Local News Archives

SMC Food Pantry Gets Boost

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

State’s Most Dangerous Intersections

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

New BH Scholarship Announced

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

LaSata Holding Essay Contest

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

Bank Accounts To Help With Taxes

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

Nicklaus Returns To Harbor Shores

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

Help Needed Finding Missing 17-Year-Old

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

Benton Harbor High School Gets $100K From SPGA

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

Pscholka Taking Part In Mackinac Conference

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

Tiscornia Scholarship Winner Announced

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

Trail Expansion Coming

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

McCloughan Addresses Senate

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

Legislation Aims To Protect Students

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

Legislation To Expand Broadband

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

Paw Paw Teen Pleads Guilty In School Threat Case

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

MDOT Suspending Work For Weekend

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

Lawmakers Clash Over Mandated Reporters

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

Child Safety Forum

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

Excitement Builds For PGA Championship

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

SJ Farmers Market This Weekend

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

Drain Commissioner On Flooding Issues

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

Upton Gives DACA Update

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

Senate Approves Bicycle Rules For Drivers

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

Group Fights Minimum Wage Proposal

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

Former Champ Montgomerie Ready For SPGA

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

Warren Dunes Stewardship Event

Volunteers are needed to help protect Warren Dunes State Park from invasive plant species this weekend. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us those who show up Saturday will be pulling garlic mustard from areas off-trail, sometimes in hard to reach locations. Garlic mustard is a pesky invasive plant that is considered one of the most dangerous invasive species. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds which can be spread by wildlife, humans, or water. Those who want to help rid Warren Dunes State Park of the plant this Saturday can show up at 10 a.m. at the organizational campground parking area on Floral Lane. The stewardship event will continue through about 2 p.m. Everyone is advised to wear hiking shoes, long sleeves, and pants.. ...Read Full Story

Nicklaus To Return To Harbor Shores

Golf great Jack Nicklaus will make a return to Harbor Shores this week as part of the 2018 Senior PGA Championship. The PGA tells us Nicklaus is coming back for the first time in six years. As part of an event featuring Nicklaus on Friday, the PGA will make a new community announcement in honor of the World Golf Hall-of-Famer. The organization adds Nicklaus is dropping by Benton Harbor to “see firsthand the continued growth and change in the community since he first conceptualized Harbor Shores.” Friday’s presentation will also feature information on the development of the golf course.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Save Monarch Butterflies

Wildlife officials say the “king” of butterflies could meet the same fate as the passenger pigeon unless people step in to plant more of the monarch caterpillars’ only food source — milkweed. The monarch butterfly population has crashed, according to Naomi Edelson with the National Wildlife Federation, and can only be revived with a conservation strategy that improves its habitat by increasing its food supply.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Week At Harbor Shores

There’s a lot going on at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor this week. The 79th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship kicked off Tuesday with the Championship ProAm. That gave some golf fans a chance to tee off right alongside some of their favorite pros. For example, retired Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig teamed up with 2016 champion Colin Montgomery. Practice rounds for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship will be Wednesday, and then the tournament itself starts Thursday. The championship will wrap up on Sunday just in time for everyone to relax for Memorial Day. New features for this year’s event for those who plan to head to Harbor Shores include a YMCA Kids Zone, a special tent featuring southwest Michigan-made wines and beers, and a special Amtrak train to bring people to the golf course from Chicago. Go to SRPGA.com to find a full list of this year’s action.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends New Education Policies

A new report on the strengths and weaknesses of Michigan’s educational system shows the state is lacking in achieving goals that have needed to be reached over the last 14 years. The five-point plan suggested by the Education Trust Midwest is one that has been seen before, and the group’s Brian Gutman tells Michigan News Network it can be frustrating.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Talks Surplus

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

Commission Discusses Short-Term Rentals

It was a packed South Haven City Hall Monday as the city council considered a motion to amend the short-term rental ordinance. The ordinance amendments would be presented to the planning commission, but first, the city council had to take public comment. Around 30 members of the public took to the podium to speak while attorneys for the city clarified some public misconceptions in a four hour public meeting, after which the council went into closed session. The overwhelming opinion of those attending the meeting was to end the current six month moratorium on new short-term rentals in Wards 1 and 2 because it is presenting a hardship for people who depend on rental income during the summer months. In the end, the city council voted to send the six amendments to the planning commission and also voted to request that body to expedite its review of the proposed amendments. Details on the proposed amendments can be found on the City’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Judicial Forum This Week

Working on issues that affect Native American children in Michigan. That’s what is happening at a forum of state, federal, and tribal judges in Petoskey this week. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack is taking part in the forum and told Michigan News Network the state has 12 federally recognized tribes.. ...Read Full Story

