Local News Archives

SWM Real Estate Market Slows Due To Low Inventory

The housing market in southwest Michigan is tight as the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says available houses, or inventory, are down to a two month supply, a record low. For February, the number of houses sold dropped 16% from February 2021 and 20% from the month before. The level of sales in February was the lowest since February of 2014. The association says the average and median selling price in February 2022 and year-to-date selling prices soared double digits to set new record prices in the year-over-year comparison that dates back to 2006. In February, the average selling price was $324,000 compared to $265,000 the year before, up 22%. The association says the low inventory has made things more difficult for buyers. In February, the homes available in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly two-thirds of Van Buren counties were down to 480. For comparison, in February 2009, there were 3099 houses for sale in the region.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS School Board Releases Statement Following Townsel Announcement

A statement has been released by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education following word last week Superintendent Andrae Townsel has been offered a job elsewhere. Upon request for comment, the board sent us a pre-written statement that doesn’t reference Townsel. It says the board is confident in “our ability to move forward with engaging the community and our leadership team, as we achieve the mission, vision, and goals of our district.” It says the educational success of students remains the top priority. The board says, “We ask that the community continue to fight with the Tiger Nation as we work to revitalize Benton Harbor Area Schools.” Townsel was selected last week for the position of superintendent with Calvert County Public Schools in Maryland. That district says he is to come on board starting July 1.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Recognized For Broadband Expansion Efforts

The Michigan Economic Developers Association has recognized state Senator Aric Nesbitt as a 2022 Legislative Economic Development Champion for his efforts to support broadband expansion both in Van Buren County and around the state. Nesbitt was nominated for the honor by Market Van Buren. Market Van Buren’s Zach Morris tells WSJM News expanding broadband access is key to economic development and Nesbitt has been a partner in helping that happen. That’s not all.. ...Read Full Story

Kitchenaid Senior PGA Champion Comes To Harbor Shores

Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship winner Alex Cejka has come to Benton Harbor to see the sights and preview this year’s Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship to be held at Harbor Shores in May. Cejka spoke with reporters Monday and also took some shots at the Harbor Shores driving range to raise money for First Tee. He told us he looks forward to becoming more familiar with Harbor Shores.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Shot In Benton Township

Benton Township police are investigating a woman being shot in the arm in the 100 block of Concord. She was shot once in an arm just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Witnesses told police several people were outside firing shots, and all took off. No other description of the suspects has been given. The victim was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland and is expected to fully recover.. ...Read Full Story

Nuclear Group Seeking To Keep Palisades Open

The Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society has sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer urging her and state lawmakers to reconsider the closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant in May. The organization representing engineers and scientists who work in the nuclear industry says closing Palisades will cause economic harm and increased pollution. It says the planned closing of the Van Buren County facility “will all but guarantee an increase in the use of natural gas, a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, when Michigan’s goal is to achieve a 28% reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.” It continues to say although Entergy decided to close Palisades for economic reasons, the idea was the result of “short-sighted state policies and flawed electricity markets that favor fossil fuels and other subsidized energy technologies.” The group urges the governor to apply to the U.S. Department of Energy for “newly available funds dedicated to preventing the premature closures of nuclear power plants.”. ...Read Full Story

New Pedestrian Walkway Planned For South Haven

A new pedestrian walkway will be built in South Haven along Aylworth Avenue from Kalamazoo to LaGrange Streets. Public Works Director Bill Hunter tells WSJM News the paved walkway will be on the south side of the street and is possible thanks to a $134,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.. ...Read Full Story

BH Teachers To Receive Bonuses

Teachers at Benton Harbor Area Schools will get retention bonuses at the end of the school year following action Monday by the board of education. Superintendent Andrae Townsel tells WSJM News it was time to reward teachers after some difficult years.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Performance Series Resumes In April

The opening of the 2022 season of the South Haven Performance Series will be April 29 with 2022 Gilmore International Piano Competition Young Artist Clayton Stephenson. The South Haven Performance Series says he trained for two years in the Juilliard Music Advancement Program before being admitted into the Juilliard Pre-College program at age ten. In 2017, he was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is currently pursuing a dual degree program from Harvard, where he studies economics, and from the New England Conservatory where he studies piano performance. Stephenson will perform at First United Methodist Church in downtown South Haven at 7:30 p.m. April 29 and tickets will be $10. They’ll be available at the door.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Still No Decision On Seeking Another Term

Has Congressman Fred Upton decided to seek another term? Due to redistricting, his district is now the new Fourth District, which goes as far north as Holland and covers northern Berrien County, Van Buren County, Kalamazoo, and Allegan. If Upton runs again, he’d be facing off in a Republican primary against Congressman Bill Huizenga. Upton tells WSJM News he hasn’t made a decision yet.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Man Facing Domestic Violence Charge

