Local News Archives

Celebrate Bridgman This Week

This week brings the annual Celebrate Bridgman festivities. The fun begins Thursday with an Under the Big Top presentation by the Curious Kids Museum, and then the Family Night and Teen Dance downtown. Both Friday and Saturday will feature the adult dances. Saturday will be the busiest day of Celebrate Bridgman with a scavenger hunt, art around town, a 5 and 10 K Run and Walk, a car show, sand art, and the parade. That starts at 11 a.m. at Gast Road, and will head down Lake Street. Everything wraps up Sunday with a free concert at Weko Beach. You can find out more about Celebrate Bridgman right here.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Pulled From Burning Vehicle

A Dowagiac woman is recovering at a hospital in Kalamazoo after being pulled from a fiery wreck on Wednesday morning. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us 31-year-old Trisha Smith was westbound on Dewey Lake Street near Roth Road in Wayne Township around 11:40 a.m. when her vehicle left the road and hit a tree. It then overturned and caught fire. Fire personnel were able to extract Smith from the burning vehicle, and she was taken by ambulance first to Borgess Lee Hospital, and then flown by helicopter to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. The sheriff’s department is asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call them. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland To Be A Division Of Spectrum Health

A major change is coming to Lakeland Health. It announced on Wednesday it is integrating with Spectrum Health out of Grand Rapids. Lakeland CEO and President Loren Hamel tells WSJM News the much larger Spectrum will bring several new assets to Lakeland, improving care. Lakeland will become a division of Spectrum.. ...Read Full Story

Award For SWM 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

Flint Water Lawsuit

Attorneys for the city of Flint and the state of Michigan are asking a federal judge to throw out a class-action suit over Flint water, arguing they can’t be sued because of government immunity. The lawsuit is seeking money damages for about 10,000 Flint residents. Meantime, Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha told Michigan News Network residents there are still drinking bottled and filtered water.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Integrating With Spectrum

Lakeland Health has announced it’s integrating with Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health. Spectrum, which is the largest employer in west Michigan with 26,000 employees and 12 hospitals, will make the move with Lakeland official October 1. Lakeland, which has 4,000 employees and three hospitals, says the arrangement will have Lakeland as a division of Spectrum Health, retaining oversight by a local board of directors, local capital investment, and local charitable efforts. A press release from Lakeland says, “Both organizations see the value of coming together to focus on high quality care and improving the health of our communities.” Lakeland says it and Spectrum will be “pursuing a definitive agreement and due diligence over the next few months.”. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway This Weekend

The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway program will begin its second roadside cleanup of the year this Saturday. 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

School Board Looks Ahead

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 Tuesday board meeting, 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

Mattawan 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

SJ Water Plant Work

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

Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

A Michigan lawmaker is hailing a legislative plan to regulate autonomous vehicles. State Representative Mike Webber, the vice chair of the House Transportation Committee, says “Michigan is moving forward” thanks to the autonomous vehicle regulations that have been signed into law.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Bill To Get Hearing

Legislation to fund billions in deferred maintenance in national parks gets a hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. The Restore Our Parks Act would set up a fund dedicated to national parks using money from onshore and offshore drilling for oil, gas, and minerals. Bob Sutherland is president of Cherry Republics, a cherry retailer in northern Michigan. He tells us his company and many others rely on the national park system to draw in tourists, who make up the bulk of their customer base.. ...Read Full Story

Increase In Legionnaires Disease

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is looking into the rise in Legionnaires disease. It doesn’t spread from person to person, but through mist like the kind that comes from air conditioning units, fountains, or hot tubs. Lynn Sutfin with the state health department spoke with Michigan News Network about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Art Fair Coming Up

This weekend will be a busy one along the bluff in downtown St. Joseph. That’s because the 57th annual Krasl Art Fair will be taking place. 200 artists from all over the country will be selling their wares in Lake Bluff Park. They’ll include everything from paintings to jewelry to artisan-blown glass. More than 1,000 artists applied to be in this year’s fair, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. In addition to the art, there will be a Kids Zone, food carts, and a beer and wine garden. Free parking and shuttle services will be able at Kelley’s Bowl and in the Edgewater business district. The Krasl Block Party to kick everything off will be Friday at 5 p.m. at the Krasl. You can find out more at the art fair’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder: Request Of FBI To Investigate Schuette “A Serious Matter”

