Local News Archives

Small Fire In Sign At St. Joseph Harding’s

The Harding’s on Niles Avenue in St. Joseph opened on time and with no issues this morning, but that’s after St. Joseph Public Safety responded to a small fire. Officers were dispatched just before 5 a.m. to the store and found a small fire in the neon sign. It was put out without any major damage, and there were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Large Fight Prompts Closure Of Silver Beach County Park

Once again on a holiday, a large fight has resulted in a local beach being shut down. Police cleared Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph before sundown last night due to a disturbance. WSJM News has not yet obtained details on how many people may have been involved. The beach was the scene of a large fight involving around 200 people last year in early June, and several people were arrested during a riot at the beach on the 4th of July in 2015. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and St. Joseph Public Safety have both increased patrols at the beach in recent years. North beach in South Haven had to be shut down on July 4th in 2016 due to a large fight.. ...Read Full Story

Body Of Missing Benton Twp Man Found In Lake Michigan

An autopsy is scheduled on the body of a 48-year-old Benton Township man found in Lake Michigan off the north pier at Tiscornia Park on Memorial Day. Benton Township police tell WSJM News he’s been identified as Michael Fitzgerald William, who hadn’t been seen since May 8 and was reported missing by his family two days later. William had last been seen in the area of Upton and North Upton Drive. Police say the cause of his death has not yet been determined. A boater called 9-1-1 after seeing the body about 200 yards from the north pier just after 10:30 a.m. on Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard pulled William’s body from the lake.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Expands OK2Say Line

The Michigan House last week approved legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand the OK2SAY tip line to include reporting on sexual abuse, assault, and rape. The bill was part of an 18-bill package intended to better protect students following the Larry Nassar debacle. LaSata tells us about it.. ...Read Full Story

Jail Project On Track

The renovation project at the Berrien County Jail is on track. Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the work is going by quietly and fluidly. The $8.4 million project will involve improvements and an expansion to the intake area, exam rooms, and more space for female inmates.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Population Gains

Southwest Michigan has seen some population gains in the past year. According to Kinexus, after years of population loss, the tri-county region of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties showed a slight increase in 2017. Across the three counties, the population went up by 426 people. Berrien County gained 102 residents, or 0.10%. Van Buren County saw an increase of 152 people, or 0.20%, and Cass County’s population went up by 172, or 0.30%. Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson tells us a declining population, an aging workforce, and lower educational attainment are the three big problems facing southwest Michigan. He tells us the 2017 figures are encouraging, considering the region’s overall population decline since 2010. Gustafson says, since then, we’ve seen a 2% decline in population since 2010 in Berrien County, a 2% decline in Cass County, and a 1% decline in Van Buren County over the past seven years.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Huron Drownings On The Rise

Huron County officials are bracing for the seasonal surge of kayakers taking advantage of the north shore of Lake Huron for adventure. Sheriff Kelly Hanson tells Michigan News Network they’ve also handled a surge of rescue calls from kayakers not prepared for the dangers of kayaking on one of the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka To Talk Talent Development

Kinexus Vice President of Government Affairs Al Pscholka will be part of a roundtable discussion on talent development at next week’s Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. Pscholka tells WSJM News “Prioritizing Michigan’s Policy Agenda for Cultivating 21st Century Talent” will feature education and business leaders talking about state policies that could help their regions better develop. He has a few suggestions.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department On Safe Boating

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding boaters of a danger on the water that many might forget. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News boat generators often create carbon monoxide. She says every boat should have a carbon monoxide detector.. ...Read Full Story

