Local News Archives

Sheriff’s Department Offering Emergency Management Training

The Berrien County Office of Emergency Management is preparing to offer another round of Community Emergency Response Team training to the public. The Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is trained to help respond to disasters in the community. The CERT program teaches people things like fire safety, search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can help others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders aren’t immediately available. Many businesses also establish their own CERT teams. The next round of classes will run from October 16 through November 6. The classes are each Tuesday, and each is three hours. The classes are free, and you can register through the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. Just click here.. ...Read Full Story

Fraternity Kicked Out Of CMU

From the Associated Press — Central Michigan University says it has kicked a fraternity out of school after many allegations of sexual misconduct and hazing and the death of a member. Vice President Steven Johnson says the allegations against Phi Sigma Phi show a “significant threat to the safety” of students. He says the university has been frustrated by witnesses who have been uncooperative or unwilling to discuss certain matters. In a statement Tuesday, Johnson says Phi Sigma Phi is “officially removed from CMU forever.” The fraternity’s national president says CMU is turning its back on students and alumni. Travis Steinke says the university wouldn’t participate in a fair investigation. A 21-year-old student from suburban Detroit was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in April. Johnson says the house was being used by Phi Sigma Phi for a
party.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leaders Working On Discipline, Security

A finalized code of conduct at Benton Harbor Area Schools and new security procedures are close to being implemented. District CEO Robert Herrera told WSJM News after a meeting this week the new school resource officer set to be provided by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department should be in place in the next three weeks.. ...Read Full Story

Superintendent Talks School Funding Reform

St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon is hoping to help push for a change in how schools are funded in the state. This week, she spoke to the board of education about a report from the School Finance Research Collaborative on the model used in Michigan. Cardon told WSJM News 1994’s Proposal A was supposed to establish equality for school funding, but time has shown there are several factors that are not considered.. ...Read Full Story

Television Series To Shoot In South Haven

Audrey Niffenegger is a name you might not be familiar with. She is an author born in 1963 in South Haven, with her debut novel, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” being published in 2003. It was made into a 2009 movie starring Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, and Ron Livingston, but it didn’t always stay true to the novel. The book is a love story about a man with a genetic disorder causing him to time travel without notice, and his wife who is an artist that tries to deal with her husband often being absent. It’s getting a second life thanks to HBO, which is producing a series based on the book, and producers have been scouting parts of South Haven for filming. It’s currently in the very early stages of production.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph To Consider LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

The St. Joseph City Commission is looking into becoming the 45th local government in Michigan to enact its own anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community, as efforts in the state Legislature to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to that end have fallen short for decades. Commissioners heard from OutCenter Executive Director Mary Jo Schnell last night, who urged them to look into the issue.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Shell Station Hit By Armed Robbers

South Haven Police are looking for two suspects accused of an armed robbery shortly before 11:30 Sunday night at the Shell gas station in the 400 block of Broadway. One is a black male about 6-feet tall with a medium build who was in a hoodie and light colored sweats. The other was shorter, dressed in a dark hoodie and sweats, and police don’t know if that person is male or female. Both had their faces covered by bandanas. One pulled a handgun on the clerk while the other stole several packs of cigarettes. They also got away with cash and other undisclosed items from the store.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Fire Safety Fun Night

With this being Fire Prevention Week, South Haven Area Emergency Services is planning to hold its annual Fire Safety Fun Night on Thursday. Executive Director Ron Wise tells WSJM News everyone’s welcome to bring the kids down to Fire Station 3 on Blue Star Highway from 5 to 8 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Over Ballot Selfies Continues

From the Associated Press — Eager to snap and post an online photo of your Michigan ballot in the November 6 election? Think again. A lawsuit over photos in polling places still hasn’t reached the finish line – more than two years later. Next year seems likely. A voter in the Kalamazoo area sued in 2016 to try to stop Michigan rules and laws that bar people from taking a photo of their marked ballot or publicly exposing it. Federal Judge Janet Neff granted an injunction, clearing the way for so-called ballot selfies. But a higher court stepped in and said a change just days before the Trump-Clinton election would be a “recipe for election-day confusion.” Joel Crookston’s lawsuit against the secretary of state still is ongoing while another election approaches. Crookston says his free-speech rights are being violated.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Audit For SJ Schools

The latest financial audit has found St. Joseph Public Schools to be in good shape. At a Monday meeting, the board of education was told the district in the last year spent slightly less than what it took in, with both figures around $27 million. Superintendent Ann Cardon also told WSJM News they tucked some money away for a rainy day.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Names New Wine Center