It’s “clearly a serious matter.” That’s what Governor Snyder is calling an investigation of Attorney General Bill Schuette. East Lansing attorney Mike Nichols has asked for a grand jury investigation into whether Schuette did anything illegal when he had his office workers notarize and witness personal sales of property. The governor says it’s important that the FBI be allowed to do their job. The primary election for governor is less than a month away and Schuette and three other Republicans are vying for the nomination. Nichols asked the Ingham County prosecutor for a grand jury investigation, and that office last week turned the request over to the FBI. He was the attorney for disgraced former state Representative Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and says there are parallels between Gamrat’s actions that led to her removal from the state House a few years ago and what Schuette is accused of doing.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Warns About Tariff Effects

Michigan farmers may feel the consequences of the latest tariffs between U.S. and China. The Trump administration is putting 25% tariffs on 800 Chinese products worth $34 billion and China is retaliating with tariffs also totaling $34 billion in U.S. goods, including agricultural products. Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke with WKZO News about her concerns.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners OK No Wake Zone Request

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 Monday meeting, 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

Busy Summer For OK2Say

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

Red Cross Blood Emergency

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

Another Championship For “Pellet Gun” Krause

Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause once again holds the wining title from the annual International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship. The event was held this past weekend at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire for the 45th year in a row. The event’s Lynn Sage tells WSJM News Pellet Gun came all the way from Arizona this year to spit a cherry pit more than 41 feet and eight inches.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Releases Water Plan

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer has released a Clean Water Policy that she’ll put in place if she’s elected. Whitmer says she would create a Department of the Great Lakes and Fresh Water. She told Michigan News Network she would work to get rid of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, saying it poses an environmental threat.. ...Read Full Story

Expanded Marijuana Regulations

From the Associated Press — Michigan regulators have significantly expanded the list of conditions approved for treatment by medical marijuana. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Monday added 11 medical conditions deemed debilitating by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008. They are: arthritis, autism, chronic pain, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. Denied conditions include anxiety, asthma, brain injury, panic attacks, depression, and diabetes. Existing entries on the list include post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and severe and chronic pain. Officials say they received public comments related to petitions to add
conditions to the list. They add the final decisions reflect changes in state law to include marijuana-infused products and advancing research.. ...Read Full Story

Daycare Raising Money This Week

A Watervliet daycare is going to raise money this week to buy some new playground equipment by putting up a lemonade stand. Shelynn Buckley is with Senicas Daycare and tells WSJM News they’ll be selling the drinks from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday outside the daycare at 4967 North Watervliet Road.. ...Read Full Story

Downtown St. Joseph Gas Station Robbed

Two suspects are being sought by St. Joseph Public Safety for an armed robbery overnight. The two hit the AGO gas station downtown at 220 Main Street just before 2 a.m., getting away with cash. Both men are believed to be in their late teens or early 20s. One is a light-skinned black male with short hair who was in a gray Nike hooded sweatshirt, gray sweat pants and black shoes. The other suspect is a dark-skinned African-American male with short hair. He was dressed in a black hoodie, black sweat pants and white shoes. A gun was pulled, but no one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Man Hurt By Exploding Propane Tank At Bible Camp

An exploding propane tank has sent a Jones man to the hospital in South Bend. According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, 44-year-old David Stiles was doing maintenance on a cabin at Blair Lake Bible Camp yesterday morning when the tank blew up and started the cabin on fire. He was airlifted to South Bend Memorial Hospital, and his condition has not been released. The Newburg Township Fire Department put out the fire in the cabin.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In South Haven Fight

Two 24-year-old men from South Haven and Covert are facing charges for a large fight in South Haven over the weekend. Police were called to Kalamazoo and Cartwright around 8:45 Saturday night on a report of shots being fired along with the brawl, but have found no evidence guns were used and say the sounds may have been from firecrackers. The two were arrested for aggravated assault and resisting and obstructing officers, and felony drug charges are pending after police found suspected heroin at the scene. Investigators are still looking for others who may have been involved and ask anyone with information on the fight to call South Haven police.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Immigration

Congressman Fred Upton remains disappointed in the U.S. House’s failure to pass an immigration reform plan. Since President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families detained at the border with Mexico, Upton tells WSJM News a new fear has arisen in Congress.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Japanese Knotweed Meeting

A meeting will be this coming week in Eau Claire for everyone to learn more about Japanese knotweed. The invasive plant is a threat to infrastructure in southwest Michigan as the weed can grow through concrete. The Berrien Conservation District’s Jared Harmon tells WSJM News the meeting Wednesday, July 11 in Eau Claire will cover all bases.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Hopes Seniors Rally For Election

The November election could be pivotal for Michigan’s future, and a new effort is encouraging all Michiganders to make their voices heard. AARP of Michigan is kicking off its Be the Difference campaign to engage more voters in the midterms. Manager of advocacy for AARP Michigan Lisa Dedden Cooper tells us they’ll be talking about key issues and educating voters about registration and absentee ballot information.. ...Read Full Story

