Local News Archives

Upton: Time To Replace Line 5

Congressman Fred Upton says the recent leak of coolant into Lakes Huron and Michigan from an underwater line containing electric cables in the Straits of Mackinac is a sign Enbridge’s Line 5 needs to be replaced. Speaking with WSJM News this week, Upton said the coolant leak, caused by a vessel, only points to the risks of Line 5.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Cleaning Up Litter

The Michigan Department of Transportation is gearing up for this year’s first Adopt a Highway cleanup event this month. Spokesperson Dan Weingerten tells WSJM News all kinds of organizations throughout the state sign up to pick up trash along designated stretches of road via Adopt a Highway.. ...Read Full Story

State House Allows Parental Eavedropping

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s House wants to give parents free reign in listening to their children’s conversations. In a 105-3 vote, lawmakers passed the bill that adds parental exemptions to Michigan’s eavesdropping prohibition. Eavesdropping is defined as overhearing, recording, amplifying or transmitting conversations intended to be private. Under current Michigan law, snooping on a child’s phone could lead to a felony sentencing of up to two years of imprisonment. Supporters say parents should be allowed to monitor their children’s conversations until they turn 18 to best protect them. The bill would not allow parents to monitor such conversations with the child’s attorney, a custody investigator or, if there’s a reasonable fear of danger, the other parent.. ...Read Full Story

Zoo Asks For Change To State Law

Officials at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids are calling on the Michigan Legislature to amend the state’s current Large Carnivore Act. Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo tells Michigan News Network it currently prevents the breeding of animals over 35 pounds, like cats and bears. Last year, they had to send their male tigers to out-of-state zoos because of the law.. ...Read Full Story

Study Examines Food, Beverage Industry Growth

The food and beverage industry in southwest Michigan is showing very strong growth in a new study. Commissioned by Indiana Michigan Power, the study was done to help better plan for the utility’s responsibilities and also to help economic developers. I&M spokesperson Dave Bergsma tells WSJM News the craft beer industry has led the way in the growth of beverage producing in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Raid In Benton Harbor

No details have been released yet by Michigan State Police, but authorities from several police agencies raided a Benton Harbor home last night for a drug bust. A block of Catalpa near Colfax was blocked off by authorities last evening. WSJM News spoke to troopers at the scene last night, but they were not able to provide any information.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Bans Dog Breed Rules

From the Associated Press — No bans on pit bulls allowed, Michigan’s Senate says. The chamber voted 22-13 on Thursday to prohibit local governments from dictating breed-specific regulations on dogs. The legislation will benefit canines that are perceived as more aggressive — mostly pit bulls, but also Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Cane Corsos. About 30 local governments have some form of breed-specific ordinances, which supporters of the bill say encroaches on dog owners’ property rights. Targeting specific breeds is also not an effective approach to dog bite prevention, they say. A 2014 American Veterinary Medical Association report says pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous. However, critics of the bill mention that pit bulls are behind most fatal dog bites. At least 20 states already prohibit such breed-specific policies. Michigan’s bill now heads to the House.. ...Read Full Story

Dispatchers Of The Year Saluted

Two people have been picked as Berrien County’s Dispatchers of the year. At Thursday’s Berrien County Commission meeting, the honor was given to Eric Ruth and Lanny Duffel. Ruth, who works for Niles Dispatch, handled a call last February about a Michigan State Police trooper who was attacked by a couple of brothers, one of whom was on a stolen motorcycle. Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor spoke about the incident.. ...Read Full Story

State Approves Electric Rate Hike

The Michigan Public Service Commission has given approval to Indiana Michigan Power to raise its electric rates. MPSC spokesperson Nick Assendelft tells WSJM News I&M asked the state for permission to do so in May of last year. After consideration of many factors, the MPSC has given I&M the green light to increase rates by $49 million on its 128,000 Michigan customers.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Facing Terrorism Charge

A teen from Berrien Township is facing a charge of terrorism due to a threat of violence. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office tells us the 15-year-old Berrien Springs High School student was taken to the Berrien County Juvenile Center following his arrest by Michigan State Police Wednesday. The prosecutor says while it is alleged a threat of violence was made, there was no information suggesting violence toward another or toward a school was imminent. The Juvenile Division of the Berrien County Family Court has accepted the Berrien County Prosecutor’s petition in the case, and the next court date for the teen has yet to be scheduled. The prosecutor tells us the incident was investigated by Michigan State Police, the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department, the FBI, and the Berrien County Violent Crimes Task Force.. ...Read Full Story

