Local News Archives

Group Purchases West MI Sand Dune Property

Officials from the Land Conservancy of West Michigan say White River Township in Muskegon County has closed two acres of Lake Michigan sand dunes after raising $970,000 to purchase the land. MLive reports that the announcement Wednesday comes after a year of fundraising and a decades-long fight to protect the area from development, including a drive that would’ve run through the middle of the dunes. The Land Conservancy and White River Township began a campaign in July 2015 to raise the funds to purchase the property from its current owner, Bro G Land Company, and expand the White River Township Barrier Dunes Sanctuary. The property will be added to the sanctuary, which is just north of White Lake. A dedication will be held Aug. 15 to celebrate the protection of the property.... [Read Full Story]

Mackinac Island Restricts Use Of Drones

Mackinac Island is restricting drones amid worries that such unmanned aircraft may startle the island’s horses and interfere with its historic charm. The Detroit News reports the restriction is expected to go into effect July 26 requiring visitors and residents on the northern Michigan island to seek permission from officials before flying drones. City Council recently approved the ordinance. According to the ordinance, potential drone operators will need to request a permit before flying their devices. Violators could be subject to a fine. Officials note that the island has a tourist-based economy that is heavily reliant on its historic character, its prohibition of motor vehicles and its use of horse-drawn vehicles. City Clerk Michelle Wightman says the ordinance builds upon one for the island’s state parkland.... [Read Full Story]

Body Of Missing South Haven Man Found

The body of a South Haven man missing since July 5 has been found. Police say Matthew Morin’s remains were located Tuesday in Barry County and identified by fingerprints. Authorities are not disclosing a possible cause of his death, but do say they have a person of interest in custody on unrelated charges. South Haven police were helped in the investigation by Michigan State Police in the search for Morin.... [Read Full Story]

Funeral Arrangements Announced For Ron Kienzle

Funeral arrangements are now set for Berrien County court bailiff Ron Kienzle. Visitation will be Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Starks and Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph, with his funeral Monday at 1 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center. Those are the same locations for the visitation today and the funeral tomorrow for Joe Zangaro. Both men were shot and killed by an inmate in the courthouse on Monday when he was being transfered from a holding cell to a courtroom. The suspect, Larry Gordon, was shot and killed by responding officers.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven PD: Fewer Arrests July 3 Than Reported

Turns out,there were some inflated arrest numbers following the disturbance on North Beach in South Haven prior to the “Light up the Lake” fireworks on July 3. South Haven police tell us there were 13 arrests, not the 50 that had been widely reported. None of the arrests were people from South Haven, as three were from Kalamazoo, three came from Battle Creek, two were in town from suburban Detroit, another two arrested are from Otsego, and one was from suburban Indianapolis. One of the Kalamazoo suspects is charged with inciting a riot.... [Read Full Story]

MI Democrats Propose Constitutional Amendment To Expand Early Voting

Michigan Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment to expand early voting that’s unlikely to gain support in the Republican-controlled legislature. The measure announced Wednesday calls for “no-reason” absentee voting and in-person early voting starting 15 days before an election. Another provision would provide for automatic voter registration for people issued a driver’s license or state ID card.
Democratic Representatives Gretchen Driskell, of Saline, and Jon Hoadley, of Kalamazoo, call their proposal a “voter bill of rights.” They say voting access must be improved especially after Republicans eliminated straight-party voting in January. A spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the resolution has been referred to committee. The constitutional amendment would need support from two-thirds of the House
and Senate by September 9 to qualify for a statewide vote in November.... [Read Full Story]

Pokagon Fund Points To Land Conservation Efforts

The Pokagon Fund is highlighting its land conservation efforts around southwest Michigan. It says since it awarded a $900,000 grant to Chikaming Open Lands in 2011, the organization has been able to preserve 242 acres in southern Berrien County. Chikaming Open Land’s Bob Tatina says that’s among roughly 1,600 acres the group has preserved since its inception. It buys property that would otherwise be developed, and preserves it for educational and recreation purposes.... [Read Full Story]

Local Candidate Forum Set For This This Week

A forum with local political candidates is planned for this week. It’s being organized by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, and will be held at the Super 8 Conference Center on Red Arrow Highway in Stevensville. On hand will be Democratic congressional candidate Paul Clements, as well as a representative of Congressman Fred Upton, four candidates for the state House in the 79th District, two candidates for Berrien County Drain Commissioner, and some candidates for county commission. The forum will be Friday at noon. Organizers say everyone’s welcome to come out and bring some questions for those running.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Deputy Released From Hospital

