Local News Archives

Record Humane Society Auction

This year’s Bids for Barks auction to benefit the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan was a resounding success. So says the Humane Society, which tells us a record amount was raised at the event, held May 19 at the Mendel Center in Benton Township. Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond spoke with WSJM News about the auction.. ...Read Full Story

Silver Beach Fight Prompts South Bend Coach To Resign

The fight that shut down Silver Beach County Park early on Monday evening is pushing a high school wrestling coach in South Bend to resign. Tony McWilliams posted on Facebook that he was stepping down as the coach at Washington High School because he’s upset by the school’s inaction regarding the bullying of his daughters. McWilliams says video of the fight shows his daughters being jumped by girls who had been bullying them at school. He says he will fight until he’s “satisfied with the outcome,” adding “zero tolerance is supposed to mean zero tolerance.” McWilliams says he “played along for a year” and is seeking “justice from everyone.” Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told WSJM News this week that the fights at the beach were started by women who had come to town from northern Indiana.. ...Read Full Story

MI Colleges Increasing Success Rates

Students at Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges are finding more success, according to data reported this week by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. Spokesperson Lauren Leeds tells WSJM News university students successfully complete their degrees after six years about 71% of the time. As for community college students…. ...Read Full Story

AAA On “100 Deadliest Days”

AAA of Michigan is calling the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the 100 deadliest days on the road. For that reason, it’s reaching out to teens and reminding them of some safe driving tips. AAA spokesperson Gary Bubar tells Michigan News Network teen drivers have little to no experience, and are on the roads making mistakes like not leaving enough space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them.. ...Read Full Story

Mini Makers Faire This Weekend

Coming up this Saturday is the fourth annual Southwest Michigan Mini Maker’s Faire at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph. The fair is organized by Berrien RESA to celebrate that maker spirit that’s been growing in southwest Michigan. RESA Technology Consultant Joe Rommel tells WSJM News there will be all kinds of makers showing off the things they’ve produced. There will also be interactive displays.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Man Charged In Machete Attack

A Hartford man has been formally charged with felony assault for striking the arm of his uncle with a machete, causing a deep cut, during some sort of dispute between the two last week. 22-year-old Duane Dishman blurted out during his Tuesday hearing that he felt his uncle was trespassing and he was just defending his property. The victim was hospitalized at Bronson Lakeview for treatment of the deep cut, and is expected to recover. Dishman was on probation at the time of the assault, compounding his legal problems.. ...Read Full Story

Petitions Submitted To Put Paid Sick Time On Ballot

The Michigan Time to Care Coalition has turned in over 382,000 signatures to the Bureau of Elections, more than enough to qualify for the November ballot. The ballot measure would provide nearly two million workers in Michigan the chance to take a day off when they’re sick or need to care for an ill child. The “Earned Sick Time Act” would guarantee employees at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Proponents of the ballot proposal argue that after years of waiting for action from elected officials, the people have stood up and have taken this issue into their own hands. Many employers already offer their workers paid sick time, but it is not a requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Police On Beach Safety

Hot weather and summer vacation with the kids often means a trip to the beach. South Haven has seven public beaches and all them have beach warning flags that will inform you about swimming conditions in Lake Michigan at the beach where you are. South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Officials Lack Resources For Inspections

From the Associated Press — A newspaper investigation has found the Michigan fire marshal’s office hasn’t performed annual inspections of churches, theaters, restaurants or other places of public assemblage as required by state law. The Lansing State Journal reports that the Legislature has never funded the requirement. The state fire marshal’s office alleges local fire departments perform the inspections.
But surveys show that most fire departments statewide are all-volunteer with no inspectors on staff. Michigan also doesn’t track fires across the state or whether the burned buildings had been inspected. Lansing Fire Marshal Marshaun Blake says his office only inspects public
assemblage places if there’s a complaint, request or significant change to the building. Former state Fire Marshal Julie Secontine says Michigan has ignored the issue for four decades. She worries that Michigan won’t dedicate the resources needed until after a tragedy.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Traffic Deaths Up From 2017

It was a deadlier Memorial Day weekend this year than last. Preliminary reports sent in to Michigan State Police show 15 people were killed in 11 separate crashes, up from 10 dead in 10 crashes in 2017. Of those wrecks, alcohol was a factor in two, and five involved motorcycles. One of the people killed was a pedestrian. State police say the numbers could still go up, as those figures are only what had been reported to them as of yesterday morning. The holiday weekend ran from 6 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.. ...Read Full Story

New Summer Event In Bridgman

Downtown Bridgman will be a livelier place this summer thanks to a new series of events organized by the city and local merchants. Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum tells WSJM News this past Friday brought the first of four Bridgman Family Friday Fests. The events are inspired by the winter Holiday Village festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Committee Approves Proos STEM Bill

A Michigan House committee has approved legislation from state Senator John Proos to encourage high school students to take more STEM classes. Proos tells WSJM News students who take extra science, technology, engineering, or math classes could get a STEM certification on their diploma or transcript. He says that would help those students find work.. ...Read Full Story

