Local News Archives

Reports: Sale Of Palace Of Auburn Hills Imminent

The old home of the Detroit Pistons is reportedly about to change hands. Crain’s Detroit Business and The Detroit News report Livonia-based developers Schostak Brothers & Company has a contract to buy the vacant Auburn Hills arena and the land it’s on. Auburn Hills Mayor Kevin McDaniel says the property was rezoned for research and development.. ...Read Full Story

Snow Day Forgiveness Bill Advancing In House

A bill allowing schools to waive three more snow days is now before the state House after being passed up the chain by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. Those are the three days during the state of emergency declared by Governor Whitmer due to extreme cold at the end of January. Committee Chair Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County says they had to act if they are going to get this to the governor’s desk in time for the districts to change their calendars.. ...Read Full Story

Notre Dame Adding Metal Detectors For Sports Venues This Fall

Notre Dame fans will need to allow extra time to get inside all football, hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball games starting in the fall. The university says metal detectors will be installed at Notre Dame Stadium, Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center and the Compton Family Ice Arena. The use of those will begin with the first home football game for the Irish on September 14. Notre Dame vice president for campus safety and university operations says in a statement that most fans have likely already experienced the added safety measures on other college campuses or professional stadiums, and the technology align’s Notre Dame’s fan safety procedures with industry best practices.. ...Read Full Story

Boater Safety Classes Being Offered In Allegan County

With spring here, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is once again offering a free boater safety class. In order to legally operate motorized watercraft in Michigan, state law requires those born after July 1, 1996 to complete a boating safety course and also have a valid boating safety certificate. The class being offered by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department helps someone meet those requirements. It goes over safety and boating law. You can register online. The first class is April 20.. ...Read Full Story

Flagpole Ceremony In Cassopolis Thursday

The Cass County Prosecutor’s office will hold a ceremony to honor the victims of crime on Thursday. This is Crime Victim’s Rights Week, and law enforcement agencies all over Michigan are taking the time to highlight the pain endured by the victims of crime and their families. On Thursday at noon, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz will host the annual Flagpole Ceremony at the Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. He says anyone who wants to honor the memories of those who have lost their lives to crime is welcome to attend.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Meth Conviction

It took a Cass County jury 35 minutes to convict a Dowagiac man of drug possession charges in a repeat offender case this week. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us Jai Villalobos was paroled in February of last year after serving about four years in prison for delivery and manufacture of methamphetamine. In September, a parole search of his home turned up more meth. On Wednesday of this week, the jury found Villalobos guilty on two counts of possession. During the trial, they heard from Department of Corrections parole officers, a laboratory scientist, and a Cass County Drug Enforcement Team deputy. Those who testified said the drugs had been found in a trash can in the defendant’s bedroom. Villalobos now faces up to life in prison for possession of methamphetamine and up to 15 years in prison for possession of an opioid derivative as a habitual offender with three or more prior felonies. He’ll be sentenced on May 17.. ...Read Full Story

Highway Litter Pick Ups This Month

Starting this Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will take to the highways across Michigan to pick up litter as part of the annual Adopt a Highway spring clean-up. The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the agency calls on all sorts of groups to step forward and volunteer.. ...Read Full Story

Couple Renovates Historic Building In Lawton

Work to renovate a historic building in downtown Lawton is finished, and the new owners plan to rent the place out for events. Rene Rodriguez is a representative for Jessica and Jeff Michael, who bought Red Brick Hall on Main Street and fixed it up. Rodriguez tells WSJM News the building was constructed in 1880 and played a role in local affairs.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Filing Deadline Quickly Approaching

The clock is ticking if you’ve yet to start or file your taxes with the deadline looming Monday night. IRS spokesman Luis Garcia works in the Detroit office and says if you haven’t started and normally prepare your returns yourself, the forms are a little different this year. However, he says they should be more simple to do and adds a lot of people who normally itemize could find it’s easier to take the larger standard deduction and not have to be bothered by all the other details they’ve kept track of.. ...Read Full Story

Food For Fines This Week At Niles District Library

If you’ve got overdue fines at the Niles District Library, they’re offering a chance to wipe those out and help those in need in south county. Library director Nancy Studebaker tells our news partners at WSBT-22 they are taking food donations for the food pantry at St. Mary’s Christian Services, and they started doing it about 15 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Humane Society Caring For Beagles From Mattawan Lab

