Local News Archives

Local Transportation Study Workshop Planned

A study on the future of transportation in the St. Joseph and Benton Harbor areas will be discussed at an open house next week. “Principles in Motion” is the new Long Range Transportation Plan for the area. It’s been put together by the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study, or TwinCATS. TwinCATS tells us the study uses the input of local officials while setting transportation goals and looking at how to spend federal money. The plan is intended to serve as a blueprint for transportation over the next 25 years in the Twin Cities area. An open house for everyone to see what’s in it and chat with planners will be held next Tuesday. It will be at the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission office in Benton Harbor from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can learn more about the transportation plan right here.. ...Read Full Story

Man Serving Life For 1996 Decapitation Gets Resentencing

From the Associated Press — A western Michigan man serving life in prison without parole for killing and decapitating a teen in 1996 and mutilating the head in front of a video camera is getting a chance at a new sentence. Federico Cruz, who was 16 at the time of the killing, was convicted of murder and got the mandatory sentence after a jury rejected an insanity defense in the
slaying of 17-year-old David Crawford. Cruz suffocated Crawford. He cut off the victim’s head, took it home and mutilated it.
Cruz, now 39, asked Judge Dennis Leiber on Monday for an eventual chance at parole. Leiber plans to decide Wednesday.
Cruz and many Michigan juvenile lifers who are serving no-parole sentences are eligible for a new hearing because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Students Fight Invasive Species

Students at Southwestern Michigan College have had a chance to learn about local invasive plant species and also fight them on their campus in Dowagiac. SMC Agriculture Tech Coordinator Stacey Rocklin tells WSJM News a group of about 50 looked for invaders at the college’s pollinator field on October 26.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Forum To Examine If Term Limits Are Working

Are Michigan’s term limits working? That question will be tackled by the Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy Research on November 14 during a forum in downtown Lansing. Voters amended the state constitution in 1992 to enact term limits, allowing for three two-year terms in the House, and two terms in all other state offices from the Senate to the governor. John Engler was the state’s last three-term governor, and both Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder after him have served two terms. There will be a huge turnover come January 1 in the state Legislature, with 70% of the Senate term-limited and 20% of the House having to leave office. Critics of the law say while it was well-meaning, it has allowed lobbyists to become the state’s real policy makers, with no limits on how long they can have those jobs.. ...Read Full Story

ID Not Needed To Vote And Other Things To Know

There are some basic rules if you are not a regular voter on this midterm Election Day in Michigan. One thing you do not need to vote is a photo ID. Sure, state law requires it, and it will make going through the line faster, but even if you don’t have a driver’s license or a state ID card, all you need to do is say that and sign an affidavit swearing you are who you say you are. You are allowed to take in a list of candidates you plan to vote for. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says you may need that cheat sheet.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan Swimmer Dies Near Chicago

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a 46-year-old man has died and a 52-year-old woman is missing after going swimming in hazardous waters in Lake Michigan near a Chicago suburb. The city of Highland Park says in a statement the Elgin woman and the Itasca man were part of a group of about 10 people in a “cold weather swim group” that went in the lake Sunday morning at Park Avenue Beach amid huge waves and gale-force winds. An autopsy performed Monday revealed that Stanislaw Wlosek Jr. drowned. A witness says some men tried unsuccessfully to throw the woman a line. A Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City, Michigan, searched the area Sunday. Police in Illinois and Wisconsin are watching for the missing swimmer.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Hate Vigil Held In Benton Harbor

It was a packed house at The Citadel in Benton Harbor Monday night as members of several faiths gathered to remember the victims of last month’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The vigil was organized by the First Hebrew Congregation of South Haven, Temple B’Nai Shalom in Benton Harbor, and the Andrews University Interfaith Committee. First Hebrew’s Barry Fidelman told us apathy was to blame for the violence.. ...Read Full Story

Clerk Gives Voting Advice

The Berrien County Clerk’s Office is hard at work preparing for Tuesday’s elections. Clerk Sharon Tyler tells us voters will want to give themselves more time to cast their ballots due to the loss of straight ticket voting and high turnout. She says the county has new election equipment to make things smoother, and the ballots are a bit different.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Optimistic Ahead Of Election