Paul Broadhurst Wins KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

This year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores is in the books, with 52-year-old Englishman Paul Broadhurst earning his second career senior major victory. Broadhurst shot a final round record of 63 to finish 19-under par at 265 for the tournament. His score tied a Championship record set by Rocco Mediate at the 2016 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, also at Harbor Shores. Broadhurst was one-over after the opening round on Thursday, and joked with reporters on Saturday that he almost called his travel agent to book a flight home because he wasn’t sure he’d make the cut. He carded rounds of 66 and 64 on Friday and Saturday, moving from a tie for 77th to third as Sunday’s final round began. Broadhurst converted a combined 16 birdies over the weekend, and his 64 Saturday and 63 Sunday were the best scores in the field.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Crash Kills Mother, Baby

An Elkhart woman and her baby have both died from their injuries suffered in a Friday night crash in Decatur. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News 25-year-old Daria Malaga died at the scene, and her two-month-old son Xavier Martinez died on Sunday. Investigators say Malaga’s Chrysler Pacifica was hit head-on by a Jeep Wrangler that crossed the center line on M-51 near 89th Avenue just before 9 p.m. Friday. The driver of the Jeep was airlifted to an undisclosed hospital, where she was in good condition as of Sunday evening. She is a 42-year-old from Battle Creek, whose name has not yet been released. Police say everyone was buckled up, but they have not said if alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Talk Surplus

Michigan lawmakers are facing a possible surplus of $500 million over the next two years, and it’s looking like at least some of that money will go toward fixing the state’s roads. State Representative Kim LaSata tells WSJM News she was hoping for a tax cut.. ...Read Full Story

Minimum Wage Proposal Push Back

A group that represents small businesses says a proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 per hour would lead to more than 180,000 jobs lost over ten years if approved. National Federation of Independent Business of Michigan Director Charlie Owens tells us the wage increase would be especially harmful to businesses like restaurants. He says tipped workers would also be affected, meaning some could actually lose out.. ...Read Full Story

Drain Issues In Berrien

February’s flooding around Berrien County did a number of the drainage system, and it’s still feeling the effects. Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin tells WSJM News lots of melting snow and rain led to flooding never before seen. This spring’s weather hasn’t exactly helped.. ...Read Full Story

New Park Slated For August Opening

Berrien County’s newest park should be open to the public by the end of the summer. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey gave an update to county commissioners this month on Paw Paw River County Park located in Watervliet. Bailey tells WSJM News the park sits on about 15 acres of former brownfield property right off M-140. It covers an area east of the road, across the river, and on an island in the Paw Paw River.. ...Read Full Story

New Effort To Stop Marijuana Vote

Michigan voters may not get a chance to vote on legalizing marijuana in November. As we are learning for the first time, key state lawmakers are trying to work out a plan that lawmakers would approve. Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick told us more.. ...Read Full Story

Study Looks At Harbor Issues

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have heard a report on a study done by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and others regarding possibilities for development of the local harbor. The Twin Cities Harbor Study took a look at the potential for commercial and residential developments along the shore with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s John Egelhaaf telling city commissioners this past week there’s a great deal of value there that could be even better utilized.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Crash

One person is dead following a two-vehicle crash in Van Buren County on Friday night. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened just before 9 p.m. on M-51 near 89th Avenue in Decatur. Deputies arrived to find both vehicles with heavy damage. They learned a Jeep Wrangler driven by a 42-year-old woman from Battle Creek had been northbound on M-51 when it crossed the center line and collided head-on with a southbound Chrysler Pacifica driven by a 25-year-old woman from Elkhart, Indiana. The 25 year old driver of the Pacifica died of her injuries. A two-month-old boy and son of the 25-year-old driver was injured and taken to a hospital in critical condition. The driver of the Jeep was flown by helicopter to a hospital with multiple injuries. Police are investigating whether and speed were factors in the crash. The names have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Kids Camp

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is taking registrations for its summer Kids Camp. The department tells us the camp will be held at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs June 21 and 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s the tenth year for the camp, and all kids between the fourth and eighth grades are invited to attend. The camp will provide them with safety tips and hands-on presentations from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and other local law enforcement agencies. Attendees will learn about law enforcement, fire services, water rescue, and emergency medical services. The cost for the camp will be $30, and you can find more information below.. ...Read Full Story

