Local News Archives

One Dead In Van Buren County Crash Involving Train

One person is dead following a crash between an SUV and a train in Van Buren County on Wednesday. It happened around 4 p.m. south of Grand Junction at the 16th Avenue CSX Railroad crossing. Dispatch tells us two people were in the SUV, and one was taken to South Haven Bronson Hospital. The train loaded with coal was returning from a power plant in Port Sheldon. There are no gates at the rural railroad crossing. Police are still investigating.... [Read Full Story]

MI Democrats Introduce Bill To Give Workers Paid Sick Time

From the Associated Press — Michigan Senate and House Democrats want to see all Michigan workers get paid sick leave. They introduced legislation on Wednesday that would give workers one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked regardless of whether they are part-time or
full-time. State Representative Stephanie Chang says a majority of Michigan citizens support paid sick leave. A 2016 study by the Michigan League for Public Policy shows that 44% of Michigan workers cannot take time off if they or a family member becomes ill. Five other states –Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont — have similar laws. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, says he will seek bipartisan support but the legislation is unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Legislature.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven High School Students Facing Sex Charges

Police in South Haven say five criminal charges are being pursued against some male students at the high school for sex acts involving an underage girl. Acting South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson tells us the department became aware of the situation last week and immediately launched an investigation. Not many details have been released, but police say a plain-clothes officer spoke with the six male suspects, who are all legal adults, as well as the victim and her parents. The case was turned over to the prosecutor’s office on Monday, and five felony warrants for third degree criminal sexual conduct, or statutory rape, were issued. The suspects have all turned themselves in, and have been arraigned with bond set at $1,000.... [Read Full Story]

Trooper Beating, Van Buren Crime Spree Possibly Linked

One of the two men who were subdued by good Samaritans after they attacked a Michigan State Police trooper has now been linked to a series of other crimes both before and after his arrest in Indiana and in Michigan. 21-year-old Michael Barber has allegedly been seen on store security video recorded the day before the theft of 14 handguns at a gun shop in Shipshewana on February 10th. On February 20th, four businesses were broken into in Van Buren County and a number of items stolen. Among them a motorcycle that Michael Barber was riding when he was pulled over by Trooper Garry Guild, and a fist fight between Barber, his brother and Trooper Guild took place. Barber and his brother are due in a Berrien County courtroom today to face charges for allegedly attacking the trooper. Three others have been arrested in connection with the theft of the guns. They sold some of them in an attempt to raise enough bail money to spring Barber.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien Dems Disappointed With Vote On Trump Tax Records

Berrien County Democrats are not pleased with Congressman Fred Upton. This week, Upton joined almost all of his GOP House colleagues in rejecting a proposal requiring President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to a House committee. Berrien County Democratic Party Chair Dr. Eric Lester tells WSJM News it’s important everyone know what dealings Donald Trump has had with Russia.... [Read Full Story]

Feds Delay Plan To Keep Asian Carp From The Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Federal officials are delaying a proposal for a new line of defense in the Chicago area to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been scheduled to release a draft plan Tuesday for installing new technologies or taking other steps to block the invasive fish’s path at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. The lock and dam is on the Des Plaines River, part of a waterway network that links the carp-infested Illinois River with Lake Michigan. The Army corps has been studying possible modifications at Brandon Road since September 2014. Spokesman Allen Marshall says further coordination is needed with “multiple levels of government” and advocacy groups. He says no new release date has been set.... [Read Full Story]

Work Begins On Replacing Breedsville Bridge

The small Van Buren County village of Breedsville is finally getting its south side bridge replaced. The bridge on County Road 215 over the Black River partially collapsed in December of 2015, causing a big headache for anyone trying to get into town from the south. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells WSJM News drivers have had to take a multi-mile detour to get in. On Monday, though, work finally started on replacing the bridge. Norton was pleased.... [Read Full Story]

You Can Now Report Poaching To The State Via Text

From the Associated Press — If you want to tip off authorities about fish and game violations in Michigan, there’s an easy way: Send a text message. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says its Report All Poaching hotline has begun accepting text messages in addition to telephone calls. The number is 800-292-7800. Text messages may include photos. The hotline is toll-free and is monitored 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week. It’s operated by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, which also offers a web-based reporting form. After receiving a text, the Report All Poaching system immediately replies with a message stating that a dispatcher soon will be in touch. The dispatcher will then request details as would be done during a phone call. The system provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers.... [Read Full Story]

Mi House Speaker Says Failed Tax Cut Vote Not A Bad Outcome

From the Associated Press — House Speaker Tom Leonard is defending his unorthodox decision to allow the defeat of an income tax cut bill that’s a top priority for many majority Republicans. Leonard told The Associated Press Tuesday he’s “proud” he listened to an overwhelming number of Republicans who wanted to vote despite him knowing it would likely fall short. He dismisses criticism as coming from within the “Lansing bubble.” He says he has no regrets and the failed vote isn’t necessarily a “bad thing.” Twelve Republicans joined all but one Democrat to defeat the measure last week, raising questions about why he didn’t clear the voting board and continue to seek support later. Leonard says while cutting taxes remains a priority, the House will next focus on criminal justice and public records legislation.... [Read Full Story]

