Local News Archives

Power Issues Have Orchards Mall Closed

Power issues have the Orchards Mall in Benton Township closed. The U.S. Post Office in Benton Harbor tells WSJM News their office in the mall will not be open at all today because they’ve been told by Indiana Michigan Power that the electricity won’t be back on before 5 pm. The post office had originally been told everything would be able to open up after 1 pm today. Our newsroom is working to track down exactly what the issue is, but we have not yet heard back from the utility. None of the phones are being answered at the mall office or at any stores due to the closure. On Facebook, the mall only says it’s an “electrical issue,” and says they’ll keep customers up to date through social media.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Who Plotted Foiled Attack Expelled By Paw Paw Schools

The Paw Paw teenager who hatched a plan to shoot up and bomb his high school won’t return. The school board voted to expel the 15-year-old on Monday. He is in a mental health program now after pleading guilty in May to weapons charges. The attack never happened because his parents discovered what he was plotting and took him to police seeking some help. Instead, he wound up facing charges. His parents tell WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids in a written statement that they feel the expulsion was the wrong move, even though they were not going to try to get their son back in class at Paw Paw High School. Instead, they just wanted him to be able to attend school events like his sister’s band performances and plays as part of the family.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species Tour This Week

There will be an invasive species tour along the John and Dede Howard Recreation Trail in St. Joseph this week. The Below-the-Bluff Neighborhood Association has invited the Berrien Conservation District’s Jared Harmon to lead the walk so locals can see for themselves some plant invaders that have made it to southwest Michigan. Harmon spoke with WSJM News about the tour.. ...Read Full Story

City Puts Trash Hauler On Notice

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to put the community’s trash collector on notice. At Monday’s meeting, they talked at length about how to correct problems reported with the service provided by We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation since the company was hired last year. Those problems include a lack of trash cans for residents and rude workers. The commission considered a resolution to send a 60-day contract termination notice to We-Cycle. Commissioner Ruthie Haralson spoke at Monday’s meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Man Electrocuted In Cassopolis

From the Associated Press — An Indiana man power-washing the exterior of a southwestern Michigan church has died after coming into contact with an electrical line. The contracted employee was in a bucket lift Saturday afternoon outside St.
Ann’s Catholic Church in Cassopolis when he was electrocuted. Police say the 65-year-old man was from Bremen, south of South Bend, Indiana. His name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced In Berrien County Murders

A man charged in the murders of the mother of his children and her father in Berrien County has been sentenced to 40 to 60 years in prison. 26-year-old Alex Perez received the sentence Monday in a Berrien County courtroom after long trial delays caused by psychiatric evaluations. Prosecutors say Perez killed 27-year-old Renee and 67-year-old John Mitchell at their Hagar Township on January 15 of 2016. He beat them to death with a hammer. Perez was later found in Colorado with the two daughters he’d had with Renee Mitchell. According to our newsgathering partners at NewsCenter 16 WNDU, Perez told the court Monday that he hoped his actions could be understood by God. Perez had pleaded no contest but mentally ill to two counts of murder in the case.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Underway

The Van Buren Youth Fair is underway in Hartford this week. Monday was Armed Forces Day with free admission to veterans and active duty military personnel. Also happening Monday was the opeing of the midway rides. One of the directors of the fair, Paul Garrod, tells WSJM News what group is bringing in the rides.. ...Read Full Story

Bridge Closure Starts This Week

The Michigan Department of Transportation will shut down a bridge near Union Pier for some construction work this week. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News as part of construction on five bridges over I-94 near the Michigan-Indiana state line, the Union Pier Road bridge over I-94 will close on Wednesday and remain closed through August 12. A detour will be posted. Schirripa says MDOT grouped the five summer bridge projects together.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Has More Than $9 Million For Re-Election Campaign

From the Associated Press — U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan has nearly $9.6 million in the bank for her re-election campaign after raising nearly $1.8 million in the last quarter. The Democrat released a summary of her most recent campaign-finance report Monday. Republican businessmen John James and Sandy Pensler are running in the August 7 primary to face Stabenow in November. Whoever wins is expected to face a financial disadvantage against Stabenow in the November election.
The latest quarterly fundraising numbers for James and Pensler were not yet available.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Man Drowns In Allegan County

The drowning death of a Grand Rapids man in Allegan County has authorities reminding people about the need to wear a life jacket while on any vessel in the water. Sheriff’s Sergeant Ken DeVries says Gregory Williams was not wearing a flotation device when he and his son were tossed off their Jet Ski Sunday as they went through a larger boat’s wake, and Williams didn’t survive. DeVries adds finding Williams’ body wasn’t easy.. ...Read Full Story

Former VP Biden Kicks Off Econ Club’s 75th Speaker Series

Former Vice President Joe Biden will kick off the 75th season of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan’s Speakers Series. Biden will address members at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Township on Tuesday, October 16. You’ll remember the club also landed former President George W. Bush for his first speech after leaving office. Robin Hood CEO, best selling author and Army veteran Wes Moore will speak on November 14, followed by NBC News political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on March 26. Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani will be the season’s final speaker on April 9.. ...Read Full Story

