Local News Archives

Vietnam POW To Speak In Berrien County Next Month

A distinguished Vietnam veteran will be coming to Berrien County next month to share his experience. The Buchanan American Legion’s Larry Money tells WSJM News Captain William Robinson will speak at Michigan Lutheran High School and American Legion in Buchanan. Robinson is the longest-held enlisted American Prisoner of War in history.. ...Read Full Story

Swift And Sure Grants Announced By Michigan Supreme Court

The Swift and Sure probation program in Berrien County is receiving a grant of $240,000 from the Michigan Supreme Court. The grant was announced Monday, and it’s part of a total of $3 million going to Swift and Sure programs in 24 counties. Swift and sure is an intensive probation program designed to help repeat offenders get back on track and turn their lives around. The Michigan Supreme Court tells WSJM News 67% of Swift and Sure enrolees are unemployed when they first sign up, but 14% are unemployed by the time they complete the program. Berrien County is one of 27 Michigan counties with a Swift and Sure program. It’s one of four specialty courts in the county. The others are the Drug Treatment Court, the Drug Court, and the Domestic Violence Court.. ...Read Full Story

St .Joseph Commissioners Speak Out On Short-Term Rental Legislation

St. Joseph City Commissioners are hoping residents make their voices heard to state lawmakers when it comes to new zoning legislation. A plan in the state House and Senate would strip a community’s ability to restrict short-term rentals. St. Joe Commissioners Monday night warned such a plan, if passed, would mean out of control summer vacation homes in town, something they’ve worked to avoid for years. City Commissioner Jeff Richards said neighborhoods sit empty for half the year when that happens, and schools suffer.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Attorney General Issues Equifax Hack Update

The Michigan Attorney General’s office has issued some recommendations to Michigan residents who are concerned their personal information may have been compromised in the recent Equifax hack. Attorney General Bill Schuette says Equifax has announced 2.5 million more consumers were impacted by the breach than originally thought, including almost 80,000 additional Michigan residents. In Michigan, the breach has now impacted the personal information of more than 4.6 million consumers. The website set up by Equifax for people to check whether they’ve been compromised was to be updated with the new information by the start of this week. Schuette’s office says the best way to protect yourself if you have been hacked is to order a credit freeze and sign up for credit monitoring. You can find more information right here.. ...Read Full Story

Police Find No Weapon At Coloma High School, Junior School

The Coloma Township Police Department continues to investigate after reports Monday morning of a student with a gun. Shortly before 10 a.m. officers were called out to the junior high on the report. The junior high school and the high school were both placed on lockdown. Police found the student in question and isolated him while the school and its surrounding grounds were searched. Coloma Township police were assisted by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, which brought in a K9 unit. The search turned up no weapon. The lockdown at the high school was over by about noon, while the junior high’s lockdown ended by the end of classes for the day. Police say the case remains under investigation and will be turned over the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma High School Taken Off Lockdown

WSJM News has confirmed that Coloma High School no longer on lockdown. However, the junior high remains on lockdown. The two buildings were placed on lockdown this morning when there was a report of a weapon on the property. There are no reports of anyone in custody, and police are searching the property.. ...Read Full Story

Local Control Of Short-Term Rentals Hot Topic In Legislature

Local crackdowns on short-term housing rentals, like we’ve seen in St. Joseph and South Haven, have ignited a fight in Michigan’s Capitol. Homeowners and lobbyists are now lining up for and against legislation that would allow the rentals in all residential zones and prohibit treating them differently through zoning. The bills are being pushed by the Michigan Realtors group, which accuses municipalities of trampling on property rights with overly restrictive and unfair rules. On the other side are lodging, tourism and local officials who worry about the unrestrained growth of short-term vacation rentals through online platforms such as Airbnb. Supporters and opponents are mobilizing ahead of potential legislative hearings this fall. The Realtors has run one-minute radio ads across the state. Tourism and local leaders held a news conference in recent days to express their “deep concerns” with the legislation.. ...Read Full Story

Swine Flu Found In Allegan County

From the Associated Press — Health officials say a child who visited a county fair in western Michigan last month is the first confirmed case of swine flu in the state this year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Allegan County Health Department reported the child visited the Allegan County Fair that ran Sept. 8-16, 2017. They say that because the incubation period for the illness is
one to seven days, no new cases from exposure at the fair are expected. The flu is known as a variant of H3N2 and there’s currently no vaccine for it. Symptoms of swine flu in people can be similar to other flu viruses: fever, cough, runny nose, aches and nausea.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Crowdfunding New Improvements

