Local News Archives

Grand Opening For Andrews University Observatory Next Week

Andrews University plans to celebrate the completion of its new observatory with a grand opening next week. The observatory was originally built in 1957, and the physics department’s Kelly Youngberg tells WSJM News they’ve rebuilt it to make the dome bigger and automate the shutters, among other things. Andrews makes the observatory available to the public about 30 nights per year.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren Specialty Courts Get $694,000 State Grant

Van Buren County is getting a grant of more than $694,000 to run its specialty courts. The money from the state court administrative office will help continue the county’s drug treatment court, the family treatment court, the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program, and the adult and youth recovery courts. The county has also been awarded a grant to set up a sobriety court for second and third-time drunk driving offenders. Specialty Courts Administrator Rachel Lindley tells WSJM News the programs are designed to help keep some offenders from being stuck in the system indefinitely by giving them extra attention.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joe Fall Festival Underway

Taking place this Saturday downtown is the annual St. Joseph Fall Festival. Everything kicked off Friday with the big bed race down Lake Boulevard, and now St. Joe Today’s Whitney Behnke tells WSJM News Saturday features the St. Joseph Wine Festival and Public Art Auction where you can buy the bug statues that were situated around downtown this summer.... [Read Full Story]

Funeral Held For Slain MI Police Officer

Detroit’s police chief has posthumously promoted a 20-year officer who died five days after being shot while chasing a suspect. Chief James Craig announced the promotion of Sergeant Ken Steil to captain at the end of his funeral Friday at a suburban church. The announcement drew a standing ovation at the packed service. Craig said: “we all love Kenneth Steil.” The husband and father of two sons was nicknamed “Shark” for his diving skills. He was shot in the shoulder and died last Saturday of a blood clot. 21-year-old Marquise Cromer is charged with first-degree murder. Govenor Rick Snyder ordered U.S. and Michigan flags lowered to half-staff Friday in Steil’s honor. A state trooper heading to the funeral was injured when a vehicle struck his motorcycle on a freeway.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Home Sales Up In August

Home sales in southwest Michigan continue to be strong, as the month of August brought an increase in units moved. Gary Walter, with the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, tells WSJM News it was a good month for the market.... [Read Full Story]

WMU Seeking Record For Renewing Marriage Vows

Western Michigan University is lining up hundreds of couples to renew their marriage vows as part of a homecoming weekend record attempt.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the school on October 8 is seeking to set a new Guinness World Records mark for the largest vow renewal ceremony. Guinness says the current mark of 1,087 couples was set at Miami University in Ohio in 2009. Western Michigan University is asking couples to register in advance to participate in the group ceremony at the Kalamazoo school’s East Campus. Couples must provide a photocopy of their marriage license. The ceremony will be officiated by Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell. The event will include commemorative photo stations, live music, a wedding cake and a toast.... [Read Full Story]

MI Court Revives Lawsuit Over Allegan Corn Maze

Headed to a haunted corn maze during the Halloween season? Watch your step. The Michigan appeals court has given new life to a lawsuit by a man who broke his leg while trying to get out of a tricky maze at night in western Michigan. The court says the wet path may have been open and obvious to Michael Davis back in 2013. But the court says there’s another liability issue — whether Davis was forced by employees to use that path as his only exit from the Witches of New Salem maze in Allegan County. In an opinion released Friday, the appeals court reversed a decision by a judge who had dismissed the lawsuit. The ruling means Davis can take the case to trial.... [Read Full Story]

Automaker Tesla Sues Michigan Over Dealership Laws

Tesla Motors has sued Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials, challenging a 2014 law that clarified that automakers can only sell through franchised dealerships. The federal lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the “anti-Tesla” law is unconstitutional and an injunction to prevent its enforcement. Tesla says it prefers that legislation be enacted but was told recently by lawmakers that no hearing will be held.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Economy Flat In 2nd Quarter

The latest business outlook report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research is out, and it’s anticipating flat hiring in Berrien County for the third quarter. Regional analyst Brian Pittelko tells WSJM News the main indicators for the third quarter were mixed.... [Read Full Story]

Niles Twp Fire Leads To Discovery Of Marijuana

A Niles area man is facing charges after a fire in his home this week led police to discover marijuana growing there. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells our newsroom the fire was reported in the 1100 block of Stateline Road around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Firefighters from Niles Township were able to put the blaze out, although about a third of the home was destroyed. Also, 34-year-old Luther Borders suffered minor injuries. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found evidence marijuana was growing there, and a search confirmed it. They also learned the fire had partly been caused by equipment used to grow the marijuana. Borders was arrested for a probation violation and taken to the Berrien County Jail. Child Protective Services has also been called because children lived in the home.... [Read Full Story]

