Local News Archives

Health Department Offering Flu Vaccine

The Berrien County Health Department is advising everyone to get their flu shot before October ends. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the shot and the nasal spray are widely available, including at the health department. They’re going to hold Flu Shot Fridays every Friday starting next week and through December.. ...Read Full Story

FBI: Benton Harbor Is State’s Most Violent City Per Capita

Two Berrien County communities are on a list no one wants to be on. Benton Harbor is ranked as the state’s most violent city for 2017 based on FBI data, with Benton Township ranked 10th. In between them are Detroit, Flint, Muskegon Heights, Highland Park, Saginaw, Ecorse, Inkster, and Albion. The violent crime rate in Benton Harbor is 22 crimes per 1,000 residents, ahead of Detroit’s rate of 20. The city had three murders, 23 rapes, 36 robberies and 156 cases of aggravated assault last year, with a population of 9,899 people. The violent crime rate in Benton Township was 12.5 per 1,000 people, and South Haven came in 20th with 9.4 violent crimes per thousand residents. The overall numbers are much higher in Detroit with nearly 14,000 violent crimes reported, but the city also is home to almost 671,000 people. Motown was also passed by St. Louis, Missouri for the highest murder rate in the country in 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. LaSata To Hold Opioid Town Hall

State Representative Kim LaSata is planning to hold a town hall forum later this month on opioids. She will convene the meeting at Kinexus in Benton Harbor and be joined by members of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, the Health Department, Riverwood Center, Community Healing Center, Congressman Fred Upton, and Senator John Proos. LaSata says opioid addiction and overdose deaths have touched every community in the state, and says the more awareness and education that can be spread, the better. The event will be Thursday, October 25 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with lectures from professionals and lawmakers on opioid abuse services and legislative reforms followed by the chance to talk one-on-one with health professionals. A prescription drug collection kiosk will also be provided by the sheriff’s department ahead of the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 27. No registration is necessary for the event.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation Experts: Don’t Transport Firewood

Hunting season is here, and the Van Buren County Conservation District is reminding both hunters and campers what they can do to help reduce the spread of invasive species. It says you should never move firewood, and instead just burn wood within five or ten miles of where you bought it. The district warns problems like oak wilt move around the state thanks to firewood being transported by humans. Invasive species expert Eleanor Serocki says by leaving the wood at home and picking it up at your destination, you can stop the invaders from spreading even farther. Anyone looking for more information should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

Online Voter Registration Bills Nearing Final Approval

From the Associated Press — Michigan residents could register to vote online under bills nearing Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.
The state House approved the legislation unanimously Wednesday. The measures previously passed the Senate and are expected to receive final procedural votes later this month. Under the proposed laws, Michigan would develop an interface so voter registration applications could be submitted on the secretary of state’s website. The system would be off limits to people without a valid driver’s license or state identification card or those who submit a change of address within the previous 10 days.
People wishing to register to vote now must complete a form by hand and mail or deliver it to their local clerk. About 95 percent of Michigan’s voting-age population is registered to vote.. ...Read Full Story

Autopsy On Infant Inconclusive

Additional testing will be done on a two-month old infant found dead in Coloma Township this week after an autopsy performed on Wednesday was inconclusive. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the case remains under investigation, and a man arrested for abuse and neglect at the scene where the infant was found has been released pending further information. Officers were called out to a home in the 5,100 block of Little Paw Paw Lake Road shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday on a report of a medical issue with a child. When they arrived, they found the two-month-old and called in detectives. The infant was taken to Watervliet Hospital and later transferred to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo where it passed away Tuesday. The sheriff’s department says the prosecutor’s office has not yet authorized charges in the case, and information gathered from more medical tests will be handed over to the prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

State Unclaimed Property Website

A new website has been launched by the Michigan Department of Treasury for residents to search for unclaimed property. Treasury’s Terry Stanton tells us the department receives unclaimed properties like dormant bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds, and even safe deposit box contents. The state has held on to as much as $1 billion in unclaimed property over the years, and the new website makes finding those things easier.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Death Of Infant

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of an infant in Coloma Township. It tells us officers were sent to a home in the 5,100 block of Little Paw Paw Lake Road shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday on a medical call involving a two month old child. When they arrived, the officers called in detectives after finding the situation suspicious. The infant was taken to Watervliet Hospital by Pride Care Ambulance and later transferred to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo where it passed away around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. An autopsy was scheduled was to be performed Wednesday at Western Michigan University School of Medicine. The sheriff’s department says the incident is still under investigation, and no further details are being released at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge To Replace Straits Of Mackinac Pipelines With Tunnel

A tunnel will be built in the bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac to house a new pipeline to replace Enbridge Energy’s 65-year-old Line 5 pipelines. Governor Snyder’s office announced the agreement with the Canadian firm, saying Enbridge will pay the entire cost of the project. It’s expected to take between seven and 10 years and will cost as much as $500 million. Environmentalists and elected officials have been calling for the pipelines to be shut down for years, warning of dire consequences to the Great Lakes if they were to leak. Line 5 carries crude oil and natural gas from western Canada to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Congressman Fred Upton, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Upper Peninsula Congressman Jack Bergman are among the elected officials hailing the agreement. Supporters say the deal protects the lakes and ensures reliable energy. But it’s sure to draw criticism from groups that oppose any oil shipments in the straits area.. ...Read Full Story

State Pushes Fire Prevention Month

With the weather turning colder and furnaces firing up, this is Fire Prevention Month in Michigan. State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer tells WSJM News there have been 91 fire deaths in the state this year, many because people don’t physically test their smoke detectors each month.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Opioids Plan

