Local News Archives

State Senate Candidate Forums Coming Up

Two candidate forums featuring the Republican and Democratic candidates for the Michigan Senate in the 21st District are set for next month. State Representative Kim LaSata has announced she’ll be at a Berrien RESA Candidate Forum on Monday, October 8. That event will be at 8 a.m. at the Administrative Center at Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs. The other event will be the Niles New Tech Candidate Forum on Friday, October 26. That’ll be at 5 p.m. at the Niles Library. Democrat Ian Haight, LaSata’s opponent, tells us he will also be at both events, although he would prefer traditional debates. Haight tells us the formats of the forums won’t allow for very detailed answers. Haight and LaSata are running to replace state Senator John Proos, who can’t run again due to term limits.. ...Read Full Story

Big Emergency Drill Coming Up

Coming up next month will be a nationwide test of emergency alert systems, and officials in Berrien County want the public to let them know how it goes. Set for Wednesday, October 3 at 2:20 p.m., the Federal Emergency Management Agency in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission will conduct the nationwide test of the IPAWS system. It sends out alerts to smart phones automatically, and users don’t have to sign up it. To get those wireless emergency alerts, though, you may need to look at the system settings in your phone. Berrien County Emergency Management tells us the county also has an opt-in service called B-WARN that people can sign up for. B-WARN allows the Emergency Management Office to send out text messages, phone calls, and emergency emails to residents. The county will put up a survey on its website following the October 3 national test to find out how many people were contacted. You can find it right here.. ...Read Full Story

Traffic Changes Likely For Napier

The public has had a chance to offer input on plans to repave part of Napier Avenue in St. Joseph and Benton townships starting next year. At a forum this week, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission talked about the possibility of adding sidewalks or bike paths along the road from the St. Joseph River to I-94. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News that could mean traffic changes.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Support For Young Parents

A new report looks at the outcomes of kids who are born to young parents. Researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found 9% of all 18 to 24-year-olds in Michigan — or about 85,000 people — have young children, and those families have about 100,000 kids between them. Alicia Guevara-Warren, Kids Count project director with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us one good idea would be to expand access to higher education and training.. ...Read Full Story

State Recognizes Rail Safety Week

This past week was Rail Safety Week in Michigan when everyone was reminded to follow the rules of railroad tracks. Sam Crowl with Michigan Operation Lifesaver tells WSJM News they held events all week following a proclamation by the governor. Crowl says everyone should know what to do if they get stuck on a crossing. Look for the Emergency Notification System sign.. ...Read Full Story

Local Schools To Address Literacy

Officials at Benton Harbor Area Schools are planning a new push to promote literacy. Communications Director Amy Nichols tells WSJM News “We Welcome Literacy” is a community event set for October 8 at the high school. On hand will be Dr. Patricia Edwards and Dr. Susan Piazza, experts on literacy education who will talk with parents about engaging the children in reading and learning.. ...Read Full Story

Lampricide Application Next Week In Van Buren County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be applying lampricides to the Campbell Creek system in Van Buren County starting on Tuesday. Administrator Scott Grunder tells WSJM News the goal is to fight the invasive sea lamprey, an effort that has been underway for about 60 years. The service applied lampricide to the Paw Paw River in Van Buren County last year, and Grunder says next week’s operation is related. He tells us the sea lamprey are a threat to Great Lakes fish.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Community Schools Building Improvements

A series of celebrations is underway at Niles Community Schools as the district completes several renovation projects at its buildings. Work has been done at Niles High School, Eastside Connections, Ballard Elementary School, and Niles Cedar Lane. Thursday brought a re-dedication of Eastside Connections, and Friday brought a re-dedication at Ballard Elementary School. Next week, they’ll celebrate at Niles High School and then Niles Cedar Lane the following week. The school district tells us thanks to the work, Niles High School now has a renovated science wing, equipped with updated lab stations, safety stations, flooring, windows, and furniture. Meanwhile, At Eastside Connections, there are new ceilings, lighting, heating systems, and a boiler system. Ballard Elementary School has received new ceilings, flooring, student desks, chairs, whiteboards, and new lighting. Finally, Oak Manor, now renamed Niles Cedar Lane after the program that will be housed there, has received security upgrades and a kitchen. Niles Community Schools Superintendent Dan Applegate says the renovations will serve the district for years to come.. ...Read Full Story

