Local News Archives

“Baby Kate” Murder Trial Underway In Ludington

A high-profile murder trial five years in the works is now underway in Ludington. Sean Phillips is charged with murder in the death of his four-and-a-half month old daughter, Katherine, in 2011. She quickly became known around West Michigan as “Baby Kate.” The girl’s mother, Ariel Courtland, testified as the trial opened on Thursday and said Phillips wanted her to get an abortion.... [Read Full Story]

Lawrence Couple Pleads Guilty In Animal Neglect Case

Guilty pleas for a Lawrence Township couple in an animal cruelty case. Donald Smith and Melissa Copen reached a plea deal with Van Buren County prosecutors on Thursday, and won’t be allowed to keep their animals. They’ll avoid jail if they complete their probation. Animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies took 108 dogs, six cats and a horse from their home in June. The conditions inside the home were described by Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler as horrendous. She said this summer in an interview with WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids after the animals were seized that they weren’t mistreated and her and her husband got overwhelmed while trying to start an animal rescue program.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Deer Dies From EHD

(St. Joseph, MI – AP) – A deer in southwestern Michigan has died from a disease that killed more than 12,000 in the state in 2012. The Department of Natural Resources says it has confirmed a deer death in Berrien County linked to EHD, a viral disease that is transmitted by a fly. No cases were reported in Michigan in 2014 or 2015. Wildlife biologist and pathologist Tom Cooley believes the dry, hot weather this summer may have played a role in the return of EHD. The disease has been around for decades in many areas of the U.S. The DNR says sick deer lose appetite and fear of humans and often are found unconscious near water. There is no evidence that humans can catch the virus.... [Read Full Story]

Clinton Leads Trump In Michigan By 7% In New Poll

A new poll shows Hillary Clinton with seven-percentage-point lead in the presidential race in Michigan. She has 42% support, compared to 35% for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, 9% for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and 3% for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. The poll was done for “The Detroit News” and WDIV-TV in Detroit. There are still 9% of voters who say they’re undecided. The survey was taken after Monday night’s debate between Clinton and Trump, with 57% saying Clinton is qualified for the Oval Office and 62.5% believing Trump is not qualified. That is up slightly from a poll in August.... [Read Full Story]

Cafe Mosaic Willing To Work With Men Who Robbed Customer This Week

The doors of Benton Harbor’s Cafe Mosaic could still be open to two young men who snatched a woman’s purse from the business this week. Cafe Manager Gabrielle Engle tells WSJM News the two went in there Tuesday, asking about the Jobs for Life program. They waited a few minutes and then took off with a lady’s purse. Engle says the management has met and decided those are just the kind of folks Cafe Mosaic tries to help.... [Read Full Story]

SMC Working To Enroll Former ITT Tech Students

Southwestern Michigan College is continuing to work with students of ITT Technical Institute now that ITT Tech has ceased all operations. The for-profit chain of schools abruptly shut down this month, and SMC reached out to students right away offering help. SMC Vice President of Enrollment Mike O’Brien tells us a workshop the college held on the 14th attracted 20 nursing students from ITT Tech, along with about a dozen technology and business students. Some came from as far away as Chicago, desperate to find a way to transfer some of their credits. O’Brien says a few were just months from graduation, and SMC is working with the state licensing authority to see if any of their credits can transfer. SMC is hoping to have some of those ITT Tech students enrolled in the spring.... [Read Full Story]

Cornerstone Aims To Honor Pat Moody With New Business Award

When Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce leaders got together to consider who they should honor by naming an award for them, an obvious answer was Pat Moody. This week, Cornerstone Chamber announced the new Pat Moody Award as a salute to the Mid-West Family Broadcasting personality. Cornerstone Chamber President Chris Heugel says Moody has made quite the difference in southwest Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren Deputies Honored By MADD

Two Van Buren County sheriff’s deputies have been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for their efforts to keep the roads safe. The sheriff’s department tells our newsroom Deputy Brian Matthews and Deputy Eric Calhoun were recognized at a celebration in Mount Pleasant Thursday. Both are assigned as secondary road deputies specifically dedicated to road enforcement. Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler says they’re instrumental in keeping the county safe.... [Read Full Story]

Improved Safety Rating For South Haven Area Emergency Services

People who live in the service area of South Haven Area Emergency Services could see their insurance ratings go down, thanks to an improved safety rating granted this week to the agency. Emergency services says the Insurance Service Office, or ISO, issues ratings to fire departments throughout the country based on the effectiveness of their services, and it’s now bumped up the rating for the South Haven area. That could mean lower insurance rates, as an area’s ISO rating affects premiums. Local property owners are urged to call their insurance companies to ask that the new ISO rating be reflected on their bill.... [Read Full Story]

Man Rowing Across Lake Michigan For Fight Against Childhood Cancer

An Illinois man plans to leave from St. Joseph this Sunday to row across Lake Michigan raising funds for research into childhood cancer, and on Thursday, he was honored for his effort. Jacob Beckley Was at the St. Joe Junior Rowing School with state Senator John Proos, who presented him with a recent resolution proclaiming September as Michigan Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.... [Read Full Story]

Bangor Police Investigating Suspicious Death

Police in Bangor are investigating what they say is a suspicious death this week. Police Chief Tommy Simpson tells WSJM news 32-year-old Brandon Zantello was found dead Tuesday morning in his apartment on Arlington Street. So far, investigators have learned Zantello had some guests over the previous night, and got into a fight with a 19-year-old man. At this point, police don’t think Zantello died as a result of the fight, as witnesses tell them Zantello was still conscious when they left, but they’re investigating the death as suspicious. Interviews continue to be held in the case, and police are waiting on toxicology results. That will take about six weeks.... [Read Full Story]