Berrien County Deputy Sheriff James Atterberry Jr. has been released from the hospital. Atterberry was shot on Monday when jail inmate Larry Gordon grabbed his gun while being led out of a courtroom. Two court security officers, Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle, were killed in the incident, while Atterberry was taken to Lakeland Hospital for treatment. A civilian, Kenya Eliis, was also shot and taken to the hospital. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says Atterberry is now recovering at home, and his family asks for privacy. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department is planning a press conference for Thursday morning to give an update on its investigation into Monday’s courthouse shootings.... [Read Full Story]

Good Samaritan Expansion Moving Forward In State Senate

An expansion to state Representative Al Pscholka’s Good Samaritan legislation has taken another step forward. On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee approved the plan to remove the age limit on who can be exempt from criminal prosecution when reporting an overdose of certain controlled substances. Pscholka’s original Good Samaritan legislation allowed the exemption for only those under 21. The current Good Samaritan law was introduced by Pscholka last year following the overdose death of 16-year-old Mason Mizwicki, of Watervliet. He died of an overdose that others knew about but didn’t report. The expansion now goes on to the full state Senate. It’s already been approved by the House.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Expects President To Sign Opioid Package Next Week

The US Senate has advanced legislation designed to fight the abuse of opioid prescriptions. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which has been hailed by Congressman Fred Upton, contains provisions to improve treatment for overdoses, give law enforcement more training, helping veterans with addiction, and strengthen prescription tracking systems.... [Read Full Story]

Prosecutors Release Details About Charges Against Courthouse Shooter

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office has released more details about the charges that had been faced by courthouse shooter Larry Gordon. It says the 44-year-old Coloma man was arrested on April 20 when police went to his home on Tannery Road to pick him up for a misdemeanor domestic violence warrant. Upon arrival, officers noticed a light on in a shed on the property and found Gordon inside. He barricaded himself in, and then escaped through a back entrance. Gordon was picked up not long after in a different area of the neighborhood, but once police got into the shed, they learned he’d been holding a 17-year-old girl there for about two weeks against her will. Prosecutors say he’d been giving her meth in exchange for sex, and also forced sex on her. Gordon was charged with a variety of offenses which included first degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, production of child sexually abusive material, and strangulation. He’d been looking at life in prison. Gordon shot and killed two Berrien County court security officers on Monday after grabbing the gun of a sheriff’s deputy. He was later shot and killed by police.... [Read Full Story]

State Police Doing Aerial Search For Marijuana Operations

If you noticed a Michigan State Police helicopter circling around St. Joseph Township today, there’s no need for concern. Michigan State Police tell us the helicopter was doing a free flying search for illegal marijuana growth operations as part of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program. Every summer, MSP teams up with other agencies to do air surveillance for marijuana all over the state. Today happens to be Berrien County’s day for fly overs. State police tell us they had no particular information there was marijuana growing in the areas covered. They were just looking as part of a routine program.... [Read Full Story]

Prayer Vigil Honors Courthouse Victims

Michigan State Police Trooper Steve Barker says he is thankful to have worked with both Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro in his law enforcement career, which began 18 years ago with the Benton Township Police Department. Barker spoke at a candlelight vigil in downtown St. Joseph last night to remember the two court bailiffs who were killed on Monday.... [Read Full Story]

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. It had been shut down July 6 due to a rupture in a steam expansion joint bellows which damaged the Turbine Building exterior wall. Indiana Michigan Power says the failure looks to have been caused by vibration-induced metal fatigue. Repairs made include improvements to the expansion joint to ensure it’s reliable until taken off line this fall for a refueling outage. At that point, more comprehensive design change improvements will be made. Unit 2 went back into service at 6 p.m. Tuesday.... [Read Full Story]

Funeral Arrangements Announced For Joe Zangaro

Southwest Michigan will say goodbye to Joe Zangaro on Friday. The head of courthouse security for Berrien County was among two court officers shot and killed Monday in an attempt by an inmate to escape custody. Visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel on Niles Road in St. Joseph, followed by a Celebration of Life Service Friday at 1 p.m .at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Harbor. No funeral arrangements have been announced yet for Ron Kienzle, who was also shot and killed on Monday at the courthouse in St. Joseph.... [Read Full Story]

Company Hired To Assess Straits Of Mackinac Pipeline Risks

The state of Michigan has tapped two companies to analyze the financial risk of an oil pipeline rupture in the Straits of Mackinac and evaluate any alternatives to the pipeline. Enbridge Energy, based in Calgary, Alberta, has agreed to pay $3.5 million but will not oversee the studies. Enbridge owns the twin oil pipelines in the area where lakes Huron and Michigan converge. Det Norske Veritas will determine how much money would be needed to clean up an oil spill. Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems will study alternatives to Line 5. The announcement was made Tuesday. Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily. It runs across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before entering the Straits of Mackinac. It ends in Sarnia, Ontario.... [Read Full Story]

