Local News Archives

Proos Pleased With Budgets

The latest Michigan corrections and judiciary budgets are being praised by state Senator John Proos. He tells WSJM News the new spending plans focus on protecting public safety and improving efficiency by continuing programs designed to reduce recidivism. He likes a new one included in the House budget for corrections.. ...Read Full Story

Mall Auction Scheduled

The auction of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is being delayed. It was supposed to have been held this past week, but is now scheduled for next Wednesday, June 13. No reason has been given for the delay. WSJM News has reached out to the real estate firm representing mall owner Michael Kohan, but has not yet received a reply. The opening bid for the property remains $750,000, and the initial goal was to sell the mall and the land it’s on for around $2.5 million. Kohan has narrowly escaped foreclosure by Berrien County the past two years for not paying the property taxes. Those have been paid on the deadline in both years, and he’s still several years behind on those payments.. ...Read Full Story

New Animal Shelter Opens

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is now open for business at its brand new shelter in Royalton Township. The ribbon cutting and grand opening was held Saturday with supporters welcome to tour the new $2 million facility on Niles Road. The Yeager Family Pet Shelter has been about ten years in the making, with Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond telling WSJM News it’s designed to have a long life.. ...Read Full Story

Police Chase In Niles

One man is facing charges after a chase with police in Niles early Saturday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it started around 12:45 a.m. on South 11th Street near the Walmart. A sheriff’s deputy spotted a Toyota Camry that had failed to stop for Michigan State Police and tried to pull it over. A chase then began which took the deputy and the driver of the Camry to the 800 block of South 14th Street. The driver of the Camry, identified as 20-year-old Javier Daniel Huston, lost control and crashed, and then tried to flee on foot. The sheriff’s deputy tasered him, and Huston was brought into custody. Huston was taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges of fleeing and eluding, resisting and obstructing, and drunk driving.. ...Read Full Story

Uzelac Resigns

Elliot Uzelac has stepped down as the coach of Benton Harbor Football. Uzelac’s resignation came Friday with the coach only saying he had concerns about the direction of Benton Harbor Area Schools and the district school board. Uzelac came to Benton Harbor Area Schools in 2015, racking up an overall record of 21 and 11 with the Tigers, according to The Herald Palladium. During his time with Benton Harbor, the football team attracted national attention for its quick turnaround. Uzelac previously coached at St. Joseph High School, Western Michigan University, and the United States Naval Academy.. ...Read Full Story

Food Program At Covert Schools

Covert Public Schools has announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service for Children. Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and under or those up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in an educational program for the disabled that’s recognized by a state or local education agency. Covert’s Director of Communications Brittany Millan spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton continues to speak out against the tariff increases on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union announced by President Trump. He says while Presidents have the authority to take that action, it’s especially unfair to impose the tariff on Canada.. ...Read Full Story

Push For Juvenile Reforms

Legislation is currently proposed in the Michigan House that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, rather than 17. Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Advocacy Tom Hickson tells us 17-year-olds are still developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors. He say it’s not right to treat them like adults in the justice system.. ...Read Full Story

Road Project In Paw Paw

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers of a project starting next week in Paw Paw. MDOT tells us there will be single lane closures while bridge maintenance is done on M-40 over I-94. The work begins on Monday and will continue through June 22. You can stay on top of all of MDOT’s summer construction project at Michigan.gov/MIDrive.. ...Read Full Story

Wallace Avenue Work Next Week

Construction on Wallace Avenue in St. Joseph will get underway on Monday. St. Joe City Engineer Tim Zebell tells WSJM News temporary traffic controls and detour signs started going up Thursday. The road will remain open to traffic throughout the weekend, but the work starts Monday on Wallace from Lakeshore to Lakeview. ...Read Full Story

Free Fishing This Weekend

State Senator John Proos is reminding everyone that this weekend brings another chance to go fishing for free across Michigan. He says anglers can fish without a license on Saturday and Sunday as all fishing license fees will be waived during the weekend. Proos tells WSJM News the fishing opportunities in southwest Michigan are just another of the region’s strengths.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Says Boyfriend Was Defending Her, Her Mother At Motel

