Local News Archives

17 Sentenced In Bank Fraud Case

18 people have been sentenced in a bank fraud case out of west Michigan. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids tells us the fraud ring targeted Bank of America, and allowed the defendants to obtain more than $780,000, resulting in losses of more than $455,000. They were accused of opening or using of Bank of America accounts to accept fraudulent check deposits and then make fraudulent withdrawals at banks and casinos. Among the defendants sentenced this week were three out of South Haven. Jerome Perry was sentenced to 15 months in prison, James Langford was sentenced to 12 months and one day, and Elnora Snipes was sentenced to 3 months in prison. The rest of the defendants were from places that include Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. The U.S. Attorney tells us the ring’s leader was a Kalamazoo man who has now been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Coming To Hartford

Coming to Hartford High School on Wednesday will be Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. He’s going to chat with students enrolled in the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News the organization is glad to have him.. ...Read Full Story

Recycling Event This Weekend

A household chemical recycling event is slated for this weekend in Berrien County. The Berrien County Parks Department tells us it will collect chemicals, home medical waste, electronics, and personal documents on Saturday at the Southeast Berrien County Landfill Recycling Center in Buchanan. The personal documents will be shredded. The county tells us you can drop off paint, old gasoline, used motor oil, pesticides, cleaners, unwanted pills, medical sharps, batteries, computers, televisions, printers, and small and large appliances mostly for free. There is a fee of $10 per computer monitor and $20 per television. The collection event will run this Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Unsolved Murder Vigil Planned

A candlelight vigil will be held this week in St. Joseph to remember the victims of unsolved murders in Benton Harbor. Lisa Gorman with Freedom Life Church in Benton Harbor tells WSJM News she’s worked with many people who have been personally affected by the crimes. The idea for a vigil came after hearing so many stories she says she’s heard.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Pursues Green Initiative

St. Joseph City Commissioners are making their commitment to sustainability official. At this week’s meeting, the commission approved a resolution to pursue bronze certification from Michigan Green Communities. Commissioner Peggy Getty tells WSJM News she and Commissioner Laura Goos looked into it and realized the city was already doing many of the things to get bronze status.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Talks Job Training

Governor Rick Snyder’s strategy to fill more than 800,000 job openings was discussed Monday  in Jackson. Local business leaders and educators came together to give input on the proposed “Marshall Plan for Talent,” as Snyder has called it.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Appeals Private School Ruling

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing a court ruling that blocked state reimbursements to private schools for the cost of inspections and other state requirements. The appeal was filed Monday on behalf of the state and top officials. A Court of Claims judge last month struck down as unconstitutional two budget laws, saying $5 million in spending violates a ban on aid to non-public schools. Schuette, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, says the cost of inspections and fees can “financially cripple” private schools. Public school groups challenged the state spending. Separately, Schuette’s office is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit
challenging Michigan’s constitutional ban on using public money to directly or indirectly aid parochial schools. The state says the issue was settled legally 47 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Water Level To Be Lowered At Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Dam

The water level at the Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Dam will be coming down later this month for maintenance. Indiana Michigan Power plans to draw down the level of the water by three-and-a-half feet at a rate of six-inches a day. That will start on May 29 and will affect a three-and-a-half mile section of the St. Joseph River upstream of the dam, better known as Lake Chapin. The utility is warning homeowners and people who use the river for boating in the area that submerged objects will be closer to the surface of the water, and there will be areas of shallow depth. Additionally, if you own or operate boats in the area, you’re advised to dry dock them if you don’t remove them from the harbor during the drawdown. The work is expected to be done on or before June 18, with the restoration of the water level back to normal by Monday, June 25.. ...Read Full Story

Craft Beer Week Underway

American Craft Beer Week is underway, celebrating small businesses make beer. Craftbeer.com Editor-In-Chief Jess Baker tells us people are fans of craft beers because they have flavor and are always different. She says it’s also about community.. ...Read Full Story

Mermaid Fest Coming To South Haven

If you’re a fan of mermaids, then you’ll want to be in South Haven this Memorial Day weekend. Set for May 25 through May 28 is the first ever Mermaid MegaFest. Organizer Brad Carrier tells WSJM News it kicks off Friday the 25th with a series of guest speakers who will address freshwater preservation. Then there’s the fun stuff for the rest of the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Millage Rates

