Local News Archives

Great Lakes Water Warning

From the Associated Press — It’s summer, but don’t be fooled — the Great Lakes are still dangerously cold. The U.S. Coast Guard says water temperatures below 77 degrees can quickly cause hypothermia for someone who falls from a boat. All five of the lakes are well below that mark. A sudden plunge into cold water can trigger a gasp reflex leading to inhalation of water and drowning. In addition to wearing life jackets, the Coast Guard says mariners should dress according to the temperature of the water, not the air. They also should file a float plan or at least inform others about where they’re going and when they expect to return.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Slam Travel Ban Decision

Reaction is pouring in to the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban targeting mostly Muslim nations. Bill O’Keefe with Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore tells the Michigan News Network the decision is a ruling on the legality of the ban, but not on its morality.. ...Read Full Story

Clements Officially Off 6th District Ballot

Paul Clements will not be on the primary ballot next month when voters choose which Democrat will face Congressman Fred Upton in November. Clements has lost his legal challenges to state elections officials ruling he was nine signatures shy of the 1,000 needed to be on the ballot. The issue was voters signing nominating petitions but not clearly indicating if they lived in the city or the township in areas where the same name is shared, like Kalamazoo and St. Joseph. The Western Michigan University professor was the Democratic nominee in the 6th Congressional District in 2014 and 2016 and has endorsed the candidacy of Dr. Matt Longjohn ahead of the August primary.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Photo Contest

A photo contest is being held by the West Michigan Tourist Association as it prepares to put together its 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. The association tells us it wants photos that depict the beauty of the region from all west Michigan residents. The photos can be of everything from Harbor Country to the Upper Peninsula. The first place winner will have their submission featured on the cover of the 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. They’ll also get a free trip to Grand Rapids and other goodies. Second and third place will get their photos featured on the inside of the travel guide, and some tickets to attractions in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. You can find our more about the photo contest right here.. ...Read Full Story

New Apprenticeship Program

The new Michigan Apprenticeships Experience Sooner campaign kicked off Monday in Kalamazoo. Stephanie Beckhorn is the director of the Michigan Workforce Development Agency. She tells us the program is a collaboration between the state, education institutions, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Blasts Proos Utility Bill

A second local governmental unit is on record opposing a bill from state Senator John Proos to exempt utilities from paying personal property taxes on new equipment, including transmission lines and power generation devices like solar farms and windmills. The St. Joseph City Commission last night joined the Berrien County Commission in saying they don’t want the bill passed. Mayor Mike Garey says as it stands, the city will lose over $100,000.. ...Read Full Story

Police K9 Gets Vest

A K9 with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has received a donation of body armor thanks to a non-profit group. Vested Interest Incorporated, which works to provide bullet and stab protective vests to police dogs across the country, has sent K9 Luca a vest of his own. Since 2009, Vested Interest has provided more than 3,000 protective vests to K9s around the United States. It’s able to do so thanks to donors. The charity notes the cost to sponsor a vest for a police dog is $950, while each vest has a value between $1,700 and $2,200. Luca is partnered with Allegan County Deputy Ryan Rewa, and they’ve been working together for almost a year. The sheriff’s department tells us Luca is trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and handler protection.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks For Superintendent

St. Joseph Public School Trustees are pleased with district Superintendent Ann Cardon. At a Monday meeting, the board of education approved Cardon’s annual performance evaluation and extended her contract through June 30, 2021. Board President Amy Porritt Peirce told WSJM News Cardon has been rated “highly effective” for the sixth year in a row.. ...Read Full Story

County Park Expanding

Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center is expanding. At their most recent meeting, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners approved putting up a match for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant approved by the governor last year. The trust fund will provide Berrien County with $56,000 to buy 12 acres of property adjacent to Love Creek County Park on its northwest edge. The county’s contribution is $19,000. The Berrien County Parks Department tells us the total $75,000 acquisition from the Higgins family will allow for expanded skiing, hiking, and biking trails. Parks Director Brian Bailey has also told us the new land has a pond, creating educational opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

$185,000 In Scholarships

$185,000 in scholarships will be handed out by the Berrien Community Foundation in the 2018-2019 academic year. The foundation announced the scholarship recipients at a reception last week. Foundation Program Manager Susan Matheny tells WSJM News the scholarships managed by the organization are all possible due to endowments set up by individuals, non-profits, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Farm Reaches Settlement With Migrants

From the Associated Press — Lawyers for 330 migrant workers and a western Michigan blueberry farm have agreed to settle a lawsuit over pay. A federal judge is holding a hearing Wednesday. Each worker is likely to get at least $300. Payments could be higher if people can’t be found and money is leftover. Blue Star Farms in Allegan County was accused of failing to keep accurate
records and failing to fully pay workers during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. The farm denied the allegations but agreed to settle the lawsuit. The money would be paid over a few years because the farm can’t immediately afford to foot the bill. The total settlement is valued at $200,000. Lawyers for the workers would get up to $66,000.. ...Read Full Story

Increased Summer Travel

It could be a record summer travel season in west Michigan through the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. That’s after it was the busiest May ever with travel up 11.5%. Spokesperson  Tara Hernandez spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

Women Safe After Water Rescue In Niles Twp

Three women are safely back on land after a water rescue in the Dowagiac Creek by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office. They were not in life jackets when their inner tube flipped over as they were floating along in Niles Township just after 6 p.m. Sunday. Two of them were able to swim to shore, but struggled doing so, while the third grabbed onto a tree over the river and waited for help. Deputies say they worked with local and state police and fire units on the water rescue and are reminding people to always have a life jacket when you’re on the water. The creek had a steady current and was high due to recent rains.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Take Big Tumble