Republican candidate for the Michigan House in the 79th District Pauline Wendzel is feeling good ahead of the big election Tuesday. She tells us, to her, the three biggest issues are auto insurance, jobs for young people, and CTE training. As for auto insurance, Wendzel tells WSJM News it’s a complicated problem.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews Pushes Insurance Reform, Affordable Housing Plan

With the big election just about here, Democratic candidate for the Michigan House in the 79th District Joey Andrews has issued some documents outlining his positions on affordable housing and auto insurance reform. Andrews tells WSJM News allowing auto insurers to consider education level and credit history when setting someone’s rates just hurts the poor.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Bank Break-In

Police are investigating a bank break-in in Berrien Springs. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department tells us it managed to nab the suspect just as he was walking out of the bank. Officers were called to the Fifth Third Bank on West Mars Street just before 7 a.m. on Sunday. The suspect was still inside at the time. He was picked up without incident. The suspect was trying to steal rolled coins and other items, and police say the bank’s vault was not entered. The suspect has been identified as 24-year-old Dwayne Moore of Berrien Springs. He was taken to the Berrien County Jail and all of the stolen items were recovered.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Gas Prices Fall To Seven-Month Low

Gas prices are getting lower in Michigan. Triple-A says the average for a gallon of regular is down around 9¢ from last week and down by 32¢ in the last month to $2.70 a gallon. It marks the lowest we’ve been at the pump since April. The Twin Cities average is close to the state low at $2.63, two-pennies higher than the prices in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland area at $2.61 a gallon. Marquette drivers have the highest prices at $2.88. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s prices range from $2.52 to $2.79, and that area is not included in the AAA Michigan price survey.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Collecting Bottled Water For BHAS

Honor Credit Union is collecting cases of bottled water to be donated to Benton Harbor Area Schools. The water drive is due to tests finding lead levels higher than the federal Action Level in eight homes this fall, and the school district switching to bottled water as a precaution as a result. The donations started with 300 cases from Whirlpool after Benton Harbor branch manager Andrew Cleminshaw reached out to area businesses for help. Sealed and packaged bottled water can be dropped off at Honor Credit Union branches in Coloma, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Stevensville through the end of November. Honor Credit Union team members will deliver the water to Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Area Schools Getting State Grants For Safety

Eight school districts in southwest Michigan are receiving school safety grants from the state of Michigan. Overall, the state is awarding $25 million to 114 districts, 42 private schools, 22 charters, and 10 regional districts. Of the ones around here, Benton Harbor Area Schools are getting the largest award with a nearly $929,000 grant that will require a match. The other seven don’t have a matching fund requirement and total just under $257,000 combined. Those are going to Benton Harbor Charter School Academy, Berrien RESA, Berrien Springs Public Schools, Countryside Academy, Marcellus Community Schools, Michigan Lutheran High School, Mildred C. Wells Academy, and Sodus Township School District. The money is meant to upgrade door locks and add other security features as a result of school shootings in other parts of the country.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Chamber Launches Contest For Students

The South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce has developed a program for students in the South Haven, Bangor and Covert Public school systems called Youth in Business Competition. Individual students have a chance to develop a hypothetical business and present the business plan to the community and win prize money. Chamber Director Kathy Wagaman says taking part is very simple.. ...Read Full Story

Retired Police Officers Backing Proposal 1

While almost every police department opposes the effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan, several retired police officers disagree. Sheriffs across the state say they’re concerned about more people getting high behind the wheel and children having greater access to the drug if it’s legalized. But the group Law Enforcement Action Partnership, or LEAP, presented former police officials who support Proposal 1. Among them is retired Canton police officer Steve Miller.. ...Read Full Story

Water Testing Continues In Benton Harbor

Water testing is continuing in the city of Benton Harbor after eight homes were found to have elevated levels of lead in late October. City Manager Darwin Watson says more than 200 water testing kits have been given to residents in the first week since the tests came back, and many have been sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and a South Bend lab for more testing. Bottled water is being provided for free by the city to any homes that have levels of lead in the water above 15 parts per billion. Southwest Michigan 2-1-1 is now handling the calls to the Water Response Hotline that had been set up by the city, and people can get questions answered there regarding water testing, blood lead testing in children, and other lead exposure prevention actions along with being connected to local resources. That number is answered 24 hours a day. More information on lead is available at the Berrien County Health Department’s website and the city of Benton Harbor’s website.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph AT&T Store Burglarized

