Local News Archives

Zika Virus Confirmed In Monroe County

The first Zika virus case in southeastern Michigan’s Monroe County has been confirmed by health officials. County Health Officer Kim Comerzan tells the Monroe News Friday that the county is working with the state to obtain mosquito traps for surveillance. Zika is a mosquito-borne virus. It causes mild, flu-like symptoms in most people, but can cause severe brain-related defects, including disastrously small heads, if women are infected during pregnancy. Symptoms typically are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. Many infected people will not experience any symptoms. The virus is most seen in Latin America and the Caribbean. Florida has reported homegrown Zika transmission by mosquitoes. In February, state health officials confirmed the first case of the Zika virus in Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Senior Olympics Underway

More than 1,000 older athletes from Michigan and elsewhere are taking part in the Michigan Senior Olympics this weekend. Opening ceremonies were Friday at Rochester Municipal Park. Men and women age 50 and older are suiting up in more than a dozen sports across Oakland County. Executive Director Becky Ridky says that while many athletes are there to have fun, it does get competitive.... [Read Full Story]

MI Treasury Warns Of Phone Scam

Michigan taxpayers are being warned not to fall for the latest phone scam. The Michigan Treasury Department’s Danelle Gittus says, in this case, the calls are being received from a legitimate Grand Rapids-area Treasury phone number, which has apparently been cloned by the scammers. The caller tells the would-be victim that they owe back taxes, and then demands immediate payment or the victim faces arrest. Gittus says falling for it just means getting ripped off.... [Read Full Story]

Detroit Zoo Elephants Immortalized In New Book

A new children’s book immortalizes Wanda and Winky, former Detroit Zoo elephants who moved to California to live out their final years. The Detroit Free Press reports that retired Walled Lake school district teacher and library media specialist Linda McLean, who lives in Commerce
Township, and illustrator Susan VanDeventer Warner of Walled Lake collaborated on the book, “Wanda and Winky.” A book launch is planned Friday in West Bloomfield Township. The aging elephants were moved in 2005 from the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak to the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in northern California. They had health problems, including arthritis, that were aggravated by Michigan’s climate
and the limitations of their zoo accommodations. Wanda was euthanized in 2015 because of arthritis and foot problems. Winky died in 2008.... [Read Full Story]

Activists Rally To Call For Higher Minimum Wage

Representatives of the country’s nearly 64 million workers who are paid less than $15 per hour are in Richmond, Virginia, are in Virginia this weekend to collaborate on their demand for better wages. A contingent from Michigan plans to take part in a march and rally, as well. Pastor W.J. Rideout, of All God’s People’s Church in Detroit, says fast-food and retail corporations make huge profits, but often don’t pay their workers enough to cover such basic needs.... [Read Full Story]

Critter Barn Celebrates New Home

The Critter Barn in west Michigan has celebrated its new 27-acre territory. The attraction on Friday planted a sign and introduced crew members, volunteers, and families. Critter Barn capital campaign manager Val Vail-Shirey says the 26-year-old barn has expanded to a farm.... [Read Full Story]

Storms Cause Damage Around West Michigan

A severe storm has damaged at least one house and a barn and left hundreds of western Michigan homes without power. WOOD-TV reports that a tree hit a Saugatuck Township home Friday and a barn roof collapsed. Outages were reported in Ottawa, Allegan, Kalamazoo and Kent counties. A flood watch was issued for 11 counties. Temperatures were in the high 80s in Grand Rapids and at similar levels elsewhere in the southern Lower Peninsula. Grand Rapids Community College canceled classes in its Ford Fieldhouse due to high temperatures. School spokeswoman Leah Nixon tells The Grand Rapids Press that when the indoor temperature at the Fieldhouse exceeds 100 degrees it’s closed because there’s no air conditioning in the building. The facility, built in 1976, houses courses including exercise science.... [Read Full Story]