State Board Issues LGBT Ruling

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Civil Rights Commissions says the state’s civil rights law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The board voted 5-0 to issue the interpretative statement Monday, with one commissioner abstaining. An LGBT rights group had requested the move. Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu says he commends the commission “for the courage they’ve shown in making this decision.” The department will begin processing complaints of sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on Tuesday. The issue may not be settled. A conservative legal group had submitted opposition from 10 Republican lawmakers who say an interpretive statement is not binding law and note that the Legislature has rejected adding more classifications to the state civil rights law 11 times since 1999.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Hears Harbor Study

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

Click It Or Ticket Underway

Michigan law enforcement is once again holding the Click it or Ticket campaign to reduce crashes and deaths this coming Memorial Day weekend. Kendall Wingrove with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning told Michigan News Network the campaign is not a money grab.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Community Grants

The Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation has announced its latest round of grants. The organization tells us a total of more than $18,000 will be going to nearly 20 local non-profits this year. Recipients of grants will include the South Haven Speaker Series, Junior Achievement, SHOUT for South Haven, the South Haven Performance Series, the Al-Van Humane Society, and Michigan Maritime Museum. The Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation supports organizations with cultural, educational, and community service programs. It announces its grants every spring. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Schools Book Bonanza

Students from kindergarten through the fifth grade will be at the St. Joseph High School Library this Wednesday to pick out books for summer reading. St. Joseph Public Schools Curriculum Director Kelly Gaideski tells WSJM News each child will be able to pick out six books.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Provision Pulled From Medicaid Bill

From the Associated Press — The sponsor of proposed Medicaid work requirements is dropping a provision that would have exempted recipients who live in Michigan counties with higher jobless rates, saying Governor Rick Snyder’s administration worries it would be an “administrative nightmare.” Opponents of the legislation have said the provision would disproportionately hurt African-Americans because they live in cities with higher unemployment but counties with lower unemployment, while white Medicaid recipients in rural counties with higher jobless rates would not have to comply with the workforce engagement requirements. Shirkey told The Associated Press Monday that allegations of racism are “ridiculous,” but the provision is being pulled because it would be too difficult to administer. Instead, negotiators are focusing on a broader “grace period” exemption for people struggling to find work or facing other temporary
obstacles.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Consider Surplus Options

More talks are expected this week between lawmakers and the governor’s office on whether to spend or save money from a budget surplus. Economists estimate a $500 million surplus for this year and next. Michigan Senate Appropriations Chairman Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell told Michigan News Network he doesn’t want all of the money spent on road repairs.. ...Read Full Story

Group Seeks Minimum Wage Increase

From the Associated Press — The prospect of a $12-an-hour minimum wage by 2022 for all Michigan workers, including tipped servers, could be put to a popular vote this fall. The Michigan One Fair Wage group on Monday submitted 373,507 signatures to the state Bureau of Elections. The Board of State Canvassers must certify roughly 252,000 of them before the proposal can go to the Republican-controlled
Legislature to pass or reject. Should it falter there, the initiative would be placed on the November ballot. Michigan’s current $9.25 an hour wage would be raised to $10 next year and gradually increase to $12 by 2022 under the proposal. Tipped employees would be paid full minimum wage on top of their tips by 2024. Employers currently must ensure tipped employees make at least the minimum wage.. ...Read Full Story

Former MSU President To Testify Before Senate Panel

Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon will testify before a congressional panel that oversees the health and safety of USA Gymnastics and college athletes. A specific date for the testimony before the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security hasn’t been scheduled. Those on the committee say hearing from Simon and others are imperative to an investigation into abuse in amateur sports. Simon stepped down as president in late January as she received criticism for the handling of the Larry Nassar scandal.. ...Read Full Story

High Gas Prices For Memorial Day Travel

Triple-A Michigan is estimating 1.3 million of us in the state will travel for Memorial Day this weekend, the highest number in years. To go along with your travel plans are the state’s highest gas prices for the holiday in several years as well. AAA says the statewide average is exactly $3 a gallon, up 7¢ from last Monday. We hit the $3 mark toward the end of last week. Traverse City has the state’s lowest prices at $2.95, while the most expensive gas is being sold in Ann Arbor at $3.05. The average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is $3, up 15¢ a gallon from last week. GasBuddy says South Haven’s prices, which aren’t included in the Triple-A survey, are as low as $2.83 this morning.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Woman Seeks House Seat

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

Energy Incentive For Buchanan Apartments

The owners of an apartment complex in Buchanan have received a check for more than $243,000 from Indiana Michigan Power for making improvements to their facility to save energy. Jason Muniz with Hollander Development Corporation tells WSJM News the company spent about $7 million to upgrade the units at Metea Court Apartments, a 100-unit community for low-income seniors.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Goes Green

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

Beach Flags Now Out

In a sign of the summer, the safety flags are now flying at beaches in South Haven. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us it monitors lake conditions as reported by the National Weather Service. Beach warning flags are placed at the city’s seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and are changed throughout the day as lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow, or red based on the conditions. A numbering system for the beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has also been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference. Anyone thinking of going in the water is advised to check the flags first. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

New Drug Drop Off Points

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

Health Officials Warn About Ticks

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