismissed based on that new information. No other suspects have been publicly identified as yet. The 59-year-old Wilkinson was strangled in her home, and Curry had confessed to killing her several times. A retired detective who worked on the case more than 30 years ago told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids earlier this year that they always felt Curry’s confessions were bogus.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Superintendent Picked As State Superintendent

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s Board of Education has selected Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice to be the next state superintendent. The board voted 5-3 for Rice on Tuesday after conducting final interviews with three candidates. Once a contract is signed, he will lead the state Department of Education, starting in July and making $216,000 a year. Board members say they liked Rice’s focus on addressing the achievement gap among students and his experience as an educator in other states. Other finalists were Randy Liepa, superintendent of the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, and Jeanice Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools. Michigan has had an interim superintendent, Sheila Alles, for a year since the May 2018 death of Brian Whiston. The elected board has six Democrats and two Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Local Elections Held Tuesday

Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide on some local matters. In Berrien County, St. Joseph Public Schools had a $5.8 million millage renewal on the ballot. It easily passed. In Royalton Township, voters were asked for a small millage increase for the fire department to raise $35,000 over five years and also to renew the township’s millage for fire, ambulance, and library services. They said yes to both issues.. ...Read Full Story

Police To Be Honored Next Week

Berrien County police officers will be honored next week in St. Joseph. Wednesday brings the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Service at the Berrien County Law Enforcement Officer’s Monument along the bluff. The event is hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police Blossomland Lodge. 20 police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the peace will be honored. Among them will be Berrien County Court Security Supervisor Joseph Zangaro and Berrien County Trial Court Officer Ronald Kienzle, who were killed in the line of duty at the courthouse on July 11, 2016. The memorial service will be next Wednesday, May 15, at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Center Praises Progress On Auto Insurance

The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 1, the plan to reform the state’s auto insurance system. Applauding the move is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, with Research Director Michael Van Beek telling WSJM News the plan will remove the requirement that everyone have unlimited medical benefits for injuries suffered in crashes. He says drivers in no other state have that requirement, and are just fine.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Plans Meeting With ACLU

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is planning to host a town hall this month on discrimination faced by LGBTQ Michiganders and the protections they have. Set for May 16 at Lake Michigan College, the presentation will feature guest speaker Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Michigan. He’ll talk about case law and current policy developments, and also take questions. The event is being held as part of the OutCenter VOICES program. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell says she often hears from people who want to know about the protections in place for them, and this will be a chance for many to learn more. The town hall will be Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Todd Center.. ...Read Full Story

MI Village Considers Banning Smoking On Beaches

From the Associated Press — A northern Michigan village is weighing a possible tobacco ban at its parks and beaches following complaints about discarded cigarette butts. The Elk Rapids Village Council is expected to hear testimony Monday and possibly decide whether to adopt a proposed tobacco ban. Residents Christine Petersen and Beth Guntzviller tell the Traverse City Record-Eagle they’re tired of picking up cigarette butts at Elk Rapids’ parks and beaches. Guntzviller is a member of the village’s parks and recreation committee. She says she doesn’t think anyone will oppose the proposed ban. Village Clerk Caroline Kennedy reviewed communities’ tobacco restrictions before drafting the village’s proposed ordinance. She says the idea is to protect air quality for parkgoers and beachgoers, while also minimizing litter in public places from smoking.. ...Read Full Story