Beagles who were being force-fed agricultural chemicals in testing at a lab in Mattawan are now in the care of the Michigan Humane Society. Charles River Laboratories was doing the testing of pesticides for the Brazilian market for Dow Agrosciences’ Corteva Agriscience division, and received plenty of public criticism when an undercover video was released in March. That video was put out by the Humane Society of the U.S. to put pressure on Charles River and Corteva to end the testing. The Humane Society says each dog is being evaluated to determine optimal placement, and they expect that to take several weeks.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Backs Tougher Penalties For Child Abusers

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan would prescribe longer sentences for certain repeat child abusers. Bills approved unanimously by the state Senate on Tuesday would set new maximum prison terms for people convicted of third- or fourth-degree child abuse following a prior conviction. The max for third-degree child abuse currently is two years. It would rise to five years for a second offense. The max for fourth-degree child abuse is a one-year misdemeanor. The legislation would increase the punishment to two years imprisonment for a second offense. Sentencing guidelines are advisory, so the tougher sentences would not be compulsory for judges.
The bills head to the House next.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Police Receive Report Of Attempted Abduction

A case of attempted child abduction is under investigation by the Bridgman Police Department. It says on its Facebook page the incident allegedly occurred on Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. in the area of Toth Park. The department says a pre-teen girl reported a man in a black car pulled up and asked her if she wanted a ride. When she said no, he allegedly got out and grabbed her by the arm. The girl says she managed to get free and run. The suspect is described as a white male wearing a ski-mask, in his 40s, about 5’9, and slim. The car is described as black, possibly a Volkswagen, with Florida plates and tinted windows. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Bridgman Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial For Crime Victims Planned For This Week

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office will hold a memorial this week in honor of those who have lost their lives as a result of crime. This is Crime Victim’s Rights Week, and Friday’s memorial will be held at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph at noon. It will feature a balloon launch in honor of the victims. The prosecutor’s office says the stories about some of the crime victims will be posted to the Berrien County website, and staff from Lory’s Place will share information about the organization’s services at the memorial. It’s hoped the event will serve as a reminder of the suffering victims and their families endure as a result of crimes in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Facing Animal Cruelty Charges In Cass County

Several charges have been filed against a Flint area woman after she allegedly left her dogs in a hot car on Sunday while she was at the Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us 50-year-old Sherill Langford faces three counts of animal killing/torturing, three counts of animal abandoning/cruelty causing death, and a count of lying to police. Two of the dogs died, and one is recovering. The Pokagon Tribal Police Department handled the investigation. Langford is now free on bond and due back in court on April 17.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Department Receives Awards

The County Road Association of Michigan has given awards to the Berrien County Road Department for three of its projects in 2018. Berrien County Road Department Managing Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News one of the IMPRESS Awards is for the department’s response to flooding last spring. He says staff worked 24-7 to keep drivers safe.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Approves Two Medical Marijuana Businesses

Medical marijuana businesses are coming to Niles. The Niles City Council passed a measure to allow two businesses to open up if they’re able to obtain licenses from the state. Our partners at WSBT-22 report council members Georgia Boggs and Daniel Vandenheede voted against the measure, based on a presentation from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. He provided information regarding crime increases in places like Colorado, much like he did trying to convince voters to reject the legalization of recreational marijuana last year in the state. Medicinal marijuana was approved by Michigan voters a decade ago, but the system has only recently started to be fully implemented after years of challenges by former Attorney General Bill Schuette.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Events Start This Weekend

Starting this Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will take to the highways across Michigan to pick up litter as part of the annual Adopt a Highway spring clean-up. The Michigan Department of Transportation says the clean-ups will run through April 21. Businesses, churches, non-profits, and families adopt stretches of highway around Michigan to clean up trash each year. MDOT tells us there are 59 active Adopt a Highway clean-up groups in Berrien County, and last year they picked up more than 1,600 bags of trash. Two Berrien County landfills — Orchard Hill and the Southeast Berrien County Landfill — also take the material free of charge. When the volunteers take to the roads this Saturday, drivers are urged to give them plenty of space. MDOT says it could also use some more help picking up litter along more rural stretches of I-94. Anyone interested in creating an Adopt a Highway volunteer group should check MDOT’s website.. ...Read Full Story

LECO Gets Tax Break On Expansion Of Headquarters

LECO Corporation is set to move ahead on an expansion in St. Joseph. The city commission gave the approval for an Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption Certificate on Monday, providing the company with a 50% property tax break for the next dozen years on the $7.2 million in improvements, with construction starting next Monday. Cornerstone Alliance business development manager Cathy Tilley explained.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Plans Pop Up Giving Event

