Local News Archives

New Tax Savings Accounts

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has announced a new service being offered by some local banks to help property taxpayers stay current on their bills. Witkowski tells WSJM News he’s arranged for the banks to offer special tax savings accounts. When you sign up, you can just have a portion of your earnings put aside each month for your property taxes later in the year. Witkowski says it’s clear many people could benefit.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Safety Event

The U.S. Coast Guard will hold a special water safety event this weekend. Petty Officer Jeffrey Gehrke with the St. Joseph post tells WSJM News the coast guard and other agencies will be at out in the parking lot of the Berrien County Courthouse on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Saves Overdose Patients

Two men who overdosed on heroin in Kalamazoo County are alive thanks to quick thinking by the sheriff this week. Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller tells us he was grabbing food from his favorite restaurant on Tuesday when he noticed a car running next to him with and the driver slumped over the wheel and drooling. The passenger was in the process of injecting himself in the stomach. Fuller called dispatch, and he and a deputy were able to administer Narcan to the two men.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Renewable Energy Program

If you support renewable energy and want Indiana Michigan Power to invest more in it, you now have a chance to put your money where your mouth is. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the company has now rolled out its Green Power Option to Michigan customers. With it, you can sign up to attribute a portion or all of your monthly energy usage to I&M’s renewable energy programs.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks MSU Settlement

Where will Michigan State get the funds to pay for the massive $500 million settlement to victims of Larry Nassar? Interim President John Engler has said the costs will be paid by tuition and through state aid. State Representative Pete Lucido told Michigan News Network this week he doesn’t like the sound of that.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Welcome Seniors To Lansing

State lawmakers from southwest Michigan welcomed representatives of the Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren County Area Agency on Aging to the Capitol On Wednesday to celebrate Older Michiganians Day. State Representatives Kim LaSata, Beth Griffin, and Aaron Miller joined state Senator John Proos in hosting the agency for a day to talk about issues that matter to the senior population in the region. LaSata tells us she was “thrilled” to meet with so many seniors. Older Michiganians Day is an annual rally that takes place on the Capitol lawn. The event brings together hundreds of seniors, aging service providers, and senior advocates to meet with their state legislators. Issues of concern include elder abuse, accessibility, and care-giving matters.. ...Read Full Story

State Investigating Utility Issues

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Public Service Commission is investigating DTE Electric Co.’s recent storm-related outages and the death of a Detroit woman who came in contact with a downed power line. More than 300,000 DTE customers lost power May 4 when a storm with winds gusting to 70 mph hit southeast Michigan. Power wasn’t restored to some until several days later. The commission said in an order Thursday that it’s concerned parts of DTE’s distribution system cannot provide safe and reliable service during large storms, as is required by law. Among other things, it wants to know if system maintenance, or a lack thereof, contributes to safety hazards and other
problems. It gave DTE until June 29 to file a safety and incident report. DTE says it’ll work with the commission to address the questions raised.. ...Read Full Story

Engler Tries To Joke About MSU Settlement

Michigan State University interim president John Engler is catching some heat from survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual assaults for a remark at the state Capitol on Thursday. When asked where MSU was going to get the $500 million for the settlement with over 300 women and girls, he said they’re hoping “to find a leprechaun.” Engler quickly pivoted and said the university has not made any decisions yet on tuition increases, noting he answered that twice while meeting with lawmakers. The leprechaun comment isn’t sitting well with some. Nassar abuse survivor Morgan McCaul tells a Grand Rapids TV station Engler made a mockery of the settlement, and called it “immature” and “not what I’d want as the face of my university.”. ...Read Full Story

New County Park On Schedule

Berrien County’s newest park should be open to the public by the end of the summer. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey gave an update to county commissioners this week on Paw Paw River County Park located in Watervliet. Bailey tells WSJM News the park sits on about 15 acres of former brownfield property right off M-140. It covers an area east of the road, across the river, and on an island in the Paw Paw River.. ...Read Full Story

Napier Avenue Open House

Anyone with opinions on what should be done to improve Napier Avenue between the St. Joseph River and I-94 is welcome to attend an open house on the subject next week. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Associate Planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News a year-long study on the Napier corridor is getting into its home stretch. The focus has been how to improve Napier for pedestrians. Monday’s open house will give everyone a chance to chime in.. ...Read Full Story

