Local News Archives

Study Considers MI Youth Program

A new study from the University of Michigan has found the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program has a major effect on the students who participate. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News the 10-year-old program helps young people finish high school, guides them toward post-secondary education, and teaches them soft skills for the workplace.. ...Read Full Story

Parlak Relieved To Hear Judge’s Decision

“Justice finally prevailed.” That’s what Ibrahim Parlak is thinking after a federal immigration judge this week approved his application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. The Kurdish immigrant and Berrien County restaurant owner has been fighting deportation to Turkey since not long after 9/11, and tells WSJM News this week’s decision gives him a break.. ...Read Full Story

Feds: MI Needs Special Ed Intervention

From the Associated Press — Federal education officials say Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that needs intervention after failing to meet federal special education requirements this year. The Detroit News reports that the U.S. Department of Education determined the need for intervention after evaluating Michigan’s compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for the 2016-17 school year. Education experts say Michigan’s rating reflects its high drop-out and low
graduation rates for students with disabilities. Federal officials say 29 percent of Michigan children with disabilities dropped out of school and 63 percent graduated with a regular high school diploma. Michigan ranks alongside Washington, D.C., Palau and Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth. Michigan Department of Education officials say they’re still reviewing the federal report. The U.S. Department of Education declined to comment further on findings.. ...Read Full Story

State: Don’t Wait To Lock In Propane Prices

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials say propane users should lock in fuel prices now, even though heating season is months away. The Michigan Agency for Energy says U.S. propane stocks are slightly higher now than they were a year ago. But they’re 27 percent below levels seen in 2016. Executive Director Anne Armstrong Cusack says customers should sign contracts
soon instead of waiting until winter, when demand is higher. More than 8 percent of Michigan households use propane as their primary heating fuel. Michigan leads the nation in total residential propane consumption. Propane prices are not regulated. But the energy agency monitors supplies. And it reports statewide average residential prices weekly on its website during the
heating season, beginning October 1. The agency also has online information on selecting a provider.. ...Read Full Story

ESPN To Honor Nassar Survivors

Dozens of survivors of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar are gathered in Los Angeles today. They will be given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards tonight. Former gymnast Kaylee Lorincz of Macomb Township says it was very difficult to go before the world and Nassar in the courtroom and admit the abuse and she has suffered depression since, but she hopes some good will come from it.. ...Read Full Story

Road Meeting Next Week

The Van Buren County Road Commission is hoping to fill in the public next week about its need for new road funding. The last of three public information meetings on an August ballot proposal for a new millage will be next Tuesday at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence. The meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m. The road commission tells us on hand will be engineers who will give a Power Point presentation regarding the proposed millage, along with a review of the current road conditions, the current road funding, and the intent of the millage. The road commission is asking voters for an additional three mills for 12 years. That would work out to about $15 per month for the average property owner. The Van Buren County Road Commission tells us road funding is grossly inadequate under old models still in place. Right now, about 67% of the roads in the county are classified as being in poor condition. Everyone is invited to next Tuesday’s meeting to hear more.. ...Read Full Story

New Bridgman Principal

There’s a new principal at Bridgman High School. Superintendent Shane Peters tells us the board of education on Monday voted unanimously to hire Gerald Heath for the position. He replaces Sam Stine, who became the Bridgman Public Schools Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education this summer. Heath has served as the middle and high school principal at Lake Michigan Catholic. He’s also been an assistant principal and athletic director at Lake Michigan Catholic and a high school math teacher. Heath will officially begin his duties on July 23, and the district is making arrangements for the public and students to meet him. He says he’s excited to begin the new job.. ...Read Full Story

Victory For Ibrahim Parlak

A judge has ruled in favor of a Berrien County restaurant owner fighting deportation from the United States. The office of Congressman Fred Upton issued a statement Tuesday night, saying Ibrahim Parlak’s application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture has been granted. Parlak, a Kurdish immigrant who owns Cafe Gulistan in Harbert, has been facing possible deportation for years. Congressman Upton has long been a Parlak supporter, repeatedly introducing legislation to stall Parlak’s deportation. Upton’s office tells us an immigration judge ruled Tuesday Parlak will not be deported. Upton writes, “Justice has prevailed,” adding, “supporters can begin to rest easy as we’re hopefully turning the page on this chapter for good and finally done wasting taxpayer dollars.” He offers to help Parlak in any way he can moving forward, and calls Parlak a “fantastic father, local business owner, and friend to many families here in Southwest Michigan.” Parlak was granted political asylum in the U.S. from his native Turkey in the 1990s, but things changed when the U.S. State Department declared a group he was affiliated with in Turkey, the PKK, to be a terrorist organization. He’s been fighting to stay in the U.S. ever since. He feared he would be tortured or worse if sent back to Turkey.. ...Read Full Story

