Local News Archives

Consumers Energy Tips On Winter Savings

Now that the freezing weather is here, utilities around Michigan are reminding residents how they can keep themselves safe and also maybe save a little on their home heating bills. Consumers Energy’s Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News you’ve got to protect yourself against carbon monoxide in the winter.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks State Parks Grants

State Senator John Proos is praising the recent announcement of this year’s Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants. The trust fund awards grants to communities throughout Michigan each year for parks projects. Proos tells WSJM News the money it gives out does not include any tax dollars.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent Found Guilty

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood has been found guilty on all counts in his embezzlement trial. Seawood is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from the district by taking payouts for unused vacation days. The trial this week included testimony from several current and former school board officials, along with Seawood himself. He maintains he received authorization for the vacation payouts. School board officials say Seawood was not straightforward about it. He was fired from the district last year following a lengthy suspension and investigation by Michigan State Police. The jury returned its verdict of guilty on counts of embezzlement and obtaining money under false pretenses this morning  after a day of deliberations. WNDU reports sentencing will be January 29. Seawood could get up to 15 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rotary To Ring Bells For Salvation Army

Coming soon to South Haven will be an annual holiday tradition. The Salvation Army bell ringers will be out in force. The South Haven Rotary tells us its volunteers ring the bells and will be out and about on December 23. You can stop by the Golden Brown Bakery and Walmart beginning at 7 a.m. and throughout the day to drop a couple of bucks in their red canisters. The South Haven Rotary has rung the bell for the Salvation Army every year since 1982. Last year, generous shoppers around South Haven donated more than $1,500 to the Salvation Army via the Rotary.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Talks Security, Discipline

Recent troubles involving discipline and student safety at Benton Harbor Area Schools have prompted the board of education to order up a review of security and the use of a grant. At a Thursday meeting, the board heard from parents concerned about recent videos on social media depicting student fights. Trustee Marletta Seats addressed that.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Extra Patrols This Weekend

Set for this weekend is another Michigan State Police Operation CARE. That’s Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. Michigan State Police Special Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News extra patrols will be out on the state’s highways in all 83 counties watching out for bad behavior.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Allows Corrections Department To Hire Felons

The Michigan Department of Corrections will now be allowed to hire felons thanks to legislation approved by Michigan lawmakers and signed by the governor. The plan from state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs applies to non-violent offenders. Pagel tells WSJM News it seems right to him that the DOC could put its money where its mouth is.. ...Read Full Story

Verizon Talks New Tech With MI Police

Police, fire, and other Michigan first responders getting a behind-closed-doors demonstration by Verizon of new cellphone and drone technology that can help them with responding to emergencies. Verizon spokesman Kevin King told Michigan News Network this week the future looks bright.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Marks One Year Since 21st Century Cures Approval

Congressman Fred Upton is marking one year since his landmark 21st Century Cures legislation became law. The plan increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and sped up the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. In a promo video released this week, Upton said 21st Century Cures is all about trying to help the kinds of people he meets every day.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation District Recommends Buying Local Christmas Trees

This is the time of year when people bring more greenery into their homes, but the Van Buren Conservation District is warning that those wreaths and trees can bring with them a whole host of unwanted guests. The district tells us forest pests that can hurt native tree species can enter the state on Christmas trees. In order to stop the spread of these insects, the Van Buren Conservation District encourages everyone to buy this year’s tree from local tree farms or dealers. Insects like the balsam woolly adelgid or fungi like spruce decline can get into the state on imported plants. That’s why buying local can help. Anyone with questions should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

Thursday Session To Address Opioid Addiction

Set for this Thursday is a special engagement at the Berrien County Health Department with an addiction specialist. Berrien County coalitions “Voice. Change. Hope.” and Families Against Narcotics are hosting a community event to talk about the root nature of addiction and why it should be viewed and treated as a brain disease. The Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News a focus is opioids.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Blood Making Holiday Push For Donations

Michigan Blood is hoping you’ll take a moment to make a donation this holiday season. The organization tells us it’s offering folks a special incentive to give. From December 21 through January 2, anyone who donates at one of Michigan Blood’s main donor centers will receive a $10 Meijer or Speedway gift card while supplies last. That means donors can save lives while getting a stocking stuffer for someone special in their life. It just so happens that Michigan Blood has a donation center in St. Joseph. It’s on Cleveland Avenue near the bowling alley. A drive is also taking place at Michigan Blood in St. Joe on Wednesday, December 27 from noon to 7 p.m. One in every seven people entering the hospital needs blood, and Michigan Blood tells us it provides blood products to more than 60 hospitals across the state.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 6,200 Flint Water Pipes Replaced So Far

From the Associated Press — The mayor of Flint says more than 6,200 water pipes have been replaced as the result of the city’s lead crisis.
Mayor Karen Weaver gave an update Tuesday. The city and the state of Michigan agreed earlier this year to replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020. Weaver says “significant progress” is being made. Michael McDaniel, who is overseeing the program, says crews are finding some homes have copper service lines that don’t need to be replaced. Flint’s water system was contaminated by lead because corrosive water from the Flint River wasn’t properly treated in 2014 and 2015, causing lead to break off inside old pipes. Flint now gets its water from a different source, although residents still are encouraged to use filters.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Calls For Asian Carp Action