State To Have Extra Money

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers will have hundreds of millions of dollars more to budget than they expected at the turn of the year. His administration and legislative on Wednesday agreed to revised revenue estimates. Tax collections for Michigan’s two main funds are projected to be $315 million higher than expected in the current fiscal year and $182 million higher in the next budget year. Republican leaders could use the additional money to boost savings, pay down debt or for spending priorities. Democrats say it should go to road work. The next budget is expected to be finalized in coming weeks.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Forum In South Haven

A forum will be held in South Haven next month for everyone to learn a little more about marijuana. Marc Sprague is one of the organizers and tells WSJM News the event is a function of Concerned Citizens of South Haven in response to recent events which are allowing more marijuana in the community.. ...Read Full Story

House OKs Newborn Dropoff Boxes

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s House has passed legislation that lets parents leave their newborns in secured boxes at hospitals, fire departments and police stations in addition to personally surrendering them to emergency services personnel and first responders.
Lawmakers approved the four-bill package Wednesday that amends the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law to allow for use of these baby boxes which the state Department of Health and Human Services would be tasked with regulating. The bill also redefines “newborn” as a child not older than 30 days. Since 2000, the safe delivery law allows parents to legally surrender a newborn at a fire department, hospital or police station without being charged with child abandonment. The newborns are then placed into adoption programs. The bill now heads to the Michigan Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Art Display Unveiling Tomorrow

The city of St. Joseph’s public art display will be unveiled this Friday. This year’s display, “The Magical Kingdom of St. Joseph,” is set to feature 15 sculptures of knights, dragons, and horses located downtown. The display will be unveiled at 5:30 p.m. Friday and also feature a castle the kids can play in. Donated by Turner Construction, that castle will be stationed at Broad and State Streets. Friday’s kick-off for the public art display will also include live music and special sidewalk sales. “The Magical Kingdom of St. Joseph” will be out for the whole summer, and then the individual art pieces will be auctioned off in the fall.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Road Meetings

A series of meetings will take place in Van Buren County over the next few months for residents to learn more about a road millage proposal voters will consider in August. The Van Buren County Road Commission tells us staff and officials will host discussions on the proposed millage, a review of current road conditions, current available road funding, and the intent of the millage proposal. The meetings will all be town hall-style, and will be held at the Van Buren Conference Center on South Paw Paw Street in Lawrence. Anyone who wants to learn more about road needs and what will be voted on August 7 is invited. Below is the schedule for the meetings.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Missile Defense Site

Congressman Fred Upton is pushing for a site in Michigan to be selected by the U.S. Department of Defense for a missile defense facility. Upton tells WSJM News the Pentagon has been studying possible places for a site to house defensive missiles to protect the eastern United States.. ...Read Full Story

Unclaimed Property Auction

The state of Michigan will unload unclaimed property with a couple of auctions this weekend. The Michigan Department of Treasury tells us its annual unclaimed property auction will be held in Lansing on Friday and Saturday. The property in question is obtained through abandoned safe deposit boxes. While Treasury does work to return those items to their rightful owners, the effort isn’t always successful. The items include coins, currency, collectibles, and jewelry. The auction will be held at the Lansing Quality Suites in Delta Township. Anyone looking for more information can click this link.. ...Read Full Story

Company Reimbursed For Energy Upgrades

The owners of an apartment complex in Buchanan have received a check for more than $243,000 from Indiana Michigan Power for making improvements to their facility to save energy. Jason Muniz with Hollander Development Corporation tells WSJM News the company spent about $7 million to upgrade the units at Metea Court Apartments, a 100-unit community for low-income seniors.. ...Read Full Story

Rolling To Welcome Guest Speaker

A special guest will be coming to St. Joseph next week to help raise money for 79th District Michigan House candidate Troy Rolling. Rolling Campaign Manager Al Baker tells WSJM News Dr. Alveda King will speak on Rolling’s behalf at the Vineland Center next Friday. King may be familiar to some Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Flags Out In South Haven

In a sign of the summer, the safety flags are now flying at beaches in South Haven. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us it monitors lake conditions as reported by the National Weather Service. Beach warning flags are placed at the city’s seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and are changed throughout the day as lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow, or red based on the conditions. A numbering system for the beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has also been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference. Anyone thinking of going in the water is advised to check the flags first. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Search Is On For Next MI Xmas Tree