Police Confirm Identity Of Drowned Kayaker

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that a body found in the Paw Paw River this week is that of a missing kayaker. 35-year-old Cory Wright of Niles went missing while kayaking in the Paw Paw River near Watervliet in late February. The sheriff’s department and the Watervliet Fire Department maintained a search of the river from that point until this Tuesday when they found remains. An autopsy at Western Michigan University has determined the body is the missing kayaker. The report also showed there were no signs of foul play and it was an accidental drowning.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Forum Being Planned

A community forum for stakeholders in Benton Harbor Area Schools is in the works. At this week’s school board meeting, Lou Ann Vidmar, a union representative of district teachers, invited everyone to take part in a discussion about the future of the district. Vidmar told WSJM News there is concern the district isn’t making sufficient progress under its partnership agreement with the Michigan Department of Education.. ...Read Full Story

Governor: Lake Leak Caused By Vessel

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway linking two of the Great Lakes apparently were damaged by the same vessel believed to have caused a recent 600-gallon coolant fluid leak from electric cables. Snyder said Wednesday that Enbridge Inc. had notified the state about the damage to its Line 5 pipes, saying it was minor and consisted of three small
dents. But the Republican governor said Michigan agencies want to make sure there’s no danger to the pipelines. They carry 23 million gallons of crude oil daily across the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Snyder also wants Enbridge to accelerate a study of ways to prevent anchor strikes and alternatives for replacing the submerged oil pipelines.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Union Taking Donations For Moms In Need

Honor Credit Union is hoping customers will step forward to help out moms in need this spring. The credit union will have donation boxes set up at its locations throughout southwest Michigan through May 7 to collect essential care items for women, specifically moms, staying in local domestic abuse or homeless shelters. Two Men and a Truck will deliver all donations to partnering shelters around Mother’ Day as part of its Movers for Moms program. They’re taking things like soaps, hair styling products, shampoos, pillows, blankets, slippers, and other basic clothing items. Honor Credit Union has locations in Coloma, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Stevensville, Berrien Springs, and Niles. You can find out more about Movers for Moms right here.. ...Read Full Story

Proos To Get Award

State Senator John Proos will receive a special honor from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office this week. On Friday, he’ll get the Shining Star Award, which is given out to groups or individuals who work to promote organ donation. Proos gets the honor because he introduced Lauren’s Law in Michigan, which requires Secretary of State office staff to ask customers if they want to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry when applying for a driver’s license. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says the number of adults on the registry has more than doubled, from 27% to 63%, since 2011. Proos will get his Shining Star Award on Friday at the Niles City Council Chambers.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Not Surprised By House Speaker Announcement

The announcement on Wednesday from House Speaker Paul Ryan that he will not seek re-election was no surprise to Congressman Fred Upton. The St. Joseph Republican tells us in a statement Ryan’s family has long watched the House Speaker commute to Washington for work from Wisconsin, noting Ryan sleeps in his office. Upton writes, “He has been a force in advancing our landmark, bipartisan 21st Century Cures legislation.” Upton also credits Ryan with helping to usher through tax reform legislation. Upton says he respects Ryan’s decision to retire from the House. Upton’s full statement is below.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Clarifies Student Information Questions

Benton Harbor School Trustees want to know more about why Whirlpool had access to student records, but Whirlpool tells us the company never did. Whirlpool Corporate Vice President Jeff Noel tells WSJM News it was in fact a Whirlpool employee who was volunteering for the school district that had a contact list for some students given to her by the district.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Talks Nassar Bills

The Michigan House inquiry into the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal has led to the introduction of legislation intended to protect Michigan students. House leaders on Wednesday announced the package which includes tougher child pornography penalties and penalties for those who fail to report abuse. State Representative Kim LaSata told us more.. ...Read Full Story

