CTA Asking For Millage Renewal (4/18/14)
CTA Asking For Millage Renewal
By Mike Stiles
     (CENTREVILLE) – A St. Joseph County organization is going to be asking for a millage renewal this summer.

     During the St. Joseph County Commission meeting, St. Joseph County Transportation Authority Executive Director Steve Yorks presented a request for a renewal of the CTA's millage, that is set to expire at the end of 2014.

     Yorks says the millage is for .33 mills and would be for four years, just like the current millage.  He says the millage would generate approximately $628,000 a year.

     Money from the millage would be used to support existing operations of the Authority; capital project initial dollars for large purchases; support of the van escort service provided by the Commission on Aging and for the use of up front money for property purchase and environmental work.

     The Commission approved the request.  Ballot language will be sent to the County Clerk so that it can be placed on the August ballot. 

Sill Running For Michigan House (4/18/14)
Sills Running For Michigan House
By Mike Stiles
     (THREE RIVERS) – Another person has thrown their hat into the political ring in hopes of running for a state office. 

     Three Rivers native Bob Sills has announced his candidacy for the 59th District Michigan House of Representatives.  Sills, a 1964 graduate of Three Rivers High School, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and was trained in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

     Sills retired from GTE after over 28 years of employment.  He is also the owner of Trends and Technology, Inc., a business solutions provider of Voice over IP telephone systems.

     From 2011 to 2013, Sills worked for the office of State Senator Bruce Caswell.  During his time with Caswell's office, Sills' spent an extensive amount of time covering meetings such as Community Mental Health, Commission on Aging, Human Services Commission and Economic Development Corporation.

     In addition to being involved with several civic and community groups, Sills has also served as the Chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party.

     Other Republicans seeking the Party's nomination in the August Primary include John Bippus, Aaron Miller, and Roger Rathburn.  Seeking the Democratic Party nomination is Mike Moroz.

     If you would like to find out more about Sills, you can visit his website at www.bobsills.com.

Bronson Schools Search For New Superintendent (4/18/14)
Bronson Schools Search For New Superintendent
By Mike Stiles
     (BRONSON) – The search is on for a new superintendent for the Bronson School District.

     The Bronson Board of Education met this week with Dr. Rodney Green of the Michigan Association of School Boards, who will help the District put together a profile of the ideal candidate for Bronson.

     Part of the process will be to have the public participate in the selection, along with school staff and administration.  Everyone will be asked to take an online survey, with the responses sent directly to the MASB in Lansing.

     The Bronson School Board said they will publicly consider the input received from this survey to develop a candidate profile and to conduct public interviews.  The Board said it's their expectation to select a new superintendent sometime in June.

     Current Superintendent Jim Modert announced in March that he would be stepping down following the end of the current academic year.

     To take part in the online survey, simply go to www.surveymonkey.com/bronsonsearchsurvey. 

LaGrange Co. EDC Case Studies (4/18/14)
LaGrange Co. EDC Case Studies
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) - LaGrange County economic development officials hope a set of recently completed case studies will help market the county to other companies and site selectors.

     The LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation hired a journalist to interview officials from five local companies with one big question in mind: “Why do business in LaGrange County?”

     They say it came down to three main points: the quality of the workforce, the cost of doing business, and the proximity to customers, suppliers and transportation.

     Participating in the case studies were Cruiser R-V, Lake Area Designs, Mudd-Ox, Nishikawa-Cooper, and West Point Woodworking.

     The studies are available online at www.lagrangecountyedc.com.    

LaGrange Co. 2013 Graduation Rates (4/18/14)
LaGrange Co. Graduation Rates
By Tim Murray
     (INDIANAPOLIS) - All three public high schools in LaGrange County posted graduation rates above or near the state average last year.

     Lakeland High School posted the highest graduation rate in the county at 91.8 percent, down slightly from 92.6 the previous year.

     Westview High School came in second at 90.7 percent, up two-tenths of a percent from 2012.

     Prairie Heights graduated 87.3 percent last year, up from 85.3 the previous year.

     The county’s only private high school, The Howe School,  graduated 61.1 percent last year.

     Bordering LaGrange County, Northridge High School graduated 93 percent, West Noble 83.8 percent, Central Noble 78.1 percent, and East Noble 81.9 percent.

     The statewide average was nearly 88.6 percent.  

Search Leads To Arrests (4/18/14)
Search Leads To Arrests
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Authorities arrested two men following the execution of a search warrant on Thursday.