Lake Michigan College has named its new wine and viticulture center in honor of a Stevensville couple who has worked to help the college complete major projects. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News the Welch Center will be named in honor of Mike and Lisa Welch.. ...Read Full Story

Big Fire Department Exercise Tonight In Baroda

Fifteen fire departments from Berrien and Cass counties are getting together tonight in Baroda for a large scale multi-fire department exercise. The training is designed to practice and test the ability to provide a constant flow of at least 2,000 gallons per minute through a ladder truck for 30 minutes. That’s used in fighting rural fires, as hydrants aren’t as available in most of Baroda and Berrien County. The departments will begin the training at 7 tonight at the Baroda Fire Department.. ...Read Full Story

State Promotes PACE Senior Program

The Michigan House has approved a resolution from state Representative Mary Whiteford to declare September PACE Awareness Month. The Casco Township Republican tells us PACE, or Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, helps keep senior Michiganders from having to live in nursing homes.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Land Purchase

The old Michigan State Police Post in South Haven is owned by the city and they lease out the building. The property around the building, however, is still owned by the state and they want the city to buy it. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News about the deal.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Overdose Recovery Training

An opioid overdose prevention training event is set for this month in Benton Harbor. This time organized between the Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Voice Change Hope Alliance, it will be offered in the afternoon so more people can attend. The Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Trent Watford tells WSJM News opioid overdoses and suicide are often related.. ...Read Full Story

Find Unclaimed Property Online

A new website has been launched by the Michigan Department of Treasury for residents to search for unclaimed property. Treasury’s Terry Stanton tells us the department receives unclaimed properties like dormant bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds, and even safe deposit box contents. The state has held on to as much as $1 billion in unclaimed property over the years, and the new website makes finding those things easier.. ...Read Full Story

Work Requirement Could Hurt Healthcare Numbers

The percentage of uninsured adults in rural Michigan dropped by 22 points since the state expanded Medicaid, according to a recent study by Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina. The state Legislature passed a bill this summer to require people on Healthy Michigan to work 80 hours a month, nine months a year, in order to maintain coverage. But Emily Schwarzkopf, a policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy, calls that a “one step forward, two steps back” approach and predicts people will fall off the insurance rolls.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Lamprey Spraying In Van Buren County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is applying lampricides to the Campbell Creek system in Van Buren County for about the next week. They started last Tuesday and will continue through this coming Thursday. Administrator Scott Grunder tells WSJM News the goal is to fight the invasive sea lamprey, an effort that has been underway for about 60 years. The service applied lampricide to the Paw Paw River in Van Buren County last year, and Grunder says next week’s operation is related. He tells us the sea lamprey are a threat to Great Lakes fish.. ...Read Full Story

Restaurant Possible For Jean Klock Park

A feasibility study into the development of a restaurant and ballroom at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor is about to get underway. Don and Barbara Meeks received the approval this week of the city commission to start looking into their idea, which would be a public-private partnership as the park belongs to the city. Meeks says he began talking about the idea two years ago with a friend from Benton Harbor who now lives in Florida.. ...Read Full Story

Hope For Federal Parks Funding

Congress hasn’t made a significant investment in to upgrade and fix the National Park system in more than 50 years, but that could soon change. A vote in the U.S. Senate this week could advance legislation to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs. Marcia Argust with the “Restore America’s Parks Campaign” at The Pew Charitable Trusts tells us with 2.7 million visitors every year, Michigan’s national parks are the backbones of many local economies.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Absorbs Lakeland

Lakeland Health is now officially a division of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health. The board for each entity has signed the deal and finalized it. Spectrum Health Lakeland President Loren Hamel tells WSJM News Lakeland’s 4,000 employees have now been added to Spectrum’s 26,000 employees.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Increasing Trooper Ranks

128 prospective Michigan State Police troopers are now taking part in a training academy in Lansing. MSP Captain Monica Yesh tells WSJM News the recruits go through 26 weeks of all-day study that covers topics including traffic stops, defense, firearm use, criminal law, and ethics. The academy is underway as Michigan State Police look to bolster their ranks with many looming retirements.. ...Read Full Story

This Is Fire Prevention Month

With the weather turning colder and furnaces firing up, this is Fire Prevention Month in Michigan. State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer tells WSJM News there have been 91 fire deaths in the state this year, many because people don’t physically test their smoke detectors each month.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Opening New Education Center

