Local News Archives

Cass County Treasurer Dies

WSJM News has learned that Cass County Treasurer Linda Pruett has died. Pruett passed away Sunday evening. She had been in office since 2002. No details surrounding her passing have yet been released by Cass County officials, including naming an interim treasurer or setting a special election. We will have more on this story on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Contribute To Watervliet Clock

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has chipped in to help spruce up downtown Watervliet. It’s given the city a $3,500 Placemaking Grant to purchase a two-faced Victorian-style exterior post clock for the area. The clock will be installed near Library Park on Main Street, and the Watervliet Community Development Coordinator says it’s intended to become a focal point in the community. The total cost for the clock is $7,500, and the Watervliet DDA, city, and some residents have also helped reach the total amount needed. Mikki Swisher with American Homes Real Estate in Coloma is the realtor sponsor for the donation. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Placemakers Grants are awarded to various community projects in the area, and are typically in the range of a few thousand dollars. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Autopsies Show 6 Killed In Motel Fire Died From Smoke Inhalation

Smoke inhalation is what killed a mother and her five children between the ages of 10 and 2 in a fire at the Cosmo Extended Living Motel in Sodus Township on M-139 just north of I-94 on Saturday. The fire started just before 2 a.m. and has been ruled accidental. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells us the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found no evidence of accelerants or narcotics manufacturing at the scene. ...Read Full Story

SJ Water Pipe Work

One of the water intake pipes from Lake Michigan for the city of St. Joseph’s water supply needs to be cleaned out. Greg Alimenti is the city’s water plant superintendent and utility services director and told the city commission the north intake has between two and four-feet of sand that has accumulated along with a layer of zebra mussels that need to be removed. He says there are other worries as well.. ...Read Full Story

Man Caught In Act Burglarizing Van Buren County Home

A man is in the Van Buren County Jail awaiting arraignment on home invasion and other charges after breaking into a Porter Township home Saturday night. A couple had gone to their parents’ home and discovered the suspect inside. He threatened to kill the woman, who was calling 9-1-1, and she and her husband were forced to leave the home. While still on the phone with dispatchers, they saw the suspect leave the home with one of the homeowner’s vehicles, and gave chase until Lawton police took over. The suspect then crashed into a field and tried to run away before being caught a few hours later with the help of a K-9 from the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post. Several items from the home were found with him. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Shooting In Dowagiac

The Dowagiac Police Department is investigating a shooting Sunday that left one man dead. It tells us officers were sent to the Beeson Street Bar for a large fight in progress at approximately 2:30 a.m. While on the way, the officers heard several gunshots coming from the area around Beeson Street.  Officers arrived and found a large crowd of people and what they described as a chaotic scene. The officers found one man who was dead from a gunshot wound.. ...Read Full Story

Walk In Clinic For South Haven

Bronson Healthcare is opening a new walk-in clinic in South Haven. The Bronson FastCare location will be there for anyone seeking treatment without an appointment for minor conditions or illnesses like sore throats, flu, ear and sinus infections, pink eye, and allergies. It’s a way for someone to get quick care without having to go to an emergency room. Bronson says FastCare will take most insurances, and will honor the office visit co-pay determined by the patient’s insurance company. The facility will be located across the street from Bronson South Haven Hospital at 970 South Bailey Avenue. Its opening is set for Wednesday, August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crash During Chase

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says a 24-year-old Berrien County man is dead following a chase with police that ended in a crash. Deputies tell us it started around 5:30 p.m. Friday when a report came in of a possible drunk driver. A deputy spotted the vehicle in question in Niles and tried to pull it over, but it took off at a high rate of speed. The sheriff’s department tells us during the chase, the driver of the vehicle made several erratic maneuvers and exceeded 100 miles per hour on some stretches of Niles-Buchanan Road. He eventually lost control on westbound Niles-Buchanan Road west of Mayflower Road, left the north side of the road, and hit a tree. The driver, identified as David Lee Bross Jr., was pronounced dead at a South Bend Hospital. The Berrien  County Sheriff’s Department tells us the pursuing deputy did not have sight of the fleeing vehicle at the time of the crash and the deputy only saw the dust cloud caused by the vehicle leaving the road and hitting the tree. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Van Buren County Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Almena Township. Troopers say it happened on M-43 near  22nd Street shortly after midnight on Sunday. They tell us the driver of a westbound passenger vehicle lost control and swerved off the road. The vehicle went down an embankment and rolled over. It had 3 occupants, all men from Weslaco, Texas. The front seat passenger was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene. The rear seat passenger was released from the scene without injuries. The driver was arrested for operating while intoxicated, causing death. He was taken to the Van Buren County Jail. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Water Safety Reminder