Coming up next month will be the third Pop Up Giving event to be held by the United Way of Southwest Michigan. The United Way’s Jennifer Tomshack tells WSJM News Pop Up Giving events allow attendees the chance to vote for one of three non-profits who will make a presentation on planned projects.. ...Read Full Story

Senior Legislative Forum This Week

The Area Agency on Aging will hold its 12th Annual Legislative Forum on Senior Issues this Friday. Region IV Area Agency on Aging Chief Operating Officer Christine Vanlandingham tells WSJM News the events are a chance for seniors and their advocates to speak directly with elected officials from southwest Michigan about issues that matter to them.. ...Read Full Story

Train Hits Truck In Chikaming Township

The driver of a pick-up is unhurt after his vehicle was hit by a train in Chikaming Township Monday. The Chikaming Township Police Department says on its Facebook page it responded to the scene at Red Arrow Highway and Lakeside Road just after 1 p.m. The driver of the small pick-up failed to stop for the railroad crossing light. The driver wasn’t hurt and was released from the scene. Chikaming Township police ask everyone to stop for railroad crossings when the signals are on.. ...Read Full Story

State Representative Jon Hoadley To Challenge Congressman Upton

Congressman Fred Upton has a challenger with legislative experience in 2020 should the St. Joseph Republican choose to seek reelection. State Representative Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo is in his third and final term in the Michigan House and WSJM News has confirmed he is running for the Democratic nomination for the 6th District seat. Hoadley’s House district includes Kalamazoo and part of Portage, and currently serves as the Democratic vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He previously served as the Democratic vice chair of the House Appropriations’ Higher Education subcommittee. He and his partner, Kris, live in Kalamazoo and Hoadley has been active in promoting LGBTQ equality. Upton squeaked by to be reelected in 2018, defeating Matt Longjohn by less than 5%.. ...Read Full Story

Victim Identified In I-94 Crash

The woman killed in a crash on I-94 in Lake Township early Sunday morning has been identified as 36-year-old Venice Spears of Chicago. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says she was stopped in the right lane near mile marker 14 and was hit from behind by a Ford F-250 hauling a camper. That driver, a 67-year-old Wisconsin man, told police a car in front of him swerved to avoid Spears’ Chevy Sonic, but he was unable to do so. Authorities are awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports on Spears, and as yet have no idea why she was stopped in a traffic lane on eastbound I-94. The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Home Shot Up In Drive-By

Benton Township police are looking for a suspect in a drive-by shooting late Sunday night in the 100 block of Cardelle. No one was hurt, but several shots were fired at a house. The resident of the home called 9-1-1 around 10:30 p.m. when he heard the shots and realized his home was under attack. Several shell casings were found in the driveway and in the street in front of the house, and witnesses told police they saw a dark colored sedan drive off right after the shooting, heading east on Cardelle. There is no description of the shooter, and police don’t yet know the make and model of the car involved.. ...Read Full Story

School Safety Grants Announced

A couple of Van Buren County school districts have been selected for Michigan State Police School Safety Grants. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells us the Van Burn Intermediate School District and Mattawan Consolidated Schools will both get funds to improve student safety through the purchase of technology. The Van Buren ISD is getting $380,000 and Mattawan Consolidated Schools is getting $43,000. Griffin’s office says, in total, state police are giving out $25 million to 125 public school districts around Michigan. In Berrien County, Coloma Community Schools is receiving $173,000, and New Buffalo Area Schools is receiving $97,000.. ...Read Full Story

City Getting Anonymous Criminal Tip Service

Residents of Benton Harbor will soon have a new way to report tips to police without having to speak with the police themselves. At a meeting this week, the Benton Harbor City Commission approved spending $6,000 to sign the community up for tip411. Deputy Director of Public Safety Michael Clark told WSJM News it will mean the creation of a mobile app for residents to submit tips and pictures to a third party that keeps the tipster’s information secure.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expresses Support For New Soo Lock

Congressman Fred Upton this week joined with colleagues from the Great Lakes states in signing a letter in support of President Trump’s request for $75 million in the next federal budget to build a new Soo Lock. Upton tells WSJM News the Poe Lock, the biggest of the locks, is more than 60 years old, and it’s time a back-up is built.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Badly Hurt In Crash