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and two other state attorneys general have sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking more to be done to stop the Asian carp. Specifically, they’re asking for a physical barrier to be installed in the Chicago shipping canals to stop the Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan. AG spokesperson Megan Hawthorne tells WSJM News this follows the recent release of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam study.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Wins Digital Edge 50 Award

A cloud computing project at Whirlpool has received some new attention. The Whirlpool Cloud Project has been named a winner of the 2018 Digital Edge 50 Award from IDG Enterprise and CIO Magazine. Whirlpool tells us the award is for companies that use the internet to improve their products and enhance the customer experience. It says the Whirlpool Cloud Project, launched in 2016, will allow Whirlpool Corporation to deploy connected products around the globe, delivering advanced appliance features more quickly and reducing development times. In other words, it’s a Whirlpool initiative to have connected appliances. Whirlpool Corporate Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer Mike Heim says the company is “proud of this project and the team behind it.”. ...Read Full Story

SJ Cemetery Records Now Online

You can now search an online database of the plots at Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph. St. Joe Deputy Public Works Director Greg Grothous tells WSJM News a new system recently installed in his department tracks the information of individuals buried there.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Conyers Retirement

Congressman Fred Upton thinks Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to set the elections to replace former Congressman John Conyers for August and November was a reasonable one. He told Michigan’s Big Show this week a lot has to be done to replace Conyers, so allowing some time for the process could be a good thing. Plus, he doesn’t think the constituents of Conyers are really losing all that much representation.. ...Read Full Story

Former Berrien Landfill Employees Charged With Embezzlement

A couple of former employees of the Southeast Berrien County Landfill Authority are facing charges in an embezzlement case. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 46-year-old Clyde Fuller of Buchanan and 54-year-old Terry Snow of Eau Claire were arraigned on Tuesday. Fuller is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement over $10,000, while Snow is charged with aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement over $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Municipal Retirement Funding Bills

From the Associated Press — Bills designed to get a handle on municipalities’ underfunded employee retirement benefits are going to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature. The legislature overwhelmingly approved the legislation Tuesday, after removing
contentious provisions last week. Communities will have to set aside money for retirement health costs for employees hired after June 30, 2018. The state treasurer annually will determine the funding status of each local government’s retirement plans. Those not meeting minimum funding thresholds or not getting a waiver will submit corrective actions to a new Municipal Stability Board appointed by the governor. The board will approve or reject plans _ but not be empowered to force changes. Supporters say many local governments have already taken steps to address their liabilities, and the bills will help those that haven’t.. ...Read Full Story

House Fire Under Investigation In South Haven Township

The cause of a house fire in South Haven Township is under investigation. Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services found the garage and breezeway of the house fully engulfed in flames when they were called to the scene just after 9:30 pm. The home is on M-43 near 16th Avenue, and the homeowner told investigators his dogs alerted him to the fire. He got out with them, and was also able to save his car before the garage was fully on fire. The home was extensively damaged by the fire.. ...Read Full Story

Armed Robbery Turns Into Shoplifting In VB County Case

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a shoplifting case originally reported as an armed robbery this week. Sheriff’s deputies were sent to Country Lakes Market in Porter Township south of Lawton around 8:40 a.m. Monday. They learned a 26-year-old man from Paw Paw had gone into the store asking for $122 in lottery tickets. He handed over an older ticket as payment and ran out. The clerk chased after the man in a plow truck and wound up hitting him. The suspect was tackled and held until police arrived. The suspect was taken to a hospital for possible broken bones and internal injuries. The sheriff’s department continues to investigate the situation and will forward its report on to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office when finished.. ...Read Full Story

37 Children Take Part In Berrien Shop With A Cop Program

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s Shop with a Cop program this year has broken some records. The Shop with a Cop event took place on Saturday at the Niles area Wal-Mart. Sheriff’s deputies and staff from the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department, the Saint Joseph City Department of Public Safety, and the Fraternal Order of Police Explorers Program took area children on trips to pick out whatever the kids wanted. Thanks to donations, the police officers were able to spend $9,000 on the 37 kids who took part. In all, Shop with a Cop this year served 16 families, the most it’s ever been able to help. The families and children were from the Watervliet area, the Berrien Springs area, the Niles area, and the New Buffalo area. After the shopping trip, the kids were treated to snacks at the Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles. The Shop with a Cop program is possible thanks to donations from local businesses.. ...Read Full Story

InterCare Opens New Women’s Health Center

InterCare is celebrating the completion of its new women’s health center in Benton Township. Executive Director Velma Hendershott tells WSJM News a $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration last year made it possible. An open house for the new 9,100 square foot facility will be held Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commissioners Hear 2017 Coastal Study