Even the strongest swimmers and most experienced boaters will be in big trouble if they fall into fast-moving river water. That’s a lesson to learn after a Kalamazoo kayaker was found dead in the St. Joseph River after a three day search this past week. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News the river conditions have been harsh lately.. ...Read Full Story

Comments Being Taken On MDOT Plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released its next five-year plan and is taking the public’s comments. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the biggest projects tend to be in the large metro areas, although there are about 15 Berrien County road and bridge projects planned. They include laying the groundwork for the eventual connection of US-31 and I-94. The prep work includes two separate projects.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Praises Company Expansion

Governor Rick Snyder is pleased to see his Good Jobs for Michigan tax incentive being used for the first time in the expansion of Pfizer that was announced this week. The drug maker is investing in its plant in Portage. Snyder tells WSJM News the Pfizer plan is exactly what Good Jobs for Michigan was designed to do.. ...Read Full Story

Changes At SJ Public Safety

City officials in St. Joseph are remaining tight-lipped about the sudden resignation on Friday of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge after a little less than two years on the job. City Manager John Hodgson wouldn’t address rumors that have been floating about the conduct of the former director. He did tell WSJM News there were some other issues, however.. ...Read Full Story

Motel Fire Under Investigation

The American Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter for those who were displaced by a motel fire in Sodus Township early Saturday morning. Six people were killed in the blaze at the Cosmo Extended Living Motel on M-139. They were a 26-year-old woman and her five children. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey spoke with WSJM News at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Gets Dog Park

The city of Buchanan has opened its first dog park. City Manager Bill Marx tells WSJM News the Field of Dreams Dog Park, located at the south end of Clark Street and is part of the McCoy Recreation Area, is the result of a four year campaign by the dog park committee.. ...Read Full Story

Tariffs Hit Whirlpool

Whirlpool stock took a hit after the release of second quarter earnings this week. The appliance maker reported a loss in the quarter of $657 million, and fell short of Wall Street expectations with just $3.20 earnings per share. CEO Marc Bitzer says there were several macroeconomic factors going against them in the last three months, notably the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on imported steel and aluminum.. ...Read Full Story

Victims Identified In Deadly Sodus Twp Hotel Fire

Six members of one family have been killed in an overnight fire at the Cosmo Extended Living Hotel in Sodus Township. The fire started just before 2 a.m. Saturday, firefighters and other first responders immediately began to evacuate the building when they arrived to see it filled with fire and smoke. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department estimates 90% of the rooms had fire, smoke, or water damage. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. The sheriff’s department has identified the victims as:. ...Read Full Story

Rental Rule Vote Coming Soon

The city of South Haven isn’t the only municipality having to deal with the short-term rental issue. Casco Township has seen a rising number of homes being acquired by investors to rent out as short-term vacation homes. Some year-round residents say they have had to repeatedly call police to report rowdy behavior. Casco Township officials have been working on a zoning ordinance for residents to approve or disapprove on August 7. The ordinance limits the number of guests allow in a vacation rental, stating guests must follow the township noise ordinance. The ordinance also set up a home inspection program that requires smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Already in place is a 24-hour hotline for short term rental complaints.. ...Read Full Story

Nature Preserve Planned In Chikaming Township

Chikaming Open Lands is looking to set up a new nature preserve, and it’s raising money to make that happen. Executive Director Ryan Postema tells WSJM News the conservation group wants to purchase 49 acres in Chikaming Township on Warren Woods Road between Warren Woods State Park and the Chikaming Township Preserve.. ...Read Full Story

Property Auction Next Week

The summer Berrien County Land Auction is Tuesday. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News it’s a chance for anyone to bid on recently-foreclosed properties. Although the number of available properties is down, Witkowski says the variety is wide.. ...Read Full Story

Former Officer Going To Trial

A former officer for the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is heading to trial for running a man down with his squad car during a chase in May. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us 51-year-old Patrol Officer Steven Johnson ran over a man who was trying to escape police in Benton Harbor the night of May 10. Officers were investigating a report of a stolen lawnmower when it happened. The man, 25-year-old Ronald Glover, Jr., recovered, and was later sentenced to a year in jail for resisting and obstructing as well as possession of marijuana. In court last week, prosecutors showed dashcam video taken from that night as Johnson pursued Glover into an alley and struck him with his squad vehicle. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us the footage makes it appear the collision was intentional. The video shows Glover get up after being hit, pause, and then continue fleeing. Judge Arthur Cotter last Thursday set Johnson’s trial on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon for October 16. Johnson faces up to four years in prison if convicted.. ...Read Full Story