     Sturgis Police executed the warrant in the 200 block of North Fourth Street at 2:30 Thursday morning. During a search of the house, officers found a small amount of methamphetamine.

     Taken into custody were 24 year old Jerry Rial on a charge of delivery of methamphetamine, which stemmed from an incident that had happened earlier in the evening.  Also arrested was 19 year old Andrew Kidd on an ousttanding warrant of a fugitive from justice.

     Both are being held in the St. Joseph County Jail. 

Drugs And Fugitive Found In Raid (4/17/14)
Drugs And Fugitive Found In Raid
By Mike Stiles
     (FLOWERFIELD TOWNSHIP) – Authorities are calling Wednesday's raid on a house a success.

     As part of an ongoing investigation, the St. Joseph County Area Narcotis Unit executed a search warrant at a house in the 10000 block of Floating Bridge Road in Flowerfield Township just after 11 AM Wednesday. 

     Officers discovered suspected methamphetamine, components used to make meth and items used to distribute the drug.  In addition, they also found a 19 year old Indiana woman who was wanted in connection with an armed robbery in Sturgis that happened in January and the theft of guns from Three Rivers.

     A 30 year old man and a 32 year old woman were also arrested.  The three individuals are all facing charges of operating and maintaining a meth lab, maintaining a drug house and possession of meth.

     All of the suspects are being held in the St. Joseph County Jail. 

Coldwater Business Expanding (4/17/14)
Coldwater Business Expanding
By Mike Stiles
     (COLDWATER) – A business has announced plans to expand their commitment to the Coldwater area.

     Infinisource, Inc., a nationally recognized leader of workforce management technology solutions, will be expanding in Coldwater.  The company has extended their lease for an additional five years at the Roosevelt Building located at 15 East Washington Street.

     The extension of the lease will help facilitate the location of 30 additional jobs for Coldwater and the surrounding area immediately.  This will take the total number of Infinisource employees in the Coldwater area to 175 with continued growth expected.

     Lisa Miller, Executive Director of the Branch County Economic Growth Alliance says Infinisource's commitment to being a good employer and corporate citizen is commendable.  Miller says the economic impact the company's presence has on the Coldwater area is remarkable. 

Goshen Women Injured In Cass Co. Crash (4/17/14)
Goshen Women Injured In Cass Co. Crash
By Mike Stiles
     (PORTER TOWNSHIP) – A Goshen woman was taken to the hospital following a single vehicle crash in southern Michigan.

     The Cass County Sheriff's Department says 53 year old Dianna Kincaid of Goshen was driving south on Rainbow Road in Porter Townshhip just after 1:30 Tuesday afternoon when she lost control of her vehicle and rolled over once.

     Kincaid was transported by Porter Ambulance to Elkhart General Hospital for treatment of her injuries. 

MSP Investigating Branch Co. Burglaries (4/16/14)
MSP Investigating Branch County Burglaries
By Mike Stiles
     (UNDATED) – Michigan State Police are investigating multiple burglaries that happened in southwest Branch County.

     Troopers from the Coldwater Post say several homes were broken into and burglarized on Tuesday between 7 AM and 3 PM in Bronson and Noble Townships.  No residents were present during the burglaries.

     Among the items stolen were large amounts of coins.

     Troopers developed a possible suspect vehicle, described as a white truck with a white cap.  A possible suspect was also described as being a white man between the ages of 20 and 25.

     Anyone with information on these crimes is asked to call the State Police Post in Coldwater at 517-278-2373 or Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP. 

Sheriff's Dept. Search For Runaway (4/16/14)
Sheriff's Department Searching For Runaway
By Mike Stiles
     (COLON TOWNSHIP) – The St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's help to locate a runaway teen.

     Sheriff Brad Balk says his department received a call Monday at 5:35 PM regarding 14 year old Jessika Lashay Mathis, who ran away from the 59000 block of Pine Groves Road in Colon Township.

     Jessika is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds.  She has blonde hair and hazel eyes and was last seen wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans.

     Authorities say Jessika is believed to be hiding in the Sturgis area with a sibling and may be planning on leaving the state for Tennessee.  Possible locations for Jessika are in the 200 block of North Fourth Street; the 100 block of Vinewood Street or the 600 block of East Jerolene Street in Sturgis.

     Anyone who has information on Jessika's location is asked to call St. Joseph County Central Dispatch at 269-467-4195. 

Culver's Site Plan Given Approval (4/16/14)
Culver's Site Plan Given Approval
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Another site plan for a proposed new business in Sturgis was discussed Tuesday night.