From the Associated Press — State officials are asking Michigan residents to help find the next Christmas tree that will stand outside the Capitol building in Lansing. Department of Technology, Management and Budget Director Dave DeVries says the search started Tuesday.
Michigan’s official state Christmas tree standards are high. To be considered, it has to be a spruce or fir and stand at least 55 feet (16.7 meters) tall. The tree’s crown has to be a maximum of 24 feet (7.3 meters), while the trunk’s diameter can be no larger than 30 inches (76.2 centimeters). Access to the tree has to be easy and the tree has to be donated at no cost. August 15 is the deadline for nominations. Last year’s tree was harvested in Menominee County’s Stephenson in the Upper Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial Day Roll Call

Set for this Memorial Day in South Haven will be a roll call of all the American soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vietnam-era veteran Major Craig Massey of the U.S. Army will spend about three hours reading more than 3,400 names in front of the South Haven City Hall flagpole on Phoenix Street starting at noon May 28. Massey tells us he’s previously read the names of soldiers who died in Afghanistan, and this year, they’ve added to the program.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hopes To Force Immigration Vote

Congressman Fred Upton is among the lawmakers who have signed a discharge petition on immigration reform. Upton tells WSJM News a discharge petition is a little-used tactic for frustrated members of the House to force a vote on an issue that’s been stuck in committee. The House leadership does not approve.. ...Read Full Story

17 Sentenced In Bank Fraud Case

18 people have been sentenced in a bank fraud case out of west Michigan. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids tells us the fraud ring targeted Bank of America, and allowed the defendants to obtain more than $780,000, resulting in losses of more than $455,000. They were accused of opening or using of Bank of America accounts to accept fraudulent check deposits and then make fraudulent withdrawals at banks and casinos. Among the defendants sentenced this week were three out of South Haven. Jerome Perry was sentenced to 15 months in prison, James Langford was sentenced to 12 months and one day, and Elnora Snipes was sentenced to 3 months in prison. The rest of the defendants were from places that include Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. The U.S. Attorney tells us the ring’s leader was a Kalamazoo man who has now been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Coming To Hartford

Coming to Hartford High School on Wednesday will be Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. He’s going to chat with students enrolled in the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News the organization is glad to have him.. ...Read Full Story

Recycling Event This Weekend

A household chemical recycling event is slated for this weekend in Berrien County. The Berrien County Parks Department tells us it will collect chemicals, home medical waste, electronics, and personal documents on Saturday at the Southeast Berrien County Landfill Recycling Center in Buchanan. The personal documents will be shredded. The county tells us you can drop off paint, old gasoline, used motor oil, pesticides, cleaners, unwanted pills, medical sharps, batteries, computers, televisions, printers, and small and large appliances mostly for free. There is a fee of $10 per computer monitor and $20 per television. The collection event will run this Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Unsolved Murder Vigil Planned

A candlelight vigil will be held this week in St. Joseph to remember the victims of unsolved murders in Benton Harbor. Lisa Gorman with Freedom Life Church in Benton Harbor tells WSJM News she’s worked with many people who have been personally affected by the crimes. The idea for a vigil came after hearing so many stories she says she’s heard.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Pursues Green Initiative

St. Joseph City Commissioners are making their commitment to sustainability official. At this week’s meeting, the commission approved a resolution to pursue bronze certification from Michigan Green Communities. Commissioner Peggy Getty tells WSJM News she and Commissioner Laura Goos looked into it and realized the city was already doing many of the things to get bronze status.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Talks Job Training

Governor Rick Snyder’s strategy to fill more than 800,000 job openings was discussed Monday  in Jackson. Local business leaders and educators came together to give input on the proposed “Marshall Plan for Talent,” as Snyder has called it.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Appeals Private School Ruling

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing a court ruling that blocked state reimbursements to private schools for the cost of inspections and other state requirements. The appeal was filed Monday on behalf of the state and top officials. A Court of Claims judge last month struck down as unconstitutional two budget laws, saying $5 million in spending violates a ban on aid to non-public schools. Schuette, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, says the cost of inspections and fees can “financially cripple” private schools. Public school groups challenged the state spending. Separately, Schuette’s office is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit
challenging Michigan’s constitutional ban on using public money to directly or indirectly aid parochial schools. The state says the issue was settled legally 47 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Water Level To Be Lowered At Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Dam

