Local News Archives

Planning Underway For Red Arrow Trail

The public has had a chance to review a possible Red Arrow Highway trail project being planned in Berrien County. At an open house on Wednesday, Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News the master plan for the linear trail from Bridgman to New Buffalo is being put together now.. ...Read Full Story

August SWM Home Sales Report

Home sales in southwest Michigan dropped a bit during August. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors tells us in August the number of houses sold dropped 7% from August of 2017. Also, the average and median selling prices once again increased. This time, the average leaped 21% and the median price went up 7%. The association tells us the August 2018 average and median selling prices and total dollar volume, along with the year-to-date prices and volume, set the highest records since 2006 in the year-over-year comparison. That average selling price in August was more than $238,000. Inventory of houses for sale decreased 4% from a year ago, meaning the availability of homes remains a concern. Meanwhile, the percentage of sales that were foreclosures went up in August to 6% from July’s 4%.. ...Read Full Story

Final Defendant Sentenced For Kalamazoo-Van Buren Meth Ring

A 39-year-old Kalamazoo man is headed to prison for more than 19 years for his part in a meth ring in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties that operated from July 2016 until last December. Michael Neeley was the last of nine people to be sentenced in the federal case. Neeley’s 235-month sentence is the longest handed down to the drug dealers due to his extensive prior criminal history. Federal prosecutors say the drug traffickers got started with a meeting with a Phoenix, Arizona meth supplier in July 2016 and soon began selling crystal meth in southwest Michigan, receiving the drugs through UPS and the regular US mail. Among those previously sentenced were Noel Saldana of Hartford, the ringleader who was given 210 months in prison, and Justin Smith of Watervliet, who was sentenced to 10 years.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Appoints New Treasurer

Cass County has a new treasurer. Hope Anderson of Cassopolis has been named by the Treasurer Appointment Committee as the successor to Linda Pruett, who died this summer. Anderson will serve through the end of Pruett’s term on December 31, 2020 and is eligible to run for the office in two years. The committee received seven applications and interviews with all candidates were done last Wednesday. Anderson is a Western Michigan University graduate and lives with her husband in Calvin Township. The committee says all seven who applied were excellent candidates, and they are encouraging the other six to continue working to seek public service.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Needs Of Young Parents

A new report looks at the outcomes of kids who are born to young parents. Researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found 9% of all 18 to 24-year-olds in Michigan — or about 85,000 people — have young children, and those families have about 100,000 kids between them. Alicia Guevara-Warren, Kids Count project director with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us one good idea would be to expand access to higher education and training.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Hosting Literacy Event

Officials at Benton Harbor Area Schools are planning a new push to promote literacy. Communications Director Amy Nichols tells WSJM News “We Welcome Literacy” is a community event set for October 8 at the high school. On hand will be Dr. Patricia Edwards and Dr. Susan Piazza, experts on literacy education who will talk with parents about engaging the children in reading and learning.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Sentenced In Fatal Crash

From the Associated Press — A 22-year-old woman has been sentenced to 11/2 to 15 years behind bars for a crash into an icy southwestern Michigan lake that killed her boyfriend, who was a passenger in the SUV she was driving. The Herald Palladium reports Tara Smith learned her punishment Monday in Van Buren County Circuit after earlier pleading guilty to operating under the influence causing death. Twenty-two-year-old Jezreel Wallace of Bangor Township was pronounced dead at a
hospital following the December crash into School Section Lake in Bangor Township. Police have said Smith was able to escape from the vehicle and swim to land. She sought help at a nearby home. An investigation determined that the SUV overshot the end of a dead-end road, went onto the ice-covered lake and broke through the ice.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata, Haight To Appear At Candidate Forums

