Local News Archives

State Promoting Foster Adoptions

November is Adoption Month in Michigan, when the state encourages everyone to learn more about the need for adoptive families. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News at any given time, there are more than 13,000 kids in the foster system in the state. Right now, 320 of them are hoping to be adopted.. ...Read Full Story

Law: Drivers Must Slow When Passing Emergencies

From the Associated Press — Michigan drivers will be required to slow down when passing an emergency, maintenance or utility vehicle that is on the side of the road. A law signed Thursday by Governor Rick Snyder mandates that motorists slow by 10 mph below the posted speed limit and, if possible, move over a lane when passing a police or emergency vehicle on the side of the road. The law takes effect in mid-February and replaces a current requirement that drivers proceed with caution and move over when passing such vehicles.
Violators will be subject to a $400 fine. Snyder says the law will better protect emergency responders and workers on  busy roadways. He says he hopes more Michiganders “will slow down and give a lane.”. ...Read Full Story

Body Found On Shore Came From Wisconsin

Michigan State Police say the body found on the Lake Michigan shore this week in Casco Township came from the other side of the lake. The body is that of 59-year-old Daniel Sprecksel of Racine, Wisconsin, and investigators say his death is not suspicious. Sprecksel had been reported missing in Wisconsin on October 17 after he had been fishing on a pier.. ...Read Full Story

John Howard Dies At 99

St. Joseph has lost one of its most prominent benefactors, as John Howard has died at the age of 99 in Holland. It’s hard to miss his name on things like the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena and the city’s bandshell, but former St. Joseph City Manager Frank Walsh says Howard’s impact was deeper than buildings.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Discuss Red Arrow Plans

There is a possibility that Red Arrow Highway between about Bridgman and New Buffalo could go from four lanes to three lanes in the coming years as part of a repaving project, and some Berrien County Commissioners want to know more about the idea. At this week’s meeting, Commissioner Ezra Scott said he’s heard from residents opposed to losing a lane in each direction. Commissioner Mac Elliot said the idea of not being able to pass for ten miles or so on Red Arrow hardly excites him. While the Berrien County Road Department plans the project, County Administrator Bill Wolf said the county commission will be kept informed. As for a possible linear trail for Red Arrow in that same stretch, Wolf said the trail won’t guide the road plans. Commissioner Elliot said he thinks the county board should know if it’s going to have the final word. Wolf told commissioners the road department’s plan will be brought to them when ready.. ...Read Full Story

Sophia’s House Of Pancakes Wins Celebrated Service Award

The winner of Celebration Cinema’s 2018 Celebrated Service Award is Sophia’s House of Pancakes in Benton Township. Each year, the theater chain’s employees nominate businesses for the honor, and then the public votes on the winner. A Celebrated Service Award is given out in each of Celebration Cinema’s service areas. The award is intended to salute those local businesses who go out of their way to make the guest know they’re appreciated. As the winner, Sophia’s House of Pancakes will receive a $2,500 cash prize, specialized training at ZingTrain in Ann Arbor, and movie watch parties for its employees at the theater.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Year For Berrien Parks

Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey this week laid out to some members of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners highlights this past year for the parks department. He tells WSJM News parks revenue was up this year by 6% to $821,000.. ...Read Full Story

Lions Club Donation To Humane Society

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has received a donation from the Benton Harbor-Fairplain Lions Club that now has triple its original value because of the ongoing capital building fund. Humane Society General Operating Manager Alissa Saul tells WSJM News the Lions Club gave $5,000, and then it turned into $15,000.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Develop Online Voter Registration

From the Associated Press — Michigan residents will be able to use the internet to register to vote under laws signed by Governor Rick Snyder. The measures enacted Thursday require the state to develop an interface so voter registration applications can be submitted on the secretary of state’s website. The system will be off limits to people without a valid driver’s license or state identification card or those who submit a change of address within the previous 10 days. People wishing to register to vote currently must complete a form by hand and
mail or deliver it to their local clerk. About 95 percent of Michigan’s voting-age population is registered to vote.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Conducts Harbor Country Needs Assessment

Two meetings are set for next month for the Pokagon Fund to tell the public about its Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment study. The Pokagon Fund worked with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan and others to look at how it could apply its resources in the coming years. The meetings for the public to learn more are both on Tuesday, December 11. The first one will be at 1 p.m. at the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce, and the second will be at 7 p.m. at the New Buffalo Township Library. They’ll share key findings, report on activities underway to address those issues, identify leaders for each of its committees, and solidify volunteers.. ...Read Full Story