The millage rate is locked in. At a Monday meeting, St. Joseph City Commissioners gave their final reading to some millage increases they discussed last week. The street millage is going up by 2.55 mills, or about $200 per year for a home with a taxable value of $140,000. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the millage increase works out to more than $1 million per year for streets. He thinks it could be enough.. ...Read Full Story

Northern MI Wildfire Risk

Residents in northern Michigan and the U-P should be careful with fire this week as dry, windy conditions are expected to heighten the risk of wildfires. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fire Prevention Specialist Paul Rogers spoke with Michigan News Network about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Woman Running For State House

The field of candidates in the running for the Republican nomination in the Michigan House in the 79th District includes a Watervliet woman with a long family family history in Bainbridge Township. Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM News she’s jumped into the race to replace state Representative Kim LaSata because she wants to promote conservative values and pursue growth. One priority is infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Walgreens Installing Drug Kiosks

28 Walgreens stores will be part of an expansion into Michigan to provide drug kiosks so customers can get rid of unwanted medications. Spokesman Phil Caruso says millions of pounds of unused drugs have already been collected in the past two years, and there have been no problems with people trying to steal the drugs.. ...Read Full Story

POW Discussion At North Berrien Museum

The North Berrien History Museum is hosting a program called The German POW Experience in Michigan tomorrow. The program will feature Dr. Howard Poole speaking about the 400,000 German prisoners of war being placed in 32 camps in Michigan, including Coloma, Benton Harbor and Hartford. Dr.Poole will shed light on the experiences of the captured men like, their transportation from Europe to Michigan and back after the war. Some of the former POW’s chose to come back to the United States to live. The program will be held at the North Berrien History Museum on the evening of Tuesday, May 15th, free to the public at 7 p.m. The museum’s website can be viewed at NorthBerrienHistory.org.. ...Read Full Story

House Speaker On Legalized Pot

It looks like there will be a statewide vote of the people in Michigan to decide if recreational marijuana should be legalized. Speaker of the Michigan House Tom Leonard has reaffirming a vote by the people will have the final say on the measure in November. He told Michigan News Network the matter will not be decided by legislative Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Record Memorial Day Travel Forecast Issued

A record number of Michigan residents are planning to hit the road for Memorial Day. Triple-A Michigan is projecting nearly 1.3 million of us in the state are planning a trip, up nearly 5% from last year. If realized, it will be the busiest Memorial Day weekend for tourism in over a dozen years in the state. Most people – 1.1 million – plan to drive, with air travel projected to be up 8% from last year at nearly 70,000 people. The auto club says the worst time to head out is going to be Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25 due to how many others will be traveling at the same time. The projection marks the sixth straight year of increases in Michigan in the estimated number of people planning to travel for the holiday.. ...Read Full Story

Two Watervliet Gas Stations Have State’s Lowest Prices

There’s a price war at a pair of southwest Michigan gas stations, but it’s not impacting the average in the area according to Triple-A Michigan. The Casey’s General Store and the Shell on M-140 in Watervliet are both selling unleaded for $2.60 a gallon, which GasBuddy notes is the lowest price in the state. Triple-A’s weekly survey of gas stations puts the statewide average at $2.93, up 7¢ from last week and up 52¢ from this time last year. The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph average price is up by three pennies to $2.88 per gallon. Michigan’s most expensive gas is in Ann Arbor at $2.97, while the lowest average prices are up north in Traverse City at $2.85. AAA says gasoline inventories in the Great Lakes region have been falling steadily over the past eight weeks, helping to push our prices up.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Opposes Watercraft Tax

State Representative Kim LaSata is among the Michigan lawmakers calling on the Michigan State Waterways Commission to drop plans for a tax on small watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. She tells WSJM News the House overwhelmingly voted this week for a resolution opposing the move.. ...Read Full Story

New Vendor Approved For Beach

There will be another vendor selling hot dogs at a St. Joseph summer attraction this year. On Monday, the St. Joseph City Commission gave its thumbs up to Myles Hambley to have a hot dog cart at Lions Park Beach. He told commissioners he plans to keep it simple, serving a few different types of dogs to beach goers along with a few other treats. Lions Beach is one of five locations where the city allows things like hot dog carts to be located in the summer months, and there was a vacancy there. Also Monday, the commission voted to allow Scoot Joe’s to put up a 20 by 30 foot tent on its property to protect a fleet of bicycles the places rents out in the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Effort To Preserve Open Internet

