Local News Archives

WSJM Sports Director Saluted

WSJM Sports Director Phil McDonald celebrated his 30th anniversary with Mid-West Family Broadcasting this week. As congratulations came in for WSJM’s hardest-working sports guy, state Representative Kim LaSata stopped by Phil’s morning show Friday to present him with a special tribute coming out the state House.. ...Read Full Story

Successful United Way Book Drive

A recent book drive undertaken by the United Way of Southwestern Michigan collected more than 10,800 books for kids from kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade in Berrien and Cass counties. The United Way’s Julee Laurent tells WSJM News they set up collection boxes at businesses and other organizations throughout the region so folks could drop reading materials for kids in need. The United Way will now get them into the hands of kids who need them.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Presentation On Civil Rights Movement

Coming up next week at the Niles District Library will be a presentation that takes a look at the civil rights movement in Michigan. Niles History Center Assistant Director Molly Watson tells WSJM News “Placing X: A Novel in Michigan Cultural History” will be a presentation by Dr. Michelle Johnson, a public scholar in the fields of African American history. She’ll talk about the popular young adult novel, X: A Novel.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Benton Township Shooting

Police are investigating a fatal shooting in Benton Township on Thursday afternoon. The Benton Township Police Department tells us a 20-year old man shot himself in the head with a gun he thought either wasn’t working or was unloaded. That was according to witnesses. They called police to the 3,600 block of Fieldtree just before 3 p.m. The victim’s identity has not been released, but police say he was a white male. They ask anyone with further information to call them.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speaker Series Plans

The Speakers Series of South Haven will have its opening presentation of 2018 at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven Campus on Thursday, April 19th. The featured speaker will be Professor Fred Johnson of Hope College. “While Black People Slept” will assess how the much hoped for post-racial America heralded by Barack Obama’s 2008 election has been eroded. Johnson is recognized as a vibrant speaker and an effective teacher and a well-known author. Tickets are ten dollars including the reception. There is no charge for students, educators and clergy. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Part-Time Legislature Effort Stalls

The ballot initiative for a part-time legislature in Michigan has stalled because of a lack of petition signatures. The petition drive was started last year by Lieutenent Governor Brian Calley, who is now running for governor. Calley has been criticized by some who say the effort was politically motivated. However, campaign organizer Norman Kammeraad told Michigan News Network that’s not the case.. ...Read Full Story

Waterfronts Symposium Next Month

The fifth National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium will be held in Grand Rapids May 14th through the 17th. The purpose of the symposium is to connect and unite stakeholders from around the country to showcase and initiate solutions for waterfront lands and infrastructure. Ports, marinas, harbors, and fishing docks around the country will be studied. Michigan Sea Grant is hosting the symposium featuring presentations that emphasize the Great Lakes. More information can be found at national working Waterfronts.com.. ...Read Full Story

House Finishes Nassar Investigation

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers say they plan to introduce more proposals stemming from the fallout of the Larry Nassar scandal. House members announced Thursday they finished their investigation into the Nassar case. They say a bipartisan legislation will be introduced in the coming days that will build on measures already passed by the state Senate. They add more changes are needed to protect other sexual abuse victims and prevent a future “tragedy.” Recommendations call for placing limits on medical treatment that involves penetrating minors. One would require the state to create a standard consent form for such treatment. It would include statements regarding the use of gloves and the presence of another health care professional. Nassar admitted molesting athletes using his ungloved hand under the guise of medical treatment. Lawmakers also recommend giving the governor authority to remove officials from university governing bodies.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Foreclosures Down This Year

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has tallied up the totals, and he tells us about 185 property owners will be foreclosed this year for failure to pay their 2015 taxes. The deadline was Monday, and Witkowski tells WSJM News of the more than 600 property owners behind on 2015’s bill, more than 400 got on payment plans.. ...Read Full Story

Heugel Running For County Commission

A familiar face in the St. Joseph community is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Chris Heugel, the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce president and a former St. Joseph city commissioner, has announced he’s seeking the Sixth District position that is currently occupied by Berrien County Commissioner Jeanette Leahey. He spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

MI Doctor Speaking At Opioid Summit

The war against opiod and heroin abuse needs to move to a new front. That’s the message from Dr Chad Brummett, a University of Michigan professor who delivered an address at the National Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta this week. He chatted with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Responding To Great Lakes Spill

The Coast Guard has established what’s called the Unified Command to oversee the pollution response to the coolant fluid that spilled into the Straits of Mackinac. The leak came from a transmission cable that carries electricity under water. Coast Guard Ensign Pamela Mannes spoke with Michigan News Network about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Crime Victims Right Week