Sex Abuse Victims To Have More Time To Sue

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign into law bills inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal, including one that would give childhood sexual abuse victims more time to sue. The current cutoff to file a lawsuit in Michigan is generally a victim’s 19th birthday, which critics say is out of step with the laws in other states and doesn’t account for how many victims are afraid to report abuse or have suppressed it. The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow people who were sexually abused as children to sue until their 28th birthdays or three years from when they realized they had been abused. Nassar victims would get a 90-day window to sue retroactively.Snyder is also expected to sign legislation that would give prosecutors additional time to file charges in second- and third-degree sexual conduct cases if the victim was younger than 18.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Flower Planting In South Haven

Volunteers will be sprucing up part of South Haven on Thursday. SHOUT for South Haven tells us new soil has been placed in the planters on the Dyckman Bridge, which means it’s time for flowers. Starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, SHOUT volunteers will be out planting those flowers to serve as decorations for the whole summer. Anyone who wants to help is welcome to show up. Just bring some gloves and a trowel. The project should be completed in an hour or two. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but moved to Thursday due to expected rain.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Talks Silver Beach

Rowdy crowds at Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph caused police to clear the place out Monday night, but there were no injuries in the incident. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey tells WSJM News his deputies started to break up some fights involving groups of people who arrived about 7 p.m. By 8:30, the decision was made to shut the place down.. ...Read Full Story

Protesters At Mackinac Conference

Some of the people getting off the ferry to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference on Tuesday were be handed lollipops by protesters. The lollies came with a plea “not to be a sucker” for Enbridge, the company behind the Enbridge Line Five oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. The conference draws the state’s biggest names in policy and business. David Holtz, with the “Oil and Water Don’t Mix Coalition,” says the 65-year-old pipeline is dangerous and should be decommissioned.. ...Read Full Story

Group Submits Petitions For Paid Sick Time

From the Associated Press — Michigan workers would receive mandatory sick days under a newly filed initiative that could appear on the November ballot. The group Michigan Time to Care turned in 382,239 signatures Tuesday for a petition to create an “Earned Sick Time Act” that would guarantee employees at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Businesses with 10 or more workers would be required to provide at least 72 hours of earned sick time per year, while smaller ones would have to grant 40 hours. The proposal now awaits certification before heading to the Republican-controlled Legislature. If rejected there, the initiative would be put to a popular vote this fall. Since 2015, Michigan has prohibited local governments from requiring that businesses provide earned leave time and other benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Small Fire In Sign At St. Joseph Harding’s

The Harding’s on Niles Avenue in St. Joseph opened on time and with no issues this morning, but that’s after St. Joseph Public Safety responded to a small fire. Officers were dispatched just before 5 a.m. to the store and found a small fire in the neon sign. It was put out without any major damage, and there were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Large Fight Prompts Closure Of Silver Beach County Park

Once again on a holiday, a large fight has resulted in a local beach being shut down. Police cleared Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph before sundown last night due to a disturbance. WSJM News has not yet obtained details on how many people may have been involved. The beach was the scene of a large fight involving around 200 people last year in early June, and several people were arrested during a riot at the beach on the 4th of July in 2015. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and St. Joseph Public Safety have both increased patrols at the beach in recent years. North beach in South Haven had to be shut down on July 4th in 2016 due to a large fight.. ...Read Full Story

Body Of Missing Benton Twp Man Found In Lake Michigan

An autopsy is scheduled on the body of a 48-year-old Benton Township man found in Lake Michigan off the north pier at Tiscornia Park on Memorial Day. Benton Township police tell WSJM News he’s been identified as Michael Fitzgerald William, who hadn’t been seen since May 8 and was reported missing by his family two days later. William had last been seen in the area of Upton and North Upton Drive. Police say the cause of his death has not yet been determined. A boater called 9-1-1 after seeing the body about 200 yards from the north pier just after 10:30 a.m. on Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard pulled William’s body from the lake.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Expands OK2Say Line

The Michigan House last week approved legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand the OK2SAY tip line to include reporting on sexual abuse, assault, and rape. The bill was part of an 18-bill package intended to better protect students following the Larry Nassar debacle. LaSata tells us about it.. ...Read Full Story

Jail Project On Track

The renovation project at the Berrien County Jail is on track. Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the work is going by quietly and fluidly. The $8.4 million project will involve improvements and an expansion to the intake area, exam rooms, and more space for female inmates.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Population Gains

Southwest Michigan has seen some population gains in the past year. According to Kinexus, after years of population loss, the tri-county region of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties showed a slight increase in 2017. Across the three counties, the population went up by 426 people. Berrien County gained 102 residents, or 0.10%. Van Buren County saw an increase of 152 people, or 0.20%, and Cass County’s population went up by 172, or 0.30%. Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson tells us a declining population, an aging workforce, and lower educational attainment are the three big problems facing southwest Michigan. He tells us the 2017 figures are encouraging, considering the region’s overall population decline since 2010. Gustafson says, since then, we’ve seen a 2% decline in population since 2010 in Berrien County, a 2% decline in Cass County, and a 1% decline in Van Buren County over the past seven years.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Huron Drownings On The Rise

Huron County officials are bracing for the seasonal surge of kayakers taking advantage of the north shore of Lake Huron for adventure. Sheriff Kelly Hanson tells Michigan News Network they’ve also handled a surge of rescue calls from kayakers not prepared for the dangers of kayaking on one of the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story