     The Sturgis Planning Commission held a second public hearing during their meeting to discuss the site plan for the Culver's Restaurant that is planned for the south side of the City.

     Ken Watkins of Architectural Concepts presented the site plan and explains where the restaurant will be located on South Centreville Road just north of the Walgreen Store. It will have access from all four of the streets that border the restaurant. 

     Watkins says the restaurant will be 3,954 square feet and have room for 87 people to eat inside, plus there will be some tables outside as well.  The parking lot will be large enough for 84 vehicles. 

     Building and Zoning Department Supervisor George Musolff said the City Engineer had some concerns with the site plan, specifically with the drive on the northeast corner.  Musolff says because of City ordinance, the drive needs to be moved west just ten feet, which Watkins says can be done.

     The Planning Commission approved the proposed site plan as long as City staff works with Watkins to take care of the concerns each side has.  The tentative timeline still has Culver's being open sometime this fall. 

Planning Commission Approves Meijer Site Plan (4/16/14)
Planning Commission Approves Meijer Site Plan
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Another step has been taken that would bring a Meijer Store to the City of Sturgis.

     Tuesday night, the Sturgis Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed site plan for the Meijer store, which would be located at 1170 South Centreville Road.  

     Jason VanderCody, Project Manager from Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber, shared with the Planning Commission the proposed layout of the store.  It would go from just north of the Applebee's Restaurant to South Street to the north and from South Centreville east to White Street. The land is five parcels that covers 27 acres.
The store would be 195,000 square feet which would also have a gas station right next to South Centreville Road.   

     Building and Zoning Department Supervisor George Musolff shared with the Planning Commission that City Staff had some minor concerns with the site plan, which have been addressed by Fishbeck and Meijer officials.  One that is still being discussed is the storm water runoff and retention.

     The Planning Commission unanimously approved the Meijer site plan, contingent on the City, Fishbeck and Meijer continuing to work on the concerns that have been brought up.

     VanderCody says if everything continues to move forward, Meijer hopes to open their new store in Sturgis in the Spring of 2016. 

SPS Participating In Pilot Reading Program (4/15/14)
SPS Participating In Pilot Reading Program
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Sturgis Public Schools is taking part in a pilot program that is designed to help children with their reading.

     During Monday's meeting, the Sturgis Board of Education heard from Superintendent Tom Langdon about the program, called MyOn.  It's an internet based curriculum that Langdon says is available for students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

     Langdon says MyOn's whole premise it to get children to read, and not just in the classroom. 

     Langdon says says he and the teachers are confident this will help out with the student's reading in all grades.  Kris Crabill, a Title I reading teacher at Eastwood School, says her students have loved using MyOn.

     Since this is a pilot program, Langdon says the District does not have to pay for it. 

Stabbing In Coldwater (4/15/14)
Stabbing In Coldwater
By Mike Stiles
     (COLDWATER) – One person is in custody following a stabbing that happened in Coldwater.

     The Coldwater Police Department was called to the Chandler Estates Apartment complex on the west side of the city just before 10 PM Monday following a call to Branch County Central Dispatch.

     Early indications were two people had been stabbed, but officers discovered there was just one victim, a 19 year old man.  He had superficial wounds and refused treatment.

     A 29 year old individual was arrested on a charge of felonious assault and is being held in the Branch County Jail.  Investigators say both individuals were intoxicated at the time.

     So far, no names have been released and the matter has been given to the Branch County Prosecutor’s Office for review. 

ExoS Water Abatement Discussed (4/15/14)
ExoS Water Abatement Discussed
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) – A meeting of the minds between Exo-S, it's insurance company, and LaGrange County officials on a fire suppression system for its new plant is proving difficult.

     Members of the LaGrange County Council and Commissioners met Monday hoping to vote on a proposed 250 thousand gallon water tower.  But instead they learned that the insurance company is raising concerns about relying on a publicly-controlled water source for fire suppression. 

     Some county officials, such as Councilman Steve McKowen, were ready to move ahead with the water tower, saying it's needed in the long run for continued development and for Lima-Brighton Elementary School.   

     But others, like Councilman Mike Strawser, were less enthusiastic about an estimated $1.3 million dollar project that in the end might not meet the company's needs. 

     The joint boards voted to table the issue until more information is available.

     County Council held a public hearing on a request for more than $3.2 million dollars in tax abatement by Exo-S.  Because the company is already moving equipment into the facility on State Road 9 the council voted to waive its non-compliance. 