A new crowdfunding effort has been launched by the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph. The goal is to raise $50,000 by December 1 so Krasl can receive a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. On top of that, Krasl will get another match from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation and 1st Source Bank Foundation. The purpose of the crowdfunding effort is to pay for a new improvement project at Krasl that would include the installation of a winding sidewalk, a plaza, and gathering areas. A backer of the effort is state Representative Kim LaSata, who tells us the project will ensure “St. Joseph will remain a special place on the lake.” You can find the Krasl’s crowdfunding page right here.. ...Read Full Story

Duck Hunters Asked To Help Spot Invasive Plant

The Van Buren Conservation District is reaching out to duck hunters as the season approaches, hoping to stop the spread of an invasive plant species. The district’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News there’s a European reed called phragmites that poses a threat to duck habitats because it’s too dense for ducks to movethrough. She hopes hunters will avoid the reed.. ...Read Full Story

New Legislation Bans Local Rules For Job Interviews

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has voted to prohibit local communities from regulating what information employers must request, require or exclude during a job interview. The state already prohibits local ordinances involving information related to
an employment application. But proponents of the bill approved 27-9 Thursday are worried that Michigan municipalities could follow the lead of Philadelphia and bar employers from asking for a prospective employee’s wage history in an interview. No local governments in Michigan are considering ordinances similar to Philadelphia’s. Opponents say the legislation would prevent local “fair chance” policies that
regulate when and to what extent employers can consider someone’s criminal record in making a hiring decision. Republicans voted for the bill in the GOP-led Senate. Democrats opposed it.The measure next goes to the Republican-led House for consideration.. ...Read Full Story

Financial Expert Talks Equifax Hack

The recent data hack at credit firm Equifax could have broad implications for the economy. Jordan Goodman, a financial expert with MoneyAnswers.com tells WSJM News due to the breadth of the personal info credit reporting agencies have, you could be affected in severe ways if they’re breached. Scammers can open bank accounts and credit cards in your name.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Director Staying In Post

From the Associated Press — The director of the Michigan State Police plans to stay in her job through 2018, likely collecting more than $150,000 in salary as well as a pension. A spokeswoman for Governor Rick Snyder says he’ll reappoint Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue to serve through the end of his term. The Detroit Free Press says Etue must retire next year, so she’ll get a salary and at least a portion of her pension while she’s still on the job. The newspaper says Etue’s annual pension is more than $80,000. In addition, Etue is eligible for other payments because she didn’t retire when she was first eligible in 2012. Etue recently has rejected calls to quit after she shared a Facebook post that called kneeling NFL players “anti-American degenerates.” She apologized.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Applauds Legislation Cracking Down On Tax Loophole

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is pleased to learn legislation from state Representatives Dave Pagel and Kim LaSata cracking down on second homeowners who exploit a tax loophole has passed. The plan closes a loophole that allows for an out-of-state resident with a second home in Michigan to claim that second home is a homestead, lowering their property taxes. It also enables the owners of rental properties to claim those parcels as their homestead. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office is always tracking those people down and having to fight them at the tax tribunal level.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Van Buren County Motorcycle Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on Saturday. Troopers say they were called to the scene on Red Arrow Highway near Territorial Road in Paw Paw Township around 2:40 p.m. 76-year-old Richard Setty of Kalamazoo had been westbound when he lost control of his motorcycle and was ejected. He was later pronounced dead at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Proos: Auto Insurance Reform Needed Now

State Senator John Proos is hoping the latest effort to reform Michigan’s auto insurance system will be successful. He tells WSJM News testimony has been taken this week over in the House for a plan to remove a requirement that all auto policies in Michigan have unlimited coverage for catastrophic injuries.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Boil Water Action Lifted

On Thursday, residents in South Haven were notified of the need to boil all tap water used for drinking and cooking. The City of South Haven, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has determined it is no longer necessary to use bottled water or boil water before drinking or cooking.  Appropriate corrective measures have been taken and follow-up sampling has confirmed no coli form bacteria is present in the water supply.. ...Read Full Story

Van-Pedestrian Accident in Hartford Township

Van Buren County Deputies are blaming distracted driving for a van/pedestrian collision that left a Bangor woman with life threatening injuries. Deputies say a 16-year-old from Hartford was driving along in the 62000 block of Red Arrow Highway in Hartford Township at about 3:00 Friday afternoon when the van strayed over the fog line on the edge of the road, clipped a mailbox and then hit the 46-year-old victim as she was walking along the road. The victim was initially unresponsive and began CPR. By the time deputies arrived she was breathing but unconscious. She was taken to Bronson Methodist in Kalamazoo with multiple injuries, and is listed in critical condition. The crash report will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office and the driver may face criminal charges.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor City Manager Answers Trash Collection Questions

Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson is hoping residents will hear his message about garbage collection now that a new company has been picked to provide the service. The contract isn’t signed yet, but We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation starting making pick-ups this past week after being selected for the job last month. The problem is that it hasn’t provided folks with bins yet. City Manager Watson tells us, for the next two months, residents have two options.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County First Responders To Train For Mass Fatality Situations