State Supreme Court Hearing Gun Case

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has heard arguments in two high-profile cases involving guns on school property. Lawyers for gun owners say the appeals court was wrong when it said public schools can create restrictions that are tougher than state law. Dean Greenblatt says school boards “can’t make law.” The cases heard Wednesday are from the Ann Arbor and Clio districts. The
school boards there banned the open carry of guns by visitors. Under state law, local governments must defer to the Legislature on gun
policy. But the schools argue that the law refers only to cities, villages, townships and counties. Chief Justice Stephen Markman dominated the questioning. He repeatedly referred to a law that says people licensed to carry a concealed weapon can openly carry a gun at schools.. ...Read Full Story

Residents Asked To Watch Out For Invasive Beetle

Everyone in southwest Michigan is being asked to keep their eyes open for an invasive insect that could pose a threat to trees. The Southwest by Southwest Corner CISMA’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News it’s the Asian longhorn beetle, which still hasn’t shown up in Michigan. Serocki wants to keep it that way. The Asian longhorn beetle is about an inch long, black with white spots, and a long antenna. It leaves behind signs of its passing after burrowing into trees.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Searching For Man In St. Joseph River

A search is ongoing in the St. Joseph River between the island and Lake Michigan for a 70-year-old man last seen Tuesday night at Brian’s Marina on Anchors Court. The U.S. Coast Guard tells WSJM News it’s still a “pending case” and their dive team is searching for the man. They were called out to try to find him just before 9 p.m. last night by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. At this point, the Coast Guard doesn’t have any further information, but we will continue to follow their efforts throughout the day.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Candidate Spending $1 Million On Ads

From the Associated Press — Democrat Shri Thanedar is planning to spend $1 million to air 10 new TV ads in the governor’s race over the next two months. The businessman will begin launching the ads Wednesday. In one 30-second spot, he says he’s an immigrant and has an accent but his support for better roads, schools and health care for all shows “we are more alike than you think.” People in the ad say “Shri is just like me.” Thanedar, who has given his campaign nearly $6 million, also will air nine 15-second ads sharing his positions on roads, job training and other issues. He began running ads in December, which has helped him to build name recognition and to rise in polling.
Other Democrats running are Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed and Bill Cobbs.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan K9 To Get Protective Vest

A K9 with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a donation from the non-profit Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporated. German Shephard Luca has been with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department for about three years and a half years, helping to find drugs and track suspects. She will get a vest worth more than $1,700 from Vested Interest within eight to ten weeks. Vested Interest takes donations to provide protective vests to police dogs all over the country. To date, it has provided the vests to more than 2,800 police agencies. Luca’s handler, Deputy Ryan Rewa, says the sheriff’s department is grateful for the donation. You can find out more about Vested Interest right here.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Seek Information On Student Records

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education wants some answers regarding student information it says has come into the possession of Whirlpool. At a Tuesday work session, the board approved a resolution directing Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson to provide it with information on the release of electronic records about students to the company. The resolution states the release of the information may have violated rules regarding student privacy. The board wants to know what was provided, who authorized it, and under what circumstances. The interim superintendent said she’ll need around two weeks. The resolution came at the end of the work session and was not on the agenda. Trustees would not discuss it with media after the meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found In Paw Paw River

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has found a body in the Paw Paw River near Watervliet. On Tuesday afternoon, a sheriff’s department lieutenant and the undersheriff were patrolling the river to look for the body of 35-year-old Cory Wright of Niles, who went missing while kayaking in the area on February 27. They spotted something in the water, and with help from the marine unit, the dive team, and the Watervliet Fire Department, it was recovered. The sheriff’s department says it is the body of a white male. An autopsy will be done to make a positive identification.. ...Read Full Story

I-94 Repaving Starts Next Week

A repaving project is about to get started on I-94 in Van Buren County. Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News  they’ll start the work on eastbound 94 between 56th Street and M-51 Monday. The work will continue through late August.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Looking For Man In St. Joseph River

A search and rescue operation for a 70-year-old man was launched Tuesday night by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Coast Guard in the St. Joseph River in St. Joe. The Coast Guard tells us it was called by the sheriff’s department around 8:50 p.m. asking for assistance. The missing man was last seen at Brian’s Marina. No further information is yet available.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Wins Spirit Tournament

The winners of state Senator John Proos’ annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament for 2018 are the Coloma Comets. They beat out the River Valley Mustangs in the final round of the tournament, which is a March Madness-like competition Proos holds each year to test the school spirit of communities throughout his district. School districts are invited to send Proos photos of students proving their spirit each spring. They’re then pitted against each other in a bracket. Proos tells us Coloma this year got nearly 10,000 points with its submissions. As the champion, Coloma High School will be presented with a traveling trophy from Proos and will also receive a special tribute commending the school for the spirit of its students and community. Proos congratulated the Comets for their victory.. ...Read Full Story

