Local News Archives

Clements Shocked By Elections Officials Ruling

Congressional candidate Paul Clements isn’t backing down. The Kalamazoo Democrat is taking the state to court to be included on the August primary ballot in the 6th Congressional District after the Board of State Canvassers ruled Friday he was nine signatures short on his petitions. Clements tells WSJM News he was “shocked” by the reasoning invalidating signatures where voters marked incorrectly if they lived in a township or city in areas that share the same name like St. Joseph and Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Authorities Release Names In Double Fatal Crash

What caused a Mishawaka woman to cross the center line on M-51 last night near the Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac is still not known. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says 34-year-old Lee Ann Saenz is in critical condition at South Bend Memorial after causing the crash that killed one backseat passenger in her car and a backseat passenger in the other vehicle. Two others who were in her car are in serious but stable condition at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph and Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. The driver of the other car is being treated at Borgess Lee Memorial for non-life-threatening injuries. The two people killed were 31-year-old David Conner of Niles and 37-year-old Tracy Seitenstich of Dowagiac.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Crash Kills Two

Details are few, but a head-on crash in Dowagiac has left two people dead and five others fighting for their lives. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says the crash happened on M-51 roughly a mile south of the Four Winds Casino near Crystal Springs Street. The five who have survived are hospitalized in critical condition. No names have been released, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

College Success Rates

Students at Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges are finding more success, according to data reported this week by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. Spokesperson Lauren Leeds tells WSJM News university students successfully complete their degrees after six years about 71% of the time. As for community college students…. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Walking Tours

Walking tours around St. Joseph will once again be offered this summer by the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News this year’s program will feature sculpture tours and history tours.. ...Read Full Story

Calls Grow For New Soo Locks

The Michigan Manufacturers Association is expressing support for Governor Rick Snyder’s commitment this week of $50 million of state revenue toward the national effort to rebuild the Soo Locks. The association’s Mike Johnston tells WSJM News the manufacturing industry depends on the locks.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Services Talks Beach Safety

Hot weather and summer vacation with the kids often means a trip to the beach. South Haven has seven public beaches and all them have beach warning flags that will inform you about swimming conditions in Lake Michigan at the beach where you are. South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Successful Humane Society Auction

This year’s Bids for Barks auction to benefit the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan was a resounding success. So says the Humane Society, which tells us a record amount was raised at the event, held May 19 at the Mendel Center in Benton Township. Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond spoke with WSJM News about the auction.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Lighthouse Tours Planned

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph has released the schedule for this summer’s lighthouse tours. Curator Tracy Gierada tells us this will be the third year for the tours, which opened up in 2016 following the lighthouse renovations. She tells us there are a few different types of tours, starting with the walking tours.. ...Read Full Story

Boost For Food Pantry

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

New Wine Fest In Bridgman

Excitement is brewing for the newest wine festival in southwest Michigan. Set for June 9 at Weko Beach in Bridgman will be the Makers Trail Festival, featuring 23 makers of wine and other spirits. Greater Bridgman Area Chamber Director Calli Berg tells WSJM News it’s all about celebrating what may be the region’s fastest growing industry.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Event In Bridgman

Downtown Bridgman will be a livelier place this summer thanks to a new series of events organized by the city and local merchants. Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum tells WSJM News this past Friday brought the first of four Bridgman Family Friday Fests. The events are inspired by the winter Holiday Village festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks STEM

A Michigan House committee has approved legislation from state Senator John Proos to encourage high school students to take more STEM classes. Proos tells WSJM News students who take extra science, technology, engineering, or math classes could get a STEM certification on their diploma or transcript. He says that would help those students find work.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Road Closure

The Michigan Department of Transportation is notifying drivers of a partial road closure beginning in South Haven next week. MDOT tells us there will be single-lane closures and a temporary traffic signal for concrete pavement repairs on M-43 between Aylworth Avenue and Francis Street. The work starts Monday and will run through Friday, June 29. Drivers are reminded to give themselves a few extra minutes if they commute through that route. You can stay on top of all of MDOT’s summer road construction projects at the MIDrive website. It’s at Michigan.gov/MIDrive.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Statement On Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton has weighed in on the Trump administration’s new tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In a statement issued Friday, Upton says, “We need to target tariffs to address specific unfair trading practices in a way that minimizes negative consequences for Michigan jobs, manufacturers, and consumers.” He goes on to say after speaking with local manufacturers and farmers, Upton has learned they believe a “trade war hurts Michigan.”. ...Read Full Story