Next week is Crime Victim Victims’ Rights Week, and law enforcement throughout Michigan will hold events to remind everyone of the need to keep the people hurt by crime in their minds. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us his office will host a memorial event at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph next Friday to remember everyone who lost their lives because of crime in 2017 and 2018. Invited guests will be given balloons on which to write a message and then they’ll be escorted outside with a victim advocate to launch their balloon in memory of loved ones. The event is set for 11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, the Cass County Prosecutor’s office is working with elementary schools for art submissions, planning a flagpole ceremony for Wednesday, and holding an essay contest. The flagpole ceremony will be at noon next Wednesday at the Cass County Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. The names of crime victims will be read aloud.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Ranked As Top Employer

Kinexus in Benton Harbor is a great place to work. So says The Nonprofit Times, a trade group representing non-profit organizations around the country. It’s selected Kinexus as one of its top 50 non-profits when it comes to the work environment. Kinexus Human Resources Vice President Jamie Quigno spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Workshop On Service Animals This Month

Coming up this month at the Disability Network Southwest Michigan will be a presentation on the dos and don’ts of service animals. The network tells us the free workshop is being offered to address confusion about what constitutes a service animal versus an emotional support animal. Different rules apply to the two, and what type of assistance animals are allowed in different places and whether an establishment can deny access to an assistance animal varies. The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan tackles the topic as it becomes increasingly relevant. Anyone who wants to attend is invited to do so, although registration is required. The workshop will be Monday, April 30 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the network office on Lakeview Avenue in St. Joseph. To find out more or sign up, go to their website.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Holding Out Hope For DACA

Congressman Fred Upton is still hoping something can be done to salvage the federal DACA program. DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — is the program created by President Barack Obama that enables illegal immigrants brought into the country as children to avoid deportation. President Trump this week tweeted “DACA is dead,” blaming Democrats. Congressman Upton still hopes for a DACA replacement.. ...Read Full Story

Autonomous Car Facility Opens

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s 500-acre center for autonomous vehicle research is officially open and will partner with technology giant Microsoft. Governor Rick Snyder trekked to the Ypsilanti-based American Center for Mobility for Wednesday’s grand opening.
Last year, the site became one of 10 places designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “proving grounds” for an automated vehicle pilot program. Microsoft will work on the center’s data infrastructure and cloud resources. The growing hub of driverless vehicle testing in southeast Michigan ties into the state’s ongoing campaign to be the next epicenter of autonomous driving. The University of Michigan’s 32-acre “Mcity ” in Ann Arbor also is doing driverless-car experimentation.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Offering Tulip Time Trains

Holland’s Tulip Time Festival this year will run May 5 through the May 13, and it’s expected to draw more than 500,000 thisyear. If you don’t want fight traffic and hunt for a parking space, Amtrak can help as they’re adding extra trains on May 5th and May 12th to Holland. MDOT’s Michael Frezell spoke with WSJM News about the option.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Commission Taking Napier Input

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission would like to hear more from the public about what is wanted for Napier Avenue as it drafts a report ahead of the road’s repaving starting next year. Planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News about 40 or 50 people showed up to an open house on the subject last week.. ...Read Full Story

City Gets State Grants

The city of Benton Harbor is receiving a couple of state grants for water system improvements and public safety. This week, city commissioners approved the acceptance of Financially Distressed Cities Grants for the installation of new water meters and the purchase of a fire truck. City Manager Darwin Watson said the first grant, for the water meters, is for $309,000, while the grant for the fire truck was for $490,000. The city applied for both back in October, and the state announced them last month. City commissioners accepted the grants at Monday’s meeting with no comment.. ...Read Full Story

Coolant Spill Into Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Officials say hundreds of gallons of potentially toxic coolant fluid have leaked from two electric power cables in the waterway that links Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. American Transmission Company says the fluid is a mineral-based synthetic oil
used for insulation that can be harmful if released into the environment. District Supervisor Joe Haas of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the agency is investigating but it’s too early to know the extent of the damage in the Straits of Mackinac. The company says the cables have been taken out of service. They carried electricity between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula.
Spokeswoman Jackie Olson says it hasn’t been determined what caused the leak of about 550 gallons, which was discovered after two circuits went offline Sunday night.. ...Read Full Story

It’s National Public Health Week

Health agencies around the country are hoping everyone will take some time this week to think about how much of a difference their efforts have made. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News it is National Public Health Week, noting a handful of the things the department does to protect the public.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Trooper-Involved Shooting

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a Michigan State Police trooper has shot and wounded a man who refused to drop what turned out to be an airsoft gun. Police say the 36-year-old was being sought on felony warrants and authorities got word he was in a church parking lot Monday evening in the Hastings area, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) west of Detroit. Police tried to block the man from driving away and arrest him. Police say the man got out of a vehicle, showed what appeared to be a handgun and refused to drop the weapon, so a trooper shot him. The man was taken to a hospital with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the weapon was a realistic-looking pistol that shoots nonlethal pellets. The shooting is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises SBA Help