We’re learning more about a shooting incident at the Cosmo Extended Stay motel in Sodus Township Friday morning. Tiffany Main tells WSJM News one of the people involved was her boyfriend, and he was trying to protect her and her mother from a man that had held her mom hostage for about a half-hour before she showed up to surprise her and take her to breakfast. Main tells us when she got there, her mother wasn’t speaking and was acting strange while the suspect was with her. She says she was able to make out her mother saying the word “gun” before they tried to get the guy to leave.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Unhurt After Cement Truck Rolls Over

A 43-year-old man is okay after the cement mixer truck he was driving overturned as he was turning from southbound Red Arrow Highway to eastbound Floral Lane. The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department tells us Adam Trapp was wearing his seat belt when the crash happened around 5:15 Thursday evening. No other vehicles were involved. Police have not indicated what caused the truck to roll. The vehicle is registered to High Grade Materials in Greenville, north of Grand Rapids. The accident is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Lake Effect Pride Celebration

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is gearing up for its Lake Effect Pride party. Executive Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News it’s the LGBTQ advocacy organization’s big summer fundraiser. This year’s Lake Effect Pride event will be even bigger than others, though, because it’s being held at Four Winds Casinos’ Silver Creek Event Center in New Buffalo.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested After Shots Fired In Motel

Two people are in the Berrien County Jail after shots were fired inside the Cosmo Extended Stay motel in Sodus Township just before 6:30 Friday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us officers found shell casings and closed off the second floor during their investigation Friday morning. Lieutenant Steve Campbell says they seized a pair of guns.. ...Read Full Story

Man Hospitalized After Police Standoff In St. Joseph

About two hours of negotiations between the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety and a suicidal man have ended peacefully with him being rushed to Lakeland Hospital for evaluation. Officers were called to a home in the 800 block of Wolcott, just west of Niles Road, at 7:30 Friday morning on a report of a barricaded and suicidal man. He had cut the gas line to the home and had poured gasoline throughout. Neighbors were evacuated, and others in the area were told to shelter in place during the talks. While on FaceTime with the negotiator, the man lit the house on fire and firefighters and officers went in to save him. St. Joseph Public Safety was assisted by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Medic 1 ambulance, the Lincoln Township Fire Department, Michigan State Police, and Michigan Gas Utilities.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Weighing Pardon Of Muhammad Ali

President Donald Trump says he may pardon the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who doesn’t seem to need one. On top of the former Berrien Springs resident having died two years ago, his conviction was overturned in 1971 by the U.S. Supreme Court. And when it comes to future acts of clemency, Trump may ask for recommendations from pro football players and other athletes who have protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. The President says he’s going to ask protesting players to suggest “people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system.”. ...Read Full Story

Water Bill Paid, Mall Reopens

The Orchards Mall has reopened in Benton Township. It had been shut down by the township yesterday for not paying the water bill, leaving just the JC Penney store open because they have their own water meter. Benton Township Superintendent Kelli Nelson tells us the mall owed more than $31,000 for water yesterday, and had to pay both a shutoff fee and a two-month deposit before the water was turned back on. The mall paid yesterday afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Shots Fired In Hotel Parking Lot

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating several reports of shots being fired around 6:30 this morning in Benton Township. Lieutenant Steve Campbell tells WSJM News officers were called to the Cosmo Extended Stay motel on M-139, just north of I-94.. ...Read Full Story

Church Volunteer Event This Weekend

The First Church of God in the St. Joseph area is aiming to have 1,000 volunteers out and about in St. Joe, Benton Harbor, and Stevensville this Sunday as part of its sixth Do Something! day. Jenny Fry with the church outreach program tells us the volunteers will do work at other groups that also serve the community.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Prevent Sex Assaults Moving Forward

State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township is pleased to learn a Michigan Senate committee has approved her legislation intended to help prevent sexual assaults by doctors following the Larry Nassar scandal. Whiteford tells WSJM News her bill requires that records of a variety of medical treatments be kept for 15 years.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Corrections Budget

