Local News Archives

Search For Missing Swimmers Becomes Recovery Effort

Authorities say the search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan has become a recovery effort. Authorities who gathered at Holland State Park in western Michigan say four teenage boys were swimming 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they were dragged out by strong currents and high waves. Two boys managed to get out of the water, while boats and helicopters tried to rescue the others.
Before 11 p.m., authorities said the water was too rough and they temporarily halted the search. But the U.S. Coast Guard says its crews actively searched through the night. The Ottawa County sheriff’s department returned to the water Thursday. The department has identified the missing boys as 14-year-old Vincent Green and 17-year-old Christopher Mimis, both of the Holland area.... [Read Full Story]

Straight Party Voting Ban Remains Blocked

Michigan residents still will be allowed to use the state’s long-standing straight-party voting option in the November election. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati Thursday rejected Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s request that the full court immediately review
a panel’s 3-0 decision that kept intact an injunction blocking the ban. A majority of 15 active judges did not favor an initial “en banc” hearing.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain blocked the Republican-backed law last month, saying an increase in long lines would disproportionately burden blacks in the November election. Straight-ticket voting is popular in Michigan cities with large African-American populations. It has been on the books for 125 years and has been a common choice in some counties that are steadfastly loyal to Republicans, too.... [Read Full Story]

Celebration Cinema Adding Closed Captioning Services

Celebration Cinema has announced it’s adding closed captioning and descriptive audio services to all of its theaters. The movie theater chain was sued earlier this month by a St. Joseph man for not offering closed captioning for the deaf. On Thursday, Celebration Cinema announced it’s going to start doing just that. The closed captioning devices soon to be at all of its locations will be small screens that attach to the seat cup holder. The screens can be adjusted with a flexible arm so the movie goer can see them. The descriptive hearing devices for the blind are headsets that provide narrative about key things happening on screen. Celebration Cinema says it’ll be rolling out the technology to its theaters in phases through mid-October. WSJM News has reached out to Celebration Cinema to find out if the move is in response to the lawsuit it’s facing, but has so far not heard back.... [Read Full Story]

2 Teens Missing In Lake Michigan Near Holland State Park

Emergency crews have temporarily suspended their search for two teenage boys who went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan. Authorities at the scene in Holland State Park say four teenage boys were swimming Wednesday evening when they were pulled out by strong currents and high waves around 7:30 p.m. Two boys managed to get out of the water, and boats and helicopters were used to search for the other two. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department plan to resume searching for the teenagers today.... [Read Full Story]

Foreclosure Possible For Orchards Mall

The future of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is cloudy at best. Foreclosure next year by the Berrien County Treasurer’s Office is a possibility, as mall owner Mike Kohan owes $324,000 in property taxes dating back to 2014, the year he bought the facility. Treasurer Bret Witkowski says unless Kohan starts making payments, the county could wind up taking ownership of the mall. It could be put up for auction at that point. Witkowski says vendors are worried about the possibility of the mall being foreclosed, and he’s working on getting answers for them. There are just two dozen tenants at Orchards Mall, with 14 of those being retailers.... [Read Full Story]

Proos Talks Committee Findings On Violent Crime In Michigan

State Senator John Proos says Michigan is doing a better job of catching violent criminals with recent programs it’s put in place. Proos co-chaired a hearing recently on violent crime where he outlined statistics that show while the overall prison population is down, the percentage of violent crimes to be solved is up 10% over 10 years. Proos says the offenders are where they belong.... [Read Full Story]

Doctor Offers Tips On Back To School Sleep Schedule

School starts for most students next Tuesday, and parents are already trying to get their little ones to go to bed earlier. Dr. Alice Doe is a sleep specialist at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo and says to get the body clock of kids reset off summer hours, they’ll need a routine which could include reading, putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and other activities to trigger sleep.... [Read Full Story]

Upton To Visit Flint Thursday

Congressman Fred Upton will be in Flint Thursday to learn more about what’s been done to solve the city’s water crisis. He tells WSJM News there are still things Congress can do to ensure more cities don’t wind up with lead tainting their water supply.... [Read Full Story]

Senator Gary Peters On An MI Motorcycle Tour

Senator Gary Peters is spending this week touring Michigan on a motorcycle, stopping in 26 counties. On Thursday morning, he’ll be in Bloomingdale to talk with staff at Bloomingdale Communications, a broadband provider. Peters says he wants to help expand high-speed internet access to rural areas.... [Read Full Story]