Law enforcement agencies and other first reponders in Berrien County will be training for a mass fatality situation next month. Michigan State Police are helping to organize the course called Mass Fatalities for Rural Communities. The MSP tells us it serves as a training tool to provide rural communities with information to manage an actual mass-fatality response. The process of recovery, identification, and disposal of human remains following a major catastrophe is discussed. MSP says this sort of work differs from the normal daily operations local authorities are used to. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has been planning the training day for a long time, according to The Herald Palladium. Law enforcement, firefighters, and others will spend the whole day of November 6 at the Berrien County Conference Room to learn about those catastrophic situations. The place to register for the disaster training can be found right here.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac To Dedicate New Mural

The city of Dowagiac is planning a special event for next Saturday as it dedicates a new mural remembering the local Orphan Train. City Manager Secretary Bobbie Jo Hartline tells WSJM News the Orphan Train started in New York City in the mid-1800s as a way to find homes for orphans in that city throughout the United States.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Asks Everyone To Stay Off The Piers This Weekend

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking everyone to stay out of Lake Michigan, and away from the piers this weekend. A gale watch is in effect through Sunday morning. The National Weather Service warns there’s a chance of gale force winds around 35 knots all of this weekend. Stay off the piers because waves generated by the winds can knock you into the lake. Again, it is dangerous to go out on to the piers this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Covert Man Arrested In Shooting Of South Haven Woman

A South Haven woman is hospitalized with a wound to the abdomen after being shot just after 4 a.m. Friday during a domestic situation at South Haven Trailer Park. Police Chief Natalie Thompson tells WSJM News children at the home were secured by officers and turned over to family members later in the morning. None of them were injured. The victim was conscious and able to identify the suspect who was later located at a home in Covert and taken into custody. He’s a 50-year-old Covert man who is now at the Van Buren County Jail pending arraignment on Monday. The suspect’s name has not been released. The victim is expected to recover.. ...Read Full Story

Bissell Pet Foundation Planning Adoption Event Next Week

If you’d like to get a cat or dog, consider adoption. That’s just as the Bissell Pet Foundation is sponsoring an Empty The Shelters event next Saturday, October 14. 75 shelters are taking part in Michigan. Bissell Pet Foundation founder Cathy Bissell told Michigan News Network Michigan has received many animals displaced by hurricanes in the south.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Justice Gets Senate Committee Approval For US Court

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen is a step closer to a new job on a federal appeals court. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination Thursday and sent it to the full Senate. All nine Democrats on the committee voted no. The 48-year-old Larsen was nominated to the Cincinnati-based appeals court by President Donald Trump. The court hears cases from federal courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Shot In South Haven

A South Haven woman is hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the abdomen after being shot just after 4 a.m. during a domestic situation at South Haven Trailer Park. Police say the suspect is a man who was arrested at a family member’s home a short time later. South Haven police say the victim is expected to make a full recovery. No names or other details have yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Aims To Add A Welcoming Outdoor Space

WSJM News told you this week about a crowdfunding effort launched by the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph to help pay for an improvement project. Krasl is seeking $50,000 in online donations for a new outdoor space near the sculpture commonly known as Lotus the Hippo. Krasl’s Julia Gourley tells us the overall goal is actually to raise $1.7 million to attract more visitors.. ...Read Full Story

Home Sales Up, Prices Down In August

Home sales in southwest Michigan remain strong, although selling prices did go down in the month of August. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells WSJM News the average selling price for a home in the region dropped 12% from July to August. The median price also slipped 3%. That’s after selling prices held steady for about four months. The number of houses sold increased 8% over the number of houses sold in August 2016. Year to date, home sales in southwest Michigan are up 6%. The realtors association also tells us mortgage rates have continued to go down, while the housing inventory is also tight.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata: Buy Local This Weekend

The Michigan House has approved a resolution from state Representative Kim LaSata calling on all Michiganders to buy local this weekend. LaSata tells us she wants to declare October 7 and 8 as Buy Nearby Weekend. LaSata says if everyone would buy local, shoppers would create an additional $9 billion in economic activity and nearly 74,000 new jobs. She notes retailers alone represent more than 850,000 jobs in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Issues Boil Water Notice

The city of South Haven is advising residents there has been a water main break. It happened about 5 p.m. near 9235 Blue Star Highway. The break affects Casco Township, a large part of the city of South Haven, and part of South Haven Township. The city says anyone in the affected area should boil water prior to drinking it. Crews are working to fix the break, and they’re expected to be finished by about midnight. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton In Favor Of Ban On Bump Stocks