Hunting Season Expected To Be Better This Year

Last winter’s relatively mild temperatures are offering hope that this year’s deer hunting season will see improvements from last year. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources on Thursday released its 2016 Michigan Deer Hunting Prospects report. The report notes that the 2015 season, while seeing a drop in hunter numbers, ended with a slight increase in harvest from 2014. Hunting success decreased in the Upper Peninsula while increasing across the entire Lower Peninsula. Michigan saw severe, prolonged winters in 2012, 2013 and 2014, so numbers are
expected to be down in the coming years in the U.P. The reports notes the mild winter last year, however, offers hope hunters may experience slightly better success this year. Details about the 2016 hunt are posted on the state’s website.... [Read Full Story]

Kalamazoo Mother Convicted In Death Of 4-Year-Old

A jury in southwestern Michigan has convicted a woman of murder in the death of her daughter on the girl’s fourth birthday. On the witness stand, Daveeta Walker denied abusing her children. She says she told police a different story about “whooping” Kharisma Richardson because she felt threatened. Walker was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes. She’ll spend her life in prison. Kharisma was found dead in March. Walker says she picked up her daughter to wish her a happy birthday and “noticed her feeling funny.” She says the child
was in someone else’s care the previous night. There were scars, bruises and burns on Kharisma. Her death was due to complications from multiple injuries. Assistant prosecutor Michael Stein says Walker had an “absolute disregard” for Kharisma.... [Read Full Story]

Arrest Made In Deadly Crash In Royalton Twp

A South Bend man is in jail in connection with a deadly crash in Royalton Township earlier this month. You may remember the crash killed 36-year-old Jason Ransom of Niles when two vehicles collided on Scottdale Road near Rockey Weed Road on September 17. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says 36-year-old Walter Davis the Second of South Bend was arrested Wednesday. He is facing several charges including failing to stop at an accident causing death. Davis ran off from the scene before police arrived.... [Read Full Story]

Free Pet Adoption Events Next Month

The Bissell Pet Foundation is planning to hold yet another Empty the Shelters event next month. That’s when the animal welfare group will pay for the cost of adopting an animal at more than 50 shelters around Michigan for a day. Spokesperson Holly Kroeze tells WSJM News that’s after a successful date back in May.... [Read Full Story]

Youth Perception Of Marijuana Dangers Decreasing

Teens around the US may be using marijuana a little less, but they also don’t recognize the health risks it poses. That’s according to new data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Kerri Teachout, with the Berrien County Health Department, tells WSJM News that’s a problem because marijuana is bad for a developing teen.... [Read Full Story]

Cornerstone Chamber Award Created In Honor Of Pat Moody

Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce will give out a couple of brand new awards when it holds its 2017 Business Recognition Event in February, and one of them is named after Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s own Pat Moody. The Pat Moody Award and the Young Business Leader of the Year Award are the new ones Cornerstone has added to the mix. Cornerstone says the Pat Moody Award, created in Moody’s honor, will go to a business or individual that has staying power, provides great customer service, and is involved in the community. Members will be voting in the awards throughout October. The Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce represents 700 businesses.... [Read Full Story]

Galien Receives Antique Fire Truck

The community of Galien has been reunited with an antique fire truck it once owned and then sold to a Calhoun County town. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports, Tuesday, the Galien’s fire chief picked up the 1919 Chevrolet truck from Burlington. The Burlington Fire Department bought it from Galien’s fire department in 1942 and used it for about six years. Since retiring the truck, Burlington would occasionally use it in events like parades. Now that it’s given the truck back to Galien, it will still be allowed use of it upon request. Galien got the truck new in 1919, and got a whole $250 for it when it was sold to Burlington.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan AG: Failing Schools Could Close This Year

Michigan’s attorney general says the state may close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit before the end of this academic year if they were among the lowest-achieving for the preceding three years. Republican legislative leaders earlier this month asked Republican Attorney
General Bill Schuette to weigh in because Republican Governor Rick Snyder interpreted a law rescuing the Detroit district from debt to mean the State School Reform/Redesign Officer cannot close any district school until 2019. Schuette’s office Wednesday released an official opinion, which is legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by a court. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter had said the law’s “plain language” authorized Detroit school closures by the end of this school year and to say otherwise ignored legislative intent.... [Read Full Story]

Congress Reaches Deal On Flint Water Assistance

Congressional leaders appear to have broken a stalemate over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis – clearing the way for a spending bill to keep the government running until December. The spending bill also would provide long-delayed money to fight Zika. An aide to House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi says Pelosi and House Speaker Paul Ryan have an agreement on a first step for aid to address Flint’s lead-tainted water. The agreement promises to provide $170 million to help Flint and other cities with water emergencies – and that pledge of assistance would be part of a water projects bill. The deal between Democrat Pelosi and Republican Ryan holds the promise of freeing up the short-term spending measure. That bill had failed to advance in the Senate on Tuesday.... [Read Full Story]

New Poll Gives Clinton 5-Point Lead In Michigan

A new poll shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with a five-point lead over Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race in Michigan. The survey was taken before Monday night’s debate between the two by Target Insyght for MIRS News and lobbying firm Governmental Consultant Services. Clinton has 46% of the vote, while Trump has 41% and Libertarian Gary Johnson trails far behind in third with 8%. Only 3% of those polled say they’re still undecided.... [Read Full Story]

FEMA Conducting National Test Today

At 2:20 this afternoon, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will perform a national test of its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It’s the first time an official national test has been conducted – and FEMA’s Wade Witmer says most will find it very similar to the regular monthly test.... [Read Full Story]