Police in St. Joseph are still looking for one of the four suspects who broke into the AT&T store at 1021 Main Street a little after 3 a.m. today. Three were arrested in Kentwood outside of Grand Rapids this morning. St. Joseph Public Safety says the four smashed the window in the door of the business and were in and out within 40 seconds, stealing several display items. All four had their faces covered by masks.. ...Read Full Story

Man Busted For Crack In Niles

A 24-year-old man is in the Berrien County Jail on four felony charges and one misdemeanor after his arrest in Niles this week. Elbert Briggs was arrested on an outstanding warrant during a traffic stop on Tuesday near 6th and Wayne. Niles police say a search of the vehicle in which Briggs was a passenger turned up $150 worth of crack and a loaded 9mm pistol. Both the gun and the drugs were where the man had been sitting in the car. He’s facing a charges of possession with intent to deliver for the drugs along with three gun felony charges and a misdemeanor for unlawful use of a vehicle. Briggs was arraigned on Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Has New Chief Public Defender

Berrien County has a new Chief Public Defender. The job opened up on August 3 with the resignation of Carl Macpherson, and Christopher Renna has been serving in that role in the interim. The county board Thursday voted to promote Renna to the post of Chief Public Defender on a permanent basis. WSJM News spoke to Renna about the mission of the office.. ...Read Full Story

Fettig Named General Chair Of 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Whirlpool board of directors chairman and retired CEO Jeff Fettig will serve as the general chair of the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor. He will serve as an ambassador for the tournament and lead the executive committee that puts on the event every other May at Harbor Shores. In a statement, Fettig calls it an honor and pleasure to work with the PGA of America on the event, and says his committee is committed to making the 2020 tournament the best ever staged locally. He retired as CEO of the world’s largest home appliance maker last year after 13 years at the helm of the company. 2020 will be the fifth KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship to be played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Harbor Shores.. ...Read Full Story

Eight SWMI School Districts Receiving Security Grants From State

Eight school districts in southwest Michigan are receiving school safety grants from the state of Michigan. Overall, the state is awarding $25 million to 114 districts, 42 private schools, 22 charters, and 10 regional districts. Of the ones around here, Benton Harbor Area Schools are getting the largest award with a nearly $929,000 grant that will require a match. The other seven don’t have a matching fund requirement and total just under $257,000 combined. Those are going to Benton Harbor Charter School Academy, Berrien RESA, Berrien Springs Public Schools, Countryside Academy, Marcellus Community Schools, Michigan Lutheran High School, Mildred C. Wells Academy, and Sodus Township School District. The money is meant to upgrade door locks and add other security features as a result of school shootings in other parts of the country.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks To Upgrade Sewage Lagoons

Water and sewer bills are going to be going up by as much as $8 a month in Three Oaks to pay for upgrades to the village’s sewage lagoons. The increases follow three months of study of the system without the waste from Journeyman Distillery, which is being shipped off elsewhere to allow officials to see if the system could handle just the regular wastewater. Village Manager Mike Greene tells us it could not.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Cubs Renew Agreement With Chicago Cubs Through 2022

It’s an affiliation which has revived minor league baseball in South Bend, and it will stay in place for at least the next three seasons. The Chicago Cubs have extended their Player Development Contract with the South Bend Cubs through 2022, marking the third extension of the deal first announced in 2015. South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin says in a statement the parent club “recognizes our commitment to developing their players with our world-class facilities and the dedication our fans have for the Cubs players.” Since the team switched its Major League affiliation from the Arizona Diamondbacks, over 1.3 million fans have packed Four Winds Field for ballgames in the past four years. The Chicago Cubs have sent four major leaguers down for rehab assignments, and five South Bend Cubs players have reached the majors at Wrigley Field.. ...Read Full Story

Boil Water Advisory Issued For Sodus Twp, Part Of Benton Twp

All Benton Township water customers south of the Paw Paw River and all of them in Sodus Township are under a boil water advisory until further notice. Benton Township officials say a drop in water pressure in the system is to blame, and that could lead to bacterial contamination. They are working on making fixes, and say the boil advisory has been issued as a precaution. The problem is due to the malfunction of two pressure sustaining valves today, as they automatically closed when the township had to temporarily change the flow of water in the distribution system as part of the 4 million gallon Euclid Standpipe project. the water pressure has been restored, and samples are being tested now for bacteria.. ...Read Full Story