Recounts To Be Held In Some Benton Twp Primaries

Berrien County election officials are waiting for approval from the state to hold recounts in some Benton Township primaries that were held earlier this month. The clerk’s office tells us Joseph Taylor and Willie Dortch, who ran in the Democratic primary for supervisor, have both asked for the absentee votes to be recounted. Dortch also wants all of the ballots, in general, recounted. Joseph and Dortch lost to Kevin White in that primary. Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary for clerk, Barbara Meeks wants a recount of the absentee votes. She lost to Carolyn Phillips. The Berrien County Clerk’s office is waiting for clearance from the state to move forward with the recount. The county board of canvassers would do the counting. The county is expected to hear back from the state on August 24.... [Read Full Story]

Muskegon Officer Shoots, Wounds Teen

Authorities in western Michigan say an officer shot and wounded a 15-year-old girl who was trying to attack a 16-year-old boy with a knife.
Muskegon police say in a release that the girl “aggressively continued the confrontation attempting to attack the male and was subsequently shot in the lower leg by the officer.” The shooting occurred after officers responded Friday afternoon to a domestic dispute in an apartment. Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis earlier told The Muskegon Chronicle that the officer “was involved in the domestic in progress.” The girl was being treated at a hospital for injuries that are not considered life-threatening. Her name was not released. No other injuries were reported. The officer will be placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by the state police.... [Read Full Story]

Heartland Film Festival Announces New President

The Heartland Film Festival has named a veteran of festivals in California and Thailand as its new president. Heartland said in a news release Friday that Craig Prater will take over leadership of the Indianapolis festival as it prepares for this year’s event. The festival will be October 20-30. Heartland Film board Chair Gary D. Cohen said Prater brings great experience but also an understanding of the festival’s Midwestern roots and mission. Heartland focuses on movies that provide inspiration or a message as well as entertainment. Prater once was been director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival and co-founded the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. Later he was recruited to be director of the Bangkok International Film Festival.... [Read Full Story]

Grand Rapids Community College Cancels Some Classes Due To Heat

Grand Rapids Community College has canceled classes in its Ford Fieldhouse due to high temperatures. Leah Nixon, director of communications for the school, tells The Grand Rapids Press that when the indoor temperature at the Fieldhouse exceeds 100 degrees it’s closed because there’s no air conditioning in the building. Grand Rapids Community College lobbied state lawmakers unsuccessfully this year for $4.25 million to help address the lack of air conditioning, classroom space and other needs at the Ford Fieldhouse. The facility, built in 1976, houses courses including exercise science. Temperatures were in the high 80s in Grand Rapids on Friday and at similar levels elsewhere in the southern Lower Peninsula.
The Holland Sentinel reports that tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for parts of western Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Thompson Sentenced For December Murder-Week in Review

In this week’s WSJM Week in Review, for August 12, 2016, a Benton Harbor man is sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in prison for his role in a shooting death last December, new details on the investigation of July’s courthouse shooter, Buchanan students receive financial aid for college a St. Joseph City Commissioner celebrates 30 years of service, and more.... [Read Full Story]

AAA Notes Increase In Debris-Related Crashes

AAA of Michigan says there has been an increase in traffic crashes caused by debris in the road. The auto club says national data shows a 40% jump since 2001, and between 2011 and 2014, the increase was especially big, with 200,000 such crashes reported. AAA’s Susan Hiltz says there are multiple reasons.... [Read Full Story]

New Boss In Charge Of Palisades Plant

The Palisades nuclear power plant has a new leader. This week, plant owner Entergy announced Charles Arnone has been named the new site vice president. Arnone replaces Tony Vitale, who is leaving to head up a New York nuclear plant. Arnone has previously worked director of nuclear safety assurance at the Palisades plant, from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2011 to 2013. Entergy says he lives in Lawrence, and has more than 30 years experience in the industry.... [Read Full Story]