New Discipline, Security Measures At Benton Harbor High School

New disciplinary and security measures are being put in place at Benton Harbor High School. District CEO Robert Herrera announced Friday it has “become apparent that a minority of students at Benton Harbor High School are not committed to the educational process, and their behavior has resulted in a significant disruption to the learning environment.” Herrera goes on to write a new Student Code of Conduct will go into effect Monday with consequences for non-compliance. He says students will learn more during first hour on Monday. Herrera tells us students are going to be held accountable for their actions, and he asks parents to “emphasize the serious consequences that will result from disruptive behavior.” Finally, Herrera says students who are disruptive to learning “will be removed from the learning environment, pending the outcome of a due process hearing.” Friday’s announcement comes hours after the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department responded to a fight at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Names Wellness Center

Andrews University has formally named its wellness center in honor of a former president. The university in Berrien Springs tells us it’s to be called the Andreasen Center for Wellness in recognition of Niels-Erik Andreasen, president emeritus of Andrews. Andreasen served 22 years, from 1994 to 2016, as the fifth president of Andrews University. The university tells us his time there saw a variety of improvements to the campus, including the Seminary Hall addition, the Howard Performing Arts Center, the J.N. Andrews Boulevard and Welcome Globe, and more. The $17.5 million, 70,000-square-foot Andreasen Center for Wellness is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. It’ll have an indoor salt-water pool, a hot whirlpool, saunas, a steam bath, an outdoor wellness courtyard, a recreation center with basketball and multipurpose courts, a fitness center, and space for educational wellness programs. You can find out more about the center right here.. ...Read Full Story

ND Prices Garth Brooks Concert Parking From $20 to $60

The University of Notre Dame will be making a lot of money in parking revenue on October 20 when Garth Brooks performs at Notre Dame Stadium. Parking lots will open at 10 a.m. for the 7 p.m. show, and the university has released information on how much it will cost concertgoers on top of what they paid for their tickets. The Joyce/Stadium lot will be the most expensive at $60, while parking in the Library Lot and Innovation Park will set you back $40. Those parking passes can be purchased now. Three other lots will be available the day of the show without pre-paying to park. Those are the Burke Golf Course for $40, and parking at White Field and Bulla ADA is priced at $20 per vehicle. The gates of the stadium will open two hours before the show, and there will be alcohol served at concession stands.. ...Read Full Story

Wife Of Double Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty To Fraud

There’s a guilty plea connected to accused Benton Harbor double murderer Antwan Mims, but not in his case. His wife, Yalonda Mims, has entered a guilty plea to a charge of recording a fraudulent quit claim deed with the intent to defraud. She tried to sign his house over to herself while he was on the run from police and the FBI in June. Mims is still awaiting trial on charges of killing two men in front of more than 100 witnesses at a house party in Benton Harbor in March. He was placed on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List this summer and was caught July 31 in suburban Atlanta. Yalonda Mims will be sentenced in late October.. ...Read Full Story

Departments Team Up For Trail Project

The more than 10 mile trail being planned for Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County is a unique arrangement for the area. Instead of just being a Berrien County Parks Department effort, it’s a joint effort with the Berrien County Road Department. Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News the recent county takeover of the former road commission led to the two entities collaborating. The trail under discussion would go from Bridgman to New Buffalo. Latham says to keep the trail separate from the road, the road may need to be narrowed.. ...Read Full Story

Hundreds Busted In Drunk Driving Crackdown

Police say an end-of-summer crackdown on drunk driving across Michigan led to hundreds of arrests and citations. Michigan State Police announced Thursday the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown that started August 17 and ran through the Labor Day holiday weekend led to the arrest of 274 suspected drunk drivers. Kari Arend with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spoke with the Michigan News Network about the crackdown.. ...Read Full Story