15-Year-Old Unlicensed Driver Crashes Friend’s Car

Charges are likely against a 15-year-old boy for a crash early Tuesday morning in Hartford. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says the teen, who does not have a license, was driving the car of a 17-year-old girl to take her home when he swerved to miss a deer and crashed into a tree. She suffered a broken leg and had to be taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. The driver was taken to a hospital in Watervliet for an ankle injury. The two were headed back to Hartford from Grand Junction when the crash happened in the 50-thousand block of County Road 687 around 4:30 in the morning. Both teens were wearing seat belts. The boy is expected to be charged with driving without a license causing serious injury.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Cancels TV Ads In All Markets Except Detroit

(Lansing, MI – AP) — Republican Bill Schuette’s gubernatorial campaign is canceling planned TV ads across Michigan in the final week of the race, except in the Detroit market. Schuette on Tuesday nixed $445,000 worth of ads on broadcast stations in Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, Traverse City and Marquette. A planned $441,000 ad buy in metro Detroit is intact. A Schuette spokesman says the campaign does not comment on ad strategy.. ...Read Full Story

Siblings Killed At Indiana Bus Stop Identified

Indiana State Police have released the names of three young siblings who were struck and killed by a pickup truck as they crossed a road before sunrise to board a school bus. Sergeant Tony Slocum says 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle died at the scene Tuesday morning along with their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl. All three were students at Mentone Elementary School.. ...Read Full Story

SoS Johnson Expects High Voter Turnout Tuesday

The midterm election is one week from today and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson expects a strong turnout. She says we could reach levels that would rival the 2016 presidential election, when turnout was 64.9%. Johnson says a million absentee ballots have been requested. She reminds voters there’s no straight ticket voting.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Red Arrow Highway Crash

A 74-year-old Lincoln Township woman has died as the result of a near head-on crash on Red Arrow Highway just north of I-94. Lincoln Township police say she was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say the woman was heading northbound on Red Arrow when she turned into the path of a pickup driven by a 41-year-old from Fairplain Township, who was not hurt. The crash happened in the area of several fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Long John Silvers just after noon on Monday. Despite the crash being fatal, Red Arrow was not closed and one lane remained open heading south while police investigated the wreck. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In Van Buren County Drug Bust

Two people are in the Van Buren County Jail following a drug raid in Lawrence, and charges are pending against three others. The sheriff’s department went to the home in the 55-thousand block of 56th Street last Thursday evening on a tip of drug activity and the possibility a parole absconder was at the home. That man, 31-year-old David Sewell of Hartford, was found hiding in a bathroom. Others in the home are accused of trying to destroy meth evidence. In addition to Sewell, deputies arrested 29-year-old Felina Snider of Lawrence on a probation violation. The other suspects are two men, 34 and 42-years-old and a 28-year-old woman, all from Lawrence.. ...Read Full Story

Girl Escapes Attempted Abduction In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor authorities are looking for a man accused of trying to abduct a 14-year-old girl Monday morning. It happened around 6:45 a.m. on the city’s north side at the girl’s bus stop at the corner of Main and Hull. She tells police the man grabbed her from behind, but she was able to run off. The man is 5’9″ and was wearing a dark blue or black Nike sweatshirt. Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis tells us they don’t know the suspect’s race, but say he had been seen dressed in the same clothes and in the same area on Friday. Benton Harbor Public Safety officials are urging parents to be especially vigilant and walk their kids to the bus stop, and stay with them if possible until they’re picked up for school.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan PD Looking For Armed Robbery Suspect

Police in Buchanan are looking for an armed robbery suspect. He pulled a gun on the clerk at a convenience store Sunday just after 11:30 a.m. in the 200 block of South Oak street and got away northbound on the street with cash out of the register. No one was hurt. Surveillance photos released by the police department show the suspect on top of the counter demanding the cash. He is described as a black male in his 20s who was dressed in a red hoodie with a face mask, black pants, black gloves and black boots. Anyone who knows anything about the robbery is urged to call Buchanan police.. ...Read Full Story

Republicans Have Fun With Clinton Endorsement Of Whitmer

The endorsement of Gretchen Whitmer for governor by Hillary Clinton isn’t necessarily a shock, but the Republican National Committee is having some fun with it. RNC communications director for Indiana and Michigan, Michael Joyce, put out a statement mocking the endorsement by saying “It’s great that Hillary Clinton endorsed Gretchen Whitmer; nobody knows how to win Michigan better than Hillary Clinton.”. ...Read Full Story