     It tabled further action on the request until the signed abatement agreement is received. 

Three Rivers Man Facing Multiple Charges (4/15/14)
Three Rivers Man Facing Multiple Charges
By Mike Stiles
     (MARCELLUS TOWNSHIP) – A Three Rivers man is behind bars after being arrested in connection with a burglary near Marcellus.

     Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood says his department was called to investigate a burglary around 9:15 Saturday night on Pioneer Road in Marcellus Township.

     The victims said they saw a suspicious vehicle outside of their residence.  When they went to check on the vehicle, two subjects came out of the house and were confronted by the victims.

     The suspects got into their vehicle, but one of the victims stood in front of it in an attempt to keep them from leaving.  The suspects forcibly moved the victim out of the way with their vehicle and then drove off.

     The victim did not sustain any major injuries and was also able to get a license plate number of the vehicle.

     The Cass County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department, were able to locate and arrest 36 year old Jami Land of Three Rivers.  He was arraigned in Cass County District Court on charges of breaking and entering along with assault with a deadly weapon.  His bond was set at $10,000.

     So far, Land's accomplice has not been located.  Anyone with information on their identity or location is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff's Department at 269-445-1202. 

Woman Arrested Following Police Chase (4/15/14)
Woman Arrested Following Police Chase
By Mike Stiles
     (MOTTVILLE TOWNSHIP) – A northern Indiana woman is behind bars after she abducted her daughter and led authorities on a chase.

     Michigan State Police from the White Pigeon Post say they were notified by the Kosicusko County, Indiana Sheriff's Department regarding a 34 year old Syracuse woman who allegedly abducted her daughter during a supervised visit Sunday afternoon.  Indiana authorities were able to check the GPS in the woman's phone and discovered she was in Mottville Township.

     Troopers found the vehicle and asked the woman to get out of the car.  She refused and sped away from police with her child sitting on her lap.

     The vehicle drove towards Constantine at speeds of up to 75 MPH.  Troopers used stop sticks which ended the chase.  However the woman grabbed her child and tried to run away, but was captured by officers. 

     After searching the car, investigators found what's believed to be cocaine.
     The woman is being held in the St. Joseph County Jail and is facing charges of endangering a minor, driving under the influence and fleeing and eluding.  

Sturgis Schools Asking For Millage Renewal (4/15/14)
Sturgis Schools Asking For Millage Renewal
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Sturgis Public Schools will be asking voters this summer to renew a long time millage.

     During Monday's meeting the Sturgis Board of Education heard from Business Manager Vicki Watson, who explained what the millage renewal was for. It's a renewal of the operation millage of 18 mills that has been in place for several years. 

     The current millage is set to expire later this year.

     The Board will be asked to approve the resolution during their meeting next week.  Watson says if the Board votes in favor of the resolution, they will need to get the ballot language to the County Clerk so that it can appear on the August 5 ballot. 

Two Arrested For Stealing Car (4/145/14)
Two Arrested For Stealing Car
By Tim Murray
     (HOWE) – Two people are in custody in Chicago following the theft of a rental car from a gas station near Howe on Sunday.

     Karen Stevens rented the Mistubishi Gallant and was en route from Florida to Illinois.  She stopped at the Valero gas station on State Road 9 at the Toll Road.

     When she returned to the vehicle the other two occupants took the keys from her and sped away on the Toll Road.

     Chicago Police called the LaGrange County Sheriff's Department around 1 AM Monday to report they had recovered the vehicle and arrested the two suspects; 28 year old Joshua Stevens and 23 year old Chelsea Hyde.

     They were held on local charges by the Chicago Police and a request for charges of vehicle theft is being forwarded to the LaGrange County Prosecutor. 

Council-Commission Approve Road Improvements (4/15/14)
Council-Commission Approve Road Improvements
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) - One of the most dangerous stretches of road in LaGrange County is finally getting some attention.

     The LaGrange County Council and Commissioners met in joint session Monday morning and agreed to make improvements to County Roads 200 North and 450 West in the vicinity of Pallet One.

     The project would cost an estimated $2.7 million.  It calls for resurfacing of 2.2 miles of 200 North from 675 West to 450 West.  Part of the road would be paved and part would be completely rebuilt to heavier standards with some dangerous hills being leveled.

     County Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill recommended a different option that would have rebuilt the entire stretch up to heavier standards.  That option would cost an estimated $3.3 million.