Presentation On Mars Science Lab Coming Up In South Haven

Coming up in South Haven will be a presentation on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory from a local native who now works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Thanks to the South Haven Public School Foundation, Jim Montgomery will be speaking on Thursday, August 18 at the Listiak Auditorium at South Haven High School. The school foundation says Montgomery got excited about science watching NASA missions, and he credits South Haven Public Schools with nurturing his interest. He went to the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California before winding up at the JPL. Its Mars Science Laboratory delivered the Curiosity rover to Mars in 2012. Montgomery’s presentation will be about the laboratory and Curiosity. Everyone’s invited. It will be free admission for all students, and adults are asked to make a $10 donation to the South Haven Public School Foundation to get in. The presentation starts at 6:30 p.m.... [Read Full Story]

West Michigan Worker Killed In Fall From Roof

A 48-year-old man has died following a two-story fall from the roof of a western Michigan college building. David Torrenga toppled Wednesday from Hope College’s DePree Art Center & Gallery in Holland. He later died at a hospital. The Holland Sentinel reports Thursday that police said Torrenga struck his head during the fall. Hope spokesman Greg Olgers said a crew from East Muskegon Roofing and Sheet Metal Co. was working on the building. Olgers said in a statement that the college is “saddened to learn” of Torrenga’s death.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Says New Environmental Director Well-Suited For The Job

Governor Rick Snyder says his newly appointed environmental director will do a “fine job” and critics of her extensive time as an oil and gas lobbyist should give her a chance. The Republican governor last month appointed former BP lobbyist Heidi Grether to lead the Michigan Department of Environment, which has been reeling since being called primarily responsible for Flint’s lead-contaminated drinking water. Grether began the job last week. Snyder told reporters Thursday that Grether has a “strong background,” noting that early in her career she was a legislative aide focused on environmental issues. He says Grether has “built a career that she should be proud of.” Snyder says detractors should “get to know her, give her an opportunity and I think you’re going to see good results.”... [Read Full Story]

Brother Of David Krieger Speaks Out

Steve Krieger says justice has been served, but he can never be satisfied. His brother, David Krieger, was shot and killed in December outside of Steve Krieger’s business, Michiana Supply, in Benton Township. Sentenced to at least 35 years in prison for second degree murder in the case is Roy Thompson, who learned his fate this week. The case may seem over, but Steve Krieger says he has not been pleased with some of the things that were said in the last eight months. In particular, what he says are false claims that Dave Krieger sprinted at Thompson during a confrontation.... [Read Full Story]

Two Injured When Tree Falls On Car

Police in Cass County say two people were injured when a tree fell into the road and on to their car Thursday. The sheriff’s department says it happened around 10 a.m. on Decatur Road near Marcellus Highway. 64-year-old Kathy Lull, of Decatur, suffered minor injuries and refused treatment. Her passenger, 91-year-old Oliver Scott, of Niles, was taken to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo for treatment of a non-life threatening head injury. The Cass County Road Commission was called in to remove the tree from the roadway.... [Read Full Story]

State Asks Court To Restore Ban On Straight Ticket Voting

The state of Michigan is urging an appeals court to restore the state’s ban on straight-party voting in the fall election. A Detroit federal judge says the ban violates the rights of black voters. But in a court filing Wednesday, Attorney General Bill Schuette says the law is “rational” and “imposes a minimal burden” on voters. Schuette wants a federal appeals court to quickly suspend an injunction issued by Judge Gershwin Drain. Ballots must be printed soon. The fall election would be the first affected by a new law that ends straight-party voting, the ability to vote for candidates of one party with a single mark, from president to drain commissioner. Straight-party voting is popular in Michigan cities with large black
populations, which tend to vote for Democrats.... [Read Full Story]

Police Investigate Van Buren County Drowning

A 75-year-old Glendale man is dead in an apparent drowning in Van Buren County. Michigan State Police say troopers were called out to Three Legged Lake in Bloomingdale Township around 4 p.m. Wednesday when a boat was spotted anchored in the water with no occupants. Troopers at the scene found reason to believe the 12-foot boat had been occupied, so divers were called in and they began searching. They found the man’s body in about seven feet of water. The victim’s name has not yet been released, and police are investigating.... [Read Full Story]