A Bangor man is facing charges after police say he assaulted and beat a woman. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were called to the area of County Road 665 and 28th Avenue in Waverly Township shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday regarding a domestic assault. They found a 41-year-old woman who told them she had been assaulted, dragged out of a vehicle, and left at the side of the road by the driver. The driver was identified as 42-year-old Timothy Michael Parker of Bangor. The woman was taken to a hospital to be treated while sheriff’s deputies headed over to Parker’s home in Bangor. They knocked and got no response, although they could hear someone inside the trailer. They got a warrant and entered, finding and arresting Parker. It was learned he had a warrant out on a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He was taken to the Van Buren County Jail on that charge and on a new charge of aggravated assault.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Women’s Event Sells Out

It was a packed house Thursday night as Cornerstone Alliance hosted FLEX: Female Leadership Excellence, a forum for women business leaders from around southwest Michigan. In recognition of National Women’s History Month, Cornerstone Alliance presented the panel discussion led by women in powerful executive leadership roles. FLEX is focused on career acceleration, personal development, and excellent leadership for women in business. Cornerstone Alliance Vice President of External Affairs Chris Frank says tickets were told out two weeks ahead of the event. She says that shows there’s “a demand for development opportunities for women who strive to accelerate their personal and professional growth.” Speaking at the event were business leaders including Huntington Bank West Michigan President Krista Flynn, Michigan Economic Development Corporation COO Jen Nelson, and Perrigo Senior Vice President Sonia Hollies, among others. Cornerstone’s Rob Cleveland says the organization is “grateful for their willingness to share successes and lessons learned with future leaders in our community.”. ...Read Full Story

New Troy Community Center Damaged By Vandalism

The New Troy Community Center in Weesaw Township has been closed following vandalism that was discovered this week. The Friends of New Troy Community Center says on the center’s website the building on Sunday was “unlawfully entered by members of the community we serve and significantly vandalized.” In particular, the kitchen was damaged. The group calls it the “space in which we had invested so much of ourselves.” It says the entire gym was heavily affected and will remain closed until further notice. The entryway, hallway, meeting, and community rooms all required volunteer hours to clean up. The estimated cost of the total clean-up and restoration services for the gym, kitchen, and restrooms is $4,500. Friends of the New Troy Community Center add donation boxes from recent events were broken into and money taken, saying, “It feels like a betrayal. The unspoken agreement that our center is a safe space where we look out for one another and help each other thrive was violated.”. ...Read Full Story

Townsel Chosen For Superintendent Position At Maryland School District

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Andrae Townsel has been hired to serve as superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools in Maryland. The Calvert County district put out word this week its board has decided to hire Townsel after announcing previously he was one of two finalists for the post. It is looking to replace its current superintendent, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Townsel was hired as Benton Harbor’s school superintendent in December of 2019. He previously worked as an assistant superintendent with Wayne-Westland Community Schools in Westland. During his time at Benton Harbor Area Schools, Townsel has helped to eliminate the general fund deficit and develop a strategic plan for the district. Townsel is a Detroit native and his hiring at the Maryland district is effective July 1.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Top Court Rejects Latest Redistricting Challenge

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has turned down a challenge by Democratic-aligned groups to a new map for state House seats. The groups claim the map unfairly favors Republicans and conflicts with the state Constitution, which says no party shall have a disproportionate advantage in redistricting. But in a brief order, the court says it won’t get involved. In 2018, voters
created a 13-member commission to make maps for seats in Congress and the Legislature, taking the work out of the hands of politicians. More than 130 hearings were open to the public before new boundaries were approved in December. Justice Megan Cavanagh says the commission chose to balance partisan fairness with other constitutional criteria.. ...Read Full Story

Soo Locks Open For 2022

The Soo Locks opened at 12:01 a.m. and people were waiting patiently to watch two of the Great Lakes bigger vessels make their way through. Jeff Herrington with the US Army Corp of Engineers says the Edgar B. Speer, followed by its Great Lakes Fleet group mate, the Edwin H. Gott. are so big they can only go through the Poe Lock.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Donates To Benton Township Fire Department

Honor Credit Union has raised some funds for the Benton Township Fire Department. Credit Union team members have presented Fire Chief Rob Harper a check of $5,029 for the purchase of a new Jaws of Life. Those devices free people from wrecked vehicles. The dollars were collected through a fundraiser held through Honor’s Facebook page and at Honor’s Benton Harbor Member Center. Honor Community Assistant Vice President Beth Anderson says when the fire department brought the need for new equipment to the credit union’s attention, it wasn’t even a question of whether Honor would help. The Benton Township Fire Department says its current Jaw of Life sets are 17 years old and 47 years old. The usual lifespan for the extraction equipment is ten years. The department is looking to replace both of its sets at a total cost of around $48,000.. ...Read Full Story

