Local News Archives

Study Shows Better Chances For New Soo Lock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says construction of a second Great Lakes navigation lock for large freighters will be included in its 2020 budget request to the Trump administration. Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sugrue of the agency’s Detroit district says the Soo Locks upgrade will have to compete with others from around the nation.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Approves Sports Logos On License Plates

From the Associated Press — Detroit sports fans can now represent their professional teams while on the go. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law on Monday allowing license plates that bear the logos of the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and Lions. Revenue from the plates will go toward charity funds run by the four teams. Some causes supported are free game tickets for low-income children, youth volunteering, and healthy living. Snyder says residents can “display their support while donating to a worthy cause.” The Secretary of State is required to set up a system for issuing the plates by February 2019.. ...Read Full Story

New Bike Safety Laws On Books

New bike safety laws will take effect in Michigan in about three months. The measures were prompted by the bicycle tragedy in Kalamazoo in June 2016 when a man who was high on drugs plowed into a group of cyclists, killing five and injuring several others. The new laws call for drivers to give bicycles three-feet of space when passing. Senator Margaret O’Brien of Portage pushed for the changes and had initially wanted a five-foot passing distance.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Ahead Of July 4th Holiday

It’s more expensive this week than last to fill up as we hit the Independence Day holiday. The latest survey from Triple-A Michigan notes our average gas price in the state is up about 9¢ a gallon from a week ago at $2.99. Locally, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average rose by 13¢ to $2.98. The state’s lowest prices are up in Marquette at $2.87, while Ann Arbor drivers continue to pay the most at $3.06. The auto club says the statewide jump was the second-largest in the country in the past week, and our prices are the 14th highest in the nation. GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan warned in late June that prices would go up due to a rise in global oil prices after OPEC nations agreed to increase production by an amount lower than what had been expected. GasBuddy puts South Haven’s prices at $2.86. That area is not included in the Triple A survey.. ...Read Full Story

Photo Contest For West MI

A photo contest is being held by the West Michigan Tourist Association as it prepares to put together its 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. The association tells us it wants photos that depict the beauty of the region from all west Michigan residents. The photos can be of everything from Harbor Country to the Upper Peninsula. The first place winner will have their submission featured on the cover of the 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. They’ll also get a free trip to Grand Rapids and other goodies. Second and third place will get their photos featured on the inside of the travel guide, and some tickets to attractions in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. You can find our more about the photo contest right here.. ...Read Full Story

Man Rescued After Winds Capsize Boat In South Haven

The storm that blew through southwest Michigan Sunday evening cooled things down nicely, but also nearly killed a man as he was on an inflatable boat in South Haven. Police were called to North Beach around 7:15 p.m. on a report of a capsized boat about 30 yards from the North Pier. They found the man in the water and exhausted, not wearing a life jacket. Once he was pulled up on to the pier thanks to a life ring, he told police he had only intended to go down the river, but the wind picked up once he had gone past the pier and flipped his boat over. He said he was sure he was going to drown had they not thrown him the life ring. The man’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At West MI Jobs

There have been some clear changes in Berrien County’s employment picture since the end of the Great Recession. The latest economic outlook report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research takes a look at such trends throughout west Michigan. Upjohn analyst Brian Pittelko tells WSJM News business and management jobs have dramatically grown in the Niles-Benton Harbor market since 2016. We asked Pittelko which jobs have gone down.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Benton Harbor Shootings

Benton Harbor Public Safety continues to look for suspects in a pair of shootings early Sunday morning that killed two people and have two others hospitalized at Lakeland in St. Joseph. 22-year-old Andre Sanders was killed in a shooting overnight on Lavette as police were breaking up a house party around 1:30 a.m. a block away.. ...Read Full Story

Scholarships For Foster Kids

When kids age out of foster care in Michigan, what do they do if they want to go to college? Fundraising efforts have been underway for the past several years through Fostering Futures to raise scholarship money for those who have aged out of foster care. Robin Lott is the executive director of the Michigan Education Trust and says 70% of kids who age out of foster care nationwide want to attend college.. ...Read Full Story

