Local News Archives

New Wind Farm Planned For MI

From the Associated Press — DTE Energy says it has plans for 50 to 70 wind turbines in southern Michigan’s Branch County.
The Daily Reporter says the utility made a presentation Thursday to county commissioners in Coldwater. Commission Chairman Ted Gordon says any key decisions about the placement of turbines will be made by townships. Michael Sage of Detroit-based DTE says 180 people have signed agreements so far, covering 31,000 acres. He says the project is in the
“development stage” and could take a few more years. Critics of the wind project carried signs outside the courthouse and filled
the meeting. Pam Reed told commissioners that the economic benefits from DTE wind farms in Michigan’s Thumb haven’t been as good as promised.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Commission To Vote On Interim Public Safety Director

The St. Joseph City Commission is expected to approve a pair of changes tonight to top personnel in the city. City Manager John Hodgson is requesting the commission approve the appointment of Deputy Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker to the post of interim director, while Public Works Director Tom MacDonald is expected to be approved as the acting assistant city manager. The moves are the result of the abrupt resignation Friday of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge. The official explanation from Hodgson is Uridge is leaving for a private sector opportunity, but the resignation was effective immediately. WSJM News is aware of rumors surrounding the exit of the now-former director, but Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us there is no criminal investigation underway, and he knows nothing more than has been reported today about the situation.. ...Read Full Story

Sen. Schuitmaker Upset House Speaker Won’t Debate In Attorney General Race

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton is upset that her opponent in the race for the Republican nomination for attorney general is ducking a debate. Schuitmaker has agreed to a televised debate on PBS affiliates in the state prior to the Michigan Republican Party’s state convention later this summer, at which the nominee will be chosen. House Speaker Tom Leonard’s camp, however, is dismissing the idea without giving an explanation as to why. Both are term-limited in their respective legislative offices, though Leonard is eligible to serve two terms in the Senate if he were to run. The attorney general’s office is open this fall as Bill Schuette has served his two terms and is ineligible for another. He’s instead running for governor. On the Democratic side, Dana Nessel is likely the A.G. nominee after former U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles dropped out of the race earlier this year when he didn’t get enough support at a delegate convention. The Democrats will also officially nominate a candidate later this summer for the office, as it’s one of the few state offices that is not on the primary ballot in August.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Bridge Closure In Effect

The Michigan Department of Transportation has shut down a bridge near Union Pier for some construction work. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News as part of construction on five bridges over I-94 near the Michigan-Indiana state line, the Union Pier Road bridge over I-94 closed on Wednesday and will remain closed through August 12. A detour is posted. Schirripa says MDOT grouped the five summer bridge projects together.. ...Read Full Story

Register Of Deeds Applications

Applications are now being accepted by Berrien County to fill the vacant Register of Deeds office. That elected office was left by the death this summer of Lori Jarvis, whose elected term ran through December 31, 2020. A committee made up of Probate Judge Mabel Mayfield, Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler, and Prosecutor Michael Sepic will review the applications. Those interested should be at least 18, be registered to vote in Berrien County, and ideally have experience managing a small staff and an office budget along with being familiar with real estate matters. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on August 17. To do so, send a completed application, available on the county’s website, along with a cover letter and resume to: Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler, Courthouse, 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085.. ...Read Full Story

Search For Missing Kayaker

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will resume its search for a missing kayaker on Monday. It tells us 35-year-old Michael Scott of Kalamazoo was reported by friends as missing shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday near the Jasper Dairy Road boat launch along the St. Joseph River in Royalton Township. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Marine Unit and Dive Team searched the river Saturday and then resumed the search Sunday. The sheriff’s department tells us an advanced aerial drone was used in the search Sunday along with an underwater drone. The search was considered high risk due to high water, fast flowing water, and debris. Underwater visibility was described as low. The search will resume on Monday and police say Scott is considered missing.. ...Read Full Story

Block Grant Budgets

Benton Harbor City Commissioners this week signed off on a couple of budgets for federal Community Development Block Grants. At a meeting on Monday, the commission heard unused funds from 2014 through 2017, totalling about $1.1 million, will go to priorities including a master plan update, repairs to the Armory, the Hull Park basketball court, and Dial a Ride. Commissioner Juanita Henry wasn’t entirely pleased with the plan. ...Read Full Story

Biden Coming To BH

Former Vice President Joe Biden will kick off the 75th season of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan’s Speakers Series. Biden will address members at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Township on Tuesday, October 16. You’ll remember the club also landed former President George W. Bush for his first speech after leaving office. Robin Hood CEO, best selling author and Army veteran Wes Moore will speak on November 14, followed by NBC News political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on March 26. Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani will be the season’s final speaker on April 9.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Welcomes New Principal