The latest Michigan corrections and judiciary budgets are being praised by state Senator John Proos. He tells WSJM News the new spending plans focus on protecting public safety and improving efficiency by continuing programs designed to reduce recidivism. He likes a new one included in the House budget for corrections.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Strawberry Festival

The Hartford Strawberry Festival is here. Each summer, the community celebrates its strawberry growers with the event, which is one of the first community-wide summer celebrations to be held. Festival Secretary Patty Schroeder tells WSJM News there will be lots of strawberries to sample and buy.. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Of Engineers Photo Contest

If you’re an amateur photographer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inviting you to enter a photography contest it’s holding. Corps Ranger Michelle Briggs of the Detroit District tells WSJM News they’ll soon take entries for a photo contest showing off the Soo Locks, the Duluth Ship Canal, or from a Corps pier, breakwater, or federal harbor on the Great Lakes. She says they’ve held the contest each year since 2016.. ...Read Full Story

BH Summer Book Giveaway

Thousands of books could be given away to children in Benton Harbor this summer thanks to a program the public school district is considering. Benton Harbor Area Schools Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News Title 1 funds could be put toward the summer book giveaway.. ...Read Full Story

El-Sayed Talks Healthcare

A Democratic gubernatorial candidate is proposing a plan to offer no-premium, no co-pay healthcare to everyone in Michigan. In part, Abdul El Sayed told Michigan News Network the plan would be paid for with what he calls a “gross receipts” tax on Michigan’s larger corporations.. ...Read Full Story

Group Calls For Juvenile Justice Reforms

Legislation is currently proposed in the Michigan House that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, rather than 17. Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Advocacy Tom Hickson tells us 17-year-olds are still developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors. He say it’s not right to treat them like adults in the justice system.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Wins Two Awards

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is the recipient of a couple of awards from Assisted Patrol, a company that makes police equipment. Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells us the sheriff’s department submitted some ideas for a contest seeking new law enforcement investigative techniques.. ...Read Full Story

Covert Schools Food Program

Covert Public Schools has announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service for Children. Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and under or those up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in an educational program for the disabled that’s recognized by a state or local education agency. Covert’s Director of Communications Brittany Millan spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Reactions To Prevailing Wage Vote

Lawmakers from Michigan are reacting to the state legislature’s vote on Wednesday to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law. The 1965 statute requires that higher “prevailing” wages be paid to construction workers on state-financed projects. Following the repeal vote on Wednesday, state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs issued a statement saying while he believes “construction workers from the various trades should receive fair and competitive wages,” he does “not believe that state government should artificially inflate those wages over free-market forces.” He feels the repeal is a plus. On the other side is U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who says the repeal will “not only hurt hardworking Michiganders who deserve decent pay for a job well done, it also threatens our public safety.” Peters says at a time when the state faces a shortage of skilled trades workers, the move will only make things worse. He pledges to work to protect a similar federal law.. ...Read Full Story

Life Rings Now Installed

City leaders in St. Joseph are hoping the north pier will be a little safer now that 12 life rings to help prevent drownings have been installed. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the rings come with throw bags and 90 foot ropes. A video explaining how to use the rings may be produced.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Opening Planned For Animal Shelter

The grand opening for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan’s new animal shelter will be this Saturday. Humane Society Executive Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News it’s been a long journey to get the $2 million Yeager Family Pet Shelter on M-139 in Royalton Township built. The animals and staff have spent the past few weeks moving in.. ...Read Full Story

Orchards Mall Auction Delayed

The auction of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is being delayed. It was supposed to have been held online this week, but is now scheduled for next Wednesday, June 13. No reason has been given for the delay. WSJM News has reached out to the real estate firm representing mall owner Michael Kohan, but has not yet received a reply. The opening bid for the property remains $750,000, and the initial goal was to sell the mall and the land it’s on for around $2.5 million. Kohan has narrowly escaped foreclosure by Berrien County the past two years for not paying the property taxes. Those have been paid on the deadline in both years, and he’s still several years behind on those payments.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Talks Graduation