School To Fight Cancer

The St. Joseph High School football team is going to team up to fight cancer this year, and there are ways you can help. The Team Up Against Cancer campaign’s Regina Ciaravino tells WSJM News the Bears will use a September 24 game to raise money for the Marie Yeager Cancer Center and Berrien County Cancer Services.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Not Pleased With Tax Bill

A second local governmental unit is on record opposing a bill from state Senator John Proos to exempt utilities from paying personal property taxes on new equipment, including transmission lines and power generation devices like solar farms and windmills. The St. Joseph City Commission Monday night joined the Berrien County Commission in saying they don’t want the bill passed. Mayor Mike Garey says as it stands, the city will lose over $100,000.. ...Read Full Story

Two Killed, Two Hurt In Two Shootings In Benton Harbor

One person is dead and three others are hospitalized at Lakeland in St. Joseph following a pair of overnight shootings in Benton Harbor. Authorities don’t know if the shootings are connected. In the first, public safety officers were breaking up a house party around 1:30 a.m. in the 1000 block of Lavette and heard several gunshots from a block away. A few minutes later, Berrien County dispatchers notified the officers that someone had been shot several times and was now at the hospital, where he died. As they were investigating that shooting, another call came in at 3:30 a.m. that several people had been shot at a home on Edgecumbe near Forest. One man died, and two others are in critical condition. Police found multiple shell casings at the site, and believe several weapons were involved. No names are being released yet, and no arrests have been made.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Salutes President

High marks for Lake Michigan College President Trevor Kubatzke. At a meeting this week, the LMC Board of Trustees gave Kubatzke a positive performance evaluation. President Michael Lindley told WSJM News since Kubatzke came on in April of last year, he’s proven to be a strong leader.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Community Foundation Scholarships

$185,000 in scholarships will be handed out by the Berrien Community Foundation in the 2018-2019 academic year. The foundation announced the scholarship recipients at a reception last week. Foundation Program Manager Susan Matheny tells WSJM News the scholarships managed by the organization are all possible due to endowments set up by individuals, non-profits, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

City Manager Settling In

Watervliet has a new city manager. His name is Tyler Dotson, and he comes from Blissfield, Michigan. Dotson is working a set of goals he would like to accomplish for the city. He tells us building relationships is a good place to start.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Lift Rescue

A group of people who became stuck in a lift near South Haven Saturday afternoon are now safe thanks to South Haven Area Emergency Services. SHAES tells us a power outage caused the group to be caught in the lift that brings residents up and down to the Lake Michigan beach. The incident occurred at a beach in Casco Township off B Avenue around 5:45 p.m. The trapped party was helped down ladders by SHAES personnel, and no injuries were reported.. ...Read Full Story

County Auction Book Out

The latest book of foreclosed properties set to be auctioned off by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office is now available. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the new book has 183 properties, of which 181 were foreclosed this year. He tells us they run the gamut. Someone looking to buy has a variety of options.. ...Read Full Story

MI Gerrymandering Report

How big of a problem is gerrymandering in Michigan? According to a new report from the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, it’s a significant one. “Quantifying The Level of Gerrymandering In Michigan” finds the practice goes back to the 1800s as politicians drew districts in order to benefit their own parties. Research Associate Jordon Newton tells WSJM News one way to quantify gerrymandering is to look at the “efficiency gap,” which measures what percentage of votes in district are wasted.. ...Read Full Story

Board Pleased With Superintendent

St. Joseph Public Schools Trustees are pleased with district Superintendent Ann Cardon. At meeting this week, the board of education approved Cardon’s annual performance evaluation and extended her contract through June 30, 2021. Board President Amy Porritt Peirce told WSJM News Cardon has been rated “highly effective” for the sixth year in a row.. ...Read Full Story