Area Housing Market Frustrating Buyers

There is plenty of frustration building for people trying to buy a home in southwest Michigan, with historically low inventory and lots of competition for fewer houses. According to the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, April’s median sales price was down from last year by 8%, while the average price was nearly even. Year-to-date, median and average prices are up 10% and 7%, respectively. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes rose slightly to 8% of all transactions in April compared to 7% in March. Local mortgage rates also increased from 4.577% to 4.602% compared to last year. The national mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed conventional loan was 4.58%.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Aims To Expand Broadband

Testimony was taken this week in the Michigan House regarding new legislation designed to help roll out broadband internet services around the state. The Broadband Investment Act would create a seven-member board made up of townships, counties, and internet providers tasked with identifying areas in Michigan that are under-served. They would then work on grants to help bring those areas broadband. A sponsor is state Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Forum Planned

A forum will be held in South Haven next month for everyone to learn a little more about marijuana. Marc Sprague is one of the organizers and tells WSJM News the event is a function of Concerned Citizens of South Haven in response to recent events which are allowing more marijuana in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Farmers Market Today

The St. Joseph Farmers Market returns to Lake Bluff Park this Saturday, May 26. St. Joseph Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News the market will be held downtown every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through mid-October. It’s your chance to pick up some locally-grown fruits and veggies.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Food Pantry Gets Boost

Just three months after it got started, the student food pantry at Southwestern Michigan College has gotten a big boost. At a meeting last month, Cass County 100+ Women Who Care voted to adopt the Roadrunner Kitchen. SMC Vice President of Instruction David Fleming tells WSJM News the food pantry began this year as a way for students to pick up items when in need.. ...Read Full Story

State’s Most Dangerous Intersections

The most dangerous intersection in Berrien County is Napier Avenue at I-94. At least, that’s according to Michigan Auto Law’s latest list of the state’s worst intersections. Based off 2017 crash data, Michigan Auto Law’s report breaks down accident-prone intersections county by county. Topping the list for Berrien is Napier and I-94, which had 34 crashes last year and eleven injuries. Second place goes to Napier and M-139, which had 29 crashes with five injuries. Third place goes to M-139 and Pipestone, which had 21 crashes and eleven injuries. The only non-Benton Harbor area intersections to crack the top ten were Bell Road and South Eleventh Street in Niles Township, Hollywood Road and Niles Road in Royalton Township, and Chestnut in South Eleventh Street in Niles Township. As far as the ten most dangerous intersections in the entire state, they’re all in southeast Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

New BH Scholarship Announced

A new $25,000 scholarship for students in Benton Harbor has been announced as part of this week’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. On Friday, Harbor Shores designer Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara announced the Jack and Barbara Nicklaus KitchenAid Senior PGA Champions for Change Scholarship Program. It will offer $25,000 each year through 2024 to one member of the Benton Harbor community who has graduated with an Associate’s Degree from Lake Michigan College’s “Start to Finish Program” and seeks to continue his or her college education. Recipients may use the new scholarship to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree or to further advance a technical degree. Nicklaus says he and his wife are “honored to have our name on a scholarship that benefits kids from the Benton Harbor area.” Further details of the new scholarship will be announced soon.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Holding Essay Contest

State Representative Kim LaSata is holding an essay contest for Berrien County high school students. Her office tells us the topic of the essay contest is “What can you do, or what is something you do already to help better your community?” LaSata says she’s excited to hear stories from students on what they do or want to do to make the community better. She adds there’s something everyone can do. The competition is open to all high school students in Berrien County, and those who wish to enter can submit an essay of 400 words or less to LaSata’s office via email. The address is KimLaSata@house.mi.gov. The winner will spend the day shadowing Representative LaSata at the Capitol in Lansing. The deadline is August 6.. ...Read Full Story

