Local News Archives

Niles Man Charged In Fatal Indiana Crash

A Niles man is facing charges over a crash this week that killed a man in Indiana. According to our reporting partners at NewsCenter 16 WNDU, the St. Joseph County, Indiana Prosecutor’s office has charged 39-year-old James Morrison with one count of causing death while driving, as well as charges of causing bodily injury and resisting arrest. The crash happened on Tuesday afternoon following chase that started in Berrien County. A deputy tried to pull over the Blazer Morrison was driving because it had been reported stolen. The chase when down into Indiana and ended in the crash which involved five vehicles. Police say the chase involving Morrison at times went as fast as 100 miles per hour.r.... [Read Full Story]

Police Searching For Suspect In Van Buren County Chase

Police are looking for a suspect who led them on a chase through Hartford on Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started shortly after 5 p.m. when they got a call about a hit and run traffic crash on Red Arrow Highway near 65th Street. Deputies got a description of the vehicle that hit a woman’s car, and not long after, spotted it in the city of Hartford. They tried to pull over the maroon 2001 Chevy Tahoe, but it took off through some neighborhoods. It also pulled into a school parking lot near some kids that were playing, so deputies kept a safe distance. The chase at one point caused a Hartford police officer to crash into a fire hydrant, suffering minor injuries. For safety reasons, deputies broke off the chase. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact the sheriff’s department.... [Read Full Story]

Groundbreaking Tomorrow On Renovations In Downtown New Buffalo

Officials from New Buffalo will break ground Friday on a major initiative to improve the downtown area. They’ll be gathering at 1 p.m. for a ceremony to mark the start of a $5 million renovation project set to include infrastructure work, new streetscaping, parking changes, signage, and wider sidewalks along Mechanic and Barton Streets. The city tells us the effort has been in the making for about 13 years, and it’s now being made possible partly with a $1.6 million grant from the Pokagon Fund. City leaders say the work will transform the downtown. The first phase of the project, mostly involving underground work, starts in early March, while the rest of work is slated to start in the fall.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Office Gets More Time To Decide On School Closures

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has given Michigan’s School Reform Office more time before deciding which of 38 chronically underperforming schools will be closed. Snyder said Thursday that he’s asked the reform office and state education officials to review and decide on the schools’ fates by May. The reform office said in January that it would spend 30 to 45 days examining issues and options for students in the failing schools before making a decision. More than half of the 38 schools are in Detroit. The others are in Benton Harbor, Bridgeport, East Detroit, Kalamazoo, Pontiac, River Rouge and Saginaw. MLive reports that public school districts in Saginaw and Kalamazoo have filed a joint lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims against the reform office to head off any closings.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Designed To Protect Corrections Officers

Legislation now under consideration by a Michigan House committee would make it a felony for an inmate or detainee at a jail to try to expose officers to bodily fluids or human waste. Among the plan’s supporters is Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, who tells WKZO News many on the House Committee on Law and Justice seem to like the idea. He testified before them this week.... [Read Full Story]

State House Rejects Income Tax Cut

The Republican-led Michigan House has defeated legislation to lower the state’s income tax. The bill that fell three votes short of passage early Thursday would lower the 4.25% tax to 4.05% by 2019 and then to 3.9% by 2021 as long as the state savings, or rainy day, fund is not below $1 billion. House Speaker Tom Leonard told Michigan News Network he was disappointed.... [Read Full Story]

Busy Year Ahead For Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority

A busy year is being planned by the Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority. President Richard Hensel tells WSJM News, for one thing, they’re aiming to have a block party this June to raise money for the annual holiday lighting that’s put up along Main Street. Support from the parks conservancy was recently pulled, but Hensel says the DDA wants to find a long-term way of making sure the lights go up each year.... [Read Full Story]

Lakeland Implements Visitor Restrictions Over Flu Concerns

Lakeland Health is asking anyone with the flu to refrain from visiting loved ones that might be staying at one of its facilities. It’s just about the peak of the flu season, and Lakeland tells WSJM News they’re issuing visitation restrictions to try to keep patients safe. If you’re sick with the flu, don’t go to the hospital to see someone, and if you haven’t had a flu shot, you’ll be asked to wear a mask while there and to stand at least six feet from patients. Lakeland adds it’s not too late to get vaccinated, saying that’s the best way to avoid getting the flu.... [Read Full Story]

Detroit Suburb Settles Mosque Lawsuit

From the Associated Press — A Detroit suburb that denied a religious organization’s proposal for a mosque in a residential neighborhood has agreed to settle two federal lawsuits that alleged discrimination. The Sterling Heights City Council voted late Tuesday to accept the
settlements, including one in a lawsuit brought in December by the U.S. attorney’s office. Federal authorities said Wednesday that Sterling Heights will allow construction of the mosque. City officials say the settlement keeps Sterling Heights out of costly litigation. The city’s planning commission voted in 2015 against a special land agreement sought by the American Islamic Community Center. A lawsuit brought by the
community center noted a “hostile” commission and public. Sterling Heights says parking, traffic and issues involving the size of the mosque dome and spires have been addressed in the settlement.... [Read Full Story]