Al-Van Humane Society Anniversary

The Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven is a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to providing emergency food and shelter for homeless pets. Providing public education is an important part of Al-Van’s efforts to reduce the number of homeless and unwanted pets. Celebrating 50 years of service to Van Buren and Allegan counties, Al-Van is inviting the public to the South Haven Brew Pub this Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. to share stories and pictures of shelter animals over the years and to have a beer named after them. Details of the event can be found at Al-Van.org.. ...Read Full Story

School Threat Suspect Arrested

The man wanted for calling in a phony threat about someone with a gun at Eau Claire High School earlier this month is now in the Berrien County Jail. Police arrested 32-year-old Justin Bashore of Niles during a traffic stop Wednesday night on M-140 near Napier Avenue. Bashore was in the back seat of the car. He was arrested on five outstanding warrants out of Berrien and Cass counties including a felony for false reporting of a felony. On September 7, police say he called Berrien County dispatch saying there was a teenager with a rifle in one of the school bathrooms, prompting an evacuation and a search. No gun or armed teenager were found.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Snyder: Road Lockout Is Over

More than 150 stalled road projects across Michigan will resume because road builders have agreed to end a lockout of a union of heavy equipment operators. Governor Snyder announced the end of the labor impasse Thursday. He says the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association is ending the more than three-week long lockout of Operating Engineers Local 324, which started September 4 after the union sought to negotiate new contracts with contractors individually rather than through MITA. Union members will report to work immediately, and the priority will be for projects that can be finished before the arrival of winter weather. Snyder met with both sides earlier this week and says the contractors and union will use professional mediation through the winter to help them negotiate a new contract. The state had been considering activating the National Guard to handle some of the work.. ...Read Full Story

Vote On Spending Plan Likely

A major federal spending bill will be considered by the U.S. House this week to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, and among its supporters is Congressman Fred Upton. He tells us the bill is a combination of 12 different appropriations bills that cover defense, health, education, and labor. President Trump announced on Twitter last week he’s not the biggest fan because of one thing that’s missing.. ...Read Full Story

West Nile Death In Allegan County

A death from the West Nile virus has been announced in Allegan County. West Nile, a mosquito-borne illness, can lead to serious neurological complications, especially in the elderly or people with diabetes or hypertension. The Allegan County Health Department’s Lisa Letts tells WSJM News you’re advised to avoid mosquitoes until the first hard frost.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Underway For Red Arrow Trail

The public has had a chance to review a possible Red Arrow Highway trail project being planned in Berrien County. At an open house on Wednesday, Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News the master plan for the linear trail from Bridgman to New Buffalo is being put together now.. ...Read Full Story

August SWM Home Sales Report

Home sales in southwest Michigan dropped a bit during August. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors tells us in August the number of houses sold dropped 7% from August of 2017. Also, the average and median selling prices once again increased. This time, the average leaped 21% and the median price went up 7%. The association tells us the August 2018 average and median selling prices and total dollar volume, along with the year-to-date prices and volume, set the highest records since 2006 in the year-over-year comparison. That average selling price in August was more than $238,000. Inventory of houses for sale decreased 4% from a year ago, meaning the availability of homes remains a concern. Meanwhile, the percentage of sales that were foreclosures went up in August to 6% from July’s 4%.. ...Read Full Story

Final Defendant Sentenced For Kalamazoo-Van Buren Meth Ring

A 39-year-old Kalamazoo man is headed to prison for more than 19 years for his part in a meth ring in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties that operated from July 2016 until last December. Michael Neeley was the last of nine people to be sentenced in the federal case. Neeley’s 235-month sentence is the longest handed down to the drug dealers due to his extensive prior criminal history. Federal prosecutors say the drug traffickers got started with a meeting with a Phoenix, Arizona meth supplier in July 2016 and soon began selling crystal meth in southwest Michigan, receiving the drugs through UPS and the regular US mail. Among those previously sentenced were Noel Saldana of Hartford, the ringleader who was given 210 months in prison, and Justin Smith of Watervliet, who was sentenced to 10 years.. ...Read Full Story