Bank Accounts To Help With Taxes

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has announced a new service being offered by some local banks to help property taxpayers stay current on their bills. Witkowski tells WSJM News he’s arranged for the banks to offer special tax savings accounts. When you sign up, you can just have a portion of your earnings put aside each month for your property taxes later in the year. Witkowski says it’s clear many people could benefit.. ...Read Full Story

Nicklaus Returns To Harbor Shores

The man who designed Harbor Shores has returned for the first time since it opened in 2010. Jack Nicklaus visited the course during the second round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Friday to see what his creation has become and the development it helped to spawn in and around Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Help Needed Finding Missing 17-Year-Old

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is asking for your help finding a missing 17-year-old from the Gobles area. Bonifacio Pena hasn’t had any contact with his family since Saturday, May 19. He was last seen in the Portage area wearing an acid washed blue jean hoodie with ripped sleeves, black stretch pants, red shoes and carrying a black Nike cinch-style bag. Pena was reported missing on Wednesday by his family. He is Hispanic, about 5’8″, 180 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes. Anyone who may know where he is should call the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. Police say they’ve checked several locations for him, with no luck as yet.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor High School Gets $100K From SPGA

Benton Harbor High School will soon be adding a new sport, and it’s in large part thanks to the PGA of America and KitchenAid. The school plans to add a golf team with part of a $100,000 donation announced today at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. Championship director Ryan Ogle says the donation is in addition to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars that have been donated to date to youth sports programs in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka Taking Part In Mackinac Conference

Kinexus Vice President of Government Affairs Al Pscholka will be part of a roundtable discussion on talent development at next week’s Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. Pscholka tells WSJM News “Prioritizing Michigan’s Policy Agenda for Cultivating 21st Century Talent” will feature education and business leaders talking about state policies that could help their regions better develop. He has a few suggestions.. ...Read Full Story

Tiscornia Scholarship Winner Announced

A $20,000 scholarship is going to a student from Lakeshore High School thanks to the Tiscornia Foundation. The foundation tells us Erin Lafrenz has been picked for the Lester C. Tiscornia Scholarship this year. The award goes to a student “who has exemplified not only outstanding academic achievement but also a commitment to community service.” Lafrenz plans to attend the University of Michigan and major in biomedical engineering. She has been active in the Rotary Interact Club and traveled to the Dominican Republic last summer to install water filtration systems in rural homes. She’s also active in her school, serving on the Lakeshore Honor Society, the Lakeshore Advisory Assets Committee, and the Volunteer Tutor Program.. ...Read Full Story

Trail Expansion Coming

The next phase of work on a trail project in Niles Township will now move forward following approval from the Berrien County Board of Commissioners Thursday. Commissioner Jim Curran tells WSJM News the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail will now be extended from US-12 in Niles Township to the city of Niles.. ...Read Full Story

McCloughan Addresses Senate

Remembering those who gave their lives for our country. That’s what the Michigan Senate did Thursday with a speech by 2017 Congressional Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan. He was an Army medic in Vietnam who saved ten soldiers and was also wounded himself.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Protect Students

The Michigan House has approved legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand the OK2SAY tip line to include reporting on sexual abuse, assault, and rape. The bill was part of an 18-bill package approved Thursday intended to better protect students following the Larry Nassar debacle. LaSata tells us about it.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation To Expand Broadband

Testimony was taken this week in the Michigan House regarding new legislation designed to help roll out broadband internet services around the state. The Broadband Investment Act would create a seven-member board made up of townships, counties, and internet providers tasked with identifying areas in Michigan that are under-served. They would then work on grants to help bring those areas broadband. A sponsor is state Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Teen Pleads Guilty In School Threat Case