$600,000 Grant Announced For Van Buren Courts

A grant of more than $694,000 is being awarded to Van Buren County for its specialty courts. The money will be used to run the county’s drug treatment court, family treatment court, Swift and Sure Sanctions Program, and adult and youth recovery courts. The county has also been awarded a grant to set up a sobriety court for second and third-time drunk driving offenders. Court officials say the specialty courts are designed to address the problems faced by specific offenders who could be rehabilitated. The idea is to keep them from re-offending and winding back up in the system. Since their inception, Van Buren County’s specialty courts have been run with state and federal grants.... [Read Full Story]

Tesla Suing Michigan Over Dealership Law

Tesla has sued Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials, challenging a 2014 law that ensures automakers can only sell through franchised dealerships. The federal lawsuit filed Thursday seeks a declaratory judgment that the “anti-Tesla” law is unconstitutional and an injunction to prevent its enforcement. Michigan last week denied Tesla’s application for a license to sell directly to consumers in Michigan, citing the law that’s backed by big auto companies and their dealerships. Tesla Motors Inc. says it prefers that new legislation be enacted but was told recently by lawmakers that no hearing will be held. Tesla says it will “fight for the rights of Michigan consumers to be able to choose how they buy cars in
Michigan.” A spokesman says Snyder doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.... [Read Full Story]

Threat Alert System Launched

Michigan’s new Amber Alert-like system to quickly warn people of mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other nearby threats is operational. Michigan State Police spokeswoman Lori Dougavito explains that it can be used to interrupt radio and TV broadcasts through the Emergency Alert System. It also sends out text messages. “It appears on mobile devices, similar to a 90-character text message,” she tells WSJM News.... [Read Full Story]

Bravery Awards For Troopers In Nov ’15 Hostage Situation

Bravery awards for two members of the Michigan State Police for their actions on November 18 last year in Benton Township. Sergeant Brian Keely and Trooper Carlos Fossati were given the awards yesterday in Lansing. They stormed a hotel room in Benton Township on Napier at I-94 after hearing a scream and gunshots. 44-year-old Marcus Meridy of Benton Harbor was killed by troopers at the American Inn after he abducted his estranged wife from her job at The Willows assisted living facility early in the morning. She was shot in the arm, but survived. Keely was shot by Meridy, but also survived due to his flack jacket.... [Read Full Story]

FOIA Changes Approved By House

The Michigan House has voted to make the governor’s office and the Legislature subject to the state’s public records law. Michigan’s 40-year-old Freedom of Information Act explicitly exempts the governor’s office from records requests. And a 1986 opinion by the state attorney general says lawmakers also intended to exclude themselves. State Representative Brant Iden of Kalamazoo County says the changes make sense.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Plow Drivers Compete In Road-EO

The top plow drivers in Van Buren County have been honored after getting a chance to compete for glory. The county road commission says its drivers and DPW employees from South Haven and Paw Paw competed in the third annual Van Buren County Snow Plow Road-eo recently. First place honors in individual competition went to the road commission’s Dave Stafinski, Dave Arndt, and Mike Harris. Honors in the city, village, and non-professional category went to Juan Vasquezm, of Paw Paw and Rachael Whise, of the Van Buren County Road Commission. Drivers competed for points based on skills on an obstacle course, as well as a pre-trip inspection.... [Read Full Story]

Ticket Issued For Crash With Church

One ticket has been issued for a crash in St. Joseph on Tuesday that resulted in an SUV hitting the steps of a church. The department of public safety tells our newsroom the crash happened around 2 p.m. at Broad and Church Streets. It says a sedan ran a stop sign on Church Street, leading to a crash with an SUV. The SUV then lost control and wound up on the church property. There were no injuries, but the driver of the car that ran the stop sign was ticketed. The church was not damaged.... [Read Full Story]

Honor CU To Move South Haven Branch

The South Haven branch of Honor Credit Union is moving. The credit union has bought some property on County Road 388 in town where it says it can add more amenities for customers. They’ll include drive-thru lanes, a drive-up ATM, and a night drop, as well as Saturday drive thru service. The goal is to have the new building finished next year. The spot is right across from the Sherman Dairy Barn and next to Hannapel Home Center. Honor Credit Union’s current branch on Phillips will stay open until the new location is ready.... [Read Full Story]