Congressman Fred Upton is pleased the federal government is putting up some of its resources to help those affected by floods this year in Berrien County. Last week, the Small Business Administration announced it will offer low-interest loans to those who suffered losses in flooding in several counties. Upton tells WSJM News this is a positive development.. ...Read Full Story

Former Rep Running For Senate

Now in the running for Michigan Senate in the 26th District is former state Representative and Michigan Lottery Commissioner Aric Nesbitt. The Lawton Republican tells us he’s throwing his hat in the ring because he wants to continue recent state progress.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Funds For Lamprey Barrier

From the Associated Press — Federal funding is expected to help with the construction of a proposed river barrier aimed at controlling sea lamprey access into a western Michigan waterway. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission expects a $7 million increase to its annual
budget that would help pay for the barrier in the Grand River. The barrier is part of a Grand River restoration project and would deny sea
lampreys access to more than 1,900 miles of new stream habitat. The adjustable hydraulic structure would be upstream of a dam that currently serves as a barrier to the eel-like parasites that attack fish such as trout, salmon and whitefish. They invaded the Great Lakes in the last century and decimated native fish until a poison was developed that brought them under control.. ...Read Full Story

Ice Breaking Continues In U.P.

Ice breaking operations are continuing on the St. Mary’s River in the eastern Upper Peninsula. That’s because of an ice jam at Rock Cut. Lieutenant Sean Murphy is with the Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie. He spoke with Michigan News Network about the ice breaking operations.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Retail Security Breach

Credit and debit card customers of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue are the latest victims of a credit card breach. A hacking group called JokerStash has announced it had put up for sale more than five million stolen credit and debit cards from the store’s customers. Rehmann Group’s Bill Kowalski says take whatever precautions to protect yourself.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Discusses Vacant Property Proposal

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have to decide what they want done with the vacant Alreco Metals property, and now they have solid information on one of their options. At Monday’s meeting they learned the Berrien County Land Bank has two bids for the foreclosed property, one for $72,000 and one for $400,000. That second one is from the Harvest Foundation, a medical marijuana producer. Representative Larry Lemons told WSJM News his outfit wants to use the site for cultivation.. ...Read Full Story

Speaker Series Kicks Off This Month

The Speakers Series of South Haven will have its opening presentation of 2018 at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven Campus on Thursday, April 19th. The featured speaker will be Professor Fred Johnson of Hope College. “While Black People Slept” will assess how the much hoped for post-racial America heralded by Barack Obama’s 2008 election has been eroded. Johnson is recognized as a vibrant speaker and an effective teacher and a well-known author. Tickets are ten dollars including the reception. There is no charge for students, educators and clergy. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Local Students Compete In Lansing

A Kinexus program that works with at-risk young people to make sure they graduate high school headed to Lansing last week to have some of its kids show off the skills they’ve learned. Youth Solutions, Incorporated Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News about 40 students from Benton Harbor and Hartford attended the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference last Thursday. There, they competed to display employability skills.. ...Read Full Story

Mall Avoids Foreclosure

The Orchards Mall has paid its taxes, avoiding foreclosure for another year. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the mall paid its 2015 property taxes Monday, which was the deadline. The tax owed was about $275,000. Witkowski tells us he wouldn’t have allowed the mall’s owners to enter a payment plan like he does for other delinquent property owners. However, he says as long as they paid up on Monday, they had a right to hold on to the property.. ...Read Full Story

Presentation On Jean Klock Park

A presentation set for next week at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph will focus on the history of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News author Julie Weiss will present “The Legacy of Jean Klock Park” on Thursday. Weiss has published a book about the park.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Recycling Center

Firefighters were able to contain a blaze at Padnos Recycling Center in Benton Harbor on Monday. It broke out in the afternoon hours when a crane was moving around some scrapped vehicles. Staff tell us it looked like one of them must have had some gas still in its lines. Firefighters responded quickly and got the fire under control. It was contained to the scrap yard and did not spread to any buildings. Firefighters remained on scene in the early evening hours just to make sure the blaze would not reignite.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Declines Cross Case

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal in a dispute over a pole that can be turned into a cross on public land in western Michigan. The city of Grand Haven stopped the cross display in 2015 after critics said it was an illegal endorsement of religion. Michigan courts have said the city has the power to manage the property along the Grand River. The Supreme Court on Monday declined an appeal by cross supporters, who said their free speech rights are being violated by Grand Haven. The Dewey Hill monument was donated to Grand Haven as a memorial for soldiers who served in the Vietnam War. The pole was turned into a cross during summer
concerts sponsored by First Reformed Church.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance Costs To Rise