Sentencing will be held June 5 for a 15-year-old Paw Paw boy who threatened a school shooting at Paw Paw High School in March. The teen entered a guilty plea in juvenile court Thursday to one charge of explosives – violation vulnerable target and a weapons possession charge. Van Buren County Prosecutor Michael Bedford tells WSJM News the teen will only serve time until he’s 19 because he was charged as a juvenile, and had been facing up to 20 years in prison had he gone to court as an adult. He was turned in to police by his parents when they found evidence of his plans, including several guns that had been stolen from his grandfather and sawed off to fit into a bag. His parents have previously said they took him to police in an attempt to get him some mental health care after he said he had been pushed to that point by bullying at school and had not anticipated charges being filed.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Suspending Work For Weekend

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to do what it can to make Memorial Day travel easier for drivers. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News MDOT will suspend most of its summer construction projects and remove traffic restrictions all weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Clash Over Mandated Reporters

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are at odds over a decision to scale back the proposed expansion of the state’s mandatory reporter law after the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. A House committee on Wednesday is expected to pass a bill that would add
physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to the list of professionals who must report suspected child abuse or neglect. House
legislators backed away from adding youth coaches, athletic trainers and university employees due to costs and other concerns. A senator says he will move to make paid coaches and trainers mandatory reporters when the measure gets to the Senate. Some Nassar victims say they told Michigan State University coaches and trainers about being molested by Nassar under the guise of treatment but were dissuaded from reporting.. ...Read Full Story

Child Safety Forum

The Michigan Child Passenger Safety Conference started Wednesday in Mt Pleasant. Kettering University Crash Safety Center Director Janet Brelin-Fornari told Michigan News Network this week there have been advancements made in protecting kids in car seats from side impact crashes.. ...Read Full Story

Excitement Builds For PGA Championship

For the fourth time, Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor is hosting the best senior golfers in the world for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Tournament play starts this morning at 7:30 and runs through around 6 p.m. Sunday. Championship director Ryan Ogle tells WSJM News he expects the course will challenge the golfers, but low scores are likely.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Farmers Market This Weekend

The St. Joseph Farmers Market returns to Lake Bluff Park this Saturday. St. Joseph Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News the market will be held downtown every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through mid-October. It’s your chance to pick up some locally-grown fruits and veggies.. ...Read Full Story

Drain Commissioner On Flooding Issues

February’s flooding around Berrien County did a number of the drainage system, and it’s still feeling the effects. Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin tells WSJM News lots of melting snow and rain led to flooding never before seen. This spring’s weather hasn’t exactly helped.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Gives DACA Update

The effort to force a vote on a replacement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program continues in the U.S. House. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he and other backers of a discharge petition are just rising to the president’s call for a legislative DACA replacement while the issue lingers in committee.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Approves Bicycle Rules For Drivers

From the Associated Press — Michigan motorists would have to allow 3 feet of clearance while passing a bike on the road under legislation approved by the state Senate. Senators also voted Wednesday to require teen drivers to learn about laws pertaining to cyclists and other vulnerable roadway users as part of their initial driver education course. Michigan is among 11 states with no “safe passing” law, and bicyclists have been lobbying lawmakers to act. The House passed similar bills in March, so the legislation could soon move toward Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. As introduced, the bills would have made drivers wait for 5 feet of clearance before passing a bike – a wider berth than all but one other state. The 3-foot distance requirement would be in line with many other states.. ...Read Full Story

Group Fights Minimum Wage Proposal

A group that represents small businesses says a proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 per hour would lead to more than 180,000 jobs lost over ten years if approved. National Federation of Independent Business of Michigan Director Charlie Owens tells us the wage increase would be especially harmful to businesses like restaurants. He says tipped workers would also be affected, meaning some could actually lose out.. ...Read Full Story

Former Champ Montgomerie Ready For SPGA

Two-time Senior PGA Championship winner Colin Montgomerie is ready to try to win his third this week at Harbor Shores. He won his first major on the senior tour here in 2014, and followed that up with a win the next year at French Lick Resort in Indiana. Montgomerie says Harbor Shores plays to his strengths.. ...Read Full Story