Two candidate forums featuring the Republican and Democratic candidates for the Michigan Senate in the 21st District are set for next month. State Representative Kim LaSata has announced she’ll be at a Berrien RESA Candidate Forum on Monday, October 8. That event will be at 8 a.m. at the Administrative Center at Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs. The other event will be the Niles New Tech Candidate Forum on Friday, October 26. That’ll be at 5 p.m. at the Niles Library. LaSata’s announcement comes following criticism from the League of Women Voters that LaSata has declined to take part in debates. Democrat Ian Haight, LaSata’s opponent, tells us he will also be at both events, although he would prefer traditional debates. Haight tells us the formats of the forums won’t allow for very detailed answers. Haight and LaSata are running to replace state Senator John Proos, who can’t run again due to term limits.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurers Work Together To Investigate Homestead Fraud

A partnership that allows the Berrien County Treasurer’s Office help its counterparts in Van Buren County catch fraudulent homestead claims will continue for another three years. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News his office lends its staff to the Van Buren County Treasurer’s Office to investigate incidents of property owners claiming a vacation or rental property as their home to get out of taxes. There are a few ways to catch them.. ...Read Full Story

Poll Finds Wide Support For Immediate Asian Carp Protections

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

Governor Snyder: No Deal In Sight To End Road Construction Lockout

There is still no solution to the now three-week-long lockout of union heavy equipment operators by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. Governor Snyder gave an update on the labor impasse today after his first face-to-face talks with both MITA and Operating Engineers Local 324, and says both sides are still far apart on even a short-term solution. He says he’s keeping several options open.. ...Read Full Story

Rail Safety Week

This week is Rail Safety Week in Michigan when everyone is reminded to follow the rules of railroad tracks. Sam Crowl with Michigan Operation Lifesaver tells WSJM News they’re holding events all week following a proclamation by the governor. Crowl says everyone should know what to do if they get stuck on a crossing. Look for the Emergency Notification System sign.. ...Read Full Story

Man Injured When Car Hits Tree

A Dowagiac man is recovering from injuries sustained on Monday afternoon when he crashed his car into a tree in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells us the crash happened around 2:20 on Brownville Street west of Diamond View Road in Jefferson Township. Arriving officers learned the driver, 31-year-old Matthew Bixby, was westbound on Brownville when he became drowsy and lost control of the car. It left the road and hit a dead tree. After the impact, the top of the tree broke off and landed on the roof of the car. Bixby was injured, but turned down medical treatment at the scene. Police say he was wearing a seatbelt, and alcohol was not involved. Bixby was later taken by private vehicle to a hospital. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Armed Robbery In Benton Harbor

Two suspects are in custody following the robbery of a cell phone store in Benton Harbor on Monday. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us it responded to the armed robbery at the Boost Mobile location at 957 Pipestone Street around 1 p.m. A male and female had gone into the store with the male flashing a handgun and demanding money from the register. The clerk complied, and the two suspects ran off with an undisclosed amount of cash. Thanks to store surveillance footage, police were able to identify the suspects. The 37-year-old male and 17-year-old female were in custody within a few hours. Police say they have not recovered the weapon. Benton Harbor Public Safety was assisted in the investigation by Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

No One Hurt Following Brief Standoff In St. Joseph

The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety says no one is hurt following an incident involving a possible threat in the 2,800 block of Willa Drive Monday evening. It tells us officers were called to the area about 5 p.m. on a report of a suicidal resident making threats. The area was blocked off while the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and St. Joseph Public Safety approached the home. As officers tried to open the door, the person inside unlocked it and spoke with them. The situation then ended peacefully with the suicidal person transported to Lakeland Hospital for evaluation.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Conference Explores Adapting To Warmer Climate

From the Associated Press — A conference at the University of Michigan is bringing together experts to share ideas on dealing with a warming climate in the Great Lakes region. The biennial Great Lakes Adaptation Forum runs from Monday through Wednesday at the campus in Ann Arbor. Discussions will focus on four broad themes. They include cooperation between U.S., Canadian and indigenous peoples; getting funding for climate adaptation initiatives; developing leadership in schools, businesses and government; and the latest innovative tools such as building design and smart sensor technology. Among speakers will be dean Jonathan Overpeck of the university’s School for Environment and Sustainability and Dan Wildcat, professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and author of a book on how indigenous knowledge can help save the planet.. ...Read Full Story