     The boards voted 9 to 1 to approve the scope of the project, with Councilman Ben Taylor casting the only no vote.  He wondered if the project should depend on donations of land by the residents of that area for the new right-of-way.  That idea sparked a discussion of the point by Brill, Taylor, and an Amish resident.

     They then voted unanimously to fund the project with a $2 million dollar bond repaid with economic development income taxes, and up to $900 thousand from the Major Moves fund.  

MSP Investigating Injury Accident (4/15/14)
MSP Investigating Injury Accident
By Jim Measel
     (COLDWATER) – Michigan State Police are looking for a truck as part of an investigation into an injury accident.

     Troopers from the Coldwater Post say the incident happened at 2:45 AM Sunday on Barnhart Road near Gruner Road in Batavia Township.  Troopers think the truck was pulling a trailer in the area at the time.  It is believed the truck driver may be able to provide information that investigators need.

     Anyone who has information about the truck or the driver is asked to call the State Police Post in Coldwater at 517-278-2373; Branch County Central Dispatch at 517-278-3091 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-STOP. 

Indiana Woman Arrested With Child (4/15/14)
Indiana Woman Arrested For Abducting Child
By Mike Stiles
     (MOTTVILLE TOWNSHIP) – A northern Indiana woman is behind bars after she abducted her daughter and led authorities on a chase.

     Michigan State Police from the White Pigeon Post say they were notified by the Kosicusko County, Indiana Sheriff's Department regarding a 34 year old Syracuse woman who allegedly abducted her daughter during a supervised visit Sunday afternoon.  Indiana authorities were able to check the GPS in the woman's phone and discovered she was in Mottville Township.

     Troopers found the vehicle and asked the woman to get out of the car.  She refused and sped away from police with her child sitting on her lap.

     The vehicle drove towards Constantine at speeds of up to 75 MPH.  Troopers used stop sticks which ended the chase.  However the woman grabbed her child and tried to run away, but was captured by officers.

     After searching the car, investigators found what's believed to be cocaine.
     The woman is being held in the St. Joseph County Jail and is facing charges of endangering a minor, driving under the influence and fleeing and eluding.  

Spring Grass Fires (4/14/14)
Spring Grass Fires Happening
By Mike Stiles
     (UNDATED) – It's Spring, which means people will be out working in their yards, cleaning up after a long winter.

     However, authorities are cautioning people to be careful, especially with the number of grass and brush fires that have been called into St. Joseph County Central Dispatch over the last four days.

     Authorities want to remind citizens that if you do decide to burn leaves and brush, to not leave any size fire unattended.  It wouldn't take long for a fire to spread through dry grass and do significant damage to a yard or even possibly a house or other building.

     If you are going to burn leaves, authorities suggest you do small fires and add to them as they start to burn down.  Keep them away from buildings and also have a garden hose or other source around to help put out a fire if it should start to get out of control. 

Gun Stolen At Bronson Restaurant (4/14/14)
Gun Stolen At Bronson Restaurant
By Mike Stiles
     (BRONSON) – Michigan State Police are investigating the theft of a gun that happened at a Bronson restaurant.

     Troopers from the Coldwater Post were called to Bill's Steak House in Bronson around 8 PM Friday on a complaint of a stolen gun.

     A Battle Creek man told troopers that at approximately 7 PM he accidentally left his Sig Sauer .380 pistol in a bathroom stall at the restaurant.  When he returned to the restaurant to retrieve his firearm, it was missing.

     Employees of the restaurant also checked the stall as soon as the owner called after he realized the gun was missing.

     If anyone found a gun at Bill's Steak House or saw anyone suspicious at the restaurant, they are asked to call the State Police Post in Coldwater at 517-278-2373. 

Barn Fire Ruled An Arson (4/11/14)
Barn Fire Ruled An Arson
By Mike Stiles
     (COLON TOWNSHIP) – A barn fire in Colon Township is being labeled an arson.

     St. Joseph County Sheriff Brad Balk says a barn in the 33000 block of East Palmer Lake Road was intentionally set on fire around 8:50 Thursday night.  The structure sustained significant damage.

     The Colon Fire Department battled the blaze and was able to extinguish it.  Michigan State Police assisted Sheriff's Deputies in their investigation at the scene.

     Anyone with information on this fire is asked to contact Deputy Mark Mellinger by calling 467-9045, extension 327. 

Chamber Warns Of Ongoing Scam (4/11/14)
Chamber Warns Of Ongoing Scam
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Customers of Michigan Gas Utilities need to be aware of an ongoing scam.