Cost Of Uninsured Drivers

We pay more for car insurance in Michigan than any other state, and a new report finds a big factor to that is 20% of Michigan drivers are getting behind the wheel without any insurance at all. Lori Conarton from the Insurance Alliance of Michigan tells us the state’s unique no-fault law that requires everyone purchase unlimited, lifetime medical benefits as part of their policies is overdue for changes to bring the costs down and make it easier for everyone to get insured.. ...Read Full Story

Cass Co. Shooting Investigation

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says one man was arrested following a shooting incident in Vandalia Friday afternoon. It tells us deputies responded to a call about shots being fired around 2:40. They learned there had been several people arguing when two people pulled out guns and shot at each other. No one was injured, but there was some property damage. One of the suspects was arrested, and the other is now being sought by police. The sheriff’s department says he is not a danger to the general public. Anyone with information on that individual’s location is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested After Fleeing Police

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us two men are in custody after a chase with deputies on Friday. It started in the 47,000 block of 27th Street in Almena Township when a sheriff’s deputy pulled over a black sport bike for a plate violation. The bike had been traveling with two others, and police say the other riders took off, fleeing from the deputy. A chase began. One of the riders wiped out at a dead end on 30th Street, and was taken into custody. Another of the riders tried to cut through a field, hit a fence, and then was taken into custody. The sheriff’s department says the two arrested are 47-year-old man from Lawton and a 40-year-old man from Galesburg. Both suspects had suspended licenses. Neither bike was properly registered or plated, and neither driver had a cycle endorsement. Both suspects were taken to the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Outgoing Trustee Honored

Retiring Lake Michigan College Trustee Judy Truesdell has been saluted for her years of service by the LMC Board of Trustees. At a meeting this week, the board sent Truesdell off with a resolution commending and thanking her for her work on behalf of the college. She’s served since 1997, and told us LMC has grown quite a bit in that time.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Proos STEM Bills

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Senator John Proos designed to reward Michigan students who take STEM classes and to inform them about the jobs available in their areas. Proos tells WSJM News one bill creates a special STEM certification to be put on a student’s diploma or transcript when they take extra science, technology, engineering, or math classes.. ...Read Full Story

July Is Craft Beer Month

July is Craft Beer Month, a chance for Michigan’s quickly growing craft beer industry to showcase its strength and for distributors to celebrate locally-made brews. Bud Distributing Sales Manager Jenna Podjan tells WSJM News the Dowagiac-based company’s roster of beers has grown quite a bit recently as local makers have sprung up.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Cherry Fest Next Week

The 33rd annual Eau Claire Cherry Festival will be held on Wednesday, the Fourth of July. The festival’s Cindy Glassman Cantrell tells us the downtown area of Eau Claire is shut down for the fun, which is intended for all ages. They’ll have everything from a baby contest to teen and adult tricycle races. It all kicks off at 9 a.m. with the oil can derby and baking contest. At 10 a.m. they’ll have the cherry baby contest, the parade is at 1 p.m. and the pie eating contest. Cantrell tells us the contest is a fun way to get some free cherry pie. You’ll be able to buy a cup of cherries around town for $1. There will also be fireworks at dusk at the Pipestone Township office. Cantrell expects around 2,000 people to come to town for the festival, which she tells us is all about the community and the children.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Heat

The Berrien County Health Department has activated a heat alert for this entire weekend, warning everyone to take steps to keep themselves healthy and safe. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News you need to be sure to drink plenty of water.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Fireworks Tonight

Dowagiac will hold its fireworks tonight. The fifth annual fireworks celebration in Dowagiac will be at dusk at the Dowagiac Municipal Airport. The show is possible thanks to the Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac and donations from the community. Southwestern Michigan College has also stepped in to make the grand finale possible. The Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac tell us you’ll be able to watch the fireworks from any location near the airport. You can find out more at their Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Keeping Your A/C Cooling Your House In Extreme Heat