There’s a new principal at Bridgman High School. Superintendent Shane Peters tells us the board of education on Monday voted unanimously to hire Gerald Heath for the position. He replaces Sam Stine, who became the Bridgman Public Schools Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education this summer. Heath has served as the middle and high school principal at Lake Michigan Catholic. He’s also been an assistant principal and athletic director at Lake Michigan Catholic and a high school math teacher. Heath will officially begin his duties on July 23, and the district is making arrangements for the public and students to meet him. He says he’s excited to begin the new job.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks For Youth Program

A new study from the University of Michigan has found the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program has a major effect on the students who participate. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News the 10-year-old program helps young people finish high school, guides them toward post-secondary education, and teaches them soft skills for the workplace.. ...Read Full Story

Public Safety Director Resigns

St. Joseph Department of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge has resigned. He submitted his notice of resignation Friday, indicating to city officials he is returning to the public sector and a private life. Uridge told city staff that he has enjoyed working for St. Joseph and getting to know the community. Uridge, who also served as the assistant city manager, added he believes “We have achieved the goals I and the City had set for us when I joined Saint Joseph government. Now it is time for me to move on to new challenges.” St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson tells us the city commission will consider related issues — such as appointing an acting/interim director — on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

New City Rental Rules

The South Haven City Council this week adopted Phase 1 of the new Short Term Rental Amendments. Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier has the specifics says the old one-time $20 fee is shooting way up to an annual fee of $200 once the ordinance has been published, which is expected in about ten days.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest For Drunk Driving With Children In Car

A Detroit woman is facing charges after being arrested for drunk driving early Saturday morning in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a deputy was on his way to work around 5 a.m. when he spotted a vehicle swerving erratically on westbound I-94 near the Paw Paw exit. He pulled the vehicle over, and the 31-year-old woman behind the wheel told him she was on her way to Detroit from a party in Kalamazoo. The deputy told her she’d been going the wrong way and administered a blood alcohol test which found her to be three times the legal limit. After getting the woman to jail, sheriff’s deputies learned the woman had given them a false name and did not have a valid driver’s license. The woman had three boys in the vehicle with her — a 10-month-old, a 2-year-old, and a 7-year-old. Their father was called to come and get them. The woman is now facing charges of drunk driving, child endangerment, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, driving on a suspended license, and giving false information to police. Police say the woman also had three warrants out in Detroit. Her name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

BCF Grants Announced

More than $117,000 in For Good Grants were announced this week by the Berrien Community Foundation. The foundation’s Susan Matheny tells WSJM News the For Good Grants come from interest off the organization’s endowments so the grants can last forever. The grants announced this week go to 24 non-profits.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Welcomes New Trustee

There’s a new trustee in place at Lake Michigan College. At a meeting this week, the LMC Board of Trustees voted to appoint Joan Smith to a vacant seat. The position was formerly occupied by Judy Truesdell, who retired last month. Smith has been the chair of LMC’s Campaign for Tomorrow, which raised money for the new Hanson Tech Center. She’s also served on the LMC Foundation Board. She tells WSJM News she believes in the mission of community colleges.. ...Read Full Story

City Considers Trash Problems

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to put the community’s trash collector on notice. At a meeting this past week, they talked at length about how to correct problems reported with the service provided by We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation since the company was hired last year. Those problems include a lack of trash cans for residents and rude workers. The commission considered a resolution to send a 60-day contract termination notice to We-Cycle. Commissioner Ruthie Haralson spoke at Monday’s meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Tariffs Hit Soybeans

Michigan soybean growers are being hit by the Trump administration’s new tariffs on China. Michigan Farm Bureau Field Crops Specialist Kate Thiel tells WSJM News direct sales of soy to China are expected to drop by 23%.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Meeting

The Van Buren County Road Commission is hoping to fill in the public next week about its need for new road funding. The last of three public information meetings on an August ballot proposal for a new millage will be Tuesday, July 24 at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence. The meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m. The road commission tells us on hand will be engineers who will give a Power Point presentation regarding the proposed millage, along with a review of the current road conditions, the current road funding, and the intent of the millage. The road commission is asking voters for an additional three mills for 12 years. That would work out to about $15 per month for the average property owner. The Van Buren County Road Commission tells us road funding is grossly inadequate under old models still in place. Right now, about 67% of the roads in the county are classified as being in poor condition. Everyone is invited to next Tuesday’s meeting to hear more.. ...Read Full Story