No Wake Zone Could Expand

The no wake zone in the St. Joseph River in the area of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor could be moved about 176 yards to the south. At a meeting this past week, St. Joseph City Commissioners held a first reading on a plan that would allow that to happen. City Manager John Hodgson tells us property owners around Marina Island noticed boats going too fast in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Trade War Bad For Consumers

Congressman Fred Upton says a trade war possibly kicked off by the Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign goods will only hurt consumers. The Trump administration is putting 25% tariffs on 800 Chinese products worth $34 billion while China is retaliating with tariffs also totaling $34 billion in U.S. goods. That includes agricultural products. Upton tells WSJM News he has heard from concerned locals.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Company Expanding

A $2.6 million expansion is being planned by Mattawan-based Tri-Mation Industries. Zachary Morris with Kinexus tells WSJM News the company is an automation solutions company founded in 1995 that right now has 35 employees. Its new 40,000 square foot building and additional equipment will be a boost to the area.. ...Read Full Story

Board Looks Forward To CEO

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education is looking to the future as the district’s new superintendent and CEO is set to start next week. At a meeting this past week, Trustee Martha Momany said Robert Herrera, who has been the superintendent at South Haven Community Schools, will bring to Benton Harbor a new chance to turn around.. ...Read Full Story

Call For Blood Donations

The Red Cross is once again putting out a call for blood donations due to a summer shortage. The Red Cross says more than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups during the week of Independence Day. Spokesperson Todd Kulman tells WSJM News they do need a lot of blood each day.. ...Read Full Story

Honor For Nature Preserve

A nature preserve in the Paw Paw area has won an award from the U.S. Forest Service. The Portman Nature Preserve has been selected for the Wings Across the Americas Award for its efforts in the area of bird, bat, butterfly, and dragonfly conservation. The Portman Nature Preserve protects 189 acres of wildlife habitat, and is the result of a partnership between several southwest Michigan organizations that include the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, the Berrien and Van Buren Berrien Conservation Districts, the Two Rivers Coalition, and more. It’s part of the St. Joseph River Watershed, and drains into Lake Michigan. The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy tells us the Portman Nature Preserve has been the number one conservation priority in southwest Michigan for more than ten years now. You can find out more about the preserve right here.. ...Read Full Story

Campaign Urges Cities To Prepare For Electric Vehicles

Michigan businesses and cities are being invited to become part of a global vision for a cleaner future. The Zero Emissions Vehicle Challenge, announced on Tuesday, is encouraging companies and communities to use their purchasing power and policy influence to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles. Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor tells us it’s time to dispel the myths about hybrid and electric vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Improvements For SJ Water Plant

St. Joseph City Commissioners have signed off on $13 million in upgrades to the water plant. At Monday’s meeting, they approved phase one of work laid out in a 2014 Capital Improvement Plan. St. Joseph Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Greg Alimenti told WSJM News what’s being done.. ...Read Full Story

Calls For Pesticide Ban

Labor, civil rights, and health groups, along with seven states, have made their final arguments in court challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision not to ban a pesticide that they say is dangerous. The EPA had proposed to ban chlorpyrifos, but former chief Scott Pruitt reversed course. Hector Sanchez with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement says Pruitt’s announcement came not long after he met with the head of Michigan-based Dow Chemical, which sells the pesticide.. ...Read Full Story

State Tip Line Busy For Summer

The Michigan Attorney General’s OK2Say school tip line continues to receive information from students even during the summer months. The AG’s office says 365 tips came in to OK2Say during June, with the top tip category being suicide. That accounted for 122 of the tips. Attorney General spokesperson Andrea Bitely told WSJM News this year that OK2Say is an anonymous way a young person can report a potentially dangerous situation they know about.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Cleanup Today

The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway program will begin its second roadside cleanup of the year today. MDOT’s Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News more than 2,800 groups statewide are signed up to protect their own stretches of road through Adopt a Highway. They make quite a difference each year.. ...Read Full Story

Museum Fish Boil Today

If you haven’t visited the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, today could be a good day to stop by. The museum is having its annual Fish Boil Fundraiser. The museum’s Ashley Demming tells WSJM News she appreciates all the items donated for the fundraiser.. ...Read Full Story

Beach Conditions Online

Now you can check on swimming conditions at South Haven’s beaches before you go. The city has added swimming conditions on its website that are updated periodically throughout the day. The website is South-Haven.com, where you can find a page for “Beach Flag Status.” There are 14 flags from Newcome Beach south to the blue stairs at Kids Corner and the color of the flags reflects on swimming conditions. Flags are monitored from nine in the morning until nine in the evening each day. Swimmers can also check the lake water temperature on the website, reading are from the South Haven buoy. City officials urge swimmers to take caution when entering the water. You can find the page right here.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Upgrades Text Messaging System

Some upgrades have been made to the text messaging system in the city of Niles. The city offers residents a service that allows them to sign up for alerts via text. The alerts can be in regards to emergency situations or community events. The expanded system enables residents and others to sign up for two different types of alerts. You can sign up for NILESCITY to get messages about safety issues, leaf pickups, street closures, and utility operations. Or, you can sign up for NILESFUN to learn about community events. You can opt in to the alerts by sending a text to 555888. In the message field, enter NILESCITY or NILESFUN for which types of alerts you want. Both will keep you informed about major emergencies. The city manager notes the municipal text message system proved to be instrumental in keeping residents informed earlier this year when the city experienced flooding.. ...Read Full Story