Air conditioners are buzzing and likely won’t be turning off until next week all over southwest Michigan with this heat bubble that’s slowly moving over the eastern U.S. In order to be sure your home stays as cool as it can, Michael Levy of Airmaster Heating and Air Conditioning in metro Detroit says you should make sure you have a clean air filter, and that you’ve hosed off all the coils in the outside unit. But the thermostat may still take a while to go down inside your home if you keep it set in the low 70s.. ...Read Full Story

Red Arrow Hwy Called Scenic Route

USA Today has included Red Arrow Highway in its list of beautiful scenic drives around the United States. In a piece published this week, USA Today picks one route from each state to identify as offering lovely views. For Michigan, the pick is “The Red Arrow Highway.” The article writes it “takes you along the shores of Lake Michigan through quaint coastal towns,” adding a popular attraction along the way is the St. Joseph Lighthouse. Red Arrow Highway can take you from New Buffalo to Kalamazoo. As for Indiana, USA Today recommends driving around Parke County because of its covered bridges. For Illinois, it’s the Ohio River Scenic Byway. You can see the USA Today list right here.. ...Read Full Story

Herrera, BHAS, State Agree On Start Date

Benton Harbor Area Schools will be led by Dr. Robert Herrera, after all. The school board, state officials, and Herrera have agreed on a start date of July 17 for him to serve as the district’s CEO. The board announced his hire a few weeks ago, only to have Herrera issue a statement the next day saying there were too many unanswered questions from the state at the time and saying he had not been offered a job. He is currently the superintendent of South Haven Public Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Education Budget

From the Associated Press —  Rick Snyder has signed a $16.8 billion education budget that includes a sizable increase in base aid for lower-funded K-12 districts in Michigan. The outgoing Republican governor approved his final education budget Thursday. It adds $120 to $240 for each student compared to last year’s budget. It’s the largest increase in 17 years.
The budget also buoys career and technical training – a priority of Snyder’s – by funding high schools up to $50 more per student in those programs. Democrats had rejected the proposed budget in the GOP-controlled Legislature, saying it won’t be enough to reverse course in Michigan’s most cash-strapped districts. They also castigated a provision that allows a quarter of the staff at some schools to be laid off if student performance does not improve.. ...Read Full Story

Sand Sculptor On Hand For Bridgman Fest

She is sometimes known as the Sand Pirate, and she’s perhaps southwest Michigan’s most renown sand sculptor. Janet Moore Schrader tells WSJM News she started sculpting with sand after winning a battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the early 2000s. She found it therapeutic to go down to the beach in Chikaming Township where she lives, and eventually became an expert at making art with sand. Since then, she’s become known around Bridgman, helping the local schools raise money for a STEM program.. ...Read Full Story

Police Talk Fireworks Rules

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is reminding everyone of what the rules are for shooting off fireworks now that the Fourth of July is just about here. Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News, first of all, there are statewide limits on when someone can use fireworks.. ...Read Full Story

Possible County Salary Study

Berrien County Commissioner Jeanette Leahey is hoping to conduct a county salary study. For the past few meetings, she has asked other commissioners for their input as the Personnel and Human Services Committee weighs its options. Leahey tells WSJM News this would be the first county and court employee salary study in 20 years.. ...Read Full Story

Latest West MI Jobs Report

There have been some clear changes in Berrien County’s employment picture since the end of the Great Recession. The latest economic outlook report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research takes a look at such trends throughout west Michigan. Upjohn analyst Brian Pittelko tells WSJM News business and management jobs have dramatically grown in the Niles-Benton Harbor market since 2016. We asked Pittelko which jobs have gone down.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Murder Suspect Charged

The man accused of a murder last Thursday in Van Buren County is behind bars on a $3 million bond. Troy Taylor was arraigned yesterday on open murder and felony firearms charges for allegedly shooting and killing a former friend, Timothy Henley of Kalamazoo, at a Pine Grove Township house. Taylor spent several days on the run before being captured earlier this week at a home in White Pigeon, and prosecutors are planning to bring charges against those who were trying to keep him from police. According to police, Taylor was at the home to pick up his daughter, and an argument ensued between him and Henley. Henley broke out a window in Taylor’s car, prompting him to pull a gun and shoot. The victim was dating the gunman’s ex-girlfriend, who is also the mother of Taylor’s daughter. Police say that relationship resulted in the end of their friendship.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lags In Child Well-Being