Soo Lock Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says construction of a second Great Lakes navigation lock for large freighters will be included in its 2020 budget request to the Trump administration. Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sugrue of the agency’s Detroit district says the Soo Locks upgrade will have to compete with others from around the nation.. ...Read Full Story

New Opioid Laws In Effect

Several new laws took effect this week in Michigan aimed at getting the opioid crisis under control. State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville sponsored one of them, which limits opioid prescriptions to just a seven-day supply. He spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

Reps Slam Separation Of Families

Three Michigan members of Congress and one from Ohio are speaking out after visiting refugee children at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids. Republican Bill Huizenga of Zeeland says Congress needs to take action now, and they can’t wait for a perfect solution on immigration.. ...Read Full Story

Property Tax Problem Resolved

A Benton Harbor woman is close to getting an unusual property tax problem resolved, thanks to action by the city commission this week. At this week’s meeting, commissioners waived about $12,000 in back taxes for the woman whose home on Edwards Street was on two parcels, even though she hadn’t been told that when she bought the one parcel she thought it was on. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the situation of a house on two parcels was all due to a mix up involving the state and a now-defunct non-profit from the early 2000s.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health Hotline

A bill is before the state House Health Policy Committee to set up a mental health phone hotline referral system. Representative Mary Whiteford of the South Haven area has worked as an emergency room nurse and wants trained professionals handling the calls.. ...Read Full Story

Apply For Rotary Grants

Applications are now being taken for the 2018 St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation grants. The Rotary Foundation tells us a total of $61,000 will be handed out to non-profits, with special consideration being given to projects that seek to provide better opportunities for youth and special needs individuals. The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation notes it has awarded more than $830,000 to local organizations since it began in 1980. Its 2017 grants went to groups that include Citizens Mediation Service, the Curious Kids Museum, Sarett Nature Center, and Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan. The deadline to apply for a 2018 grant is September 28. Grant requests have to be for a minimum of $5,000, and you can apply at Edgewater Bank in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

City Hall Renamed

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to rename city hall the Dr. Wilce L. Cooke Municipal Building. At a Monday meeting, the commission approved the move in honor of the former mayor. Cooke served from 1981 to 1987, and then from 2004 to 2011. Director of the Wilce L. Cooke Foundation Princella Tobias told WSJM News Cooke has always been about serving the community. She said he’s honored by the commission’s action.. ...Read Full Story

Voter Registration Deadline Monday

If you’ve moved since the last election or haven’t registered to vote for whatever reason and want to cast a ballot in next month’s primary, you’re short on time. Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams tells WSJM News the state has a high number of registered voters, but it’s always good to make sure you’re good to cast your ballot.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Smoking Ban

It may be smokin’ hot on South Haven’s beaches this week, but smokin’ — or vaping for that matter — are definitely not welcome. They’ve been banned by South Haven’s City Council. The ordinance approved this week bans smoking and vaping not just at beaches but in public parks as well. Expected to kick in later this month, the ban allows for designated smoking areas at the bigger parks and beaches around South Haven. That would be North Beach, South Beach Stanley Johnston Park, and Riverfront Park. Violating South Haven’s anti-smoking ordinance at parks and beaches will cost you $50 the first time.. ...Read Full Story

Conservationists Seek Bird Protections

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act turns 100 this week, leading conservation groups to dub 2018 the “Year of the Bird,” and to ask the Trump administration to live up to the spirit of the law. The MBTA made it illegal to pursue, hunt, or capture migratory birds. Last December, the U.S. Interior Department rescinded Obama-era guidelines about prosecuting companies that cause bird deaths. Bob Dreher with Defenders of Wildlife tells us the replacement guidelines amount to a license to kill.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Fatal Crashes Down

Four people were killed on Michigan roads between July 3 and 4 this year, according to the preliminary numbers from Michigan State Police. Special First Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News that compares to 14 people killed on the road during the Fourth of July holiday period last year.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Phone Scam

Indiana Michigan Power is once again warning customers about a phone scam that’s going around. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News customers have reported getting calls from someone who claims to be with the utility. The scammer will say that a customer is behind on their bill and about to have the power shut off.. ...Read Full Story

Historic Detroit Boat Burns

From the Associated Press — Police and fire officials say it’s doubtful that a boat that once carried passengers to an island amusement park in the Detroit River can be salvaged after the vessel caught fire at a marina. The blaze aboard the SS Ste. Claire was under investigation Friday after the fire broke out around 11:30 a.m. northeast of downtown Detroit. The Ste. Claire is one of two steamships that traveled for decades between Detroit and Boblo Island in Canada, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away. The amusement park closed in 1993. The Ste. Claire and SS Columbia made their last runs in 1991. They were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1992. The Columbia was moved by tugboat in 2014 to Toledo, Ohio, for repairs before heading on to New York state.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge Sues Over Pipeline Damage

