Local News Archives

Pokagons Hosting Food Summit

The Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit is being hosted in Dowagiac this week by the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi. The event runs through Sunday, and features a wide range of activities and presentations, many focused on traditional tribal food. 60 Native American chefs are on hand, and presentations are being given on everything from foraging to basket making to trapping. The Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit is held each year in different locations around the MidWest states, and this is the first time it’s been hosted by the Pokagon Band. It’s going on at the Pokagon Rodgers Lake headquarters on Sink Road, and the public is welcome to attend. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In South Haven Drug Bust

A South Haven man is facing a variety of charges following a cocaine bust on Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies with the narcotics unit arranged an undercover drug buy from the 50-year-old suspect. They say he sold them cocaine from a vehicle parked in the area of Huron Street near Broadway Street. Right after the drug buy, police moved in and arrested the man, who did try to escape. Upon the suspect’s arrest, officers say he was found to be in possession of 11.1 grams of suspected cocaine, divided up into 19 separate packages. He’s facing several drug-related charges, and police say he already had a couple of felony warrants out. He’s now at the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Local Blood Drives Scheduled Throughout May

The American Red Cross has scheduled some blood drives around southwest Michigan in the coming weeks. May is Trauma Awareness Month, and the Red Cross tells us one car crash victim could need as many as 100 units of blood. The organization is urging everyone to make an appointment to donate either by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, by going to their website, or using the Red Cross app. Throughout May, there are blood drives planned in St. Joseph, Coloma, Buchanan, Decatur, Bangor, and South Haven. You can see the full list below.. ...Read Full Story

MI Child Poverty Rate Drops, But 20% Still Live In Poverty

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s child poverty rate dropped over five years, but hundreds of thousands of kids – or one in five – are still living in poverty. The annual Kids Count Profile released Tuesday by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation reports about 416,000 of Michigan’s children lived in poverty in 2017. That was down from roughly 549,000 in 2012. The study also finds a spike in child abuse and neglect, with confirmed cases up nearly 30 percent. Michigan’s bottom-ranked counties for child well-being are Lake, Luce, Alcona, Schoolcraft and Muskegon. The top five are Livingston, Clinton, Ottawa, Oakland and Washtenaw. Kids Count in Michigan project director Alicia Guevara Warren says the “alarming increase” in child abuse and neglect cases “underscores the urgency of the issues facing our kids.”. ...Read Full Story

Judges Order Michigan To Redraw Legislative District Maps

From the Associated Press — A three-judge panel has ruled that Michigan’s congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, ordering the state Legislature to redraw at least 34 districts for the 2020 election. The decision issued Thursday also requires special state Senate elections to be held in 2020, instead of 2022 as scheduled. The judges say the maps drawn by Republicans in 2011 violate Democratic voters’ constitutional rights, including by diluting the weight of their votes. They are giving the GOP-led Legislature until Aug. 1 to submit new maps. The new maps would need the signature of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.. ...Read Full Story

14 Michigan Communities Get State Funds For Stream Cleanups

Fourteen communities around Michigan are getting state grants to host river, stream and creek cleanup activities. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy timed the awards totaling more than $29,000 to coincide with Earth Day. Local governments often work with nonprofit organizations or other volunteers for the cleanups, which include removal of trash and other debris from streams and stream banks.. ...Read Full Story

Field Narrowed To Three For State Schools Superintendent

Three finalists will be back in Lansing for the last round of interviews in the search for Michigan’s new State Schools Superintendent. The three emerged from five candidates interviewed this week by the state Board of Education. Being called back in May will be Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift and Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius. The state superintendent post has been filled on an interim basis since the death of Brian Whiston last year from cancer.. ...Read Full Story

“Raise The Age” Bills Moving Thru Legislature

A push to no longer automatically try 17-year-olds as adults is gaining momentum in Michigan’s Legislature. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a 14-bill package Wednesday to put 17-year-old offenders in the juvenile justice system, with an exception for violent felony cases. Senator Peter Lucido of Macomb County co-sponsored the bills and says the option will still be there to prosecute suspects who are younger than 18 on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the crime and the person’s criminal record.. ...Read Full Story