The water level at the Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Dam will be coming down later this month for maintenance. Indiana Michigan Power plans to draw down the level of the water by three-and-a-half feet at a rate of six-inches a day. That will start on May 29 and will affect a three-and-a-half mile section of the St. Joseph River upstream of the dam, better known as Lake Chapin. The utility is warning homeowners and people who use the river for boating in the area that submerged objects will be closer to the surface of the water, and there will be areas of shallow depth. Additionally, if you own or operate boats in the area, you’re advised to dry dock them if you don’t remove them from the harbor during the drawdown. The work is expected to be done on or before June 18, with the restoration of the water level back to normal by Monday, June 25.. ...Read Full Story

Craft Beer Week Underway

American Craft Beer Week is underway, celebrating small businesses make beer. Craftbeer.com Editor-In-Chief Jess Baker tells us people are fans of craft beers because they have flavor and are always different. She says it’s also about community.. ...Read Full Story

Mermaid Fest Coming To South Haven

If you’re a fan of mermaids, then you’ll want to be in South Haven this Memorial Day weekend. Set for May 25 through May 28 is the first ever Mermaid MegaFest. Organizer Brad Carrier tells WSJM News it kicks off Friday the 25th with a series of guest speakers who will address freshwater preservation. Then there’s the fun stuff for the rest of the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Millage Rates

The millage rate is locked in. At a Monday meeting, St. Joseph City Commissioners gave their final reading to some millage increases they discussed last week. The street millage is going up by 2.55 mills, or about $200 per year for a home with a taxable value of $140,000. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the millage increase works out to more than $1 million per year for streets. He thinks it could be enough.. ...Read Full Story

Northern MI Wildfire Risk

Residents in northern Michigan and the U-P should be careful with fire this week as dry, windy conditions are expected to heighten the risk of wildfires. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fire Prevention Specialist Paul Rogers spoke with Michigan News Network about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Woman Running For State House

The field of candidates in the running for the Republican nomination in the Michigan House in the 79th District includes a Watervliet woman with a long family family history in Bainbridge Township. Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM News she’s jumped into the race to replace state Representative Kim LaSata because she wants to promote conservative values and pursue growth. One priority is infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Walgreens Installing Drug Kiosks

28 Walgreens stores will be part of an expansion into Michigan to provide drug kiosks so customers can get rid of unwanted medications. Spokesman Phil Caruso says millions of pounds of unused drugs have already been collected in the past two years, and there have been no problems with people trying to steal the drugs.. ...Read Full Story

POW Discussion At North Berrien Museum

The North Berrien History Museum is hosting a program called The German POW Experience in Michigan tomorrow. The program will feature Dr. Howard Poole speaking about the 400,000 German prisoners of war being placed in 32 camps in Michigan, including Coloma, Benton Harbor and Hartford. Dr.Poole will shed light on the experiences of the captured men like, their transportation from Europe to Michigan and back after the war. Some of the former POW’s chose to come back to the United States to live. The program will be held at the North Berrien History Museum on the evening of Tuesday, May 15th, free to the public at 7 p.m. The museum’s website can be viewed at NorthBerrienHistory.org.. ...Read Full Story

House Speaker On Legalized Pot

It looks like there will be a statewide vote of the people in Michigan to decide if recreational marijuana should be legalized. Speaker of the Michigan House Tom Leonard has reaffirming a vote by the people will have the final say on the measure in November. He told Michigan News Network the matter will not be decided by legislative Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Record Memorial Day Travel Forecast Issued

A record number of Michigan residents are planning to hit the road for Memorial Day. Triple-A Michigan is projecting nearly 1.3 million of us in the state are planning a trip, up nearly 5% from last year. If realized, it will be the busiest Memorial Day weekend for tourism in over a dozen years in the state. Most people – 1.1 million – plan to drive, with air travel projected to be up 8% from last year at nearly 70,000 people. The auto club says the worst time to head out is going to be Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25 due to how many others will be traveling at the same time. The projection marks the sixth straight year of increases in Michigan in the estimated number of people planning to travel for the holiday.. ...Read Full Story

Two Watervliet Gas Stations Have State’s Lowest Prices

There’s a price war at a pair of southwest Michigan gas stations, but it’s not impacting the average in the area according to Triple-A Michigan. The Casey’s General Store and the Shell on M-140 in Watervliet are both selling unleaded for $2.60 a gallon, which GasBuddy notes is the lowest price in the state. Triple-A’s weekly survey of gas stations puts the statewide average at $2.93, up 7¢ from last week and up 52¢ from this time last year. The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph average price is up by three pennies to $2.88 per gallon. Michigan’s most expensive gas is in Ann Arbor at $2.97, while the lowest average prices are up north in Traverse City at $2.85. AAA says gasoline inventories in the Great Lakes region have been falling steadily over the past eight weeks, helping to push our prices up.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Opposes Watercraft Tax