An effort is underway in the United States Senate to block the FCC from implementing its repeal of net neutrality protections, and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan is a part of it. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Peters said it’s necessary that Americans have access to open internet so they can compete with the rest of the world.. ...Read Full Story

POW Presentation At Local Museum

The North Berrien History Museum is hosting a program called The German POW Experience in Michigan tomorrow. The program will feature Dr. Howard Poole speaking about the 400,000 German prisoners of war being placed in 32 camps in Michigan, including Coloma, Benton Harbor and Hartford. Dr.Poole will shed light on the experiences of the captured men like, their transportation from Europe to Michigan and back after the war. Some of the former POW’s chose to come back to the United States to live. The program will be held at the North Berrien History Museum on the evening of Tuesday, May 15th, free to the public at 7 p.m. The museum’s website can be viewed at NorthBerrienHistory.org.. ...Read Full Story

Homeowners Reminded Of Tax Program

If you’re behind on your taxes, Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski wants you to know a state program to help pay them off is still available. Last year, Witkowski and other treasurers promoted the Step Forward Michigan program. It was offering $35 million in no-interest loans around the state to homeowners who needed some help. Witkowski tells WSJM News there’s still plenty of money available.. ...Read Full Story

Students, Others Help In Puerto Rico

A group of 20 Andrews University faculty, staff, students, and graduates have returned from a trip to Puerto Rico to help provide mental health services there following Hurricane Maria. Andrews Associate Professor of Psychology Melissa Ponce-Rodas tells WSJM News following natural disasters, mental health issues do arise.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Veterans Issues

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is hailing word that Van Buren County has now hired a veterans services officer. She’s been behind legislation to create grant programs for counties to have full-time staff that work to connect veterans with services that can help them.. ...Read Full Story

Public Safety Planning For Summer

St. Joseph City Commissioners and the public have been updated by Public Safety Director Brian Uridge on plans to better police the community this summer. Last summer, St. Joe Public Safety changed traffic patterns to reduce congestion while making more parking spaces available, and this summer will bring a return to many of those practices. Uridge also said at Monday’s city commission meeting there will be more community engagement from police this summer.. ...Read Full Story

Troopers Watch Out For Tailgaters

You can expect to see more Michigan State Police troopers on patrol on I-94 this spring and summer, all the way from the Indiana border to Wayne County. As traffic crashes on I-94 went up last year, MSP Fifth District Commander Captain Kyle Bowman told Michigan News Network this week they’ll be looking for distracted driving, aggressive driving , and drivers who follow too closely.. ...Read Full Story

Big Parks Grants Approved By Senate

The Michigan Senate has signed off on the recommended Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund parks grants for the coming year. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News the trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Considers Options

There is still work ahead for leaders at Lakeshore Public Schools after this week’s failure of a bond proposal. Voters rejected the $21 million bond on Tuesday on a vote of 2,300 to 1,907. Lakeshore Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News the need for building improvements and new technology is still there.. ...Read Full Story

State Issues Bear Reminders

As people start to spend more time in woodland areas this season, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has some tips to avoid conflict with bears. Katie Keen with the DNR tells us the agency has to put down some bears each year because the animals venture out of the woods and get too comfortable being near humans. She says homeowners who live in areas inhabited by bears should remove all bird feeders and only put garbage cans out just before the pickup time.. ...Read Full Story

Manufacturer Honored For Saving Energy

A check for $50,000 was presented Friday to Kay Manufacturing in St. Joseph by Indiana Michigan Power for Kay’s efforts to become more energy efficient. Kay Manufacturing President Brian Pelke tells WSJM News the company has invested $115,000 in installing LED lighting in its 120,000 square foot facility.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel To Hold Senior Safety Event

State Representative Dave Pagel is hosting a senior safety event on Monday. Set to take place at the senior facility, Brentwood at Niles in Niles, the gathering will be held with the help of the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Education Division. Pagel tell us the presentation will be focused on teaching seniors how to detect phone, email, mail, and text scams. He says it’s important for those who are the most common target for scammers to be aware of what to look out for and the problems they can cause. The senior safety event will be Monday from 2 to 3 p.m. and everyone is welcome.. ...Read Full Story

