Local News Archives

Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Campground Gets Exemption From Hagar Twp

The Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Campground is getting a boost from Hagar Township. The township board this week approved a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate for upgrades at the campground. The move freezes the taxable value of the property for the next decade. New owners bought the campground in August 2017 and immediately launched into upgrades and improvements of the 40-acre property. The next phase will include upgrades to the plumbing, water, electric, and sewer infrastructure and the clubhouse, restrooms and pool will all be rehabbed. Campground owners worked with Cornerstone Alliance to obtain the exemption.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Auto Insurance Reforms

Changes could be coming soon to auto insurance laws in Michigan. The state Senate last week approved a pair of bills, one of which would let people 65 and older opt out of getting a policy that includes lifetime catastrophic injury coverage. Senator John Proos says that’s due to a provision allowing for the coordination of benefits between Medicare and the insurance company.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Discusses Coach Allegations

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has responded to allegations made by former football coach Elliot Uzelac since his resignation last week. At a Monday hearing, three complaints from board members were read against Uzelac. Board President Marletta Seats took issue with claims Uzelac has made about her.. ...Read Full Story

Sentencing In Fatal Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — A Michigan man who was under the influence of drugs when he plowed into bicyclists, killing five, has been sentenced to at least 40 years in prison. Charles Pickett Jr. apologized Monday and said he would give his own life for
the people who were killed and injured. But a judge called his plea “woefully inadequate.” Pickett last month was convicted of second-degree murder. In 2016, he slammed into a pack of bicyclists on a rural road in Kalamazoo County’s Cooper Township,
about 140 miles (210 kilometers) west of Detroit. There’s no dispute that he had swallowed painkillers and other drugs before
driving his pickup truck. But his lawyers argued that murder charges were excessive. The 52-year-old Pickett will be eligible for parole after decades in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Bike Ride To Fight Childhood Cancer

A southwest Michigan man is hoping to raise money and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer with a bike ride along the entire length of Route 66 this summer. Mark Linder of Paw Paw tells WSJM News he leaves this Friday from Chicago to ride to Santa Monica, California.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary To Mark 100 Years

This Saturday will bring the 100th anniversary celebration for the Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor. Local Rotarians will gather at the Mendel Center in Benton Township for a reception featuring Rotary International President Ian Riseley, who’s coming in all the way from Australia. Chapter President Rick Villa tells WSJM News the Rotary is all about serving the community.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds Casinos Reveal Winnings To Date In 2018

The wins are adding up for patrons of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ Four Winds Casinos in southwest Michigan and South Bend. So far this year, the tribe tells us over $73.4 million in jackpots have been paid out. They don’t, however, say how much has been earned in revenue to pay out the winnings. The largest prize was a jackpot on a penny slot machine in South Bend on May 28 of just over $326,000 to someone from Granger. The largest jackpot paid so far this year in New Buffalo was won on March 17 for $101,250, while another patron won $101,121 at the New Buffalo casino on May 5.. ...Read Full Story

Some Cass County Roads Still Closed From Flooding

There are still some roads in Cass County that are closed due to this weekend’s flash flooding. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News parts of the county got deluged with over six inches of rain in a short amount of time, and that caused road and culvert failures. They have closed five roads today in addition to three that were shut down over the weekend. There are also “Water over the Road” signs posted on four roadways. The sheriff’s department says with more rain in the forecast, they’re anticipating more flooding. Deputies had to rescue several people after their cars got too far into flooded roads over the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools Responds To Uzelac Resignation

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has called a special meeting tonight at 6 p.m. with just one agenda item, “public complaint.” Presumably it’s to discuss the accusations in the resignation letter of former Benton Harbor High School football coach Elliot Uzelac, in which he blasted the school board and administration for failling the students. Uzelac noted as of May 17, there were 1,116 “F” grades recorded for the entire student body, which is almost an average of three failing grades per student. Uzelac said when he questioned her about it, interim superintendent Patricia Robinson was unaware of that, along with the school board and the guidance counselors. He discovered in checking on the academics of his football players that 71% of all students were in “credit recovery,” which means they failed a class and were working to make up the credit. He says that is unheard of, and adds there are far too few qualified teachers in the district. Robinson has issued a brief statement saying the board takes what the former coach has to say “very seriously” and his accusations will be investigated as soon as possible. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Uzelac Rips BHAS Board, Administration In Exit

Elliot Uzelac has had enough with the turmoil in Benton Harbor schools. He resigned as head football coach Friday with a terse letter to the school board. Uzelac cited the forced resignation of athletic director Tray Crusciel, false accusations by board trustee Lisa Gulley about Crusciel and the football program at board meetings, and Gulley’s actions leading to the resignation of assistant football coach Jerry Diorio. There were also a slew of academic issues that he says have come to light.. ...Read Full Story