Chief Deputy Hired For Register Of Deeds

A chief deputy has been hired for the Berrien County Register of Deeds. Register of Deeds Lora Freehling tells us Cindi Connell joined the ROD office this week. She comes to the office with eight years of experience working as a deputy clerk for Lincoln Township, and previously held a position with Coldwell Banker Advantage. She’s a lifelong resident of Berrien County, currently residing in St. Joseph. Freehling says Connell’s “outlook and approach will be invaluable to the Register of Deeds office.”. ...Read Full Story

Report Finds Foster Kids Shortchanged

Too many foster youth in Michigan struggle in their transitions to adulthood, trying to go to school, get a job, and find a place to live, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Bobby Dorigo Jones, with the nonprofit Michigan’s Children, says that many young people, especially children of color, get bounced around in foster homes. He tells us that disrupts their relationships with family, friends, and counselors, and can make it harder to graduate from high school.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Partnership With WMU

A new partnership is in place between Benton Harbor Area Schools and Western Michigan University. Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera made it official this week, bringing in WMU to provide training to district teachers and to develop new teachers. WMU Dean of Education Ming Li told WSJM News the agreement covers teacher professional development and providing social and psychological services to students. They’re also looking to develop more special education instructors.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Announces Partnership With Ghana

Andrews University has announced a new formal partnership with the government of Ghana. At a meeting this week, Andrews President Andrea Luxton signed the agreement with the Ghana ambassador to the United States to create educational opportunities for that country’s citizens. The university tells us it’s part of the Ghana government’s commitment to improve education, including a focus on assuring a free high school education for each of its citizens and expanding opportunities for university-level education. Luxton says Andrews University is “proud to be one of the most ethnically and internationally diverse national universities in the United States,” and the agreement expands its commitment to a place where world changes are made. This new agreement will welcome its first participants in summer 2019.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found On Shore Of Lake Michigan

Michigan State Police are investigating the discovery of a body on the Lake Michigan shore in Allegan County. The body was found north of South Haven around 8 a.m. Wednesday, and investigators say it appears to have been there for some time. There’s no word yet on the person’s identity or gender, how they died, or where they may have washed up from.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Schools Pick New Superintendent

South Haven Public Schools is going with Kevin Schooley as the new superintendent. The board of education voted unanimously to hire him away from the same job in Watervliet to succeed Robert Herrera. Herrera left to become the CEO of Benton Harbor Area Schools this year. Schooley is a long-time South Haven resident and taught at Central Elementary School in the district for five years until 1998. He has been the Watervliet superintendent since 2010. Schooley laid out a 90-day transition plan during his second interview with the school board, which included getting familiar with the district’s strengths and weaknesses through data review, sharing, and planning. A three-member committee of the school board will now begin contract talks with Schooley. His start date is pending those negotiations.. ...Read Full Story

New Code Of Conduct At BHAS Approved

The new code of conduct for students at Benton Harbor Area Schools is now officially in place. At Tuesday’s CEO meeting, district CEO and Superintendent Robert Herrera signed off on the plan that he tells WSJM News does more than just lays out rules and penalties as the old code of conduct did.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Police Remind Public Of Phone Scam

The Bridgman Police Department has put out a warning about a phone scam. It says it’s been getting calls from local reisdents who have been contacted by someone claiming their children or grandchildren have been arrested. The department says if someone calls you claiming your child needs money to be released, don’t believe them and hang up. The caller will tell the intended victim to go to the bank, withdraw money, and send it to an address that police usually can’t track. It’s all a scam. Police say the callers usually target senior citizens and obtain the names of family members from internet searches.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Teachers Get Raises

Raises have been approved for teachers at Benton Harbor Area Schools. At Tuesday’s district CEO meeting, Superintendent and CEO Robert Herrera made it official for most of the school system’s teachers. He told WSJM News they’re getting two kinds of raises — retention raises and merit raises. Herrera says due to district financial issues over the years, teachers have been falling further and further behind when it comes to how much they are paid compared to what they should be paid.. ...Read Full Story

Ghostlight Theater Purchases Building

The Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor is ready to begin renovations on its Arts District building now that it’s completed the location’s purchase. Ghostlight’s Martha Hesse tells WSJM News thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, they now own the building at 101 Hinkley Street. Everything started with $50,000 and a fundraiser back in August.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Prepares For Winter

The Michigan Department of Transportation is ready to go for the winter. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News construction projects in southwest Michigan, especially Berrien County, look like they’ll all be wrapped up before the end of construction season.. ...Read Full Story

Free Pet Microchipping This Weekend

We all love our pets and despite our best efforts to keep them safe and secure sometimes they escape outdoors. That’s one reason the Al-Van Humane Society and Community Education Center is having a free microchipping clinic for pet owners from Allegan and Van Buren Counties. Board President Lisa Galdikas spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story