County Considers Transportation Aid

Berrien County could be lending a hand to Cass County when it comes to managing transportation services. This week, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners tabled a proposal to have the county’s transportation planner and coordinator work for Cass County one day per week. Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Lighthouse Featured On Vernors Cans

The St. Joseph Lighthouse has a new claim to fame, now appearing on some limited-edition cans of Vernors ginger ale. Working with Pure Michigan, Vernors is featuring historic Michigan lighthouses on its cans. They are the St. Joseph Lighthouse, along with the lighthouses at Forty Mile Point in Rogers City, Old Mackinac Point in Mackinaw City, Point Iroquois in Brimley, Point Betsie in Frankfort, Little Sable Point in Mears, and Fort Gratiot in Port Huron. The image of the St. Joe Lighthouse appearing on those Vernors cans is courtesy of an image from well-known photographer Josh Nowicki. Vernors says it wanted to showcase Michigan lighthouses on its cans as a way of celebrating the state. The cans will be available through October.. ...Read Full Story

Payments To Nassar Victims Halted

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University has halted payments from a $10 million fund it set up for counseling services for victims of now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar amid concerns about possible fraudulent
claims. The Lansing State Journal reports the school stopped making payments Wednesday after the Healing Assistance Fund administrator’s flagged the issue. MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant says stopping payments will allow an investigation
into the issue. Guerrant says the fund had distributed more than $1.1 million as of June 30. Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He is imprisoned for molesting athletes and possessing child pornography.
The Detroit News reports John Manly, a civil attorney for roughly 200 victims, says fraud should be rooted out but that he worries about how victims will cope without.. ...Read Full Story

Democrat Whitmer Releases Plan To Fight Urban Poverty

As the August 7th primary approaches, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gretchen Whitmer is releasing her plan to fight urban poverty. It includes her support for regional transit, the effort to cut auto insurance rates, and expand affordable housing. Whitmer, who served in Lansing in the House and Senate for several years, was asked why she didn’t try to fix those pressing issues during her time in the Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

PFAS Renders Drinking Water Unusable In Parts Of Kalamazoo County

Don’t try to boil it or filter it. Health officials in Kalamazoo County are telling residents of the city of Parchment and Cooper Township to not drink the water. Officials are advising residents to immediately stop using tap water for drinking, making baby formula and washing vegetables. Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says authorities only became aware of the situation on Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rental Meeting

The South Haven Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss and fine tune two proposals regarding short-term rentals. One of the proposals to be discussed is possibly to prohibit short-term rentals in newly-constructed homes and-or prohibit occupancy increases after renovations. The other proposal to be discussed involves prohibiting or putting a cap on new short-term rentals in certain areas of the city, generally south of the Black River and close to Lake Michigan. This special meeting is a Planning Commission Work Session at 1pm. The next Regular Planning Commission Meeting will be held on August 2nd at 7.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Spruce Up Park

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has helped to improve another park in the region. This time it’s the playground area next to Milton Township Hall in Cass County. The realtor’s association provided the township with a Placemaking Grant of a little more than $2,400 to make it happen. The township used the money to buy bike racks and trash receptacles for the area. Members of the Association of Realtors also volunteered to install the items and to paint and spruce up the park. Realtor Mark VanDusen was the sponsor for the Milton Township Park grant. He says the area next to the town hall is for the community to play, have picnics, and hold family events. You can find out more about Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Placemaking Grants right here.. ...Read Full Story

Changes Coming To School Board

There will be some new faces on the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education next year. That’s because four trustees who could have run in November have opted not to file. Trustees Joseph Taylor, Martha Momany, Margaret Gast, and Marletta Seats, who is also the board president, are sitting out, according to The Herald Palladium. They did not file by Tuesday’s deadline. The Berrien County Clerk’s office tells us three candidates have filed. They are Patricia Rush of Sodus Township, Matthew Bradley of Benton Harbor, and Lue Buchana of Benton Township. Buchana is a former school trustee for Benton Harbor Area Schools. The board of education, whoever is on it, will have a reduced role going forward. That’s after the board agreed this summer to hire Robert Herrera as the district’s new CEO. Herrera is working directly under the state, which is now mostly in control. The school board at this point only controls things related to taxes and borrowing.. ...Read Full Story