BH Krasl Art Display Changes

The Krasl Art Center has installed a new sculpture in Benton Harbor’s Arts District this week as part of the center’s Biennial Sculpture Invitational. Krasl Deputy Director Tami Miller tells WSJM News “Eve’s Awareness” by Terry Hewlett replaces “Eve and the Serpent,” a sculpture that’s being removed due to complaints. The new one is more family friendly.. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Photo Contest

If you’re an amateur photographer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inviting you to enter a photography contest it’s holding. Corps Ranger Michelle Briggs of the Detroit District tells WSJM News they’ll soon take entries for a photo contest showing off the Soo Locks, the Duluth Ship Canal, or from a Corps pier, breakwater, or federal harbor on the Great Lakes. She says they’ve held the contest each year since 2016.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews Dairy Shutting Down

The focus of the operations of the Andrews University Farm is changing. The Board of Trustees voted this week to close down the farm’s dairy operations by the summer of 2019. Senior vice president for financial administration Lawrence Schalk tells us that due to low milk prices, the operation has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.. ...Read Full Story

New Pier Life Rings

City leaders in St. Joseph are hoping the north pier will be a little safer now that 12 life rings to help prevent drownings have been installed. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the rings come with throw bags and 90 foot ropes. A video explaining how to use the rings may be produced.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Assault Prevention

State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township is pleased to learn a Michigan Senate committee has approved her legislation intended to help prevent sexual assaults by doctors following the Larry Nassar scandal. Whiteford tells WSJM News her bill requires that records of a variety of medical treatments be kept for 15 years.. ...Read Full Story

Cottage Walk Tickets On Sale

Tickets are now available for South Haven’s annual Cottage Walk. SHOUT for South Haven’s Sue Cunningham tells WSJM News the booster organization has held the walks on the last Saturday of every June for 23 years now. This year’s event will give walkers a chance to tour five homes in locations all over South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Pleased With Budgets

The latest Michigan corrections and judiciary budgets are being praised by state Senator John Proos. He tells WSJM News the new spending plans focus on protecting public safety and improving efficiency by continuing programs designed to reduce recidivism. He likes a new one included in the House budget for corrections.. ...Read Full Story

Mall Auction Scheduled

The auction of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is being delayed. It was supposed to have been held this past week, but is now scheduled for next Wednesday, June 13. No reason has been given for the delay. WSJM News has reached out to the real estate firm representing mall owner Michael Kohan, but has not yet received a reply. The opening bid for the property remains $750,000, and the initial goal was to sell the mall and the land it’s on for around $2.5 million. Kohan has narrowly escaped foreclosure by Berrien County the past two years for not paying the property taxes. Those have been paid on the deadline in both years, and he’s still several years behind on those payments.. ...Read Full Story

New Animal Shelter Opens

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is now open for business at its brand new shelter in Royalton Township. The ribbon cutting and grand opening was held Saturday with supporters welcome to tour the new $2 million facility on Niles Road. The Yeager Family Pet Shelter has been about ten years in the making, with Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond telling WSJM News it’s designed to have a long life.. ...Read Full Story

Police Chase In Niles

One man is facing charges after a chase with police in Niles early Saturday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it started around 12:45 a.m. on South 11th Street near the Walmart. A sheriff’s deputy spotted a Toyota Camry that had failed to stop for Michigan State Police and tried to pull it over. A chase then began which took the deputy and the driver of the Camry to the 800 block of South 14th Street. The driver of the Camry, identified as 20-year-old Javier Daniel Huston, lost control and crashed, and then tried to flee on foot. The sheriff’s deputy tasered him, and Huston was brought into custody. Huston was taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges of fleeing and eluding, resisting and obstructing, and drunk driving.. ...Read Full Story

Uzelac Resigns

Elliot Uzelac has stepped down as the coach of Benton Harbor Football. Uzelac’s resignation came Friday with the coach only saying he had concerns about the direction of Benton Harbor Area Schools and the district school board. Uzelac came to Benton Harbor Area Schools in 2015, racking up an overall record of 21 and 11 with the Tigers, according to The Herald Palladium. During his time with Benton Harbor, the football team attracted national attention for its quick turnaround. Uzelac previously coached at St. Joseph High School, Western Michigan University, and the United States Naval Academy.. ...Read Full Story

Food Program At Covert Schools

Covert Public Schools has announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service for Children. Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and under or those up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in an educational program for the disabled that’s recognized by a state or local education agency. Covert’s Director of Communications Brittany Millan spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton continues to speak out against the tariff increases on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union announced by President Trump. He says while Presidents have the authority to take that action, it’s especially unfair to impose the tariff on Canada.. ...Read Full Story

Push For Juvenile Reforms

Legislation is currently proposed in the Michigan House that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, rather than 17. Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Advocacy Tom Hickson tells us 17-year-olds are still developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors. He say it’s not right to treat them like adults in the justice system.. ...Read Full Story