Adopt A Highway Cleanup Week Starts Saturday

This weekend will bring the start of the next Adopt a Highway cleanup week in Michigan. Dan Weingarten, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, says more than 3,000 groups of all stripes from around the state will take to roads to pick up trash. He says their efforts make a big difference each year.... [Read Full Story]

Unity Walk Planned For Sunday

A unity walk is coming up this weekend. The event is planned by the Mosaic CCDA in response to recent violent events in the news around the country, including Monday’s Berrien County Courthouse shootings. Organizer Jameel McGee says they want everyone to get together and talk with police and other groups about maintaining trust in the community.... [Read Full Story]

Arraignments Held Tuesday For Some Arrested In South Haven Beach Disturbance

Court cases stemming from the Fourth of July weekend melee at South Haven’s North Beach have started to get processed. Van Buren County court officials say about ten people arrested during the disturbance were arraigned Tuesday, with charges that included disturbing the peace, resisting police, and assault. Police say a total of about 50 arrests were made on July 3 when the crowd at North Beach got rowdy. The beach was also evacuated. Additionally, large number of citations were issued for having alcohol on the beach. City officials say they’re reviewing how to to handle next year’s Light Up the Lake fireworks show, and also whether to hold it all.... [Read Full Story]

Courthouse Shooter’s Record Goes Back To 1992

The Berrien County Jail inmate who police say shot and killed two court officers on Monday had been facing a variety of criminal charges. Larry Darnell Gordon had been charged with criminal sexual conduct, first degree, and a host of other offenses that included assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence. He was arrested in April over an incident that allegedly occurred in February. Police also say he had a criminal record going back to 1992 which included convictions for crimes including unarmed robbery, fleeing a police officer, third degree, and burglary. Gordon was fatally shot by a Berrien County sheriff’s deputy after he shot and killed two court security officers Monday. He also shot a sheriff’s deputy who is recovering and a woman identified as Kenya Ellis, who is also recovering.... [Read Full Story]

Security At Berrien County Courthouse To Be Reviewed

Security procedures at the Berrien County Courthouse will be reviewed following Monday’s fatal shootings. Berrien County Chief Judge Gary Bruce says a report will be done, and all of the right questions will be asked in the coming weeks. Speaking to WSJM Tuesday, he said questions about handcuffing practices and other security-related matters at the courthouse will be addressed soon... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Courthouse To Remain Closed To Public Wednesday

The Berrien County Courthouses in both St. Joseph and Niles will remain closed to the public Wednesday. The closure is in response to Monday’s shooting incident. The Berrien County Administrator’s office says court staff should still report for work, and there will be grief counselors on hand for them. It’s not saying when the courthouse will be reopened to the public, and advises everyone to monitor news media for further information. Meanwhile, the Berrien County Health Department at the Niles location will be open Wednesday.... [Read Full Story]

Mattawan Man Arrested Following Suspicious Situation

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says a Mattawan man is facing charges after police say he was caught intoxicated with a shotgun Tuesday. It happened around midnight after deputies were called to a home in the 27,000 block of County Road 364 on a report of a possible prowler. Soon after arriving, they heard someone yelling, and found the 19-year-old suspect in a yard. He had a 12-guage shotgun, and police say he was drunk. The man tried to run, but was caught after a short time. He’s now charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, minor in possession, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. His name has not yet been released.... [Read Full Story]

[VIDEO] Fallen Bailiffs Honored In Walk to Law Enforcement Memorial

Citizens of Berrien County are honoring the fallen law enforcement officials of Monday’s shooting at the courthouse.
Hundreds braved the heat Tuesday to pay tribute to Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle, the Berrien County Court Bailiffs who were killed during the shooting incident Monday afternoon. The crowd gathered in the courthouse parking lot, and proceeded to walk to the Law Enforcement Memorial on Lake Boulevard, where flowers were placed on the memorial wall and local leaders offered words of encouragement.... [Read Full Story]

Sheriff: Gordon Was Handcuffed Before Shootings

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey now says a jail inmate’s hands were cuffed in front when he wrested a gun from a deputy and killed two bailiffs at the courthouse in St. Joseph. Bailey says he had wrong information Monday when he said the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon of Coloma, was not handcuffed. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Bailey says Gordon got into a fight with a deputy while being escorted to a courtroom from a holding cell. Two bailiffs were killed and two people were injured before Gordon was killed by other officers. The sheriff says an investigation will reveal more details about what happened. The deputy who was escorting Gordon is in a hospital with injuries that aren’t life-threatening.... [Read Full Story]