New LMC Trustee Appointed

There’s a new trustee in place at Lake Michigan College. At a meeting this week, the LMC Board of Trustees voted to appoint Joan Smith to a vacant seat. The position was formerly occupied by Judy Truesdell, who retired last month. Smith has been the chair of LMC’s Campaign for Tomorrow, which raised money for the new Hanson Tech Center. She’s also served on the LMC Foundation Board. She tells WSJM News she believes in the mission of community colleges.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Hires New Athletic Director

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to appoint interim Athletic Director Bill Beekman to his job on a permanent basis. Tuesday’s vote came at a special meeting to consider Beekman for the job he’s held on an interim basis since early February. It came a day after the school introduced him as the pick for the post.
Board members and Michigan State Interim President John Engler say Beekman is the best person for the job. Beekman took over on an interim basis shortly after athletic director Mark Hollis retired following the sex abuse scandal involving former sports doctor Larry Nassar and just before ESPN reported allegations of sexual assault and violence against women involving Michigan State football and basketball players. The report questioned the athletic department’s handling those cases.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Arson At Lincoln Twp Park

A fire at a park in Lincoln Township Tuesday morning has been ruled suspicious. The Lincoln Township Fire Department tells WSJM News the pavilion at North Lake Park is a total loss after it burned down in the early morning hours. Firefighters were called out to the park just before 1 a.m. and put out the blaze. The damage is estimated at between $120,000 and $150,000. The fire department says it found torch light canisters at the scene. That, along with the time of the fire, led it to suspect arson. The Michigan State Fire Investigator came out to the scene Tuesday, and also ruled the fire suspicious. Anyone with information on who is responsible is asked to contact the Lincoln Township Fire Department. The township tells us the pavilion, built in the 1970s, was insured, and will be replaced. In the meantime, it’s contacted everyone who had scheduled events for the pavilion to reschedule. The township is also bringing in some tents and port-a-johns for the time being. It asks visitors to the park to stay away from the fire scene.. ...Read Full Story

Power Restored, Orchards Mall Back Open

The stores are again open at The Orchards Mall in Benton Township. There was no power at the shopping center all morning and into the early afternoon, with the mall citing an “electrical issue” in a Facebook post. Indiana Michigan Power told WSJM News there were no outages in the area due to their equipment, but added they cannot discuss the bills of individual customers. The exact issue is not yet known.. ...Read Full Story

Power Issues Have Orchards Mall Closed

Power issues have the Orchards Mall in Benton Township closed. The U.S. Post Office in Benton Harbor tells WSJM News their office in the mall will not be open at all today because they’ve been told by Indiana Michigan Power that the electricity won’t be back on before 5 pm. The post office had originally been told everything would be able to open up after 1 pm today. Our newsroom is working to track down exactly what the issue is, but we have not yet heard back from the utility. None of the phones are being answered at the mall office or at any stores due to the closure. On Facebook, the mall only says it’s an “electrical issue,” and says they’ll keep customers up to date through social media.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Who Plotted Foiled Attack Expelled By Paw Paw Schools

The Paw Paw teenager who hatched a plan to shoot up and bomb his high school won’t return. The school board voted to expel the 15-year-old on Monday. He is in a mental health program now after pleading guilty in May to weapons charges. The attack never happened because his parents discovered what he was plotting and took him to police seeking some help. Instead, he wound up facing charges. His parents tell WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids in a written statement that they feel the expulsion was the wrong move, even though they were not going to try to get their son back in class at Paw Paw High School. Instead, they just wanted him to be able to attend school events like his sister’s band performances and plays as part of the family.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species Tour This Week

There will be an invasive species tour along the John and Dede Howard Recreation Trail in St. Joseph this week. The Below-the-Bluff Neighborhood Association has invited the Berrien Conservation District’s Jared Harmon to lead the walk so locals can see for themselves some plant invaders that have made it to southwest Michigan. Harmon spoke with WSJM News about the tour.. ...Read Full Story