Man In Whitmer Kidnap Plot: I Wanted Cops To Kill Me

From the Associated Press — Jurors in Grand Rapids are hearing from a second man who pleaded guilty in a scheme to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Kaleb Franks says he got involved because he “no longer wanted to live” and figured he would be killed in a shootout with police. Franks says he was struggling financially and simply wasn’t happy. Franks is testifying against four men who are on trial for conspiracy: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. Ty Garbin has finished his testimony. He also pleaded guilty and says there’s “no question” the group wanted to kidnap Whitmer over her COVID-19 policies and their overall disgust with government.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Massive Infrastructure Legislation

The Michigan Legislature has approved a $4.8 billion infrastructure package. State Representative Pauline Wendzel says the plan also continues COVID-19 relief and a stabilization of the state’s unemployment benefits trust fund. Senate Bill 565 and House Bill 5525 include more than $4.2 billion in federal resources and nearly $600 million in state resources. The highlights include $2 billion to help provide safe drinking water and clean water grants around the state concerning PFAS and lead pipes. The package also includes $380 million for state and local road projects, $250,00 million for broadband, and $250 million for parks projects. Wendzel says the package uses once in a lifetime resources “in a way that will sure up the foundation of our communities for decades to come.” She adds it includes “strategic investments that will improve our state without growing government dependency or creating new long-term programs.”. ...Read Full Story

Short Supply Of Veterinarian Workers

Pet owners may be running into delays when it comes to procedures with their cats and dogs. A worker shortage in the veterinarian industry has led some animal hospitals and clinics to delay surgeries and other work. Dr. Erin Howard is the president of the Michigan Veterinary and Hospital Association.. ...Read Full Story

Poll Finds Just 34% For Whitmer

In a survey of likely voters, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has some work to do if she wants to be re-elected. According to the survey, conducted by the Lansing-based Marketing and Resource Group, only 34% of respondents indicated that they would vote for Whitmer in November, while 59% say they’ll “leave the door open” for other possible candidates. Janelle Leonard is the owner of Marketing and Resource Group.. ...Read Full Story

State Infrastructure Deal Reached

Michigan lawmakers have unveiled and begun passing a massive $4.8 billion spending plan, one that will upgrade long-neglected infrastructure including water pipes, dams, roads and parks. The legislation is the product of months of negotiations between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration over how to spend an unprecedented billions of discretionary pandemic funding and infrastructure aid that were enacted by Congress and President Joe Biden last year. The governor will sign the bills that legislators plan to approve Thursday, following an initial unanimous vote by the House budget committee late Wednesday night.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Commission Meeting Canceled

There will be no meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners today due to a lack of a quorum. The Administration Committee’s meeting at 9:15 a.m. is also canceled. Two other committees, Finance and Personnel and Human Services, will both meet at 9:15 a.m. in the Berrien County Administration Center on Main Street in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

PGA Holding Longest Drive Contest

The PGA of America has announced the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Community Long Drive Contest. It will be held at Pipestone Indoor Country Club on April 6 starting at 4:30 p.m. and will and feature longest drive contests. The winners will get home tournament tickets and other prizes. Those who strive for the longest drive will be divided into age groups. The PGA says there will also be a chance to learn more about the local breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries that will be showcased inside the Makers Trail 19th Hole Pavilion during the tournament in May. If you’ve got a good golf swing and want a chance to attend the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship for free, the contest is open to all and no registration is required.. ...Read Full Story

Group Asks State To Keep Palisades Open

The Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society has sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer urging her and state lawmakers to reconsider the closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant in May. The organization representing engineers and scientists who work in the nuclear industry says closing Palisades will cause economic harm and increased pollution. It says the planned closing of the Van Buren County facility “will all but guarantee an increase in the use of natural gas, a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, when Michigan’s goal is to achieve a 28% reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.” It continues to say although Entergy decided to close Palisades for economic reasons, the idea was the result of “short-sighted state policies and flawed electricity markets that favor fossil fuels and other subsidized energy technologies.” The group urges the governor to apply to the U.S. Department of Energy for “newly available funds dedicated to preventing the premature closures of nuclear power plants.”. ...Read Full Story

Witness: Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Intended To Disrupt The Election

From the Associated Press — A man who pleaded guilty to planning a kidnapping of Governor Gretchen Whitmer says he and his allies wanted to act before the 2020 election to prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency. Ty Garbin is a star witness for prosecutors in the trial of four men charged with conspiracy. Garbin says they thought a kidnapping would cause a “disruption” before the election. He took the jury through training, secret messages and a late night trip to Whitmer’s weekend home to see how they could kidnap her in retaliation for her COVID-19 restrictions. Garbin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Wants To End Teacher Evaluations For This Academic Year