KitchenAid Saluted This Month

Now on display at businesses throughout Berrien County are specially-decorated KitchenAid stand mixers. St. Joseph Today’s Amy Zapal tells us it’s a project called “Stand Mixers on Parade,” intended to thank the appliance maker for its support of the community as the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship takes place at Harbor Shores this month. You can find the stand mixers at businesses from Stevensville to St. Joe.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Unit Back Online

Unit 2 at the Cook nuclear power plant is now back up and running. Cook plant spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News the unit was shut down in March for a regular refueling outage. The 67 day outage featured a variety of repairs and other maintenance in the reactor.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Lake Effect Pride Event

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor has announced the details of its 2018 Lake Effect Pride event. The annual party is held to recognize the organization’s successes for the year and to celebrate the LGBTQ community. This year’s Lake Effect Pride event will be held on Saturday, July 16 at Four Winds Casinos’ Silver Creek Event Center in New Buffalo. The theme this year will be “Bet on Love, You Will Always Win,” and the party will also raise funds for OutCenter programs. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Girl Scouts Give Cookies To Veterans

372 boxes of cookies are being given to southwest Michigan American Legion posts by a Girl Scout troop as the girls thank veterans for their service. On Friday, Elise Voglewede and Alexandria Smith from Girl Scout Community 201 stopped by the Y Country Radio studio to hand off 31 cases of s’mores — that’s more than 5,000 cookies — to morning host Matt Malone. Smith told us it’s for Y Country’s May We Say Thank You Tour.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Street Project

A major street reconstruction project is about to get started in St. Joseph. City Engineer Tim Zebell tells WSJM News they’re going to get to work on June 11 not only repaving but also installing new water mains on Wallace Avenue. The work will be from Lakeshore Drive to South State Street and Stadium Drive from Wallace Avenue to the St. Joseph High School entrance. Traffic to the west side of the high school will be maintained this summer, but Wallace between Lakeshore Drive and Lakeview Avenue will be closed.. ...Read Full Story

Relay For Life Registrations

Relay for Life of Van Buren County is once again holding its yearly event at Bangor High School. If you are a cancer survivor or know someone who is, there’s an open invitation for you to attend the event on Saturday, June 9. You’re encouraged to pre-register this Friday at Peace Lutheran Church in South Haven from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or, on Saturday at the Lawrence Library from 10 a.m. to noon. The Relay for Life event on June 9 will feature purple carpet photo ops, sparkling juice, a celebratory Survivor lap around the track, a Survivor speaker, and a dinner in honor of all the survivors. All activities are free and open to all who have survived cancer. You can find out more about Van Buren County’s Relay for Life event right here.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Salutes Police

Local police have been honored by the Berrien County Health Department with its 2018 Friend of Public Health Award. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the award is given each year to an individual or organization that has advanced public health. Police were picked this year because of all their efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. Conrad tells us police in Berrien County have been at the forefront when it comes to including anti-overdose medications in their equipment.. ...Read Full Story

Grant For Niles Library

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has picked the Niles District Library to be the recipient of a grant. This week, the foundation announced a round of more than $145,000 in grants for organizations around Michigan that include schools, non-profits, and libraries. The Niles District Library is receiving $2,000 for its adult, family, and summer literacy programs. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is giving out 35 grants this summer around the state to organizations within a 20 mile radius of one of its stores. The library in Niles is the only Berrien County organization selected.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Honored By Firefighters

The Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union has named state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker its Legislator of the Year. Schuitmaker, a Republican from Lawton, is also running for Michigan Attorney General, and says it’s an honor to receive the award. She shares it this year with state Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, a former county sheriff. Schuitmaker tells us we “depend on first responders in difficult situations in life and we are truly grateful for their courage, skill, and professionalism.” She has previously been named the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Legislator of the Year.. ...Read Full Story

Engler Addresses Nassar Case

Former governor and now Michigan State University President John Engler spoke about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse at a breakfast event in Birmingham Thursday morning. He said he was surprised with how things were being handled at MSU when he took the job.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Offers New Renewable Energy Program

If you support renewable energy and want Indiana Michigan Power to invest more in it, you now have a chance to put your money where your mouth is. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the company has now rolled out its Green Power Option to Michigan customers. With it, you can sign up to attribute a portion or all of your monthly energy usage to I&M’s renewable energy programs.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Lyme Disease