Authorities Using New System To Track Opioid Overdoses

Michigan State Police are joining a number of local police and health agencies using a federally created computer mapping system to track opioid overdoses. It provides a way for health officials and police agencies to respond in real time to overdose clusters. State Police Lieutenant Travis House says until now, if a batch of bad drugs hit the streets in a certain area, it might take them a while to notice the pattern.. ...Read Full Story

State Court Tightens Standards For Vehicle Searches

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has tightened the legal standard for searching people during a traffic stop.
The court ruled in favor of a car passenger who said his rights were violated when police in Jackson County searched his backpack without his consent. The backpack held marijuana and methamphetamine. But in a unanimous decision Monday, the Supreme Court says the search was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says Larry Mead had a “legitimate expectation” of privacy. Mead was a passenger in a car stopped by a sheriff’s deputy. The deputy looked in Mead’s backpack after the driver said the car could be searched.
McCormack compared it to someone using a ride-sharing service. She says police can’t search a passenger based on consent from a driver. Mead served nearly three years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Highlights Organ Donor Registry Numbers

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is highlighting progress that’s been made recently with getting more Michiganders signed up for the state’s organ donor registry. Employees at Secretary of State branch offices ask customers if they would like to sign up, and now there are more than 5.2 million people on the Michigan registry. Benson spoke at a press conference Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Applications Being Accepted For Foster Kids Scholarship Program

The Michigan Department of Treasury is accepting applications for its Fostering Futures Scholarship program. Michigan Education Trust Director Robin Lott tells WSJM News program was set up as a way to help young people who have been in the foster care system get a college education. She says only 10% of the kids who went through foster care after their 13th birthday makes it to college even though most want to go. Fostering Futures is one way to help them.. ...Read Full Story

Clerk Beaten In Cass County Liquor Store Robbery

A clerk at Sunrise Liquor in Cass County’s Howard Township is recovering after being beaten by three robbery suspects. The sheriff’s department says the suspects walked into the store on Huntly Road at 9:30 Tuesday night with their faces covered and began the assault, forcing him to open the cash register. The clerk was treated by first responders and taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Niles hospital. While the Cass County K9 located evidence along the track, the three suspects have not been found. Investigators say they were two black women and one black men, with the only physical description of them being they all have medium builds. Anyone with information is urged to call the Cass County Tip Line at 1-800-462-9328.. ...Read Full Story

Heroin, Fentanyl, Meth Bust Results In Charges Against Benton Township Man

A 26-year-old Benton Township man is facing seven felony charges following a drug bust by the Southwest Enforcement Team. Javarick Randolph has been arraigned in Berrien County court following a month-long investigation by authorities into heroin and fentanyl sales. Detectives seized what they called distribution amounts of those drugs along with crystal meth, ammunition and other drug-related items during the raid last week on a home in the 200 block of Cornelia. Randolph faces five charges of delivery of narcotics for the heroin and fentanyl and one count each of possession with intent to deliver meth and possession of ammo by a felon. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office warned earlier this month that there has been a spike in opioid overdose deaths and recoveries due to fentanyl being mixed with heroin.. ...Read Full Story

Senator LaSata Changes Chief Of Staff

There are changes in the inner workings of the office of state Senator Kim LaSata. She has named Berrien Springs native Katie Lindt-Witkowski as her new chief of staff, replacing Stephanie Bogema, who has moved over to the House to be the chief of staff for Majority Leader Triston Cole. Lindt-Witkowski was promoted from her position as Senator LaSata’s legislative director, which she had held since this session began in January.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Drop Off Events In Van Buren County This Weekend

There will be some drug take-back events in Van Buren County this weekend. Bronson Community Health tells us people can drop off old, unwanted prescription medications at the Bronson Wellness Center in South Haven and at the Antwerp Township Activity Center in Mattawan on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The drugs will then be safely destroyed. The event is being held in an effort to prevent unused drugs from being lost, stolen, or misused. Police are assisting with the take-back day so they can ensure everything is handled correctly. While most medications will be accepted, organizers are focusing on opioids. Bronson says the United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic, with an estimated 12.5 million people misusing the pain medications in the past year.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Ban On E-Cigarettes For Minors