Congressman Fred Upton has added his voice to the chorus of lawmakers who want to see a ban on bump stocks. Those are the devices that can be used to turn a semi automatic rifle into an automatic. The Las Vegas shooter was using a bump stock. Congressman Upton issued a statement Thursday, saying “we cannot with a straight face justify the legality of these tools that can so easily be manipulated to do unimaginable harm and are specifically designed to get around the automatic weapon ban.” He adds he’s working with other lawmakers on a letter to the ATF asking for bump stocks to be banned. Even the National Rifle Association called for “additional regulations” on bump stocks.. ...Read Full Story

State House Speaker Running For MI Attorney General

From the Associated Press — A Republican legislative leader is running to be Michigan’s next attorney general. House Speaker Tom Leonard announced his candidacy Thursday, saying he will “make Michigan stronger and safer.” He’s the second Republican to enter the
race, joining state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker. Republicans and Democrats will choose their attorney general candidates at conventions next summer. The 36-year-old Leonard has led the House since January and is in his final House term due to term limits. He previously worked as an assistant prosecutor in Genesee County. He says Michigan must be tough on violent crime, protect gun rights and stop
“sanctuary” cities from shielding immigrants in the country illegally. Democratic candidates include former federal prosecutor Pat Miles and former Wayne County assistant prosecutor Dana Nessel. Attorney General Bill Schuette is term-limited.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor School Facing Teacher Recruitment Problem

One problem facing Benton Harbor Area Schools this year is a large number of teaching positions that are going unfilled. Superintendent Shelly Walker told the board of education this week “a vast number of positions” are currently available. The problem isn’t just money-related. She told WSJM News teachers consider several other factors when deciding where to go. She knows where they’re most attracted.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews Professor Saluted For Participation In Nobel-Winning Project

An Andrews University physics professor is being saluted by the institution for her work as part of a scientific collaboration that has now won a Nobel Prize. It was announced this week the Nobel Prize in Physics this year is going to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory — or LIGO — Scientific Collaboration. Part of that collaboration is Tiffany Summerscales who works for Andrews. She, along with her students, represented Andrews University as one of 103 academic institutions in 18 countries that make up the LIGO collaboration. Andrews tells us three of that project’s leaders, professors out of MIT and Caltech, are the specific named recipients of the Nobel Prize. In announcing the award this week, the Royal Swedish Academy called LIGO’s work “a discovery that shook the world.” The LIGO team proved an Albert Einstein theory about gravitational waves.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court To Hear Berrien Gun Range Appeal

The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal to a ruling in the long-drawn out lawsuit over a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department gun range in Coloma Township. It relates to a September of 2016 decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals that shut down the gun range. This case has been going on for more than 10 years. Residents near the gun range say it’s too loud and it’s not properly zoned. The state Supreme Court will consider whether the Michigan County Commissioners Act can be interpreted to mean the sheriff’s department’s need to train at the site trumps the local zoning ordinance. The Michigan Supreme court has invited groups including the Michigan Sheriffs Association and the Michigan Municipal League to file briefs in the case. It has not indicated a date for any court proceedings.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer: Legislation Cracks Down On Homestead Tax Loophole

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is pleased to learn legislation from state Representatives Dave Pagel and Kim LaSata cracking down on second homeowners who exploit a tax loophole has passed. The plan closes a loophole that allows for an out-of-state resident with a second home in Michigan to claim that second home is a homestead, lowering their property taxes. It also enables the owners of rental properties to claim those parcels as their homestead. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office is always tracking those people down and having to fight them at the tax tribunal level.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Berrien County Woman Found Dead

The Lincoln Township Police Department says a woman reported missing this week has been found dead. 57-year-old Anna Hyszczak went missing on Tuesday afternoon. Family found her bicycle leaning against a fence post in the 5,600 block of Notre Dame Avenue near John Beers Road in some woods along an old driveway. They called police when their own search didn’t locate her. That led to another search involving police, firefighters, K9s, and a thermal imaging helicopter at one point. Lincoln Township Police Chief Gary Soper tells us Hyszczak’s body was found Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. in the water at North Lake in the Grand Mere area, not far from where she had gone missing. The body was spotted by a kayaker. Police do not suspect foul play, and the investigation is ongoing.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Ban On Local Food, Beverage Taxes

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan would prohibit municipalities from levying a tax on food and drinks.
Supporters of the bill approved 31-5 in the Republican-led Senate Wednesday want to prevent local taxes on soda and other unhealthy items. Such taxation isn’t under consideration at the local level in Michigan. But advocates of the legislation say it’s needed to pre-empt potential local taxes after municipalities such as Philadelphia and Cook County, which includes Chicago, enacted a tax on sugary and artificially sweetened beverages. The bill next goes to the GOP-controlled House, where a similar measure could be voted on as early as later Wednesday. Some Democrats who opposed the legislation noted that no Michigan cities are considering food and soda taxes, but Michigan should not restrict their ability to address financial problems.. ...Read Full Story