Clements, Garrod Out Of Dem Field

There are now just four Democrats set to appear on their party’s primary ballot for Congress in the Sixth District this August. On Friday, the State Board of Canvassers held up an opinion from the State Bureau of Elections that Paul Clements and Eponine Garrod did not turn in enough valid petition signatures to get on the ballot. The two appeared before the board at its morning meeting, and both said they felt that had collected enough signatures. The Michigan Secretary of State tells us Clements initially turned in more than 1,300 of the 1,000 needed petition signatures, but more than 300 of them were deemed invalid. Garrod turned in 1,019, leaving her much less wiggle room. 45 of her petition signatures were found to be invalid. The Democratic field for Congress in the Sixth District is now down to George Franklin, David Benac, Rich Eichholz, and Matt Longjohn.. ...Read Full Story

State Police: Arrow Story Was A Lie

Michigan State Police say a Paw Paw man who reported being shot with an arrow back in March was lying. Troopers from the Paw Paw post were called out to investigate on March 25 when Michael Downey reported he’d been shot in the neck with an arrow while walking in the woods on a trail close to the eastern edge of Van Buren County. Troopers tell us after an extensive investigation involving the MSP Crime Lab and a K9, they determined the report was false. Downey later admitted he’d made the story up. Downey was arraigned Friday on a charge of false report of a felony. Michigan State Police say they will seek restitution for the cost of the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Makers Faire Tomorrow

Coming up this Saturday is the fourth annual Southwest Michigan Mini Maker’s Faire at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph. The fair is organized by Berrien RESA to celebrate that maker spirit that’s been growing in southwest Michigan. RESA Technology Consultant Joe Rommel tells WSJM News there will be all kinds of makers showing off the things they’ve produced. There will also be interactive displays.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Train Celebration Tomorrow

The Bangor Historical Society will be dedicating the Duane Goss Kalamazoo Toy Train this Saturday at the museum located at the old Ely Hardware building on West Monroe Street. Musum member Rick Dillman told WSJM News the toy trains are an important part of Bangor’s history.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Taking Heat Over Pesticides

A new lawsuit accuses the Environmental Protection Agency of putting farmworkers in Michigan and other states at increased risk of pesticide exposure. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice are suing the agency for its failure to issue a notice that updated pesticide training materials are available under the Worker Protection Standard passed in 2015. Earthjustice attorney Hannah Chang tells us the materials have been ready for more than a year, and are needed to protect workers.. ...Read Full Story

Makers Trail Festival Coming Up

Excitement is brewing for the newest wine festival in southwest Michigan. Set for June 9 at Weko Beach in Bridgman will be the Makers Trail Festival, featuring 23 makers of wine and other spirits. Greater Bridgman Area Chamber Director Calli Berg tells WSJM News it’s all about celebrating what may be the region’s fastest growing industry.. ...Read Full Story

Shooting Victim Taken To Cass County Gas Station

A man is hospitalized in Elkhart after being shot in northern Indiana and left at a Cass County gas station. Our newsgathering partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 report the man was taken to a Marathon station in Union after being shot in Elkhart. Police were called and he was taken back over the border for treatment. The man’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, and there’s no word on any suspect or if an arrest has been made.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Fight Over Marijuana Proposal

From the Associated Press — Republican legislative leaders are at odds as a deadline nears to enact a marijuana legalization measure or let it go to a statewide vote in November. Tuesday is the deadline. The Legislature could adopt the citizen-initiated bill, which would enable lawmakers to later amend it. Or it could do nothing and let the proposal go on the ballot. Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Thursday there’s support within the Senate to pass the legislation, but he won’t vote unless the House gets on board. He accuses House Speaker Tom Leonard of standing in the way and doing a “poor job” educating his caucus. Leonard says there’s not enough support among House Republicans to pursue the initiative. He adds he’s no “dictator” and would allow a vote if there’s support.. ...Read Full Story

Meeting To Determine Candidate Eligibility

Two of the Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination to run against Congressman Fred Upton in November will find out Friday if their names will appear on the primary ballot. Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams tells WSJM News the state Bureau of Elections this week made a preliminary ruling against Paul Clements and Eponine Garrod.. ...Read Full Story

Infant Death Under Investigation

The death of a six-week-old baby in under investigation in Berrien County. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies were called out to a home in the 3900 block of Fikes Road in Hagar Township around 6:20 a.m. Thursday on a report of an infant not breathing. They arrived to find the six-week-old child dead. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the investigation into the case is ongoing, and an autopsy will be performed Friday at Western Michigan University. Child Protective Services is assisting. The sheriff’s department says upon completion of the investigation, the report will be forwarded to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for review, which is customary in suspicious death situations.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Field Challenging Upton Could Be Shrinking

