Local News Archives

Guns, Meth Seized In Van Buren County

A variety of charges are likely to be filed after a raid resulting in the seizure of guns and drugs on Friday on Van Buren County. The sheriff’s department says deputies were sent to a property in the 39,000 block of 76th Avenue in Decatur Township around 8 p.m. to look for a fugitive when they found several suspects there with outstanding warrants. A quick search of them turned up meth, marijuana, and guns. Police also found a couple of stolen pop-up campers on site with meth and guns stashed inside of them, along with a small child. Arrested were 57-year-old Nina Sparks and 35-year-old Walter Nicks, both of Decatur, and a 27-year-old Decatur woman whose name has not yet been released. Another three people, all from Decatur, could also be facing charges once the case is reviewed by the prosecutor.... [Read Full Story]

Man Pleads Guilty To Lying In Missing Person Case

A 47-year-old western Michigan man has pleaded guilty to lying to police about the disappearance of a gas station clerk. Kevin Bluhm appeared Friday in Muskegon County Circuit Court. Bluhm is the cousin of Jeffrey Willis, who is being investigated in the 2013 disappearance of Jessica Heeringa, a clerk in Norton Shores. Authorities say Bluhm told police Willis was responsible, but later told police he made it up. He will be sentenced in September. Willis is charged with abducting a 16-year-old girl in April and the 2014 slaying of 36-year-old jogger Rebekah Bletsch in Dalton Township. Bluhm waived a preliminary examination last month on a charge of lying to police in the Bletsch case.... [Read Full Story]

Party Leaders To Pick Supreme Court Candidates, Other Nominees

Democratic and Republican party activists will meet to pick Supreme Court candidates and other nominees for the November ballot. At their convention Saturday in Grand Rapids, the GOP will tout two incumbent justices – David Viviano for an eight-year term and Joan Larsen to fill a
partial two-year term. Democrats gathering in Lansing are expected to nominate Wayne County Circuit Judges Frank Szymanski and Deborah Thomas. It would be Thomas’ third Supreme Court bid. Convention delegates also will choose nominees for two state Board of Education positions and two spots each on the governing boards of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
The parties also will rally activists to help win the presidential race, congressional races and control of the Michigan House.... [Read Full Story]

Lansing Library Books Returned After 40 Years

Two books about NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar have been returned to a library in Lansing nearly 40 years after they were due. The Lansing State Journal reports that the books were found early this week in the book drop at the downtown Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Library system. The books, “Kareem Abdul Jabbar: The Story of Lew Alcindor,” and “Jabbar: Giant of the NBA,” were supposed to be returned to the library December 2, 1976. Scott Duimstra, senior associate director for the library system, says there’s no way to tell which unpunctual patron returned the books because the library doesn’t keep records from 1976. Duimstra said overdue books are common, but that he can’t remember a book returned after such a long period.... [Read Full Story]

Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance Winners Announced

The winners of the 12th annual Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance car show have been announced. The show is held at St. Joseph’s Lake Bluff Park each August for the owners of classic vehicles to show them off, and entries can receive awards in a variety of categories. For this year’s Concours, held on August 13, the best of show was a 1910 Stoddard Dayton K owned by Don and Joan Lyons, of Dowagiac. They also won the people’s choice award. Taking the Chairman’s Choice award was a 1960 Vespa 400 Microcar owned by Rob and Patty Gerring, Elkhart, and going home with the award for founder’s choice was a 1924 Nash 690 Touring owned by Doug and Jennifer Williams, out of Prudenville, Michigan. You can see a full list of the winners below.... [Read Full Story]

Humane Society Redneck Games Saturday

This Saturday brings the third annual Redneck Games at the Baroda American Legion. The event raises money for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan, and will feature team competitions that include Hungry Hungry Human Hippos, Horseshoes, a Home Run Derby, and a Balloon Bonanza Obstacle Course. Food will be provided by Baja Tacos, and there will be a cash bar. They’ll also have a “Flea on Me” Market. It’s not too late to sign up a five-person team to compete. To do so costs $125, and the winning team will get $1,000. You can also show up as a spectator and cheer on your favorite redneck team for free. The games begin at noon. Registration is at 11 a.m. To find out more, go to HumaneSocietySWM.org.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Housing Market Slows Down In July

The housing market in Southwest Michigan slowed down a bit during the month of July. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors says the market has been setting records for several months, but in July, there was a decrease in the number of homes sold and in the average selling price. The number of houses sold dropped 5% from June, and 4% from July of last year. Meanwhile, the average selling price fell 12%. Nevertheless, the regional market this year has shown strength, with the total number of homes sold up 8%. The association of realtors says it remains a good time to sell, as the median selling price in July set the record as the highest for the month since 2006.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Restaurant Accused Of Re-Serving Food