Secretary Of State To Handle Some Winning Lottery Tickets

From the Associated Press — A license plate, and a winning lottery ticket? In northern Michigan, the state lottery says it will allow people to claim large winnings at Secretary of State offices in four cities. The money will be electronically transferred to a player’s bank account the next day. They’ll need to present the winning ticket, a photo ID, Social Security card and bank account information. The ticket must be worth $601 to $50,000. The participating Secretary of State offices are in Escanaba, Grayling, Marquette, and Sault Ste. Marie. The service starts Thursday.
Prizes of $600 or less can be collected at stores that sell lottery tickets.... [Read Full Story]

Indiana High School Selling Off Retired Redskins Mascot Items

From the Associated Press — A northern Indiana high school is auctioning off parts of its gymnasium floor and other items that feature the Redskins nickname and mascot that were retired last year. Goshen High School dropped the nickname for its sports teams in early 2016
after nearly 90 years, changing to the RedHawks. Items up for sale include sports uniforms, warm-ups, jackets, chairs and gymnasium signs. The Elkhart Truth reports the school will hold a silent auction Friday evening during its home basketball game. Unsold items will be available through an online auction beginning next week. The district’s school board voted in 2015 to drop the Redskins nickname after opponents of its use argued it was offensive and derogatory to Native Americans.... [Read Full Story]

House Republicans Lack Support For Income Tax Repeal

Governor Rick Snyder still has concerns about the fiscal implications of an income tax cut after House Republicans revised their legislation. The Republican governor issued a statement Tuesday night saying he appreciates House leaders taking seriously his concerns. Representative Lee Chatfield is behind the push to lower the tax rate from 4.25% to 3.9%, but is giving up on the idea of rolling it back completely over 39 years.... [Read Full Story]

BH Commissioners Reject PlanTo Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

A plan that would have effectively prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Benton Harbor has been rejected by commissioners. Tuesday night, they shot down an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would have kept the businesses away. City Manager Darwin Watson tells WSJM News doing so could have prevented headaches when it comes to crime due to the banking rules with medical marijuana.... [Read Full Story]

Lieutenant Governor In Mexico For Automotive Trade Mission

Executives from 20 Michigan businesses and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley are in the midst of a trade mission to Mexico. The group left Sunday and will take part in an automotive conference and talk with company executives who have business operations in Michigan. Don Lowe is the Senior VP of Sales for Peterson Spring. He told Michigan News Network there are many opportunities to explore.... [Read Full Story]

New Scholarship Created In Honor Of Berrien County Teen

A new scholarship program has been created in honor of a Berrien County teen who tragically died after a battle with cancer this month. The Berrien Community Foundation on Tuesday announced the David A. Hicks Scholarship for the Arts, which will be used to help Berrien County high school grads who wish to pursue a career in visual, performing or graphic arts.... [Read Full Story]

Improvements Coming To South Haven Beach

More than $1 million worth of work is coming up at South Haven’s North Beach. This week, the city council approved two contracts for projects that will mean improvements to streets around the beach, mainly Monroe Park Street, as well as beach additions. Department of public works director Bill Hunter.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Animal Control Director Retiring

Berrien County Animal Control Director Val Grimes is retiring. She’s been in charge at animal control for about 20 years now, and has more than 30 years of experience working with animals in southwest Michigan. Grimes tells WSJM News she started out with the Humane Society, and animals are just something she’s always understood.... [Read Full Story]

Two Arraigned In Monday Attack On Trooper

Two brothers charged with attacking a Michigan State Police trooper alongside US-31 in Berrien Township this week have been arraigned. 21-year-old Michael Barber and 19-year-old Travis Wise are accused of assaulting the trooper following a motorcycle chase involving Barber on Monday. Two passersby helped the trooper overpower them. Now, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office says each is charged with assault and strangulation, resisting and obstructing, and attempting to disarm a police officer. Barber is also charged with fleeing and eluding and receiving a stolen vehicle. Barber is from Gobles, while Wise is from Middlebury, Indiana. Barber’s bond has been set at $100,000, while bond for Wise is at $75,000. They’re due back in court next month.... [Read Full Story]

Parents Join Kalamazoo District Lawsuit Over Possible School Closures

From the Associated Press — Several parents are joining a planned lawsuit against Michigan’s School Reform Office over its threats to close low-performing Kalamazoo schools. Kalamazoo Public Schools and nine parents say the state office lacks the legal authority to determine if schools should close. Superintendent Michael Rice tells the Kalamazoo Gazette he plans to file the lawsuit this week in the Michigan Court of Claims.
The district school board gave Rice authorization last week to sue the state office for its threat to close two of Kalamazoo’s elementary schools.
Parent Brianna Wolverton plans to join that suit. Her son attends one of schools the Michigan office says are at risk of closure due to poor performance. Wolverton says her son is thriving and “the school is not a failure at all.”... [Read Full Story]