While Michigan is making some progress in child well-being, a new report shows it’s still falling behind its neighbors. The 2018 Kids Count Data Book released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation assesses how kids are doing in the areas of health, education, economic well-being, and family and community. Michigan Kids Count Project Director Alicia Guevara Warren tells us Michigan falls in the bottom half of states in many measures.. ...Read Full Story

No Emergency Managers In Place

For the first time in 18 years, there are currently no emergency managers in charge of any Michigan cities or school districts. Michigan Department of Treasury spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News Highland Park Schools got out of receivership last month, following a statewide trend.. ...Read Full Story

I-94 Ramps To Close

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be shutting down two I-94 ramps this Friday in Van Buren County so they can be reconstructed. MDOT tells us the ramps at exit 52 in Lawrence are being rebuilt. That’s the ramp to eastbound I-94 and the ramp from eastbound I-94. They will have detours. The closures are part of a larger project to resurface almost six miles of eastbound I-94 from 56th Street to M-51 in Van Buren County. The closure of the Lawrence ramps begins Friday and will end on July 20. You can stay on top of all MDOT summer construction projects at Michigan.gov/MIDrive.. ...Read Full Story

Property Auction Book Available

The latest book of foreclosed properties set to be auctioned off by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office is now available. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the new book has 183 properties, of which 181 were foreclosed this year. He tells us they run the gamut. Someone looking to buy has a variety of options.. ...Read Full Story

Board Salutes Outgoing Trustee

Retiring Lake Michigan College Trustee Judy Truesdell has been saluted for her years of service by the LMC Board of Trustees. At a meeting this week, the board sent Truesdell off with a resolution commending and thanking her for her work on behalf of the college. She’s served since 1997, and told us LMC has grown quite a bit in that time.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Seeking Motorcycle Instructors

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials are looking for accomplished motorcyclists who could teach others to ride.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says safety class instructors play essential roles in the Michigan Rider Education Program.
Johnson says motorcycling is a complex skill requiring good judgment and information on the road to assess risks and react appropriately. The pay rate for “ridercoaches” ranges from $24 to $35 per hour, depending on location. Applicants must be experience motorcyclists who enjoy working with people and have good riding and communication skills. The fee for a ridercoach prep course is $75 and includes required materials. Candidates spend about 80 hours in the classroom and on the riding range. Nearly 11,500 people enrolled in a Michigan motorcycle safety class last year. More information is available online .. ...Read Full Story

SCOTUS Overturns Decades-Old Michigan Union Dues Ruling

The US Supreme Court says government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a serious financial blow to organized labor. The justices are scrapping a 41-year-old decision in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join. Illinois state worker Mark Janus sued to overturn the decades-old ruling, saying his $45 a month fee to AFSCME violated his First Amendment rights under the constitution.. ...Read Full Story

Pop-Up Kids Museum In South Haven

A temporary kids museum is coming to South Haven. Set to be open from July 1 through September 3 is the non-profit Forever Curious Children’s Museum. It will be located in a storefront on Phoenix Street, and will feature everything from sand and water tables to a cardboard construction zone to giant blocks to a tinker table and a STEAM exhibit. The museum will also have family activities. The museum says the idea is to provide a way for educational fun in the busy summer months. All of the exhibits will be approved by former educators to ensure they complement the current Core and STEAM school curriculum. Opening day for the pop-up Forever Curious Children’s Museum will be this Sunday with a kick-off party, and then the place will be open each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

FBI To Add Name To 10 Most Wanted Fugitives In Benton Harbor

A new name will be added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List” later this morning in Benton Harbor. The bureau, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michigan State Police, Benton Harbor Public Safety, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will be announcing the addition of a new person to the list, but no indication has come about who it might be. However, federal and local authorities have been trying to find 40-year-old Antwan “Tank” Mims for a double murder in Benton Harbor since March. He was initially believed to have taken off to Indianapolis after the crime and the FBI says he also has ties to Georgia and Tennessee. WSJM News will have more on this story this afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Pipestone Twp Man Badly Injured By Own Pit Bull