After more than four years of planning and construction, Fernwood Botanical Garden in Buchanan Township is about to open its new 5,500-square-foot Sims Education Center. The grand opening is October 14. Fernwood tells us the $2 million facility will house classes, workshops, interactive exhibits, research materials, and a gathering space. It replaces the 35-year-old Nature Center on the Fernwood grounds where youth classes and camps have historically been held. Fernwood tells us the place boasts several modern design concepts, like a green roof that covers 25% of the building. It will also work with a rain garden to mitigate the effects of rainwater runoff. Fernwood says the Sims Education Center has been made possible by Seed the Future, a fundraising effort that to date has raised more than $3 million for Phase One of the 10 to 15-year garden master plan.. ...Read Full Story

Longjohn Defends Doctor Cred

Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth District Matt Longjohn has been under fire this week by Republicans. They say he has never been licensed as a doctor in Michigan, although he’s campaigned as a doctor and on healthcare issues as looks to replace Congressman Fred Upton. Longjohn tells WSJM News he graduated with a medical degree and has not been misrepresenting himself.. ...Read Full Story

Construction Begins On New U.S. To Canada Bridge

From the Associated Press — Construction work has started on a bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder attended an event in Windsor on Friday celebrating start of construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The span is expected to open in 2024. A groundbreaking ceremony for advance construction was held this summer in Detroit. The bridge is named after the late hockey legend. The six-lane, cable-stayed, Canadian-financed span over the Detroit River is expected to provide direct connections to highway networks in both cities. The corridor is the busiest commercial land crossing on the border between the U.S. and Canada, handling more than 30 percent of truck-hauled trade. The privately-owned Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel are the only current commuter crossings between the cities.. ...Read Full Story

Travel Writer Weighs In On Marijuana Proposal

PBS travel show host Rick Steves wants you to know the facts about Michigan’s November 6th marijuana legalization and regulation ballot proposal. His home state of Washington legalized recreational pot in 2012. Six years later, he says, experience from Washington and Colorado show no harm and multiple benefits. And governors there who didn’t support it at first now do.. ...Read Full Story

Effort Intensifies To Change House Rules

Anticipating a more even balance between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House after the upcoming elections, a group of House members is stepping up its push for new procedural rules from the next Speaker. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he and a group of others are pledging to withhold their votes for the new Speaker unless their reforms are promised.. ...Read Full Story

$100,000 Donation To SMC

A donation of $100,000 has been made to Southwestern Michigan College as it completes a major renovation project at its nursing facility. The money from 1st Source Bank will be used to build a collaboration space in the building. SMC tells us it will be an area where students and professors can work side by side. The college is now in the construction phase of the $9.6 million effort to roughly double the size of the nursing program. 1st Source Bank says it’s contributed to the project because the health and well-being of the area is part of its mission. SMC says the building of the new facility for the nursing program is in response to the nursing shortage the U.S. is facing. The project is expected to be complete and the facility up and running in January.. ...Read Full Story

Beach Fundraiser Reaches Goal

More than $1.17 million has been raised by the Cherry Beach Project for the purchase of three acres of land in Chikaming Township, meaning the project’s goal has been met. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells WSJM News the group has raised enough to match a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. As for what’s next…. ...Read Full Story

Bill Eases Restrictions On Professional Licenses

State rules that prevent people with criminal records from seeking professional licenses would be eased under legislation that passed the Michigan House this week. State Representative Brandt Iden tells WSJM News “good moral character” regulations often disqualify someone who has already paid their debt to society from getting back on their feet.. ...Read Full Story

Special Film Screening In South Haven

A motion picture that was filmed almost entirely in South Haven and released in 2017 will be shown locally at no charge on October 13th at the Listiak Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the South Haven-Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the South Haven Center for the Arts. Scott Reinert, Executive Director of the Bureau, tells WSJM News you may see people you know in the film.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Offering Flu Vaccine

The Berrien County Health Department is advising everyone to get their flu shot before October ends. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the shot and the nasal spray are widely available, including at the health department. They’re going to hold Flu Shot Fridays every Friday starting next week and through December.. ...Read Full Story

FBI: Benton Harbor Is State’s Most Violent City Per Capita

Two Berrien County communities are on a list no one wants to be on. Benton Harbor is ranked as the state’s most violent city for 2017 based on FBI data, with Benton Township ranked 10th. In between them are Detroit, Flint, Muskegon Heights, Highland Park, Saginaw, Ecorse, Inkster, and Albion. The violent crime rate in Benton Harbor is 22 crimes per 1,000 residents, ahead of Detroit’s rate of 20. The city had three murders, 23 rapes, 36 robberies and 156 cases of aggravated assault last year, with a population of 9,899 people. The violent crime rate in Benton Township was 12.5 per 1,000 people, and South Haven came in 20th with 9.4 violent crimes per thousand residents. The overall numbers are much higher in Detroit with nearly 14,000 violent crimes reported, but the city also is home to almost 671,000 people. Motown was also passed by St. Louis, Missouri for the highest murder rate in the country in 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. LaSata To Hold Opioid Town Hall

