Local News Archives

Jason Dalton Sentenced For 2016 Kalamazoo Massacre

Life in prison with no parole for Jason Dalton, the Cooper Township man who killed six people and injured two others in a shooting rampage around Kalamazoo nearly three years ago. He was sentenced today in a Kalamazoo courtroom after hearing from family members of his victims. Those included Bart Nye, the son of Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, who was killed in the parking lot of the now-closed Cracker Barrel in Texas Township.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Spokesman Retiring

He’s been the face and the voice of the Cook nuclear power plant for 24 years, and now Bill Schalk is retiring. As Cook spokesperson, Schalk tells us it’s been his job to keep the public informed about what’s going on at the facility, and he’s also been active throughout the southwest Michigan community. Schalk came to Cook in 1986 after doing television work in Fort Wayne and then working for I&M there. He tells WSJM News although the fundamental science behind nuclear power has stayed the same, some of the technology in industry has changed, and the whole energy market has evolved.. ...Read Full Story

Gillespie’s Pharmacy Closes After 114 Years In St. Joseph

After 114 years in business, Gillespie’s Pharmacy in St. Joseph is no more. The family-owned company shut down for good on Monday, citing increased competition as the reason they could no longer compete in the area. The pharmacy was founded by Frank Gillespie in 1905 in downtown St. Joseph in the storefront currently occupied by Perennial Accents. His son, Richard, opened his own store on Washington Avenue in 1960, and that was the company’s final location.. ...Read Full Story

Open House For Niles Construction Project

The Michigan Department of Transportation has about $30 million in work planned for the Niles area in the next few years, and it wants the public to be well-informed and also have a chance to offer some input. That’s why the agency is holding an open house this Wednesday. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’re going to reconstruct the US-12 and M-51 interchange in 2023.. ...Read Full Story

Policy Requires University Of Michigan Staff To Disclose Felonies

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan is requiring faculty, staff, student employees, volunteers and visiting scholars to disclose if they’ve been newly charged with or convicted of a felony. The Ann Arbor News reports the new policy requires them to inform the university within one week of a charge or conviction that occurs on or after February 1. The school’s human resources department will assess the information on a case-by-case basis. Those who fail to disclose felony charges and convictions could face disciplinary actions including the loss of their job. Currently, job applicants at the university must answer criminal history questions on their applications
and go through a background check before they begin employment. The newspaper says the new policy doesn’t apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.. ...Read Full Story

Water Filters Available This Week In Benton Harbor

Water filters are being made available for all residents of Benton Harbor starting this week. The Berrien County Health Department’s Nicki Britten tells us the filters are certified to reduce the risk of lead exposure in drinking water. That’s after some homes around the city tested for elevated levels of lead late last year. The filters will be provided at several locations throughout the city for free.. ...Read Full Story

GM Looking To Sue Canadian Union Over Super Bowl Ad

A lawsuit is being threatened by General Motors against its Canadian union, Unifor, over a Super Bowl ad north of the border. The 30-second spot calls out the automaker for planning to shut down the Oshawa Assembly plant in Ontario, making reference to the bailout funded by both Washington and Ottawa. GM had demanded the ad not be aired, but Unifor went ahead with its plans despite the threat of legal action. The union’s president, Jerry Dias, says they stand by the belief that if GM wants to sell vehicles in Canada, it needs to build them there as well.. ...Read Full Story

“Suspicious Situation” At Gas Station Results In Arrests

A 39-year-old man is facing several charges including possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of meth after police were called to the Speedway gas station in Paw Paw early Monday morning. Jimmy Stacey also had a pair of outstanding warrants. His passenger, Austin McMullen, was taken into custody as well for several outstanding warrants including being a parole absconder. The 1996 Ford F-150 they were in had been reported stolen in Cass County last month. Van Buren County deputies were called to the gas station on a report of a suspicious situation.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Season Underway

Income tax filing season is officially underway. The Michigan Department of Treasury tells us starting this past week, Michiganders can start filing their 2018 state individual income tax returns online, or they can submit paper forms through the U.S. Postal Service. All individual income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by Monday, April 15. Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White says all “systems are operating as normal.” He adds filing electronically is the easiest and quickest way for Michigan taxpayers to do it. Treasury also says some individual income tax returns may be selected for identity confirmation as the department works to prevent tax-related ID theft. In those cases, the taxpayer will receive a letter from Treasury asking them to confirm their identity by completing a short online quiz or submitting paperwork. There will also be a phone option. Treasury says one way to avoid being scammed is to file as early as you can. We have a link to more information right here.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Homes Sales Slightly Down In 2018, Prices Up

Home sales in southwest Michigan were slightly down in December. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells us December of 2018 sales were down 4% from December of 2017. Also, looking at 2018 as a whole, the year did not pass 2017 when it came to homes sold. However, 2018 did set records for total dollar volume and selling prices. The association says for the year, the number of houses sold dwindled to just under 1,300 compared to 1,365 in 2017. When it comes to inventory, at the end of 2018 there was 5.1 month supply of houses for sale. For comparison, in 2010, the inventory in the region was a 12.7 month supply. The association says the rising home prices throughout 2018 was partly due to that tight inventory.. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On PFAS Legislation

