Local News Archives

GVSU Accused Of Delaying Sexual Assault Reports

Ottawa County authorities say Grand Valley State University has a policy discouraging prompt reporting of sexual assaults, which undermines their ability to gather evidence and successfully prosecute the crimes. Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald Frantz tells MLive the process is concerning because it hampers the ability to build cases. The university’s police department investigates sexual assaults on campus and
is supposed to forward cases with enough evidence to the prosecutor’s office. Frantz says reports trickle in from the university weeks, and sometimes months, late. Frantz’s claims come as the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department investigates a string of four off-campus assaults this fall near the university’s main campus in Allendale. University spokeswoman Mary Eilleen Lyon says the school has no policy discouraging prompt reporting of sexual assaults, but rather one that encourages quick reporting with respect for the victim’s needs.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Men Adopt Stray Dog, Puppies At Bachelor Party

A group of men from Michigan have returned from a bachelor party in Tennessee with a stray dog and her litter of puppies in tow. MLive reports that groom-to-be Mitchel Craddock and his friends were on a 5-day trip at a cabin in the woods when a stray dog approached their front door.
She wouldn’t come inside, but wolfed down the food and water the men gave her. Craddock says the group eventually noticed she was producing milk. They found her seven puppies in a den down the road from the cabin. Craddock says the puppies looked like they were 5- to 6-weeks old and were very healthy. Each of the men took one of the puppies home. Craddock’s grandparents took the mother and one of her puppies.... [Read Full Story]

Report: More MI Children Now Insured

More kids in Michigan have health insurance these days. That’s according to a report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. It says that in 2015, 95% of kids nationally were insured, while 97% of Michigan kids had care. CEO of Michigan’s Children Matt Gillard says that’s great, but there’s still a need to invest in programs that serve the educational, economic, and social needs of families.... [Read Full Story]

Martin’s To Serve Free Meals To Veterans Next Month

Martin’s Supermarkets will once again be serving up free meals to veterans this Veterans Day. Every location of the supermarket chain will offer the meals to vets on Friday, November 11. Any active, inactive, or retired military veteran can stop by between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to get a meal from the deli. All you need to do is bring along a military ID, and you don’t have to buy anything. This year’s Honor Meal will be fried chicken, mashed potatoes, ice cream, and cake. Veterans can also enter a raffle to win a $50 Martin’s gift card.... [Read Full Story]

New Kitchen Helps Train LMC Culinary Students

Lake Michigan College has a new feature to help teach its culinary management students. A temporary kitchen, resembling a restaurant kitchen, is now up and running at the Napier Avenue campus. The board of trustees was given a tour this week. LMC VP of Academic Services Leslie Kellogg tells WSJM News the kitchen helps train students for the tourism industry in the region.... [Read Full Story]

Arrest Made Over Stolen Campaign Signs

One person is facing charges after being arrested this week for stealing campaign signs in Cass County. The Silver Creek Township Police Department made the arrest in the early morning hours of Thursday. The suspect allegedly stole campaign signs from two separate properties around 4 a.m. They’re now facing a charge of larceny under $200, and could get up to 93 days in jail and $500 in fines. The suspect posted bond after being arrested, and faces arraignment later this week.... [Read Full Story]

BH School Board Votes Confidence In Superintendent

The Benton Harbor School Board has reaffirmed its support for Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker. At Thursday’s meeting, Treasurer James Turner proposed a vote of confidence in Walker and it passed. The move came after last week’s vote by the board not to fire suspended High School Principal Rodger Tripplett. Turner told us the suspension of Tripplett has been a controversy, and it’s unfortunate Walker has been blamed by some for it.... [Read Full Story]

Search For Suspect Causes Delay Of Classes At Watervliet Schools

Parents have nothing to worry about following a delay of the start of classes Thursday at Watervliet Schools. Around 6:20 a.m., Superintendent Kevin Schooley says he got a call from police about the search for a domestic violence suspect in the area. He decided to delay classes by two hours due to the search being near the school and its bus stops. However, Schooley got a call back from police around 6:40 telling him they found their suspect. It was too late at that point to rescind the delay, so it remained in effect. In any event, Schooley says parents need not worry. No one was in any danger.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Today Director Steps Down

The search will soon begin for a new executive director for St. Joseph Today. That’s after Whitney Behnke resigned the position this week following less than a year on the job. Behnke cited the difficulty of attending the organization’s many events while also caring for a toddler as the reason for stepping down. The St. Joe Today Board accepted Behnke’s resignation on Wednesday, and vice president Mike Patel tells us they wish Behnke well. In place as interim director for St. Joseph Today is Brian Smith, the organization’s event manager. He’s served as interim director before, and St. Joe Today remains fully functional. No timetable has yet been announced for finding Behnke’s permanent replacement.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Vetoes Medicaid Tax Changes

Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed legislation that would have changed how health insurers are taxed and Medicaid is funded. Snyder said Thursday he rejected the bills because he was “very concerned” that the federal government would not recognize the tax structure, putting at
risk federal matching funds and “leaving our state budget out of balance.” The veto comes a week after the Republican-led Senate voted overwhelmingly to continue a 6 percent “use” tax on Medicaid managed care organizations, more quickly end a broader health insurance tax that the business lobby dislikes and change the pot of state money that is used to draw federal matching dollars. Snyder says he looks forward to continued discussions with lawmakers.... [Read Full Story]

MI Board Allows Flint To Sue The State

A state board overseeing Flint as it transitions from state emergency management has reversed course and lifted the city’s ability to sue without first getting approval from the board. The Receivership Transition Advisory Board on Wednesday amended a resolution it passed in March just days after Flint served notice it might file a lawsuit against Michigan over its lead-contaminated water supply. State Department of Treasury spokeswoman Danelle Gittus says the change clarifies the earlier order, and it was never the board’s intent to block Flint from suing “but rather to provide oversight of settlements related to litigation and labor disputes.” Also Wednesday, the board OK’d an agreement for Republic Services to continue hauling trash in Flint for one year, with an option to extend the contract for an additional year.... [Read Full Story]

Website: MI Cops The Most Overworked

Michigan has the hardest working men and women in blue, according to one website. Security site SafeWise.com took a look at FBI statistics, and found Michigan has about 23,200 law enforcement employees, leaving one cop for about every 350 civilians. SafeWise’s Sarah Brown tells WSJM News if you combine that with another stat, MI cops are a busy lot.... [Read Full Story]

Millions Of Toyotas Being Recalled

Millions of Toyota vehicles are being recalled due to problems with Takata airbags. 5.8 million overseas vehicles are being sought after most U.S. models have already been taken back. Auto analyst John McElroy says it’s going to take several years for Takata to make enough airbags to go into those recalls.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren Adult Recovery Court Celebrates First Graduate

The first graduate of Van Buren County’s Adult Recovery Court has been celebrated. Last week, local judges and others gathered to observe as the first offender to make it through the recovery court’s rigorous program was passed through. The Adult Recovery Court was set up in 2015 as a way to help non-violent offenders stay out of prison while addressing the root cause of their troubles, which are often mental health-related. The Van Buren County court system has several specialty courts along those lines intended to reduce recidivism. Since they were created, the specialty courts have been exclusively state and federal funded.... [Read Full Story]

Bridgman’s Getaway Hopping This Week

If you’re looking for a hopping place to hang out for a World Series game, you might want to consider the Getaway in Bridgman. The Chicago Cubs-themed bar and grill has been a favored haunt of Cubs fans since 1983, and for the first time, they actually get to see their team in the World Series. Owner Tom Ackerman tells WSJM News the vibe is incredible.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Clerks To Open Offices Next Saturday

Clerk’s offices across Michigan will be open next Saturday for everyone to have one last chance to get an absentee ballot ahead of the November 8 election. The office in Benton Harbor will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and many other Berrien County community clerk’s offices will be open 9 to 2 for the day. Under state law, they have to be open that Saturday. Anyone still interested in voting absentee can show up, sign up, and then leave with their ballot. To find out details, call your local clerk.... [Read Full Story]

Drunk Driver Leads Police On High-Speed Chase

A 42-year-old Laporte man is facing several charges after police say he led them on a high-speed chase that started in Michigan and ended in Indiana this week. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when someone reported their vehicle being hit by a reckless driver in the area of Red Arrow Highway and US-12 near New Buffalo. A sheriff’s deputy found the the Jeep Liberty in question, but it wouldn’t stop, and the chase continued across the state line to Indiana. It eventually ended when the suspect crashed while trying to exit I-94 at Michigan City. He was taken to a hospital in Indiana and is facing charges in that state. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is also asking he be charged here with drunk driving, fleeing and eluding, and leaving the scene of an accident.... [Read Full Story]

Judge Won’t Budge On Blocking “Ballot Selfies”