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide have fallen about 13¢ in the past week to about $2.90 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline is about 53¢ more than at the same point last year. Michigan’s lowest average price was $2.75 in the Traverse City area. The highest was $2.99 in the Ann Arbor area. AAA says it’s the eighth week in a row that the Ann Arbor area has had the highest average. In the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area, we’re at $2.85, down 16¢ from last week. South Haven prices range from $2.77 to $2.82 according to GasBuddy, but those prices are not included in Triple-A’s survey.. ...Read Full Story

Search Continues For Van Buren County Murder Suspect

Police in Van Buren County are continuing to hunt for a murder suspect. There’s been no sign of 38-year-old Troy Taylor since he allegedly shot and killed 40-year-old Timothy Henley of Kalamazoo last Thursday night, except for the car Taylor was last driving being found behind a home near Paw Paw on Saturday. Van Buren County Sheriff’s Captain Virg Franks says right now, there’s not a lot they can say other than Taylor is believed to be armed and dangerous.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Killed In South Bend

South Bend police say a 37-year-old Benton Harbor man was killed this weekend near Notre Dame’s McConnell Family Boathouse. Our newsgathering partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 report Eric Phillips was shot several times between 3:30 and 3:45 a.m. Saturday. His body was found by an off-duty police officer roughly three hours later as the officer was headed to breakfast. St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett says they are looking for someone who was with Phillips who was seen running from the scene. No arrests have been made.. ...Read Full Story

Study On Wave Damage

The South Haven City Council is reviewing an Abonmarche study regarding waves on the Black River. High lake levels and winds are causing damage to boats docked at some marinas on the Black River. Harbormaster Kate Hosier spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Man Hurt In Cass County Hit-And-Run

A 24-year-old man is recovering after being hit from behind on his bicycle in Cass County’s Volinia Township over the weekend. The sheriff’s department tells us Jason Howard of Decatur is expected to make a full recovery and suffered only minor injuries. He was hit just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday on Decatur Road by what police believe was a silver Ford Crown Victoria or similar sedan. The vehicle has front end damage to the right side from the crash. Howard was taken to Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac for treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Balanced Budget For BH

Benton Harbor City Commissioners this week approved the 2018-2019 budget, sending the city into the next fiscal year with a surplus of about $22,000. At the commission’s regular meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson said the spending plan anticipates a little more than $7.9 million in revenue and just under that in expenditures. He noted pensions remain a major expense.. ...Read Full Story

Amazon Coming To West MI

Another Amazon fulfillment center is coming to Michigan. The company will locate its fourth center in the state in Gaines Township, south of Grand Rapids. Spokesperson Shevaun Brown says the when open, the facility will bring hundreds of jobs to the area.. ...Read Full Story

State Child Support Collections

More than $250 million in back child support has been collected by the Michigan Attorney General’s office since it opened the Child Support Division in 2003. State Attorney General Bill Schuette tells us the focus of the Child Support Division is for parents who have the ability to pay child support but refuse to do so. For the Department of Attorney General to get involved with child support cases, there has to be at least $7,500 in back payments owed. When a case comes to the department, a 90-day investigation period begins. The state notes it has gone a far as to extradite a man from Alaska who owed more than $95,000 in child support in Michigan. You can find more information about the state’s Child Support Division right here.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Shames Low-Paying Companies

A new bill in the Michigan Legislature is designed to shine a light on big companies that pay their workers so little they qualify for government-funded healthcare. House Bill 61-46, the Fair Share Health Care Disclosure Act, would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual list of the 50 companies with the most employees on Medicaid. State Representative Patrick Green says taxpayers end up footing the bill when companies skimp on workers.. ...Read Full Story

Tight Housing Market

The housing market in southwest Michigan is cooling off a bit, but it’s still red-hot for sellers because there still aren’t many homes on the market. Those that do go up are getting multiple offers within hours of being listed in some instances. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says average selling prices jumped 20% from April to May and the median price shot up 44%. Sales numbers, however, are down 6% for the year compared to 2017 due to low inventory. The median price for May was just under $155,000, while the average price now stands at nearly $257,000. The local mortgage rate is also up, rising from 4.6% in April to 4.75% in May.. ...Read Full Story

Lot Paved At Park

Some new improvements have been made to Galien River County Park, thanks to the Pokagon Fund. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News work to fix up the parking lot was completed last week.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Travel Projections

A lot of us are planning a trip for the upcoming Independence Day weekend. Triple-A Michigan is projecting an increase of 5.5% in the number of people going on vacation, with that number at almost 1.6 million people. Spokeswoman Susan Hiltz says it’s the highest travel projection for July 4th since they began tracking it 18 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Ag Groups Hoping For Farm Bill

There is optimism in Michigan’s agriculture community that this year’s federal Farm Bill will be finished and on the desk of the President before the current law expires this fall. Michigan Farm Bureau national lobbyist John Kran says one important thing for farmers is having certainty.. ...Read Full Story

Farmers Market Back Open

This past Wednesday brought the re-opening of the Benton Harbor Farmers Market. Held by the Berrien County Health Department, the market is intended to give Benton Harbor residents a place to purchase fresh fruits and veggies, says spokesperson Gillian Conrad.. ...Read Full Story