City Accepts Castle Donation

Here’s something you’ve probably never heard before. The city of St. Joseph has accepted the donation of a castle. At Monday’s meeting, Marketing Director Susan Solon told city commissioners Turner Construction, the company doing work at Lakeland, approached her about making a donation to the city. With the launch date fast approaching for this year’s public art display, “The Magical Kingdom of St. Joseph,” she suggested they make a small castle to be displayed on State and Broad Street. Solon spoke more with WSJM News about the display.. ...Read Full Story

Board Names Interim Superintendent

There is now an interim superintendent in place at Benton Harbor Area Schools. During an eight minute meeting Monday, the board of education voted to appoint Patricia Robinson, the district’s assistant superintendent, to serve as head administrator indefinitely. Trustee Margaret Gast read the resolution.. ...Read Full Story

Bills Require Temporary Immigration Status On IDs

From the Associated Press — Bills that would require Michigan driver’s licenses and state ID cards to show certain immigration statuses are headed to the House floor. On Tuesday the Michigan House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure unanimously
approved the two bills, which would prohibit the secretary of state from issuing license or ID cards that expire after the duration of an immigrant’s legal status. The legislation also would codify existing procedure for non-citizens with temporary lawful status in the U.S., such as DACA recipients or foreign college students, to require their licenses or cards display that they are a “limited-term” resident. Supporters of the bills, which were introduced by Republican Reps. Pamela Hornberger and Beth Griffin, say they would revise Michigan law to comply with federal restrictions on state licenses and cards for temporary residents.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Safety Working With Schools

Protecting students is a top priority for St. Joseph Department of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge. He told city commissioners this week he’s been in regular talks with schools at all levels to be prepared for possible emergencies. Uridge said everyone’s been anxious since the Parkland, Florida shootings. He thinks a key component to helping is to involve the parents. City Commissioner Laura Goos told WSJM News, as a parent, she appreciates the proactive approach.. ...Read Full Story

Pence To Speak At Commencement

From the Associated Press — Vice President Mike Pence is set to give the commencement speech next month at southern Michigan’s Hillsdale College. The former Indiana governor and U.S. lawmaker is scheduled to give the address on May 12 in the college’s athletic center. Pence gave a lecture in 2010 at the campus, and Hillsdale President Larry Arnn says in statement that he’s glad to have him back.
Hillsdale is a private, conservative college offering what it describes as a “classical, liberal arts core curriculum.”. ...Read Full Story

False Fraud Victims Get Key Decision

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court is taking a fresh look at a lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of people who were wrongly accused of defrauding the unemployment program. The state appeals court said the plaintiffs waited too long to sue. But the
Supreme Court says it will hear arguments at a later date after reading briefs about what should have triggered the six-month deadline.
An automated computer system run by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration was a disaster. Thousands of people were accused of cheating to get unemployment aid. They were forced to repay the money, along with substantial penalties. Separately, there’s a lawsuit in federal court against state officials and contractors who designed or managed the computer system.. ...Read Full Story

Police Forum This Month

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is planning a community forum for this month as it seeks to improve its relations with the public. Set for Tuesday, April 24, “Improving the Quality of Policing Through Transformational Change” will take place at the Benton Harbor Public Library. The presentation will be led by Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis, and everyone is welcome. The forum will run from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The event is being co-sponsored by ALPACT.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Cleanups This Month

The Michigan Department of Transportation is gearing up for this year’s first Adopt a Highway cleanup event this month. Spokesperson Dan Weingerten tells WSJM News all kinds of organizations throughout the state sign up to pick up trash along designated stretches of road via Adopt a Highway.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Unemployment Fraud

The unemployment agency in Michigan is reminding businesses and individuals to beware of identity theft. Michigan Talent Investment Agency Deputy Director of Unemployment Insurance Michelle Beebe tells WSJM News recent data breeches have led to a jump in scammers trying to collect unemployment benefits using stolen identities.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Bullying Tour Crosses Michigan