Federal Court Will Consider Michigan County’s Public Prayers

From the Associated Press — A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county’s tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution. The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues. Peter Bormuth said he felt compelled to stand and participate in religion in order to speak to public officials.The panel had overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the board.... [Read Full Story]

Honor Credit Union Forming Partnership With Post Community Credit Union

Honor Credit Union is about to get bigger. It’s announced a new partnership with Post Community Credit Union, which has branches around the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek areas. As part of the deal, Post will be renamed Honor Credit Union. The organizations tell us they’ll benefit from the mutual expertise, and their missions are already closely aligned. If they deal goes through, the bigger Honor Credit Union will have $800 million, 23 branches, and more than 75,000 members in Michigan. The Post Community Credit Union membership has to approve the change, which also depends on regulatory approval.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Officials Move To Have Blighted Home Torn Down

A blighted home in St. Joseph could soon be demolished. For several months now, city officials have been pressuring the owner of multiple homes, all under different names, to fix up his properties. First, there was a public outcry over a home on Wayne Street which has since been fixed. Now, the problem is with a home at Niles Avenue and Hoyt Street, which has had a tarp on the roof since last spring. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the owner’s been told the city wants it gone.... [Read Full Story]

Police Investigating Van Buren County Business Break-Ins

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is looking for any information it can get on a rash of break-ins which occurred last week. It says there were break-ins at four businesses in the early morning hours of Monday. They were Glendale Forest Products in Waverly Township, CPS Welding and Dickinson Growers in Bloomingdale, and AmeriGas in Pinegrove Township. A variety of things were stolen, including a 2013 Suzuki Motorcycle which was later recovered following a high-speed chase in Berrien County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is looking to piece together the whole story and seeking the public’s help. If you have any information on the crimes, just give them a call, or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.... [Read Full Story]

Attorneys: 5 Automakers Knew Takata Air Bags Were Dangerous

From the Associated Press — Attorneys for people suing air bag maker Takata and five automakers say the car companies knew that the company’s products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive. The allegations against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and BMW were made in a document filed Monday with a federal court in Miami. The court is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The document says the allegations are partly based on auto company documents.
Earlier, the automakers had contended that Takata was the problem because it admitted to covering up the defective inflators, which can blow apart and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Takata has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and agreed to pay $1 billion for the scheme to cover up the air bag problems.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Man Sentenced To At Least 15 Years In Fatal Shooting

A Benton Harbor man will be spending the next 15 to 24 years in prison now that he’s been sentenced in a May fatal shooting. Prosecutors say 30-year-old Terrance Shelby shot 17-year-old Grady Manns near Shelby’s home in the area of Empire and McAllister Avenue on May 12. Shelby had caught Manns in his home with his 13-year-old step daughter, and chased Manns away. Then, he says he saw Manns near the home again several minutes later. Shelby told police he was trying to fire a warning shot, but it hit Manns. He was sentenced Monday to at least 15.5 years in prison on a second degree murder charge and for felony firearm.... [Read Full Story]

MDOT Auctioning Off Excess Properties

From the Associated Press — An office building and 21 parcels of vacant land owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation are scheduled for public auction. The excess property will be up for bid on March 20 at the agency’s Office of Aeronautics in Lansing. Officials say the excess properties are located in counties throughout the state and no longer are needed for transportation purposes. The properties include a small lot along the Thornapple River in Kent County’s Cascade Township, a more than 100-acre parcel in Gratiot County’s Washington
Township and a six-acre site in Macomb County’s Sterling Heights. Auction rules state that each property will be sold to the highest bidder and
for not less than the minimum bid price.... [Read Full Story]

Midwest, Wyoming Lawmakers Target Wolf Protections Again

From the Associated Press — Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten their livestock. Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season when most cows and sheep will be giving birth begins in earnest. That followed recent testimony before a Senate committee from a Wisconsin farm leader who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods. Meanwhile, both sides are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list.... [Read Full Story]

MI Congressman Embraces Town Halls

From the Associated Press — Congressman Justin Amash, of Michigan, is embracing the town halls that many of his Republican counterparts in Congress have avoided as people lash out at President Donald Trump’s early actions and the planned repeal of the federal health care law.
He says he has a duty to attend. The events are earning the 36-year-old libertarian, who is among Trump’s most prominent critics in the GOP on immigration and other issues, some respect from angry Democrats who vehemently oppose many of Amash’s stances but credit him for not ducking his constituents and listening to them. The fourth-term congressman who has sparred with the Republican establishment is not immune to criticism from Trump loyalists, either. Amash says he is comfortable with town meetings because he has being hosting them for years.... [Read Full Story]

SMC Planning Big Expansion To Nursing Program

Southwestern Michigan College is planning to expand its Nursing and Health Education Building so more programs can be offered and more students trained. SMC President Dr. David Mathews tells WSJM News the $9.6 million project is intended to help SMC better serve the area, noting the nursing program has been a big success.... [Read Full Story]