From the Associated Press — A Canadian energy company is suing the shipping company whose tugboat anchor allegedly dented an aging oil and gas pipeline in Michigan earlier this year. MLive reports that Enbridge Energy’s lawsuit filed Tuesday is the third against VanEnkevort Tug and Barge Inc. Enbridge is seeking to recover costs for repairs and assessments made after the alleged April 1 anchor strike beneath the Straits of Mackinac. A VanEnkevort spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation. Twin oil pipelines were dented during the strike and about 600 gallons (2,270 liters) of mineral oil insulation fluid leaked from two electric cables. Crews capped and sealed the leaking cables in late April. The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident. The state attorney general said a tugboat anchor was the cause.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Mere Stewardship Day

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting volunteers to come down to Grand Mere State Park near Stevensville this weekend to help fight invasive species. The DNR says one of its stewardship days is Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Volunteers will hand-pull spotted knapweed and sweet clover from the open areas of Grand Mere to help native plants thrive. Those who show up to help are advised to wear long sleeves and long pants as they’ll be getting into vegetation. You should also bring a hat and some water because of the sun. Those who want to help out can show up Saturday at 10 a.m. and meet at the end of Willow Road.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood, Chikaming Open Lands To Screen Film

Set for next week is a film screening courtesy of Fernwood Botanical Garden and Chikaming Open Lands intended to spread awareness of conservation issues. Jen Thompson with Chikaming Open Lands tells WSJM News this is the fourth year the two have teamed up for their summer environmental film screenings. Next Wednesday, they’ll show Death by Design.. ...Read Full Story

Calm Holiday At Silver Beach

With huge crowds at Silver Beach for Independence Day this week, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us peace was maintained. Sheriff Paul Bailey says several police agencies had a large number of officers at the beach from 9 a.m. through the end of the fireworks show.. ...Read Full Story

Child Killed In Allegan County Crash

One child has been killed and another is in a hospital in critical condition following a crash in Allegan County on Wednesday. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us the children were riding a small dirt bike-style motorcycle when the crash with a passenger car occurred around 7 p.m. It happened on 126th Avenue east of Blue Star Highway in Saugatuck Township. The two children on the bike were airlifted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids where one died. The driver of the passenger car and two passengers were not hurt. None of the names have been released. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Couple Receives Service Award

A couple from South Haven have been honored for their years of service to the community. The Rotary Club of South Haven tells us John and Sue Gillett were presented the club’s Community Service Award at the organization’s recent yearly dinner. The Gilletts were picked for their work as co-managers of the We Care food pantry at the First Congregational Church. They’ve run the food pantry since 2006. The award each year goes to someone who makes a difference in the community while embodying the Rotary motto of “Service Beyond Self.” The Rotary tells us the Gilletts have lived in the community since 1974. John is a retired teacher, and Sue served many years as a children’s librarian at the South Haven public library.. ...Read Full Story

Three Rivers Woman Killed In Cass County Crash

A Three Rivers woman is dead after being hit by a car on M-40 in Porter Township Thursday morning. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News that 76-year-old Shirley Boersma was crossing the road when she was hit by a Grand Rapids-area man. Boersma was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies say alcohol was not involved, and they’re still investigating. It’s not known if the driver, 77-year-old Dale Hoekwater, will face any charges. The crash happened just after 10:30 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In New Buffalo For Michigan City Armed Robbery

A Michigan City man is in the Berrien County Jail awaiting extradition to Indiana for an armed robbery in his hometown. The man was pulled over by a Berrien County deputy this morning for defective equipment on US 12 in New Buffalo, and the officer noticed drug paraphernalia in plain view. After the 46-year-old man was arrested, a search of the car turned up a handgun under the driver’s seat, and LaPorte County deputies recognized the vehicle as matching the description of one used in a robbery in Michigan City. Police from there were called in and confirmed it was the vehicle they’d been trying to find. A 49-year-old Michigan City man who was a passenger in the car was questioned by police, but it does not appear he was arrested.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Urges Election Participation

The November election could be pivotal for Michigan’s future, and a new effort is encouraging all Michiganders to make their voices heard. AARP of Michigan is kicking off its Be the Difference campaign to engage more voters in the midterms. Manager of advocacy for AARP Michigan Lisa Dedden Cooper tells us they’ll be talking about key issues and educating voters about registration and absentee ballot information.. ...Read Full Story