With graduation set for this Friday, leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools are hoping to ensure some students who are just a half credit away from the diploma requirements are still allowed to walk the field with their class. At Tuesday’s work session, the board of education heard from the distraught parents of one senior who is a half credit away. They just found out she can’t walk with the class. Trustee Joseph Taylor wondered if she could do so if she signed up for summer school first.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Repeals Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

The Michigan Legislature has voted mostly along party lines in both the House and Senate to repeal a decades-old law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects. Governor Snyder opposes the bill, but is unable to veto it because it was initiated through a ballot drive. Michigan has become the fifth conservative-led state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Republicans say the law costs taxpayers more when school construction and other government projects could be done for less money. Democrats, union contractors and others say the repeal initiative is an attack on workers and the 1965 law ensures they are paid fairly and quality work is done.. ...Read Full Story

Journeyman Distillery Facing Cease And Desist Order

One of the area’s top spirits makers is in danger of being shuttered, but there is hope. Three Oaks Village Manager Mike Greene tells WSJM News they are trying to resolve issues with Journeyman Distillery over the wastewater discharge. Journeyman has been given a cease and desist order that takes effect Friday, but Greene says he’s been in contact with the village council about it.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Hit-And-Run Driver In Dowagiac

Authorities in Dowagiac are looking for a car involved in a hit-and-run around 10:30 Tuesday night. A 20-year-old man was hit as he and three others were walking along M-51 against oncoming traffic. Another driver stopped to help, and none of the other three were hurt. Police are looking for a dark-colored, mid-sized sedan that kept going north. The man who was hit is hospitalized at Borgess Lee Memorial in Dowagiac, and investigators say the extent of his injuries aren’t known.. ...Read Full Story

New Map Of MI Forests

From the Associated Press — A newly developed online map provides information about how Michigan’s state forests are managed. The Department of Natural Resources says the map makes it easier to learn about timber sales, prescribed burns and other activities. Users can navigate on the map or simply type in an address to find out what activities are planned or underway in areas of interest. The DNR manages 4 million acres of state forest. It has a crew of geographers and data managers who provide up-to-date information on forest health, wildlife populations and more. The current map highlights activities planned for 2020. Next year forestry staff will work on actions for 2021. You can find the map right here.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Considering Nassar Bills

The state Senate has before it a package of sexual assault bills prompted by the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University. Some had been modified by the House, and Representative Klint Kesto told Michigan News Network he’s calling on the Senate to approve the bills and send them to Governor Snyder.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Shutting Down Dairy Operations

The focus of the operations of the Andrews University Farm is changing. The Board of Trustees voted this week to close down the farm’s dairy operations by the summer of 2019. Senior vice president for financial administration Lawrence Schalk tells us that due to low milk prices, the operation has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Discipline Policy

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will be asked next week to approve a policy giving the district more control over which students are allowed to enroll. Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News an issue has arisen with an influx of kids following February’s student could.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Cottage Walk This Month

Tickets are now available for South Haven’s annual Cottage Walk. SHOUT for South Haven’s Sue Cunningham tells WSJM News the booster organization has held the walks on the last Saturday of every June for 23 years now. This year’s event will give walkers a chance to tour five homes in locations all over South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Public Art

The Krasl Art Center will be installing a new sculpture in Benton Harbor’s Arts District this week as part of the center’s Biennial Sculpture Invitational. Krasl Deputy Director Tammy Miller tells WSJM News “Eve’s Awareness” by Terry Hewlett replaces “Eve and the Serpent,” a sculpture that’s being removed due to complaints. The new one is more family friendly.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Remains Opposed To Trump Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton continues to speak out against the tariff increases on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union announced by President Trump. He says while Presidents have the authority to take that action, it’s especially unfair to impose the tariff on Canada.. ...Read Full Story