St. Joseph City Commissioners are keeping their eye on the community’s coastal areas. In 2012, the commission voted to do periodic coastal studies to monitor water levels on Lake Michigan and beach erosion. Commissioners Monday heard the results of the 2017 study from Colin Hassenger of Edgewater Resources. He told WSJM News it is helpful for local governments to have a handle on shoreline issues.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Calls For More To Stop Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — Attorneys general from three states say a $275 million federal plan for keeping Asian carp from migrating into the Great Lakes is too pricey and rejects the most effective solution. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is recommending technologies such as electric barriers and water cannons at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, which stands between the carp-infested Illinois River and Lake Michigan. Attorneys general Bill Schuette of Michigan, Lori Swanson of Minnesota and Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania say a better way is replacing the lock gates with a concrete wall that would divide the Great Lakes and Mississippi River
watersheds. That would cost only about $5.9 million. They say the Corps plan favors the needs of shipping companies over those of
the Great Lakes fishing industry.. ...Read Full Story

New Park To Be Built In Hagar Twp

Hagar Township is getting a new park thanks to a state grant. Township Supervisor Iggy DiMaggio tells WSJM News the township has been approved for $300,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resource Trust Fund for next year to build a new kayak launch on the Paw Paw River on property off Coloma Road. It used to be a landfill.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Purchases New Student Support System

Lake Michigan College will soon have a new system in place to help students stay on track academically. At a Thursday meeting, the LMC Board of Trustees approved the purchase of the EAB Student Success Management System. The cost — $768,000 with about half being paid by federal Title III funds. LMC Vice President of Academic Affairs Leslie Kellogg told WSJM News EAB is software that watches a student and and alerts them if it sees trouble.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Statewide

Your holiday budget may have taken an unexpected hit this past week, as gas prices are up 7¢ statewide and higher by 17¢ in this area. Triple-A Michigan puts the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average gas price at $2.51 a gallon, up from $2.34 last week. Our area average is the same as the state average price. The auto club says the most expensive gas is being sold in Marquette for the second straight week, at $2.62 a gallon, while Traverse City has the lowest prices at $2.45. In South Haven, GasBuddy spotters put the average at $2.36. South Haven and Van Buren County are not included in Triple-A’s price survey.. ...Read Full Story

Future Of SJ Recycling Center To Be Discussed Next Month

A meeting planned for next month could help determine the future of a recycling center in St. Joseph. The Jackie Taglia Recycling Center on Broad Street in front of the St. Joseph City Public Works Department opened in the late 1980s through a partnership between United for Survival and the city of St. Joseph. The Boy Scouts help to coordinate the work that’s done there, but the Boy Scouts will end that role this coming March. So, a public meeting will be held on January 18 at the Rose Center on Church Street in St. Joseph. Groups and individuals who may have interest in taking on the management of the recycling service are encouraged to attend the meeting. Mark your calendars now.. ...Read Full Story

Report Urges Policy Changes To Benefit Low Income Chidren

A new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy makes some recommendations for how state lawmakers could improve the lives of low-income children. According to the 2017 Kids Count report, Michigan ranks 32nd in the country for overall child well-being. The league’s Alicia Guevara Warren tells us while there will always be a price tag that comes with investing in critical state and federal services, the ultimate cost of not investing in children is far higher.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Recognized By Breastfeeding Advocacy Group

Michigan State University is the first Michigan college to receive the Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Award. Michigan Breastfeeding Network Director Jane Whitacre tells WSJM News the network encourages all employers to follow state law and set aside places where new mothers can pump at work. That’s because doctors recommend all mothers breastfeed.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Backing Career Planning Bills For MI Students

State Senator John Proos is hoping a package legislation currently before a Senate committee will help Michigan students better prepare for their careers. Proos tells WSJM News one bill aims to modernize educational development plans to include talent portfolios for students. Another bill requires schools to provide students with information about the most in-demand job skills in their region.. ...Read Full Story

More Cases Of Chronic Wasting Disease Found In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Officials say a number of deer believed to have been infected with chronic wasting disease were found during Michigan’s recently completed firearms hunting season. The latest cases bring the tally of confirmed or suspected infections in the
state to 30 whitetail deer since 2015. The state Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to bring their deer to check stations. It says several thousand samples await testing by Michigan State University, so the number of chronic wasting disease cases still could rise.
The infected deer have turned up in Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. The DNR has established a “core and management zone” where the disease has been detected. All deer taken by hunters in that area must be checked, while feeding and baiting deer there are prohibited.. ...Read Full Story

Congress Pressure To Approve Funding For Child Healthcare

Pressure is being applied to Congress as funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program — or, CHIP — remains in limbo. Families USA Director of Medicaid Initiatives Dee Mahan tells WSJM News CHIP provides coverage to kids whose families don’t qualify for other aid, but who still can’t afford insurance. It offers care targeted to the needs of children. Congress failed to renew CHIP’s funding more than 2 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Leaders To Hold Forum With Commission Applicants

A public forum will be held for residents and St. Joseph City Commissioners to question the 8 applicants for a vacancy on the body. At a Monday meeting, city commissioners settled on a plan to hold a forum with questions from themselves and the public for those hoping to be picked for the two years remaining on former Commissioner Chris Huegel’s term. Mayor Mike Garey told WSJM News this new model for filling a vacancy could be repeated in the future.. ...Read Full Story