Officers Involved In In-Custody Death Returned To Active Duty

The two officers involved in the arrest of a man who died in police custody earlier this month are back on the job. Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Chief Paul Toliver says his officer and the Berrien County Sheriff’s deputy were returned to active duty today after being placed on paid administrative leave on October 22. 51-year-old Jack Lunneen of Berrien Springs died at Spectrum Health Lakeland that morning after being arrested for malicious destruction of property in Berrien Springs. As the officers were trying to arrest him in a bank parking lot, Chief Tolliver says Lunneen resisted and needed to be restrained, but no details on that have been released. When the officers noticed the man having medical issues, they called for an ambulance. Michigan State Police is handling the investigation, and the names of the officers involved haven’t been made public.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Refueling Outage Underway

A $62 million refueling and maintenance outage is underway at the Palisades Power Plant. Officials with parent company Entergy say the outage will keep the nuclear plant running safely until it’s permanently shut down in 2022. It began Sunday and started 15 days after the plant was taken offline to replace a control rod drive seal and a transformer. Entergy is bringing in around 1,000 workers to help the 600 full-time employees at Palisades with the refueling outage as they do upgrades, inspections, and replacements that can’t be done while the facility is generating power. This is the 26th refueling outage in the plant’s 47-year history.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Concerned About Federal Decision On Gender

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is blasting some reported plans of the Trump administration regarding transgender Americans. The New York Times reported last weekend on a memo from the Oval Office to the Department of Health and Human Services directing that department to define gender as either male or female, as assigned at birth. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News this is another in a series of blows to transgendered Americans.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Opioid Legislation

Landmark opioids legislation has been signed into law by President Trump. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was put together over about the past year with input from dozens of lawmakers, including Congressman Fred Upton. He tells us it passed the House and Senate with broad support. Upton told us about some of his contributions.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Legalization And Employers

With the possibility of marijuana being legalized by voters in next month’s election, what will this mean for job applicants? Mary Corrado is president and CEO of the American Society of Employers and told Michigan News Network fewer employers are screening for pot use because if they did, they wouldn’t have any workers.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Talks Fish Stocking Program

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stocked lakes and rivers around the state with more than 21 million fish so far this year. The DNR’s Elyse Walter tells WSJM News the fish stocking program goes back well over 100 years with the oldest hatchery dating back to 1901. They breed fish and pump them into waters all over.. ...Read Full Story

Jane Fonda Speaks In Benton Harbor

Actress and activist Jane Fonda has taken a get out the vote message to Benton Harbor. She spoke at the Benton Harbor Art and Cultural Center Saturday. Fonda urged everyone to head to the polls November 6 and to vote Democrat. She said that could help ensure state lawmakers don’t change the One Fair Wage proposal, which she campaigned for this year. Fonda predicted a legal fight over the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Manufacturing Award For State Lawmakers

Some state lawmakers from southwest Michigan have gotten praise from the Michigan Manufacturers Association for voting in line with its interests 100% of the time. Michigan Manufacturers Association VP of Government Affairs Mike Johnston tells WSJM News the lawmakers it saluted this month include state Representatives Beth Griffin, Kim LaSata, and Mary Whiteford. He says a top concern for manufacturers is worker development.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Woman Missing

The Buchanan Police Department is looking for a missing woman. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Elizabeth Drew has been missing since Friday. She was last seen around the 100 block of Detroit Street in Buchanan. Police say she was wearing an olive green winter coat with a fur-lined hood and blue jeans. Anyone with information on her location should call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale Underway

This weekend will bring a chance for anyone to scoop up some slightly-outdated Whirlpool appliances for big discounts. It’s time for the 2018 Whirlpool Fall Appliance Sale. The company’s Gokul Nair tells WSJM News the sale benefits the United Way of Southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Council Considers Noise Rules

There has been a increasing demand in South Haven to hold special events in the parks, creating a noise problem late at night. The city council has heard resident complaints about amplified sound and has now approved changes to the Special Events Policy. Basically, amplified noise must end by 10 pm. For Saturday night events at all parks, amplified noise is prohibited from 10pm Saturday night until noon on Sunday. All noise must stay in the city’s noise ordinance. Questions regarding the noise ordinance should be directed to the police department at 637-5151.. ...Read Full Story