State To Close Another Prison In 2019

The state plans to close another prison next year. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz says the closure comes as crime in the state and the prison population continue to dwindle. It’s not yet clear which prison will close. Jobs will be lost, but he predicts not many.. ...Read Full Story

Voters To Decide Marijuana Legalization

From the Associated Press — Michigan voters will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. A citizen-initiated measure wasn’t approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature before a 40-day deadline passed Tuesday. That means the ballot initiative will get a public vote in November. Michigan has allowed medical-marijuana use for nearly a decade. If the ballot measure is successful, Michigan would become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposal would allow people age 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside their home and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent excise tax on marijuana would be assessed at the retail level. The Michigan Senate leader wanted legislators to pass the bill to make it easier to change later, but support was lacking in the. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Recreational Projects

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has approved nearly $50 million in spending to boost public recreation statewide.
The $49.9 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund enacted Monday will go to 34 land acquisition projects and 97 development projects . It includes $12.5 million to buy up to 372 acres surrounded by Ludington State Park. Among the state or local development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan. About $45 million in matching funds will be provided locally. Also Monday, Snyder signed legislation establishing a five-member group to advise the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board on annual spending recommendations. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies
that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Recreational Projects

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has approved nearly $50 million in spending to boost public recreation statewide.
The $49.9 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund enacted Monday will go to 34 land acquisition projects and 97 development projects . It includes $12.5 million to buy up to 372 acres surrounded by Ludington State Park. Among the state or local development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan. About $45 million in matching funds will be provided locally. Also Monday, Snyder signed legislation establishing a five-member group to advise the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board on annual spending recommendations. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies
that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Water Protest In Lansing

A protest took place Monday at the state capitol in Lansing, staged by hundreds of poor people, clergy, and others regarding water issues in Michigan. The Reverend-Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the protest.. ...Read Full Story

Water Protest In Lansing

A protest took place Monday at the state capitol in Lansing, staged by hundreds of poor people, clergy, and others regarding water issues in Michigan. The Reverend-Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the protest.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Poised To Repeal Prevailing Wage Law

From the Associated Press — A 53-year-old Michigan law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects could soon be nullified. The Republican-controlled Legislature this week is poised to repeal the statute, which would make Michigan the fifth state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Though GOP Governor Rick Snyder opposes the bill, it is veto-proof because it was initiated through a ballot drive by nonunion contractors. Conservatives say repealing the law would save taxpayers money. On the other side are union contractors, Democrats and others who say the 1965 statute ensures that workers are paid fairly and that quality work is done on schools, fire stations and other public works projects. They are pressing Republicans to let the legislation proceed to the November ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Poised To Repeal Prevailing Wage Law

From the Associated Press — A 53-year-old Michigan law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects could soon be nullified. The Republican-controlled Legislature this week is poised to repeal the statute, which would make Michigan the fifth state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Though GOP Governor Rick Snyder opposes the bill, it is veto-proof because it was initiated through a ballot drive by nonunion contractors. Conservatives say repealing the law would save taxpayers money. On the other side are union contractors, Democrats and others who say the 1965 statute ensures that workers are paid fairly and that quality work is done on schools, fire stations and other public works projects. They are pressing Republicans to let the legislation proceed to the November ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Demolitions

Eight buildings, most of them houses, will be torn down in Benton Harbor this year following Monday’s city commission approval of the 2018 Berrien County Land Bank demolition list. None of the houses are occupied, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad described them as eyesores. He said tearing them down is in the interest of the city.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Demolitions

Eight buildings, most of them houses, will be torn down in Benton Harbor this year following Monday’s city commission approval of the 2018 Berrien County Land Bank demolition list. None of the houses are occupied, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad described them as eyesores. He said tearing them down is in the interest of the city.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale

The spring Whirlpool Appliance Sale is coming up soon. Set for June 9 and 10, the sale is a way for anyone to buy Whirlpool appliances with a deep discount. Whirlpool Senior Manager of Global Operations Gokul Nair tells WSJM News the sale includes everything from refrigerators to dishwashers and beyond.. ...Read Full Story