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are moving to ban the possession of e-cigarettes by minors. Legislation approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday would also prohibit the sale of the battery-operated devices to people under age 18. The federal government already bars e-cigarettes sales to minors. But supporters of the Michigan bills say having state-level restrictions would make
it easier for law enforcement and schools to keep the nicotine-addictive “vaping” devices off campuses. First- and second-time violators would receive a civil infraction, punishable by a maximum $50 fine. Additional violations would be a misdemeanor, also subject to a $50 fine. The measures go to the House next. Former Republican Governor Rick Snyder vetoed similar bills, saying they would not have gone far enough in regulating e-cigarettes.. ...Read Full Story

FIRST Robotics Championship This Week

More than 90 FIRST Robotics teams from all over Michigan will be in Detroit this week for the FIRST Robotics World Championship. Set to take place Wednesday through Saturday at Ford Field and Cobo Center, the event will give the participating students a chance to show off what they have learned. Consumers Energy Vice President of Public Affairs Roger Curtis tells WSJM News it’s quite a lot.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls For End To Some Tariffs

Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Michigan on Wednesday to talk trade as the Trump administration pushes for Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an update to NAFTA. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the administration hasn’t sent that deal to Congress, but before anything can happen, it should end tariffs on Canada and Mexico that affect agriculture and the auto industry.. ...Read Full Story

Armed Robbery Suspects Busted In Van Buren County

Some armed robbery suspects out of Ann Arbor were busted in Van Buren County on Tuesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it got word of a gas station robbery in Ann Arbor earlier in the morning. The suspects were reported to be in a vehicle with Illinois plates. It was also reported one of them had been seen with a gun. Sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle on westbound I-94 in Lawrence Township and pulled it over. They say a search turned up evidence of the robbery, and the two men and one woman in the vehicle were detained. They’ve since been handed off to the Ann Arbor Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Wins Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

The Coloma Comets have once again come out on top in the Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. The tournament was held by state Senator Kim LaSata, continuing a tradition started by her predecessor to find the southwest Michigan school with the most spirit each year. Throughout the March Madness-like tournament, schools were asked to submit photos showing their spirit to LaSata’s Facebook page. Coloma wins for the second year in a row, edging out Howardsville Christian in the final round, which wrapped up on Friday. Coloma now gets the title trophy and a $250 prize from the AT&T Pioneers.. ...Read Full Story

Friends Of Library Holding Rare Book Sale

The Friends of the St. Joseph Library are preparing for a rare book sale this week. Friends of the Library President Rebecca Marsden tells WSJM News the sale will be upstairs at the library Thursday through Saturday, while the regular spring book sale takes place downstairs. Marsden says they’ve got a wide range of old books available.. ...Read Full Story

Change At The Top Of The Van Buren County Road Commission

A change has been made at the helm of the Van Buren County Road Commission. A letter from the commission to area officials confirms Larry Hummel is no longer employed as the agency’s engineer-manager, effective last Thursday. It is not clear if Hummel resigned or was fired. He had been in that capacity with the road commission for more than 17 years, starting in February 2002. According to his LinkedIn page, Hummel also worked as a highway engineer for the Van Buren County Road Commission from 1993 to 1999 and had jobs with the Michigan Department of Transportation and Montcalm County’s road commission before returning to Van Buren. Four staff members will be taking over the duties handled by Hummel on an interim basis.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Busted After Short Chase

A Dowagiac man is facing charges after a brief chase with police on Friday night. The Dowagiac Police Department tells us an officer spotted a vehicle parked suspiciously on East Wayne Street near West Railroad Street just before 11:40 p.m. As he approached it, the vehicle took off. It started going faster, and when it ran a stop sign, the officer turned on his lights to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle fled northbound on West Railroad Street, but the driver lost control and crashed into a utility pole when he tried to make a turn. The officer got the 19-year-old driver into custody, and a search turned up a pipe that tested positive for meth. Police say the driver also had a warrant out for an assault case. He’s now facing charges that include fleeing and eluding, possession of meth, and having no operator’s license. A 22-year-old woman who was also in the car was taken to a hospital for injuries she received in the crash. She isn’t being charged.. ...Read Full Story