A Michigan lawmaker wants to do away with teacher evaluations for this year. Livonia Senator Dayna Polehanki says 40% of the teachers’ annual year end evaluations are based on student growth. She says it’s not fair for several reasons including that many teachers were involved in remote learning for some part of the year and mental health challenges posed by the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Study Finds Boost From COVID-19 Booster

A study by Beaumont Health researchers finds a significant boost to getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster. Researchers found people have a 45% lower death rate than people who have not been vaccinated. They also had much lower chances of dying compared to people who have only had two vaccine shots. Over 66% of Michiganders have had at least one shot and 53% of those fully vaccinated are also boosted.. ...Read Full Story

Parole Absconder Caught In Van Buren County

A 38-year-old Bloomingdale man is jailed after a chase with police in Van Buren County. Deputies and the Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit were looking for the parole absconder, who was wearing a GPS tether. When his vehicle passed them, the deputy chased the man. He turned onto the Kal-Haven Trail from 46th Street and then went west on 8th Avenue where he lost control and crashed in a ditch. The suspect was not hurt and was taken to the county jail. Officers also found bags of meth and instruments for smoking it in the vehicle.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Get New Pedestrian Walkway

A new pedestrian walkway will be built in South Haven along Aylworth Avenue from Kalamazoo to LaGrange Streets. Public Works Director Bill Hunter tells WSJM News the paved walkway will be on the south side of the street and is possible thanks to a $134,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.. ...Read Full Story

ECV Battery Maker To Add 1,200 Jobs In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Electric vehicle battery maker LG Energy Solution, a joint-venture partner with automaker General Motors, plans a $1.7 billion expansion in western Michigan that will add up to 1,200 jobs by 2025. The project at the company’s site in Holland was approved Tuesday for $56.5 million in state grants and a 20-year tax break worth $132.6 million. Michigan Economic
Development Corp. CEO Quentin Messer Jr. says the expansion will quintuple the plant’s ability to produce battery components. The average wage will be $1,257 a week, or about $65,000 annually, plus benefits. The company, which is headquartered in South Korea, could begin hiring later this year.. ...Read Full Story

Wrongly Convicted Brothers Released After 25 Years In Prison

From the Associated Press — Two Michigan brothers who were wrongfully convicted in the murder of a family friend have been released after 25 years in prison. A Michigan judge on Tuesday set aside the convictions of George and Melvin DeJesus in the 1995 killing of Margaret Midkiff. The brothers later embraced family members, meeting some for the first time, at a restaurant in Lansing. Midkiff was sexually assaulted and slain in her home in Pontiac, Michigan, in July 1995. A prosecutor says no DNA was found at the scene connecting the brothers to the crime but that DNA linked a third suspect who admitted to the sexual assault but testified at trial that the brothers were behind the killing.. ...Read Full Story

Deer Hits Motorcycle

A 26-year-old Jones man is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries after his motorcycle was hit by a deer late Monday night. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says they were called to Union Road just north of Calvin Hill Street in Calvin Township just after 11 pm for the crash. Corey McDonald was headed south on Union when he was hit by the deer. He was taken to Elkhart General Hospital for his injuries and was not wearing a helmet. Deputies add drugs and alcohol are not apparently factors in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Discusses Amending Lead Line Ordinance

Benton Harbor City Commissioners could update an ordinance they approved last month mandating that residents allow lead water lines on their properties to be replaced. That’s after some citizens spoke out against the possible penalties for violations at a meeting Monday night. Resident Gwen Swanigan said the ordinance lays out 90 days in jail as one possible penalty.. ...Read Full Story

Text: When’s ‘Lynching?’ Michigan Governor Plot Leader Said

From the Associated Press — A man charged with planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was jubilant in 2020 when the state Supreme Court struck down COVID-19 orders. Adam Fox asked his allies in a chat group, “When’s the lynching?” That’s according to evidence introduced Monday. The disclosure came near the end of the first phase of testimony by a key government witness in the trial of four men: Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. Prosecutors say the four are
antigovernment extremists who wanted to grab the Democratic governor at her vacation home in northern Michigan in retaliation for a series of sweeping orders during the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Performance Series Resumes Next Month

The opening of the 2022 season of the South Haven Performance Series will be April 29 with 2022 Gilmore International Piano Competition Young Artist Clayton Stephenson. The South Haven Performance Series says he trained for two years in the Juilliard Music Advancement Program before being admitted into the Juilliard Pre-College program at age ten. In 2017, he was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is currently pursuing a dual degree program from Harvard, where he studies economics, and from the New England Conservatory where he studies piano performance. Stephenson will perform at First United Methodist Church in downtown South Haven at 7:30 p.m. April 29 and tickets will be $10. They’ll be available at the door.. ...Read Full Story