This is the time of year when infections of Lyme disease increase, and the hazard is a particular concern here in southwest Michigan, Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News Berrien County has a much higher rate of Lyme disease infections than the rest of state. We’ve got the terrain that ticks love.. ...Read Full Story

More Info On Fatal Crash

A 23-year-old Hartford Township man is dead following a crash last week. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us the crash happened on the evening of Wednesday, May 2 on County Road 362 east of 70th Street in Keeler Township. Witnesses told sheriff’s deputies the vehicle lost control and ran off the south side of the road while headed east. It overturned several times and then ejected the driver, Adam Lee Hess. Despite life-saving efforts made by first responders, Hess died at an area hospital. Police say blood work shows the driver’s blood alcohol level was within the legal limits.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks GOP Debate

State Senator John Proos liked what he heard in Wednesday night’s Republican gubernatorial debate. Dr. Jim Hines, state Senator Patrick Colbeck, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley squared off at a forum organized by WOOD TV. Proos tells us the issues discussed matched when he hears about in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Cracking On I-94 Drivers

You can expect to see more Michigan State Police troopers on patrol on I-94 this spring and summer, all the way from the Indiana border to Wayne County. As traffic crashes on I-94 went up last year, MSP Fifth District Commander Captain Kyle Bowman told Michigan News Network this week they’ll be looking for distracted driving, aggressive driving , and drivers who follow too closely.. ...Read Full Story

Peters Makes Open Internet Appeal

An effort is underway in the United States Senate to block the FCC from implementing its repeal of net neutrality protections, and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan is a part of it. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Peters said it’s necessary that Americans have access to open internet so they can compete with the rest of the world.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Grants For Cities

With the nation facing an aging population, many communities are examining ways to become places where people of all ages can thrive. Now, cities and towns in Michigan ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on livability projects have an opportunity to get some financial help. Mark Hornbeck with AARP Michigan tells us the AARP Community Challenge is offering grants for innovative improvement ideas that will allow all residents to make the most out of where they live.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Praises Veterans Office

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is hailing word that Van Buren County has now hired a veterans services officer. She’s been behind legislation to create grant programs for counties to have full-time staff that work to connect veterans with services that can help them.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates In Michigan Hold 1st Debate

Republicans running for Michigan governor have made their cases to voters in their first debate. Attorney General Bill Schuette emphasized his endorsement from President Donald Trump and his plans to cut taxes and auto insurance rates during a Wednesday night debate hosted by WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids. Rival Brian Calley touts Michigan’s economic gains during his time as lieutenant governor and calls Schuette a “career politician.”. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Short-Term Rental Moratorium

The South Haven City Council has approved a six month moratorium on new short-term rentals in Wards 1 and 2. Those wards consist of the southern portion of the city along the lakeshore and the eastern portion of the city south of the Black River. City staff will not accept or process applications for new rentals in Wards 1 and 2. Mayor Scott Smith tells us the city has been gathering data about what’s working and what needs improving under the current ordinance. Year-round residents have expressed displeasure over noise levels, parked cars blocking emergency vehicle access, and the behavior of some of the people renting houses short-term in the city. Short term rentals have long been a controversy in South Haven. The six-month moratorium on them was approved on Monday by the South Haven City Council.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Talks “Kayak Tax”

State Representative Kim LaSata is among the Michigan lawmakers calling on the Michigan State Waterways Commission to drop plans for a tax on small watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. She tells WSJM News the House overwhelmingly voted this week for a resolution opposing the move.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Company Saluted For Energy Efficiency

A check for $50,000 will be presented this week to Kay Manufacturing in St. Joseph by Indiana Michigan Power for Kay’s efforts to become more energy efficient. Kay Manufacturing President Brian Pelke tells WSJM News the company has invested $115,000 in installing LED lighting in its 120,000 square foot facility.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews Team Helps In Puerto Rico

A group of 20 Andrews University faculty, staff, students, and graduates have returned from a trip to Puerto Rico to help provide mental health services there following Hurricane Maria. Andrews Associate Professor of Psychology Melissa Ponce-Rodas tells WSJM News following natural disasters, mental health issues do arise.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Leaders Look Ahead

There is still work ahead for leaders at Lakeshore Public Schools after this week’s failure of a bond proposal. Voters rejected the $21 million bond on Tuesday on a vote of 2,300 to 1,907. Lakeshore Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News the need for building improvements and new technology is still there.. ...Read Full Story