There were once seven Democrats running for their party’s nomination to challenge Congressman Fred Upton this fall, and now the field is down to five. Aida Gray was the first to drop out, as her name is not among the list of candidates in the most recent listing by the Secretary of State’s office. Now comes word state elections officials are recommending Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements, who won the nomination but lost to Upton in both 2014 and 2016, be removed from the primary ballot in August. A supporter of Democratic candidate Matt Longjohn filed a challenge that Clements didn’t have enough valid signatures of registered voters in the 6th Congressional District to qualify. If the recommendation stands, voters will chose between David Benac, Rich Eichholz, George Franklin, Eponine Garrod, and Longjohn in August.. ...Read Full Story

Lighthouse Tours This Summer

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph has released the schedule for this summer’s lighthouse tours. Curator Tracy Gierada tells us this will be the third year for the tours, which opened up in 2016 following the lighthouse renovations. She tells us there are a few different types of tours, starting with the walking tours.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Dealing With Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed has been a problem for a few years in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and now the invasive plant is in South Haven. City officials in the Van Buren County city have identified 13 locations where the plant has been found and are working to educate people about not trying to remove it. The city will be working on eradication by hiring a qualified contractor this fall. The plant can have roots ten-feet deep, and using normal weed killing chemicals only causes it to get stronger. New signs have been put up in South Haven helping people identify the plant and warning them to stay off of it and not cut it down, as that causes it to spread faster. The BBC reported in April that the largest study to date, done in Wales, determined there is no currently available method to get rid of Japanese knotweed.. ...Read Full Story

Record Humane Society Auction

This year’s Bids for Barks auction to benefit the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan was a resounding success. So says the Humane Society, which tells us a record amount was raised at the event, held May 19 at the Mendel Center in Benton Township. Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond spoke with WSJM News about the auction.. ...Read Full Story

Silver Beach Fight Prompts South Bend Coach To Resign

The fight that shut down Silver Beach County Park early on Monday evening is pushing a high school wrestling coach in South Bend to resign. Tony McWilliams posted on Facebook that he was stepping down as the coach at Washington High School because he’s upset by the school’s inaction regarding the bullying of his daughters. McWilliams says video of the fight shows his daughters being jumped by girls who had been bullying them at school. He says he will fight until he’s “satisfied with the outcome,” adding “zero tolerance is supposed to mean zero tolerance.” McWilliams says he “played along for a year” and is seeking “justice from everyone.” Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told WSJM News this week that the fights at the beach were started by women who had come to town from northern Indiana.. ...Read Full Story

MI Colleges Increasing Success Rates

Students at Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges are finding more success, according to data reported this week by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. Spokesperson Lauren Leeds tells WSJM News university students successfully complete their degrees after six years about 71% of the time. As for community college students…. ...Read Full Story

AAA On “100 Deadliest Days”

AAA of Michigan is calling the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the 100 deadliest days on the road. For that reason, it’s reaching out to teens and reminding them of some safe driving tips. AAA spokesperson Gary Bubar tells Michigan News Network teen drivers have little to no experience, and are on the roads making mistakes like not leaving enough space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them.. ...Read Full Story

Mini Makers Faire This Weekend

Coming up this Saturday is the fourth annual Southwest Michigan Mini Maker’s Faire at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph. The fair is organized by Berrien RESA to celebrate that maker spirit that’s been growing in southwest Michigan. RESA Technology Consultant Joe Rommel tells WSJM News there will be all kinds of makers showing off the things they’ve produced. There will also be interactive displays.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Man Charged In Machete Attack

A Hartford man has been formally charged with felony assault for striking the arm of his uncle with a machete, causing a deep cut, during some sort of dispute between the two last week. 22-year-old Duane Dishman blurted out during his Tuesday hearing that he felt his uncle was trespassing and he was just defending his property. The victim was hospitalized at Bronson Lakeview for treatment of the deep cut, and is expected to recover. Dishman was on probation at the time of the assault, compounding his legal problems.. ...Read Full Story

Petitions Submitted To Put Paid Sick Time On Ballot

The Michigan Time to Care Coalition has turned in over 382,000 signatures to the Bureau of Elections, more than enough to qualify for the November ballot. The ballot measure would provide nearly two million workers in Michigan the chance to take a day off when they’re sick or need to care for an ill child. The “Earned Sick Time Act” would guarantee employees at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Proponents of the ballot proposal argue that after years of waiting for action from elected officials, the people have stood up and have taken this issue into their own hands. Many employers already offer their workers paid sick time, but it is not a requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Police On Beach Safety