A Decatur-area man is hospitalized with what the Van Buren Sheriff’s Department says are life-threatening injuries suffered in a crash on his motorcycle Sunday afternoon. Deputies were called to the intersection of 30th Street and 64th Avenue in Antwerp Township shortly before 12:30 when the man hit a Ford Escape at high speed. Deputies tell us the driver of the Escape had stopped at a stop sign and was going through the intersection when the motorcycle hit her on the passenger side. Neither she nor her one-month-old female passenger, who was properly secured in a car seat, were hurt. The motorcyclists is being treated at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. No names have been released, and authorities have not disclosed the extent of the man’s injuries.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Describes Planned Burns

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources started doing some prescribed burns on state lands this week. DNR Fire Superintendent Dan Laux tells WSJM News the DNR burn season lasts throughout the spring, and there are more burns in the fall. He says those controlled fires are designed to help forests grow and native species thrive.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Vehicle Stopped In I-94 Driving Lane

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is trying to figure out why a Chicago-area woman stopped her Chevy Sonic in a driving lane on I-94 early Sunday morning, but they might never know. She was killed when her car was hit from behind by a Ford F-250 pickup pulling a camper trailer on eastbound I-94 at the 14 mile marker in Lake Township just after 2:30 Sunday morning. The pickup was driven by a Wisconsin man who told police a vehicle in front of him swerved to avoid the Sonic, but he wasn’t able to. The impact locked the vehicles together and sent them into the cable barriers. An autopsy will be done on the woman at Western Michigan University’s medical school in Kalamazoo to determine if drugs or alcohol were involved.. ...Read Full Story

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention  Awareness Month, and there are several activities taking place at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan. Prevention and Outreach Specialist Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News they were planting a pinwheel garden outside the office on M-139 south of St. Joseph, and holding free training sessions throughout the month. She says each session includes a group discussion, a workbook to take home, an informational video, and a certificate of participation.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Signing Up Summer Students

It’s time to sign up for summer classes at Lake Michigan College. LMC Director of Admissions Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News the summer term begins May 13 and ends August 22 with sessions that average ten weeks. He says attending a summer class is a good way for a recent high school grad to accumulate some early credits and be ahead of the curve. Some tours are planned for interested summer students on April 13 and May 18.. ...Read Full Story

Trooper Suffers Minor Injuries In Struggle With Suspect

A Michigan State Police trooper from the Niles post is recovering after a struggle with a man he pulled over in Benton Harbor on Friday. State police tell us the trooper pulled a vehicle over on Ogden Avenue near Division around 3:40 p.m. The driver smelled of intoxicants, and when the trooper told him to get out of his vehicle, the man refused. The trooper opened the driver’s door to put him under arrest when the driver put the vehicle into drive and took off with the trooper still hanging on to the door and steering wheel. The vehicle crashed into a parked vehicle after about 1,000 feet, throwing the trooper into the street. The driver then tried to run, but the trooper caught him and placed him under arrest with the help of other arriving officers. Both the trooper and the driver were treated for minor injuries at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. The 32-year-old suspect was taken to the Berrien County Jail on a variety of charges.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Beach Cleanups Taking Place

The spring kick-off of this year’s Adopt a Beach cleanup events will be this month. Alliance for the Great Lakes spokesperson Jennifer Caddick tells WSJM News from April 13 to April 29, clean-ups will be held along beaches throughout the Great Lakes states. Thousands of volunteers are expected to pick up trash. They log all of it.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Launches Resident Notification System

The city of Benton Harbor is implementing a new system to send notifications out to residents. The Code RED system will give city officials the ability to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas or the entire community. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us residents can register their phone number with the system to be a part of it. He urged all individuals and businesses to log onto the city of Benton Harbor’s website, www.bhcity.us, and follow the link to the “CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment” page. You can also register by calling city hall. He says important information regarding the community can be quickly distributed via CodeRED.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Address Substitute Teacher Requirements

Legislation from 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette aims to address a shortage of substitute teachers in Michigan by loosening the requirements someone has to meet in order to be a sub. Paquette tells WSJM News, right now, you need 60 college credits to be a substitute. His bill would drop that requirement for those who have a relative attending the school where they want to sub.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Native A Winner In NASA Challenge