A judge has refused to suspend her order that allows Michigan voters to take photos of their completed ballot in the November 8 election. Citing the First Amendment, Grand Rapids federal Judge Janet Neff blocked Michigan’s ban on taking so-called ballot selfies. The secretary of state is
appealing. The judge said Wednesday that she won’t freeze her decision while the legal process moves to a higher court. Joel Crookston of Portage filed a lawsuit in September. In 2012, he took a photo of his ballot while voting for a write-in candidate for Michigan State University trustee. He didn’t know it was illegal. Lawyers for the secretary of state are predicting “chaos” if voters take photos. They say it’ll lead to longer lines at polling places and other problems.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Signs Bill Requiring More Reporting At Veterans Homes

A new law will require the state of Michigan to report staffing levels, patient complaints and other information about state-run veterans homes four times a year. Legislation signed Wednesday by Governor Rick Snyder outlines quarterly reporting requirements for state agencies that evaluate conditions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. In February, Snyder replaced the director of Michigan’s veterans agency after an audit uncovered insufficient care and inadequate staffing levels at the Grand
Rapids facility. Snyder says veterans “deserve the highest standards of care available,” and the law helps ensure that conditions at the two homes are evaluated and reported more consistently and effectively. The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Holly Hughes of Montague.... [Read Full Story]

Former Democratic Party Chair Blasts Snyder Court Decision

An Ingham County court judge has blocked a request for a one-person grand jury to investigate Governor Rick Snyder’s use of taxpayer money to handle legal matters connected to the Flint water crisis. The request was made by former Michigan Democratic Partyt Chair Mark Brewer, who says the state attorney general and the legislature have refused to act on the matter.... [Read Full Story]

General Motors Reports Record Earnings

General Motors reported a record third-quarter profit that doubled the same period a year ago, despite falling sales and market share in the U.S. The Detroit automaker earned $2.77 billion, or $1.76 per share, compared with $1.36 billion, or 84 cents per share a year ago. Sales in the U.S., GM’s most lucrative market, fell nearly 4 percent in the quarter. But GM said its strategy to cut low-profit sales to rental car companies, a strong performance in China and cost cuts led to the record. Excluding a 4-cent benefit from an unspecified ignition-switch recall recovery, GM made $1.72 per share. That beat Wall Street estimates of $1.46 per share. Revenue hit a record $42.8 billion. U.S. auto sales have started to slow after hitting a record 17.5 million last year.... [Read Full Story]

Kalamazoo Accepts $70 Million In Donations

The Kalamazoo City Commission has taken a step toward using roughly $70 million in private donations to help cover city costs. The commission voted 6-1 to approve the memorandum of understanding during a public meeting Monday. The document outlines the agreement between donors and the city as well as each party’s commitment to the Foundation for Excellence. The foundation, introduced in July, would help stabilize Kalamazoo’s budget, decrease property taxes and invest in infrastructure and neighborhood improvement projects. The $70 million would be donated over three years to endow the foundation. It’s expected to be created by the end of August 2017. City Commissioner Matt Milcarek gave the dissenting vote, saying he’d like to see an example of how the foundation will be a sustainable model for the city.... [Read Full Story]

MI Chamber Supporting Energy Reform Legislation

An influential business group’s decision to support energy legislation is being called a “breakthrough” in an attempt to update Michigan’s energy laws. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday new versions of the bills would guarantee a competitive bidding process for electricity generation and preserve competition. The Republican-led Senate is expected to approve the plan shortly after the November 8 election. Chamber President and CEO Rich Studley says the breakthrough means there is “no good reason” that the GOP-controlled House should not send the legislation to Governor Rick Snyder by year’s end. He says the organization would oppose the bills it if believed they killed the “customer choice” program that gives competitors to DTE Electric and Consumers Energy up to 10 percent of power sales in their regions.... [Read Full Story]

Judge Approves Volkswagen Emissions Settlement

A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a $15 billion court settlement of most claims against Volkswagen for its emissions-cheating scandal. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer signed the order Tuesday approving the largest auto-scandal settlement in the nation’s history.
About 475,000 owners of VWs and Audis with 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engines now will be able to seek buybacks of their vehicles starting next
Tuesday. Most of the owners are expected to sell their cars back to VW after the company acknowledged cheating on emissions testing and putting dirty cars on the road. In addition to having their cars bought back, owners can each get payments of $5,100 to $10,000.... [Read Full Story]

SJ Officials Look To Crack Down On Blighted Properties

The city of St. Joseph will soon hire a new code enforcement officer, and officials hope that will make it easier to address the matter of blighted homes. Several weeks ago, a group of residents complained, in particular, about the home at 907 Wayne Street. The owner has been ticketed, and the city’s building inspector says he’s fixed some of the problems there. Mayor Mike Garey tells us the city has to respect property rights while ensuring standards are met in the community.... [Read Full Story]