City Puts Trash Hauler On Notice

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to put the community’s trash collector on notice. At Monday’s meeting, they talked at length about how to correct problems reported with the service provided by We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation since the company was hired last year. Those problems include a lack of trash cans for residents and rude workers. The commission considered a resolution to send a 60-day contract termination notice to We-Cycle. Commissioner Ruthie Haralson spoke at Monday’s meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Man Electrocuted In Cassopolis

From the Associated Press — An Indiana man power-washing the exterior of a southwestern Michigan church has died after coming into contact with an electrical line. The contracted employee was in a bucket lift Saturday afternoon outside St.
Ann’s Catholic Church in Cassopolis when he was electrocuted. Police say the 65-year-old man was from Bremen, south of South Bend, Indiana. His name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced In Berrien County Murders

A man charged in the murders of the mother of his children and her father in Berrien County has been sentenced to 40 to 60 years in prison. 26-year-old Alex Perez received the sentence Monday in a Berrien County courtroom after long trial delays caused by psychiatric evaluations. Prosecutors say Perez killed 27-year-old Renee and 67-year-old John Mitchell at their Hagar Township on January 15 of 2016. He beat them to death with a hammer. Perez was later found in Colorado with the two daughters he’d had with Renee Mitchell. According to our newsgathering partners at NewsCenter 16 WNDU, Perez told the court Monday that he hoped his actions could be understood by God. Perez had pleaded no contest but mentally ill to two counts of murder in the case.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Underway

The Van Buren Youth Fair is underway in Hartford this week. Monday was Armed Forces Day with free admission to veterans and active duty military personnel. Also happening Monday was the opeing of the midway rides. One of the directors of the fair, Paul Garrod, tells WSJM News what group is bringing in the rides.. ...Read Full Story

Bridge Closure Starts This Week

The Michigan Department of Transportation will shut down a bridge near Union Pier for some construction work this week. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News as part of construction on five bridges over I-94 near the Michigan-Indiana state line, the Union Pier Road bridge over I-94 will close on Wednesday and remain closed through August 12. A detour will be posted. Schirripa says MDOT grouped the five summer bridge projects together.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Has More Than $9 Million For Re-Election Campaign

From the Associated Press — U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan has nearly $9.6 million in the bank for her re-election campaign after raising nearly $1.8 million in the last quarter. The Democrat released a summary of her most recent campaign-finance report Monday. Republican businessmen John James and Sandy Pensler are running in the August 7 primary to face Stabenow in November. Whoever wins is expected to face a financial disadvantage against Stabenow in the November election.
The latest quarterly fundraising numbers for James and Pensler were not yet available.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Man Drowns In Allegan County

The drowning death of a Grand Rapids man in Allegan County has authorities reminding people about the need to wear a life jacket while on any vessel in the water. Sheriff’s Sergeant Ken DeVries says Gregory Williams was not wearing a flotation device when he and his son were tossed off their Jet Ski Sunday as they went through a larger boat’s wake, and Williams didn’t survive. DeVries adds finding Williams’ body wasn’t easy.. ...Read Full Story

Former VP Biden Kicks Off Econ Club’s 75th Speaker Series

Former Vice President Joe Biden will kick off the 75th season of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan’s Speakers Series. Biden will address members at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Township on Tuesday, October 16. You’ll remember the club also landed former President George W. Bush for his first speech after leaving office. Robin Hood CEO, best selling author and Army veteran Wes Moore will speak on November 14, followed by NBC News political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on March 26. Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani will be the season’s final speaker on April 9.. ...Read Full Story

No Wake Zone Could Expand

The no wake zone in the St. Joseph River in the area of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor could be moved about 176 yards to the south. At a meeting this past week, St. Joseph City Commissioners held a first reading on a plan that would allow that to happen. City Manager John Hodgson tells us property owners around Marina Island noticed boats going too fast in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Trade War Bad For Consumers

Congressman Fred Upton says a trade war possibly kicked off by the Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign goods will only hurt consumers. The Trump administration is putting 25% tariffs on 800 Chinese products worth $34 billion while China is retaliating with tariffs also totaling $34 billion in U.S. goods. That includes agricultural products. Upton tells WSJM News he has heard from concerned locals.. ...Read Full Story