Students in schools in Grand Ledge and Lansing heard about bullying Monday from someone who was bullied as a kid. It was former Michigan State basketball player Anthony Ianni. Now a motivational speaker for the state of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, told Michigan News Network he teaches kids that victims of bullying can grow up to be the next great inventor or sports star.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Tornado Drill This Week

There will be a statewide tornado drill this week. Organized by the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, the drill will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday. MSP Spokesperson Dale George tells WSJM News businesses, families, and other organizations are invited to take part.. ...Read Full Story

Rash Of Vehicle Break-Ins

Police are asking for the public’s help in catching a suspect who has been stealing items from parked vehicles around the St Joseph area. On its Facebook page, the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety writes the suspect is looking into vehicles for valuable items. He’ll then break a side window to get to them. The individual is described as a black male, medium build, believed to be in his late 40s to early 50s. He is bald but has a partial goatee with white facial hair. He may drive a black 1999 Chevrolet Trail Blazer with no plate and a white bumper sticker. Police tell everyone to keep valuables out of sight if they’re in a car and to lock their vehicle’s doors. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the Berrien County Sheriff Department. You can see surveillance photos of the suspect above.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Get Gino’s East

It looks like later this summer getting true deep-dish Chicago style pizza will mean a much shorter drive. Gino’s East says on its website that it’s planning to expand to South Haven soon. An exact opening date hasn’t been set. Managers will start their training on Saturday, however. The restaurant will be located at 248 Broadway, just north of Phoenix Street. Gino’s East currently has 15 locations, with two in Mexico. The chain opened in Chicago in 1966.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Talks MSU/Nassar Scandal

Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard is going through a report from a bipartisan House panel on Michigan State University’s response to the sexual abuse conducted by former sports doctor Larry Nassar. WSJM News asked state Representative Kim LaSata about what she learned in the information provided by MSU regarding Nassar.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Running For Senate

Now in the running for Michigan Senate in the 26th District is former state Representative and Michigan Lottery Commissioner Aric Nesbitt. The Lawton Republican tells us he’s throwing his hat in the ring because he wants to continue recent state progress.. ...Read Full Story

Flood Damage Loans Available

Congressman Fred Upton is pleased the federal government is putting up some of its resources to help those affected by floods this year in Berrien County. This month, the Small Business Administration announced it will offer low-interest loans to those who suffered losses in flooding in several counties. Upton tells WSJM News this is a positive development.. ...Read Full Story

Plans Continue For Napier Avenue

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission would like to hear more from the public about what is wanted for Napier Avenue as it drafts a report ahead of the road’s repaving starting next year. Planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News about 40 or 50 people showed up to an open house on the subject last week.. ...Read Full Story

Presentation On Jean Klock Park

A presentation set for this coming week at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph will focus on the history of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News author Julie Weiss will present “The Legacy of Jean Klock Park” on Thursday, April 12. Weiss has published a book about the park.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Tuition Going Up

The Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees has approved a tuition hike. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells us the board voted Tuesday to increase tuition for both in-district and out of district students, keeping the rate as low as possible for those who pay taxes to LMC.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Plan For Vacant Site

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have to decide what they want done with the vacant Alreco Metals property, and now they have solid information on one of their options. At Monday’s meeting they learned the Berrien County Land Bank has two bids for the foreclosed property, one for $72,000 and one for $400,000. That second one is from the Harvest Foundation, a medical marijuana producer. Representative Larry Lemons told WSJM News his outfit wants to use the site for cultivation.. ...Read Full Story

Department Marks Health Week

Health agencies around the country are hoping everyone will take some time this week to think about how much of a difference their efforts have made. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News it is National Public Health Week, noting a handful of the things the department does to protect the public.. ...Read Full Story

Foreclosures Down

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has tallied up the totals, and he tells us about 185 property owners will be foreclosed this year for failure to pay their 2015 taxes. The deadline was Monday, and Witkowski tells WSJM News of the more than 600 property owners behind on 2015’s bill, more than 400 got on payment plans.. ...Read Full Story

Special Trains For Tulip Time

Holland’s Tulip Time Festival this year will run May 5 through the May 13, and it’s expected to draw more than 500,000 thisyear. If you don’t want fight traffic and hunt for a parking space, Amtrak can help as they’re adding extra trains on May 5th and May 12th to Holland. MDOT’s Michael Frezell spoke with WSJM News about the option.. ...Read Full Story