Hot weather and summer vacation with the kids often means a trip to the beach. South Haven has seven public beaches and all them have beach warning flags that will inform you about swimming conditions in Lake Michigan at the beach where you are. South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Officials Lack Resources For Inspections

From the Associated Press — A newspaper investigation has found the Michigan fire marshal’s office hasn’t performed annual inspections of churches, theaters, restaurants or other places of public assemblage as required by state law. The Lansing State Journal reports that the Legislature has never funded the requirement. The state fire marshal’s office alleges local fire departments perform the inspections.
But surveys show that most fire departments statewide are all-volunteer with no inspectors on staff. Michigan also doesn’t track fires across the state or whether the burned buildings had been inspected. Lansing Fire Marshal Marshaun Blake says his office only inspects public
assemblage places if there’s a complaint, request or significant change to the building. Former state Fire Marshal Julie Secontine says Michigan has ignored the issue for four decades. She worries that Michigan won’t dedicate the resources needed until after a tragedy.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Traffic Deaths Up From 2017

It was a deadlier Memorial Day weekend this year than last. Preliminary reports sent in to Michigan State Police show 15 people were killed in 11 separate crashes, up from 10 dead in 10 crashes in 2017. Of those wrecks, alcohol was a factor in two, and five involved motorcycles. One of the people killed was a pedestrian. State police say the numbers could still go up, as those figures are only what had been reported to them as of yesterday morning. The holiday weekend ran from 6 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.. ...Read Full Story

New Summer Event In Bridgman

Downtown Bridgman will be a livelier place this summer thanks to a new series of events organized by the city and local merchants. Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum tells WSJM News this past Friday brought the first of four Bridgman Family Friday Fests. The events are inspired by the winter Holiday Village festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Committee Approves Proos STEM Bill

A Michigan House committee has approved legislation from state Senator John Proos to encourage high school students to take more STEM classes. Proos tells WSJM News students who take extra science, technology, engineering, or math classes could get a STEM certification on their diploma or transcript. He says that would help those students find work.. ...Read Full Story

Sex Abuse Victims To Have More Time To Sue

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign into law bills inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal, including one that would give childhood sexual abuse victims more time to sue. The current cutoff to file a lawsuit in Michigan is generally a victim’s 19th birthday, which critics say is out of step with the laws in other states and doesn’t account for how many victims are afraid to report abuse or have suppressed it. The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow people who were sexually abused as children to sue until their 28th birthdays or three years from when they realized they had been abused. Nassar victims would get a 90-day window to sue retroactively.Snyder is also expected to sign legislation that would give prosecutors additional time to file charges in second- and third-degree sexual conduct cases if the victim was younger than 18.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Flower Planting In South Haven

Volunteers will be sprucing up part of South Haven on Thursday. SHOUT for South Haven tells us new soil has been placed in the planters on the Dyckman Bridge, which means it’s time for flowers. Starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, SHOUT volunteers will be out planting those flowers to serve as decorations for the whole summer. Anyone who wants to help is welcome to show up. Just bring some gloves and a trowel. The project should be completed in an hour or two. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but moved to Thursday due to expected rain.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Talks Silver Beach

Rowdy crowds at Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph caused police to clear the place out Monday night, but there were no injuries in the incident. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey tells WSJM News his deputies started to break up some fights involving groups of people who arrived about 7 p.m. By 8:30, the decision was made to shut the place down.. ...Read Full Story

Protesters At Mackinac Conference

Some of the people getting off the ferry to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference on Tuesday were be handed lollipops by protesters. The lollies came with a plea “not to be a sucker” for Enbridge, the company behind the Enbridge Line Five oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. The conference draws the state’s biggest names in policy and business. David Holtz, with the “Oil and Water Don’t Mix Coalition,” says the 65-year-old pipeline is dangerous and should be decommissioned.. ...Read Full Story

Group Submits Petitions For Paid Sick Time

From the Associated Press — Michigan workers would receive mandatory sick days under a newly filed initiative that could appear on the November ballot. The group Michigan Time to Care turned in 382,239 signatures Tuesday for a petition to create an “Earned Sick Time Act” that would guarantee employees at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Businesses with 10 or more workers would be required to provide at least 72 hours of earned sick time per year, while smaller ones would have to grant 40 hours. The proposal now awaits certification before heading to the Republican-controlled Legislature. If rejected there, the initiative would be put to a popular vote this fall. Since 2015, Michigan has prohibited local governments from requiring that businesses provide earned leave time and other benefits.. ...Read Full Story

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