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing last week’s passage of legislation designed to help in the fight against opioid addiction. He tells WSJM News the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act goes back about a year, and is a combination of a couple of different Senate and House opioid bills.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Concerned About Effects Of Medicaid Work Requirement

The percentage of uninsured adults in rural Michigan dropped by 22 points since the state expanded Medicaid, according to a recent study by Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina. The state Legislature passed a bill this summer to require people on Healthy Michigan to work 80 hours a month, nine months a year, in order to maintain coverage. But Emily Schwarzkopf, a policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy, calls that a “one step forward, two steps back” approach and predicts people will fall off the insurance rolls.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Buying State Property

The old Michigan State Police Post in South Haven is owned by the city and they lease out the building. The property around the building, however, is still owned by the state and they want the city to buy it. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News about the deal.. ...Read Full Story

House Candidate Arrested At Wage Protest

From the Associated Press — A U.S. House candidate is among 18 people arrested for disorderly conduct during a protest in Detroit for a higher minimum wage and the right to form unions. Democrat Rashida Tlaib was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon for blocking a traffic lane. She faces candidates from the Green and Working Class parties for the 13th District House seat. The protest was organized by Fight for $15, a national movement seeking to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for fast food, child care, airlines and other workers. The group also wants the right to start unions or join existing ones. Several hundred people marched before protesting in front of a Midtown McDonalds. Deputy Police Chief Elvin Barren said those arrested would be ticketed and released later Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Group: $134 Million In Marijuana Taxes If Measure Passes

From the Associated Press — Organizers of a Michigan ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use say it would generate up to $134 million a year in taxes for state and local governments. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol released the projection Monday in an economic study it commissioned. The report estimates combined revenue from a 10 percent excise tax on retail sales and the 6 percent sales tax at $520 million in the first five years of implementation, including $134 million in 2023. Proposal 1 spokesman Josh Hovey says the taxes would help underfunded roads, schools and local governments. A group opposing the measure, Healthy and Productive Michigan, says the study does not factor in costs for state regulatory oversight and higher auto insurance rates due to more instances of drugged driving.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Recruit Academy Underway

128 prospective Michigan State Police troopers are now taking part in a training academy in Lansing. MSP Captain Monica Yesh tells WSJM News the recruits go through 26 weeks of all-day study that covers topics including traffic stops, defense, firearm use, criminal law, and ethics. The academy is underway as Michigan State Police look to bolster their ranks with many looming retirements.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Overdose Training Coming Up

An opioid overdose prevention training event is set for this month in Benton Harbor. This time organized between the Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Voice Change Hope Alliance, it will be offered in the afternoon so more people can attend. The Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Trent Watford tells WSJM News opioid overdoses and suicide are often related.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Now A Division Of Spectrum

Lakeland Health is now officially a division of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health. The board for each entity has signed the deal and finalized it. Spectrum Health Lakeland President Loren Hamel tells WSJM News Lakeland’s 4,000 employees have now been added to Spectrum’s 26,000 employees.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash

A Dowagiac man is dead following a motorcycle crash in Cass County on Monday. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened just before 3 p.m. near the intersection of M-51 south and Pokagon Street in Pokagon Township. The preliminary investigation shows the Dowagiac Police Department had tried to pull over a motorcycle in the area of North Paul and Spruce Street when the motorcycle took off. Dowagiac police did not try to chase it. Cass County dispatch then got calls about the crash at M-51 near Pokagon Street. Witnesses told them the motorcycle had been going fast and increased its speed going around the curve. The driver lost control and crashed into some trees. He has been identified as 32-year-old Ryan Glen Grady. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

State Names 211 Schools HeartSafe

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded 211 schools with the MI HeartSafe School designation for the current year. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News the HeartSafe program was created five years ago to reduce cardiac deaths in schools.. ...Read Full Story

Haight Disappointed By LaSata Decision To Not Debate

We reported in September that there will not be any debates in the state House and Senate races in Berrien County this fall, as the Republican candidates have decided against the traditional events held by the League of Women Voters. Ian Haight is running for the 21st District Senate seat against Republican state Representative Kim LaSata.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Responsibility Fees Gone

Expect longer waits at the Secretary of State branch offices in Benton Harbor, Niles, and Dowagiac over the next few days. That’s because the unpopular driver responsibility fees are now off the books, and people who have had their driver’s licenses suspended for them can now get those reinstated without having to pay the standard $125 fee. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says if there are other issues, however, those still need to be taken care of. An estimated 300,000 Michigan residents were eligible to get their licenses reinstated with the elimination of the fees, which had been in place since 2003. They were enacted to help address a budget shortfall, but that backfired because many who were charged the fees were the least able to actually pay them. The combined fees that were still owed and are being wiped off the books was $637 million as of August 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Land Donation For American Legion

A donation of land for a new storage space has been made to the Three Oaks American Legion by Horizon Bank. The bank tells us it owned about one acre of excess property in Three Oaks for some time, and when the American Legion told them it could make good use of the parcel, the donation was arranged. The property has two outbuildings, which the American Legion post will use for storage. The post also says the property gives it more space to hold events. Horizon Bank says the land donation is one way the bank could be supportive of the community.. ...Read Full Story

High Support For Asian Carp Barrier

An overwhelming number of residents of Great Lakes state support immediate action to build structural protections to keep Asian carp out of the lakes. The survey commissioned by the Great Lakes Partnership to Block Asian Carp asked people in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin about their understanding of the threat posed by the fish. Over 90% believe it’s important to immediately take steps to block the Great Lakes from the carp, and over 70% support a “fair share” funding proposal, and over 80% support having Michigan pay the share of any state that can’t pay its own portion to block Asian carp. Governor Snyder says in a statement the poll results “clearly demonstrate that Great Lakes residents understand that the time to act on Asian carp is now.”. ...Read Full Story