A viral Facebook post by the family of a former server at South Haven’s Su Casa Restaurant has prompted a Van Buren County Health Department investigation. The post accused the restaurant of re-serving food that wasn’t eaten by other customers, including chips and salsa. Restaurant owner Edgar Suarez tells Kalamazoo’s WWMT-TV he didn’t know that wasn’t legal, and they’re no longer doing it. The health department is still investigating, and has issued a citation to the restaurant. The Facebook post by Kristie Bowie has been shared nearly 2,800 times.... [Read Full Story]

Pence Seeks Disaster Loans After Heavy Rains In South Bend

The state of Indiana is seeking low-interest disaster loans to help people, businesses and certain nonprofit organizations who sustained damage when a record rainfall hit the South Bend area nearly two weeks ago. Governor Mike Pence announced he has requested the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program for St. Joseph County and six adjacent counties, including Berrien and Cass in Michigan. The National Weather Service said a record 8.49 inches of rain fell on South Bend in a 24-hour period on August 15-16.... [Read Full Story]

Events Aim To Connect Veterans With Services

According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, less than a quarter of Michigan’s veterans used their health benefits in 2013, and many are also losing out on other benefits including life insurance and education. The AARP of Michigan is hoping to change that with events around the state in the coming weeks. The organization’s Melissa Seifert says representatives from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will also be available to answer questions.... [Read Full Story]

Marijuana Legalization Unlikely To Appear On November Ballot

It’s unlikely that a measure to legalize marijuana in Michigan will appear on the November ballot. That’s according to Devin Schindler, a professor at the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. He says MI Legalize is trying to get the Michigan Supreme Court to hear its case after thousands of its petition signatures were labeled invalid by the state.... [Read Full Story]

Group Opposing Wisconsin Town’s Use Of Lake MI Water

An organization representing mayors of more than 120 cities in the Great Lakes region is challenging a decision to let Waukesha, Wisconsin, draw water from Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative this week requested a hearing before a council representing the eight states adjoining the lakes. The council in June granted Waukesha permission to tap Lake Michigan, even though a regional compact prohibits diverting Great Lakes water outside the natural watershed with rare exceptions. Waukesha is barely outside the watershed boundary. Its groundwater is contaminated with radium. The mayors group says Waukesha didn’t meet rigorous standards for water diversions outlined in the compact. The group says the decision sets a bad precedent and could lead to a flood of similar requests from other cities.... [Read Full Story]

Court: Sex Offender Registry Changes Cannot Be Retroactive

A federal appeals court says changes to Michigan’s sex offender registry rules cannot be applied retroactively to thousands of sex offenders. In a 3-0 decision Thursday, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it’s unconstitutional to impose new restrictions on people convicted before the state’s registry law was updated in 2006 and in 2011. Michigan began prohibiting registrants from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of a school in 2006. Five years later, lawmakers added requirements that offenders be divided into three tiers based on the seriousness of their crimes. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland ruled last year that those changes could be imposed retroactively. He ruled other portions of the law unconstitutional, but the 6th Circuit didn’t rule on those provisions.... [Read Full Story]

Pagel Bill Provides $6.5M To Bring Fresh Food To Underserved Areas

A southwest Michigan lawmaker is advocating for $6.5 million in funding to make fresh and nutritious food available in underserved communities across Michigan. The legislation from Representative Dave Pagel will be promoted Thursday at a farmers market on the Capitol lawn in Lansing. It would provide grants and loans for grocery stores and local public health agencies. The goal is to help retailers open, renovate or expand grocery stores primarily in low- and moderate-income areas without enough fruit, vegetables and other fresh food. Entities receiving the financing would have to accept cards from residents who qualify for government food assistance. Pagel is an apple farmer who says expanding access to healthy food will help people live healthier lives.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Commission Voting On Adding Bailiffs

A vote will be held this morning by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners to add two bailiffs to the county courthouses. One would be in St. Joseph and the other in Niles. The commission is considering reinstating the funding for the positions following the shooting deaths last month of bailiff Ron Kienzle and courthouse security director Joe Zangaro during an escape attempt by an inmate, who was killed moments later by responding officers.... [Read Full Story]

MSP Looking For Missing Decatur Woman

A 60-year-old Decatur woman is missing and Michigan State Police are asking for the public’s help trying to find her. Debra Fitz disappeared at some time yesterday, and troopers say she has medical conditions that cause her to become disorientated and confused. Fitz was last seen around 11:30 a.m. yesterday at her home, and family members returned last evening to find her gone with her personal belongings in the house. Anyone with information is asked to call Michigan State Police in Paw Paw or Van Buren County dispatch.... [Read Full Story]