     The Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce received some information on Friday from State Representative Matt Lori about a scam involving Michigan Gas Utilities that started in 2011 and continues to be an issue.

     Three years ago, Volunteer Energy was in St. Joseph County, claiming to be an arm of Michigan Gas Utilities. Volunteer Energy representatives were telling Michigan Gas customers they would always have the lowest cost for natural gas and there would be no change that needed to happen or fee for this service.

     However, Michigan Gas officials says Volunteer Energy is not affiliated with them and that they have received tons of complaints.

     Individuals and businesses that did agree to this service with Volunteer Energy saw an increase in their bill of one dollar per cubic feet of gas, which can make a big difference for those that have large gas bills.

     If anyone has been the victim of this scam, they are asked to call the Michigan Attorney General's office at 1-877-765-8388. 

LCCF Donation Helps With Mammograms (4/11/14)
LCCF Donation Helps With Mammograms
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) - A donation from the LaGrange County Community Foundation will help screen women for breast cancer in LaGrange County.
Laura Lemings of the Community Foundation presented a check for $550 to Parkview LaGrange Hospital President Rob Myers and Debi Kennedy, the community outreach coordinator of the Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

     The donation will help to cover the cost of screening mammograms through Francine’s Friends for women who might otherwise have put their mammogram off because of financial constraints.
     Each February the LaGrange County Community Foundation holds its “Circle of Love” campaign.  For a gift of five dollars or more, the “Circle of Love” sends a valentine to the person of the donor’s choice, letting them know a gift has been made in his or her honor.
     Kennedy says nearly 40 women have received screening mammograms thanks to the Circle's continuing support. 

FSB Promotes Financial Literacy (4/11/14)
FSB Promotes Financial Literacy
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) - Farmers State Bank is launching an initiative in LaGrange and Steuben Counties to help students become more literate about financial matters.
     The bank is providing high school students with access to an online course called Everfi-Financial Literacy.
     The program is available at no cost to the high schools in LaGrange and Steuben counties and covers topics like credit scores, insurance, student loans, taxes, stocks and retirement.  

     The interactive program tracks each student’s progress and those who successfully complete the course earn a Certification in Financial Literacy.


Pence Files Appeal (4/11/14)
Pence Files Appeal
By Mike Stiles
     (INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence is going to bat for 49 counties who have been denied assistance.

     The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently denied the State's request for a major disaster declaration as a result of the winter storm that moved through the area in early January.  Those seeking assistance for governments and non profit organizations include LaGrange, Noble and Elkhart Counties.

     If approved, public assistance grants would pay 75 percent of eligible expenses for damage.  In addition, LaGrange, Noble and Elkhart Counties were requesting to be designated for snow assistance.  That designation would cover all costs associated with snow removal for the 48 hour period with the highest costs.

     Noble County exceeded 150 percent of their record snowfall.  That makes them eligible for 72 hours of snow assistance.  The Indiana Department of Homeland Security would work with FEMA and local agencies to document allowable expenses. 

Break In To Sherman Township Home (4/11/14)
Break In To Sherman Township Home
By Mike Stiles
     (SHERMAN TOWNSHIP) – Authorities are investigating another residential break in, this time in Sherman Township.

     The St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department says this most recent incident happened at a house in the 24000 block of Mintdale Road between 8 AM and 4 PM Thursday.

     The suspect or suspects forced their way into the home and made off with several items including jewelry, a small tan safe and a 32” LG LCD television.

     If anyone has information on this crime, they are asked to call the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department at 467-9045 extension 327. 

Life Care Center Deficiency Free (4/11/14)
Life Care Center Deficiency Free
By Mike Stiles
     (LAGRANGE) – A LaGrange County skilled nursing facility recently received a deficiency free state survey.

     Life Care Center of LaGrange completed their annual survey and was deficiency free according to the State of Indiana.  It is the fourth time in the last five years that the LaGrange facility has achieved this result. 

     Nursing facilities must meet hundreds of criteria to pass the state survey, from nursing care to food services to the physical condition of the building.

     Jeff Brinkman, Executive Director of the LaGrange facility, says he and the staff are thrilled to have achieved such a high survey.  He says it's all due to the hard work and effort the team in LaGrange has put into the building.

     Life Care Center of LaGrange is one of 15 skilled nursing facilities in Indiana operated or managed by Life Care Centers of America.  

One Injured In Two Car Crash (4/11/14)
One Injured In Two Car Crash
By Mike Stiles
     (MARCELLUS TOWNSHIP) – A two vehicle crash in Cass County sent one person to the hospital Thursday afternoon.