One of the winners of a NASA contest seeking ideas for how to recycle in space is a St. Joseph native. Derek McFall now lives in the Detroit area and works as an engineer at Troy-based SRG Global. He tells WSJM News NASA sent out a crowdsourcing challenge months ago regarding the International Space Station and other microgravity environments.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Selling Pieces Of Turf

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University is selling pieces of Spartan Stadium. The school says the turf is being replaced after the spring football game on April 13. Sections of grass are being sold for $10 on the school’s surplus store website . The sections will be approximately 18 inches by 72 inches. The grass should be available for pickup on April 15 or soon after that date. MSU plans to contact buyers by email. The turf is described as hybrid Kentucky bluegrass. It should be transplanted within five days of removal from the stadium.. ...Read Full Story

Measles Case Confirmed In Northern Indiana; 3 Locations In Sturgis, MI Exposed

Following the measles outbreak in metro Detroit, there is now at least one confirmed case in northern Indiana. It is unrelated to the southeast Michigan cases. The Indiana State Department of Health is consulting with health officials in both Michigan and Texas due the risk of exposure being found in both states. ISDH says they’re working with local health departments and doctors in LaGrange and Steuben counties to identify anyone in Indiana who may have been exposed to the person confirmed to have the illness.. ...Read Full Story

BH Mayor Marcus Muhammad Seeking Second Term

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad is running for reelection. In a Twitter post Friday, he made the official announcement, noting unfinished business in a hashtag. Muhammad was first elected mayor in 2015, defeating incumbent James Hightower by 222 votes. Under him, the city has enacted an income tax aimed at fixing roads and emerged from all state oversight after 6 years. The state had complete or partial control of city government from 2010 to 2016. The oversight included emergency managers appointed by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and Republican Governor Rick Snyder.. ...Read Full Story

Next Drug Take-Back Event Set For April 27

The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is coming up at the end of this month. In Berrien County, the Voice, Change, Hope Alliance is partnering with police and Spectrum Health Lakeland to accept unwanted and unused prescription drugs on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Medication can be dropped off during those four hours near the southeast corner of the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services at 3900 Hollywood Road in St. Joseph and at Lakeland Medical Suites on North St. Joseph Avenue in Niles. The Niles Law Enforcement Complex has a 24-hour drop box as well for anyone who is unable to dispose of their medicines during the National Drug Take-Back event. According to studies, most abused prescriptions are obtained from friends and family, and flushing medicine or throwing it in the trash can pose health and safety hazards. In the fall of 2017, 456 tons of medicines were collected during the event nationwide.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Affirms Support For Broadband

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution in support of broadband internet access for residents. Following Thursday’s vote, Commissioner Ezra Scott told WSJM News he wanted the resolution so the county could pursue a USDA grant for the roll out of high-speed internet.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Marks Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is urging parents to keep an open dialogue with their kids about the dangers of underage alcohol abuse. Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News alcohol is harmful to developing brains, adding the drinking age of 21 is based on science.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Votes To Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

The U.S. House voted on Thursday to approve the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, renewing the landmark 1994 law designed to help protect the survivors of domestic violence and to prevent the crime. Congressman Fred Upton voted in favor of the reauthorization this week, with the overall vote being 263 to 158. Upton tells us the act “plays a critical role in combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other terrible crimes,” adding that since it was first approved, “we’ve seen our nation’s response to these crimes improve and the rates of domestic abuse continue to decline.” The Violence Against Women Act provides support to survivors, including funding for shelters, legal resources, and counselling. Upton voted for the original act, and for every subsequent reauthorization.. ...Read Full Story

Extended Emergency Siren Test This Weekend

The Cook nuclear power plant will be running extended tests of Berrien County’s emergency sirens this weekend. The sirens are sounded for one minute the first Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. and this Saturday’s test will be for three minutes. There are 70 omni-directional sirens as part of Berrien County’s Alert and Notification System within the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone radius of the Cook plant in Bridgman. The Cook plant tells everyone not to be alarmed when they hear the sirens at 1 p.m. on Saturday. If it were a real emergency, the sirens would go off for three to five minutes.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan Making Progress On Helping Foster Kids

Michigan is making an effort to keep foster kids in family settings, with a 9% improvement over a 10 year period, according to a new report. Michigan is home to almost 12,000 foster children, and researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found the percentage being placed with families increased from 80% in 2007 to 89% in 2017. Rob Geen with the Casey Foundation tells us while the overall trend is positive, the numbers are still stubbornly low for teens and children of color.. ...Read Full Story