Work is underway in Congress to address the issue of PFAS contamination in water. Congressman Dan Kildee told CSPAN this week, first, the new PFAS Task Force wants to ask the EPA to evaluate the standards for the chemical. Then, it wants to address the clean-up of PFAS. Who will pay for it?. ...Read Full Story

Agency For Children Gets New Service Dog

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan has received a service dog. “Pawnee” is a 15-month-old female chocolate lab who came to the agency through the Canine Advocacy Program in collaboration with Leader Dogs for the Blind out of Rochester, Michigan. The Children’s Advocacy Center — or CAC — tells us Pawnee is a “career change dog” who was deemed not compatible with Leader Dogs for the Blind. She is trained to provide emotional support to people, and especially children. She will be used as a support animal in a therapeutic setting, and as a calming presence for children and adults in the community who are taking part in abuse prevention lessons offered by the CAC. Pawnee will also be able to work with clients during their court prep in the mock courtroom at the agency. Once at the courthouse, the children will be able to testify with the help of another CAC dog, known as Mr. Weeber. The Children’s Advocacy Center works with children who have been victims of sexual or severe physical abuse. It was established in 2002.. ...Read Full Story

SHAES: Stay Off The Ice

South Haven Area Emergency Services is warning everyone not to go out on Lake Michigan ice. The recent polar vortex has made for some stunning visuals along the lake, especially near lighthouses. SAES spotted some adventurers out on the ice taking in the lighthouse Friday, but says people should avoid the temptation. The agency says there’s open water beyond the ice flows and the predicted moderating temperatures this weekend will make the ice packs very unstable. As the U.S. Coast Guard’s Lazaro Lopez told us during an ice rescue training exercise last month…. ...Read Full Story

Immigration Forum Next Week In SJ

A forum on immigration will be held next week in St. Joseph. Organized by Interfaith Action, “Immigration-Facts, Faces, Fears, and Faith” will feature guest speakers with expertise on the immigration system, along with people who have been through that very system. Interfaith Action’s Sid Mohn tells WSJM News immigration is very much in the national spotlight right now, and the group wants to help the public understand more.. ...Read Full Story

$50,000 Grant For Children With Special Needs Fund

A $50,000 grant has been announced for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children with Special Needs Fund. The grant comes from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, and the money will be awarded in two rounds this year. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News says the Children with Special Needs Fund provides equipment to families with special needs kids.. ...Read Full Story

Group Supports Paycheck Fairness Act

The proposition that women ought to make the same amount of money as men for the same job is back in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Paycheck Fairness Act was reintroduced on Wednesday and is backed by every Democrat in the chamber. House Resolution Seven would build on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was signed into law ten years ago this week. Michele Leber, chair of the National Committee on Pay Equity, tells us one important provision would forbid companies from using a person’s salary history in employment decisions.. ...Read Full Story

School Districts Get Three Extra Snow Days

Students don’t have to worry about this week’s blast of severe weather pushing their school year into the summer. The Michigan Department of Education told districts this week they will get an extra three days of snow days, as many in the Lower Peninsula were closed all week. All school districts have enough time in the academic calendar for six snow days a year before days have to be tacked on to the end of the last semester. Interim state superintendent Sheila Alles also told districts that Governor Whitmer’s State of Emergency in Michigan doesn’t mandate schools have to close and that remains a local decision.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Speaker: No Changes To Elliott-Larsen For LGBTQ

The National Human Rights Campaign for Equity is once again this year ranking Michigan low on their State Equity Index because it is still legal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Michigan Human Rights campaign is renewing their call for the Legislature to add the LGBTQ community to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but House Speaker Lee Chatfield it’s not going to happen.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Hundreds Of MI Communities Ban Marijuana

From the Associated Press — More than 250 Michigan communities have banned marijuana businesses just two months after the state became the first in the Midwest to legalize the drug for recreational use. MLive reports that some cities and townships have enacted temporary bans until the state creates regulations to govern the recreational marijuana industry. Josh Hovey is the spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. He believes that some communities are being cautious because of legal concerns, while others are following their community’s values. Barton Morris is one of the lawyers involved with the marijuana legalization campaign. He believes attitudes will change over time. Many of the state’s biggest cities, including Detroit and Lansing, haven’t passed any restrictions. Michigan voters in November endorsed recreational marijuana for adults who are at least 21 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Task Force Calls For Local Human Trafficking Resolutions

The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force is hoping to see communities around Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties take a page from South Bend and approve their own anti-human trafficking resolutions. Task Force founder Cathy Knauf tells WSJM News the South Bend City Council recently approved a resolution stating its opposition to the crime and warning residents about it. She asks why not communities here in southwest Michigan?. ...Read Full Story