     The Cass County Sheriff's Department says 43 year old Tami Orr of Decatur was driving south on Burlington Road just north of Loveridge Street in Marcellus Township at 5:45 PM when she  struck an eastbound vehicle driven by 17 year old Jaelin Arndt.  Deputies say Arndt pulled out in front of Orr who could not avoid the collision.

     Both Arndt and her passenger, Shelby Miller were released at the scene.  Orr was taken to an area hospital for treatment of her injuries.

     Deputies say everyone was wearing their safety belts at the time of the crash, which is still under investigation.  The Marcellus Ambulance and Marcellus Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Teen Facing Arson Charges (4/10/14)
Teen Facing Arson Charges
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – A teenager is facing charges of arson related to a fire that destroyed a Sturgis home in March.

     The Sturgis Police Department says they will seek charges of Arson of a Dwelling and Home Invasion against a 16 year old boy who confessed to setting fire to a home at 110 East Congress Street.  The fire happened on March 9 at 11:55 PM and heavy smoke and flames were coming from the front of the residence when authorities arrived.  Neighbors told public safety officials that the home had been unoccupied for approximately three weeks.

     Sturgis Police and Fire Department personnel as well as the State Fire Marshal worked together both the night of the fire and afterwards to determine the cause of the blaze. 

Historical Society Takes On New Face (4/10/14)
Sturgis Historical Society Changing Image
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – A Sturgis organization is looking to become more active.

     The Sturgis Historical Society gave an update Wednesday to the City Commission on what's been happening with the group.  Historical Society President Mike Mort shared with the Commission that he agreed to become the organization's president on one condition, and that was for the Historical Society to become a project oriented group instead of one that just talks.  

     With that in mind, Mort says he wrote a book with some ideas he came up with to help the Historical Society make this transition. Those ideas include such activities and events as Sturgis History Detectives; the History of Sturgis Quiz Bowl; a historical walking tour of the Sturgis Cemetery and a historical driving tour of the Sturgis Community. 

     If anyone is interested in putting a group together to help with any of these project, or if you are interested in learning more about the Sturgis Historical Society, you can contact Mort by calling 659-2512 or visiting their Facebook page. 

City Commission Approves Depot Site Plan (4/10/14)
City Commission Approves Depot Site Plan
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – Sturgis City Commissioners have approved the sight plan for the new home of the Sturgis Depot Building.

     During their meeting on Wednesday, Chuck Baber presented the sight plan for the southwest corner of West Chicago Road and South Jefferson Street, which is where the Depot will be moved to.

     Baber explains some of work that will be done to the area around the Depot, specifically where vehicles will be able to enter. The entrance to the Depot Building will be off of Jefferson Street so as not to tie up traffic on U.S. 12.
     Baber says he is still working on landscaping around the building with the help of an expert from Kalamazoo.

     In speaking with Wolfe House & Building Movers, who will be moving the building, Baber says the route they will take with the Depot will be from West Main Street to South Nottawa.  Then south on Nottawa to U.S. 12 and then west to Jefferson and then onto the foundation.

     The plan is to move the Depot Building on Tuesday June 24. 

MSP Investigating Break Ins (4/10/14)
MSP Investigating Break Ins
By Mike Stiles
     (UNDATED) – A pair of home burglaries has the Michigan State Police asking for the public's help.

     Troopers from the White Pigeon Post were called to a residence in the 12000 block of M-60 in Fabius Township to investigate a breaking and entering.

     Troopers says the break in happened Wednesday sometime between 11:45 AM and 1:30 PM while the homeowner was away.  Numerous guns and jewelry were taken in the robbery.

     Anyone who may have seen a suspicious vehicle or persons in the area during this time frame are urged to contact the White Pigeon Post at 489-7611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.

     Troopers from the Coldwater Post were called to a home in the area of Snow Prairie Road and Slisher Road in Bronson Township for a reported break in.  A Ruger .22 caliber six shot revolver along with a Vexilar Fish Finder and a large quantity of pennies were taken.

     If you have information on this crime, you can call the Coldwater State Police Post at 517-278-2373 or Crime Stoppers. 

LaGrange Commission Approves Fair Housing Ordinance (4/10/14
LaGrange Co. Commission Approves Fair Housing Ordinance
By Tim Murray
     (LAGRANGE) - An ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing won final approval during a special meeting of the LaGrange County Commissioners Thursday morning.