Splash Pad For South Haven

Future visitors to South Haven’s South Beach will most likely be enjoying a splash pad. The public has asked for it and the city’s parks and recreation department is now working on engineering studies. That’s according to Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier. She spoke with WSJM News about the project.. ...Read Full Story

County Promotes Tax Accounts

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is thanking Honor Credit Union for making an effort to promote its new property tax savings accounts. Witkowski tells WSJM News he worked with some local banks to create the accounts taxpayers can use to have a portion of their earnings put aside each month for property taxes later in the year.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Elect Tribal Chair

Matt Wesaw has been elected as the Tribal Council Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Wesaw was picked for the post in the tribe’s general election on Saturday, July 14. This is Wesaw’s third election as tribal chairman with the previous elections being in 2008 and 2012. In October 2013, Wesaw announced his retirement from the council to become the executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. At that time, current Chairman John P. Warren was chosen in a special election to serve out the remainder of the term and was re-elected in 2015. With Wesaw now once again serving as tribal chairman, he’ll also serve as CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority Board, which oversees the band’s casino properties in New Buffalo, Hartford, Dowagiac, and South Bend. Also elected July 14 were Kelly Curran as secretary, Colin Wesaw as elders representative, and Gary Morseau, Sr. as member at large. The Pokagon band includes around 5,600 citizens.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Volunteer Awards

The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is saluting its Volunteers of the Year. Mainstage Director Grace Kelmer tells us they held their annual volunteer appreciation dinner this month, and named Larry and Linda Becker as the recipients of the award. Kelmer tells us the Mendel Center relies on volunteers.. ...Read Full Story

Film Being Shot In St. Joseph

There another movie being shot around southwest Michigan. Filmmaker John Hancock, the director of Prancer and 2015’s The Looking Glass, could be seen with his crew in downtown St. Joseph on Thursday shooting scenes for The Girls of Summer. The movie is about a female country rock band, and the crew was out at the Howard Band Shell with about 50 extras. St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey tells us the movie was shooting at Tiscornia Beach on Wednesday, and the crew will be back at the Silver Beach Carousel later. They’re also shooting around South Bend and Laporte. The movie is expected to premiere next year, and you can follow its progress at its Facebook page. Garey says the movie appears to be family-friendly, and he thinks it’s good promotion for the city. But don’t worry. Garey told us he doesn’t believe St. Joe is going Hollywood.. ...Read Full Story

Study On Possible Line 5 Spill

In theory, more than 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada would be impacted by a potential oil spill from Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. The report was put together by a Michigan Tech University professor. Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Ed Golder spoke with Michigan News Network about the report.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Assault Arrest

A Decatur man is facing charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm while under the influence following an incident early Friday in Sister Lakes. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies were sent to the Lakeview Inn around 1:40 a.m. on a report of an assault. They learned a 26-year-old man had been thrown out of the establishment due to his behavior. He then allegedly retrieved a loaded semi-automatic rifle from his vehicle, returned to the patio, and pointed it at the person who had removed him. That person and some bystanders wrestled the weapon from the man and held him until police arrived. The suspect has been identified as Alanzo Gasca. He was arrested and arraigned on Friday. His bond was set at $50,000.. ...Read Full Story

MI Dems Hold Final Debate

From the Associated Press — Democrats running for Michigan governor have held their second and final televised debate weeks before the Aug. 7 primary. Abdul El-Sayed, and Gretchen Whitmer sparred Thursday night over the influence of corporate money in politics. El-Sayed accuses Whitmer of using “Republican gimmicks” because an allied outside group airing pro-Whitmer ads can use “unlimited corporate money” and has not disclosed its donors. Whitmer counters that El-Sayed – who rejects corporate political action donations – has received $170,000 in donations from corporate executives, and “you can’t be half-pregnant on this one.” The sharp exchange punctuated a debate in which the candidates, including businessman Shri Thanedar, answered questions about business taxes, roads, tariffs and abortion rights.. ...Read Full Story

State Officials Back Federal Wildlife Plan

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials want Congress to approve legislation that would boost funding for fish and wildlife conservation. Pending bills would allocate $1.3 billion a year to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. The money would be generated through energy development on federal lands and waters. State Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh says the federal program would be similar to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. It uses
royalties from the sale or lease of state-owned minerals to buy or improve public lands for recreation. The DNR estimates Michigan would receive $31 million per year if the federal initiative were approved. It could be used for efforts such as habitat
restoration and fighting invasive species. More than 300 wildlife species in the state need protection to prevent them
from becoming endangered.. ...Read Full Story