Open House Looks At Napier Pedestrian Plans

The public has had a chance to offer input on plans to repave part of Napier Avenue in St. Joseph and Benton townships starting next year. At a Monday forum, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission talked about the possibility of adding sidewalks or bike paths along the road from the St. Joseph River to I-94. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News that could mean traffic changes.. ...Read Full Story

Strong Deer Season Expected

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is expecting the deer hunting season this year to be a strong one. DNR deer biologist Ashley Autenrieth tells WSJM News the 2018 forecast notes a robust herd this year due to favorable weather.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecution Of Nassar Becomes Campaign Issue

The prosecution of disgraced former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar is now an issue in the gubernatorial campaign. Attorney General and Republican nominee Bill Schuette brought charges against Nassar for sexually abusing hundreds of patients over two decades, and says Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer should have charged him while she was the interim Ingham County prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Go Over $3 After Initially Dropping Compared To Week Ago

We started off the week paying a little less for gas, but it didn’t last long. Prices shot up around noon to as high as $3.09 in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph area after Triple-A Michigan had noted area prices had fallen about 6¢ from last week to $2.85. The statewide average as of Monday morning was down a nickel from a week ago at $2.88. Some stations in the Twin Cities were as low as $2.75 Monday morning, with gas down to $2.74 in South Haven according to GasBuddy. Analyst Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy says higher prices could be in the cards for the fall due to global markets. He says oil prices jumped late last week as OPEC nations shrugged off President Trump’s call for them to do something to reign in high prices. Additionally, Iran’s oil is not being allowed on the market, and DeHaan says that might result in the typical autumn price slump not happening this year.. ...Read Full Story

Two Van Buren County Residents Under Investigation For Marijuana Grow-Op

Two Keeler Township-area residents are under investigation for drugs. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department seized five marijuana plants from a property in the area of 2nd Street and Territorial Road West on Saturday after the plants could be seen from the road growing higher than the fence. A 40-year-old man admitted to growing the drugs and was cooperative when questioned. A 35-year-old woman is also under investigation, but neither was arrested. The case is being turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges. Deputies say the plants were between seven and nine-and-a-half feet tall with a street value of up to $5,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes PFAS Bill

Some PFAS-related legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Fred Upton and three Michigan colleagues. Upton tells WSJM News the Federal Facility Accountability Act urges federal agencies to help states deal with PFAS contamination when it’s found in certain areas.. ...Read Full Story

Details On New Hospital

Coming soon to South Haven will be a new hospital and medical complex. Bronson Healthcare South Haven COO Kirk Richardson tells WSJM News the health system is planning a $22 million investment to replace its old medical facility on South Bailey Avenue. That place was first built in the 1940s, and Richardson says the new Bronson complex will be state of the art in way that benefits patients.. ...Read Full Story

Slow Land Auction

The fall Berrien County Land Auction netted about $40,000 for the foreclosure fund this week. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News Tuesday’s auction had lower attendance than usual.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speaker Series This Week

With all the talk about Russian election meddling, the South Haven Speakers Series has an upcoming guest speaker who has been posted in Moscow and worked for the White House in the past. His name is Jack Segal and he will be speaking at the South Haven Campus of Lake Michigan College on September 27. WSJM News spoke with the Speakers Series Mark Odland to find out more about Jack Segal.. ...Read Full Story

Big Trail Project Coming

There will be an open house and meeting next week for Berrien County residents to learn more about plans to create a trail along Red Arrow Highway in southern Berrien County. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the Linear County Park is a plan made possible due to cooperation between Berrien County Parks Department and the Berrien County Road Department as well as Lake, Chikaming, and New Buffalo townships. It would go from Bridgman to Galien River County Park. ...Read Full Story

Upcoming Napier Avenue Meeting

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is close to wrapping up its report on pedestrian options for Napier Avenue in St. Joseph and Benton Townships, and a meeting will be held this month for the public to offer more input. Associate planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News the question is whether sidewalks can be put in along Napier when the Berrien County Road Department starts repaving the road from the St. Joe River to I-94 next year. The planning commission is making recommendations.. ...Read Full Story