MI Officials: No Asian Carp DNA Found In State Waters This Year

Officials say no genetic material from invasive bighead or silver carp has been detected in Michigan waters this year. The state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are searching Michigan’s Great Lakes tributary rivers for Asian carp DNA. After this year’s work is completed, more than 7,000 water samples will have been collected since 2013. One sample from the Kalamazoo River tested positive in 2014, but officials say the source probably was a boat or angler from another water body. The DNR says it is waiting for results of a final round of sampling from the St. Joseph, Grand, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Macatawa, Galien and Black rivers. But thus far, no samples this year have turned up signs of Asian carp.... [Read Full Story]

Man Found Competent For Trial In Kalamazoo Bicycle Killings

A 50-year-old man charged with striking and killing five bicyclists with his pickup truck in Kalamazoo has been found competent to stand trial. A hearing was held Wednesday in Kalamazoo County District Court for Charles Pickett Jr. He was evaluated by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry at the request of his attorney. Pickett is charged with five counts of second-degree murder, four counts of reckless driving causing impairment and driving while intoxicated causing death. Police have reported that Pickett had taken pain pills and muscle relaxers less than two hours before the June 7 crash. Another four bicyclists were injured when he struck them from behind on a two-lane road in Cooper Township, south of Grand Rapids. Pickett faces a September 21 preliminary examination.... [Read Full Story]

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg To Speak At Notre Dame

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is planning to speak at the University of Notre Dame. University president the Rev. John Jenkins announced that Ginsburg will speak at the Purcell Pavilion on September 12. He says she will talk about a wide range of issues with U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann Claire Williams, who is a Notre Dame alumna and board of trustee member.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Moves Millage To May

Voters will not be deciding on the sinking fund millage for Benton Harbor Area Schools in November. The school board has voted to move that to the May primary at a special meeting last night. Board member Stephen Mitchell told our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 he’d rather put the question in front of voters now, rather than wait.... [Read Full Story]

Dowagiac, South Haven Robberies May Be Related

The search is on for an armed robber who pulled a gun at the Quick Stop liquor store in South Haven just before 9:30 Monday night and got away with cash out of the register. Police are looking at surveillance video trying to identify the suspect, who is described as black, about 6-feet-2, and was wearing dark clothing along with a mask and gloves. There is also the possibility according to police that the same suspect robbed a Marathon station in Dowagiac about an hour later. In that robbery, a customer’s wallet was also taken along with money out of the till. A police K-9 was unable to track the man out of the gas station. Anyone with information on the robberies is asked to call South Haven Police or Dowagiac Public Safety.... [Read Full Story]

LMC Board Welcomes New Member

The Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees has welcomed a new member. On Tuesday, the board swore in Jeff Curry to serve in a three-year term replacing Stephen Small, who joined in 2013 and resigned this month. Curry is a past president of the Lake Michigan College Foundation, and a past president and current treasurer of the Niles Board of Education. He’s also a member of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and the committee for the Buchanan Promise. Previously, he’s worked with Kinexus, the United Way of Southwest Michigan, and the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. Curry is a St. Joseph native who lives in Niles and works for Stay Metrics. LMC Board President Mary Jo Tomasini says he’s an excellent addition with the insight to help LMC innovate. Curry replaces Stephen Small, of South Haven, who stepped down to teach at the college.... [Read Full Story]

Senator Gary Peters To Be In Van Buren County Thursday

Senator Gary Peters is going to make a stop in Van Buren County this week. Peters is currently on a motorcycle tour of the state, heading to 26 counties and making 12 stops over five days to talk with Michigan residents about things going on in Washington. On Thursday, he’ll stop at Bloomingdale Communications, on West Kalamazoo Street in Bloomingdale, to discuss the work being done to get broadband internet to rural Michigan residents. Bloomingdale Communications is a broadband provider. Peters will roll into town about 11 a.m. Also Thursday, Peters will make stops in Jones and Sturgis.... [Read Full Story]

State Sharing $89 Million For Low Income Heat Assistance

More than a dozen Michigan-based organizations and companies will share $89 million for energy assistance programs for low-income
households or schools. The grants were approved by the Michigan Agency for Energy in conjunction with the state Department of Health and Human Services. The projects include helping low-income utility customers pay their bills on time and assisting them with budgeting to provide for energy expenses. Grants include $17 million for DTE Energy, $15 million for TrueNorth Community Services, $13.7 million for the Salvation Army, $13.2 million for Consumers  Energy and $8.8 million for the Heat and Warmth Fund.... [Read Full Story]