State Representative Kim LaSata is among the Michigan lawmakers calling on the Michigan State Waterways Commission to drop plans for a tax on small watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. She tells WSJM News the House overwhelmingly voted this week for a resolution opposing the move.. ...Read Full Story

New Vendor Approved For Beach

There will be another vendor selling hot dogs at a St. Joseph summer attraction this year. On Monday, the St. Joseph City Commission gave its thumbs up to Myles Hambley to have a hot dog cart at Lions Park Beach. He told commissioners he plans to keep it simple, serving a few different types of dogs to beach goers along with a few other treats. Lions Beach is one of five locations where the city allows things like hot dog carts to be located in the summer months, and there was a vacancy there. Also Monday, the commission voted to allow Scoot Joe’s to put up a 20 by 30 foot tent on its property to protect a fleet of bicycles the places rents out in the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Effort To Preserve Open Internet

An effort is underway in the United States Senate to block the FCC from implementing its repeal of net neutrality protections, and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan is a part of it. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Peters said it’s necessary that Americans have access to open internet so they can compete with the rest of the world.. ...Read Full Story

POW Presentation At Local Museum

The North Berrien History Museum is hosting a program called The German POW Experience in Michigan tomorrow. The program will feature Dr. Howard Poole speaking about the 400,000 German prisoners of war being placed in 32 camps in Michigan, including Coloma, Benton Harbor and Hartford. Dr.Poole will shed light on the experiences of the captured men like, their transportation from Europe to Michigan and back after the war. Some of the former POW’s chose to come back to the United States to live. The program will be held at the North Berrien History Museum on the evening of Tuesday, May 15th, free to the public at 7 p.m. The museum’s website can be viewed at NorthBerrienHistory.org.. ...Read Full Story

Homeowners Reminded Of Tax Program

If you’re behind on your taxes, Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski wants you to know a state program to help pay them off is still available. Last year, Witkowski and other treasurers promoted the Step Forward Michigan program. It was offering $35 million in no-interest loans around the state to homeowners who needed some help. Witkowski tells WSJM News there’s still plenty of money available.. ...Read Full Story

Students, Others Help In Puerto Rico

A group of 20 Andrews University faculty, staff, students, and graduates have returned from a trip to Puerto Rico to help provide mental health services there following Hurricane Maria. Andrews Associate Professor of Psychology Melissa Ponce-Rodas tells WSJM News following natural disasters, mental health issues do arise.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Veterans Issues

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is hailing word that Van Buren County has now hired a veterans services officer. She’s been behind legislation to create grant programs for counties to have full-time staff that work to connect veterans with services that can help them.. ...Read Full Story

Public Safety Planning For Summer

St. Joseph City Commissioners and the public have been updated by Public Safety Director Brian Uridge on plans to better police the community this summer. Last summer, St. Joe Public Safety changed traffic patterns to reduce congestion while making more parking spaces available, and this summer will bring a return to many of those practices. Uridge also said at Monday’s city commission meeting there will be more community engagement from police this summer.. ...Read Full Story

Troopers Watch Out For Tailgaters

You can expect to see more Michigan State Police troopers on patrol on I-94 this spring and summer, all the way from the Indiana border to Wayne County. As traffic crashes on I-94 went up last year, MSP Fifth District Commander Captain Kyle Bowman told Michigan News Network this week they’ll be looking for distracted driving, aggressive driving , and drivers who follow too closely.. ...Read Full Story

Big Parks Grants Approved By Senate

The Michigan Senate has signed off on the recommended Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund parks grants for the coming year. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News the trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Considers Options

There is still work ahead for leaders at Lakeshore Public Schools after this week’s failure of a bond proposal. Voters rejected the $21 million bond on Tuesday on a vote of 2,300 to 1,907. Lakeshore Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News the need for building improvements and new technology is still there.. ...Read Full Story

State Issues Bear Reminders

As people start to spend more time in woodland areas this season, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has some tips to avoid conflict with bears. Katie Keen with the DNR tells us the agency has to put down some bears each year because the animals venture out of the woods and get too comfortable being near humans. She says homeowners who live in areas inhabited by bears should remove all bird feeders and only put garbage cans out just before the pickup time.. ...Read Full Story