A 61-year-old Pipestone Township man is in bad shape after being attacked by his pit bull. Michigan State Police were called to the home in the 63-hundred block of Pipestone Road at 6:30 Tuesday night on a report of a dog attack. They found the man “severely injured” on the floor with the dog still biting his arms. The trooper shot the dog when it turned on him, and the dog’s owner was rushed to Lakeland Hospital for treatment. There is no word on his condition as yet. State police tell WSJM News the man was in shock from blood loss and had several deep cuts to both arms from the bites.. ...Read Full Story

Art Fair This Weekend

One of the highlights of summer in Michigan’s Great Southwest is the South Haven Art Fair, and it’s coming up soon. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Art Fair which brings a blend of talent that includes works in acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel and more. The setting is Stanley Johnston Park this Saturday and Sunday, and the fair has attracted as many as 120 local and regional artists, along with thousands of guests. Stanley Johnston Park is a short walk from Lake Michigan and admission to the Art Fair is free.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation For LMC President

High marks for Lake Michigan College President Trevor Kubatzke. At a Tuesday meeting, the LMC Board of Trustees gave Kubatzke a positive performance evaluation. President Michael Lindley told WSJM News since Kubatzke came on in April of last year, he’s proven to be a strong leader.. ...Read Full Story

High School To Help Fight Cancer

The St. Joseph High School football team is going to team up to fight cancer this year, and there are ways you can help. The Team Up Against Cancer campaign’s Regina Ciaravino tells WSJM News the Bears will use a September 24 game to raise money for the Marie Yeager Cancer Center and Berrien County Cancer Services.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Suspect Caught

Police have caught a murder suspect out of Van Buren County who had been on the run since last week. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us 38-year-old Troy Lee Taylor was arrested Tuesday afternoon. Investigators received a tip about his location. Police had been looking for Taylor since last Thursday when the body of 40-year-old Timothy Henley of Kalamazoo was found at a home in Gobles. It’s alleged Taylor shot and killed Henley. Prosecutors have issued a warrant for Taylor on charges of for open murder and felony firearm.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines MI Gerrymandering

How big of a problem is gerrymandering in Michigan? According to a new report from the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, it’s a significant one. “Quantifying The Level of Gerrymandering In Michigan” finds the practice goes back to the 1800s as politicians drew districts in order to benefit their own parties. Research Associate Jordon Newton tells WSJM News one way to quantify gerrymandering is to look at the “efficiency gap,” which measures what percentage of votes in district are wasted.. ...Read Full Story

Helping Foster Kids Pay For College

When kids age out of foster care in Michigan, what do they do if they want to go to college? Fundraising efforts have been underway for the past several years through Fostering Futures to raise scholarship money for those who have aged out of foster care. Robin Lott is the executive director of the Michigan Education Trust and says 70% of kids who age out of foster care nationwide want to attend college.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor Appeals Resentencing

The re-sentencing of a man convicted of second degree murder in Berrien County nearly 40 years ago is being appealed by Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic. Michael Johnson was 17 when he pleaded guilty to the murder charge in the death of 16-year-old Sue Ellen Machemer. The two were classmates at Lakeshore High School. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison in 1980. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down life without parole sentences for juveniles prompted Judge John Donahue last month to order a re-sentencing for Johnson, but Prosecutor Sepic says that ruling didn’t apply to Johnson’s case. He’s appealing to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Sepic writes the “reason this is important to other cases is that the natural extension of Judge Donahue’s decision is that any 17 year old — an adult for criminal law purposes in Michigan — convicted of any crime would have to be sentenced” using factors related to the Supreme Court case. He says “That is not what the United States Supreme Court requires.”. ...Read Full Story