Auto insurance rates are going up in Michigan in July. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is raising the fee it charges every driver for catastrophic health care by $22. State Representative Peter Lucido of Macomb County told Michigan News Network that means drivers are now paying $192 a year to the association, the highest the fee has ever been.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Today For 2015 PropertyTaxes In Berrien County

The clock is ticking on 2015 property tax payments in Berrien County, with a deadline of the close of business today to either pay those in full or get into a payment plan to avoid being foreclosed. The Orchards Mall in Benton Township owes $275,000 in taxes for that year, and if that money isn’t paid in full by the end of the day, County Treasurer Bret Witkowski says he’ll foreclose. Witkowski says that property is not being offered the chance to get into a payment plan, but everyone else IS. The mall paid its 2014 property taxes last year at the deadline to stave off being foreclosed. Witkowski says another property that’s been in the news of late is also facing foreclosure, and that’s a home at the corner of Niles Avenue and Hoyt in St. Joseph with a tarp on the roof. The owner of the home and the city of St. Joseph have been fighting in court over repairs that haven’t been made, with the city trying to get permission to knock the house down.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Leaves Shoe At Crash Scene

Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputies are trying to find a motorcycle driver who got away from officers at a high speed early Sunday morning. Officers called off the pursuit due to the speed just after 1 a.m. Sunday in Paw Paw Township, and later found the wreckage of the bike in a corn field at the corner of County Road 358 and 70th Avenue. The driver left behind a Nike shoe and was unable to be tracked by a sheriff’s department K-9.. ...Read Full Story

City To Pursue Parks Grant Next Year

The city of St. Joseph will hold off until next year to pursue a state grant for improvements at Whirlpool Centennial Park. At Monday’s meeting, the commission was asked to allow the public works department to seek a $111,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for the work. The problem is that if the grant were to be approved this year, the city would have to come up with its roughly $260,000 match, and Mayor Michael Garey didn’t want to commit until the budget is done. He spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Youth Of The Year Speaks With WSJM

A 17-year-old who has been picked as the Michigan Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America says he thinks all kids with an interest should stop by the Benton Harbor club. Quincy Sulton is a junior at Benton Harbor High School who first went to the club when he was about 12 to play basketball. Ever since, he’s grown his involvement, now even working to teach drama and dance to younger kids who go. He tells WSJM News the club has enriched his life.. ...Read Full Story

PGA To Showcase Local Wine, Beer

When the Senior PGA Championship takes place this summer at Harbor Shores, lovers of fine wines and other beverages will have a chance to check of what’s made right here in southwest Michigan. The Southwest Michigan Tourism Council’s Makers Trail has set up what will be known as the Makers Trail 19th Hole between the 16th green and 17th tee at the golf course. That’s where you can sample locally-made products, including wine from Domaine Berrien Cellars. The winery’s Wally Maurer spoke with WSJM News about the opportunity.. ...Read Full Story

School Spirit Contest Winding Down

We’re down to the final four in state Senator John Proos’ annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Each year, Proos asks students throughout his district to submit photographic evidence of their school spirit to his social media accounts. He told WSJM News more.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Department Hiring Summer Help

The Berrien County Parks Department is preparing for a busy summer, and it’s looking for some help. Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News they need the usual lifeguards for Silver Beach, but also staff to do a wide variety of temporary work at all of the other county parks like Love Creek and Rocky Gap.. ...Read Full Story

Hannah Rossner; With Respect 04/01/18

John’s guest this week is Hannah Rossner, a Bridgman native who has taken her passion for movie making to the West Coast. She has made her own movie which they discuss and now is credited on a Stephen Spielberg soon-to-be-hit, which has just opened around the country. They talk about her love for movies and innovative thinking. . ...Read Full Story

Pure Michigan Benefits Quesioned

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has taken another shot at the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. Mackinac Center Policy Analyst Michael LaFaive tells WSJM News a Michigan Auditor General review found more than $13 million in state tax dollars were excluded from the return-on-investment calculations made by the state’s tourism consultant for Pure Michigan in 2016. The Mackinac Center views the Pure Michigan program as not worth it.. ...Read Full Story

Parlak Decision Could Come Soon

Congressman Fred Upton is waiting for the latest word on the fate of Ibrahim Parlak. The Kurdish immigrant has been fighting deportation to Turkey for years with Upton on his side. Upton tells WSJM News he went to a reception at Parlak’s restaurant in Harbert this past weekend, just days after an immigration judge in Detroit considered Parlak’s appeal to stay in the United States.. ...Read Full Story