State Representative Kim LaSata is planning to hold a town hall forum later this month on opioids. She will convene the meeting at Kinexus in Benton Harbor and be joined by members of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, the Health Department, Riverwood Center, Community Healing Center, Congressman Fred Upton, and Senator John Proos. LaSata says opioid addiction and overdose deaths have touched every community in the state, and says the more awareness and education that can be spread, the better. The event will be Thursday, October 25 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with lectures from professionals and lawmakers on opioid abuse services and legislative reforms followed by the chance to talk one-on-one with health professionals. A prescription drug collection kiosk will also be provided by the sheriff’s department ahead of the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 27. No registration is necessary for the event.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation Experts: Don’t Transport Firewood

Hunting season is here, and the Van Buren County Conservation District is reminding both hunters and campers what they can do to help reduce the spread of invasive species. It says you should never move firewood, and instead just burn wood within five or ten miles of where you bought it. The district warns problems like oak wilt move around the state thanks to firewood being transported by humans. Invasive species expert Eleanor Serocki says by leaving the wood at home and picking it up at your destination, you can stop the invaders from spreading even farther. Anyone looking for more information should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

Online Voter Registration Bills Nearing Final Approval

From the Associated Press — Michigan residents could register to vote online under bills nearing Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.
The state House approved the legislation unanimously Wednesday. The measures previously passed the Senate and are expected to receive final procedural votes later this month. Under the proposed laws, Michigan would develop an interface so voter registration applications could be submitted on the secretary of state’s website. The system would 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 now 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

Autopsy On Infant Inconclusive

Additional testing will be done on a two-month old infant found dead in Coloma Township this week after an autopsy performed on Wednesday was inconclusive. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the case remains under investigation, and a man arrested for abuse and neglect at the scene where the infant was found has been released pending further information. Officers were called out to a home in the 5,100 block of Little Paw Paw Lake Road shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday on a report of a medical issue with a child. When they arrived, they found the two-month-old and called in detectives. The infant was taken to Watervliet Hospital and later transferred to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo where it passed away Tuesday. The sheriff’s department says the prosecutor’s office has not yet authorized charges in the case, and information gathered from more medical tests will be handed over to the prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

State Unclaimed Property Website

A new website has been launched by the Michigan Department of Treasury for residents to search for unclaimed property. Treasury’s Terry Stanton tells us the department receives unclaimed properties like dormant bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds, and even safe deposit box contents. The state has held on to as much as $1 billion in unclaimed property over the years, and the new website makes finding those things easier.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Death Of Infant

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of an infant in Coloma Township. It tells us officers were sent to a home in the 5,100 block of Little Paw Paw Lake Road shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday on a medical call involving a two month old child. When they arrived, the officers called in detectives after finding the situation suspicious. The infant was taken to Watervliet Hospital by Pride Care Ambulance and later transferred to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo where it passed away around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. An autopsy was scheduled was to be performed Wednesday at Western Michigan University School of Medicine. The sheriff’s department says the incident is still under investigation, and no further details are being released at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge To Replace Straits Of Mackinac Pipelines With Tunnel

A tunnel will be built in the bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac to house a new pipeline to replace Enbridge Energy’s 65-year-old Line 5 pipelines. Governor Snyder’s office announced the agreement with the Canadian firm, saying Enbridge will pay the entire cost of the project. It’s expected to take between seven and 10 years and will cost as much as $500 million. Environmentalists and elected officials have been calling for the pipelines to be shut down for years, warning of dire consequences to the Great Lakes if they were to leak. Line 5 carries crude oil and natural gas from western Canada to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Congressman Fred Upton, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Upper Peninsula Congressman Jack Bergman are among the elected officials hailing the agreement. Supporters say the deal protects the lakes and ensures reliable energy. But it’s sure to draw criticism from groups that oppose any oil shipments in the straits area.. ...Read Full Story

State Pushes Fire Prevention Month

With the weather turning colder and furnaces firing up, this is Fire Prevention Month in Michigan. State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer tells WSJM News there have been 91 fire deaths in the state this year, many because people don’t physically test their smoke detectors each month.. ...Read Full Story