     The ordinance was a requirement for a grant application to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in support of the Howe Volunteer Fire Department’s purchase of a much needed tanker truck.

     The special meeting became necessary when Commissioner Larry Miller refused to waive second reading of the ordinance on Monday. The grant application is due in Indianapolis on Friday.

     Miller voted against the ordinance on both readings because it changes the definition of a family to include gay couples and their children.  Commissioners Jac Price and Garry Heller felt the mandate was heavy handed as well, but voted in favor of the ordinance because of the federal grant dollars that were at stake.

     The ordinance is expected to be a requirement when the LaGrange County Area Transit and Council on Aging seek to renew their grants next year.  Price said refusing to adopt the ordinance could potentially cost the county up to a million dollars in federal funding.  

Pursuit Leads To Arrests (4/10/14)
Pursuit Leads To Arrests
By Tim Murray
     (KENDALLVILLE) - A car that refused to stop for a state trooper in Kendallville eventually crashed near Fish Lake in LaGrange County early Thursday morning.

     Police arrested 27 year old Mark Frye of LaGrange as he tried to flee on foot into a wooded area just after 12:30 AM.  26 year old Katrina Kelly of Kendallville was a passenger in the car and was also arrested.

     While still in Noble County police say Frye tossed items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine from the vehicle. 

     Speeds at times topped 100 miles per hour as officers gave chase up State Road 3 to LaGrange County Road 200 South before turning south again on 500 East.  The car crashed into a yard at 1820 South County Road 485 East.

     Officers transported Frye and Kelly to the Noble County Jail where they are expected to face multiple charges.  Frye is also expected to be charged with a felony count of resisting law enforcement in LaGrange County.

     Police from Kendallville, Avilla, Wolcottville, LaGrange and Shipshewana assisted in the pursuit. 

First Reading Of Sign Amendment (4/10/14)
Commission Approves First Reading Of Sign Amendments
By Mike Stiles
     (STURGIS) – The first reading of a sign ordinance amendment was approved Wednesday by the Sturgis City Commission.

     Over the last several months, several businesses in the Central Business District have expressed interest in having internally lit signs.  The current ordinances do not allow for such signs in that area of the City.

     Assistant City Manager Andrew Kuk explains what the ordinance amendments will allow for internally light signs that would not be of a flashing kind and would not change their message every 15 seconds. 
     Kuk says that each sign would have to be reviewed before a business could put it up.  

     Kuk says provisions for existing marquee signs similar to what the Strand Theater has would be allowed. Any new signs similar to this would have to apply for a special land use from the City.

     The Commission approved the first reading of the amendments, which will be brought back for a second reading and official approval during a future meeting. 

St. Joe Co. Recognized As Age Friendly (4/9/14)
St. Joseph Co. Recognized As Age Friendly
By Mike Stiles
     (LANSING) – St. Joseph County has received a special recognition.

     The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, through the Commission on Services to the Aging has designated St. Joseph County as a Community for a Lifetime, in recognition of their efforts to become more age friendly.

     OSA Director Kari Sederburg says she would like to personally thank St. Joseph County for their commitment to become a more age-friendly community by participating in the program.  Sederburg says the County's efforts should be commended and will certainly help improve the lives of those living in their communities.

     St. Joseph County assessed itself on many issues, including safety and security; walkability; and access to health care, transportation, housing, commerce and enrichment activities.

     Some of the County's strengths include a detailed online senior resource directory; multiple educational and leadership opportunities for older adults; a range of programs available for home repair and home modification; multiple recreational opportunities and senior employment opportunities which are supported locally. 

Two Injured In Centreville Accident
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

     (CENTREVILLE) – Two people were injured in a two vehicle accident Tuesday night in Centreville.

     The St. Joseph County Sheriff''s Department were called to Main Street near Industrial Parkway just before 9 PM Tuesday. 

     Little is know about the accident except to say the driver of one vehicle was 32 year old Myron William Rustad of Shipshewana, Indiana.  He was not injured, but his 10 year old passenger was taken to Sturgis Hospital for treatment.

     The driver of the second vehicle was 68 year old Key Evelyn Fuelling of Three Rivers.  She was taken to Three Rivers Health for treatment of her injuries.

     Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Centreville and Three Rivers Fire Departments, and off duty Constantine Police Officer, and Life Care Ambulance.

Man Arrested After Two State Chase
A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon following a two state chase. Michigan State Police from the White Pigeon Post say the Middlebury Police pursued a vehicle into Mottville Township around 11:30 Wednesday morning.