Local News Archives

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

IRS Issues Paycheck Calculator

With new tax laws now in place, the Internal Revenue Service wants to make sure everyone is paying the right amount in taxes from their paychecks. Spokesperson Alejandra Castro Nunez tells WSJM News they have an online service that enables you to check if you are taking the right amount out.. ...Read Full Story

BH, Hartford Kids Compete In Lansing

A Kinexus program that works with at-risk young people to make sure they graduate high school headed to Lansing last week to have some of its kids show off the skills they’ve learned. Youth Solutions, Incorporated Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News about 40 students from Benton Harbor and Hartford attended the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference last month. There, they competed to display employability skills.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Warns About School Threats

As threats shut down schools across southwest Michigan following last month’s Parkland, Florida shootings, police want the culprits to know they’re making a big mistake. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey tells WSJM News someone who threatens a school faces real consequences if caught.. ...Read Full Story

New Features At PGA Championship

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have gotten an update on plans for this year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. At this past Monday’s city commission meeting, the PGA’s Ryan Ogle told commissioners the event will attract thousands to the area.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM Sports Director Saluted

WSJM Sports Director Phil McDonald celebrated his 30th anniversary with Mid-West Family Broadcasting this week. As congratulations came in for WSJM’s hardest-working sports guy, state Representative Kim LaSata stopped by Phil’s morning show Friday to present him with a special tribute coming out the state House.. ...Read Full Story

Successful United Way Book Drive

A recent book drive undertaken by the United Way of Southwestern Michigan collected more than 10,800 books for kids from kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade in Berrien and Cass counties. The United Way’s Julee Laurent tells WSJM News they set up collection boxes at businesses and other organizations throughout the region so folks could drop reading materials for kids in need. The United Way will now get them into the hands of kids who need them.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Presentation On Civil Rights Movement

Coming up next week at the Niles District Library will be a presentation that takes a look at the civil rights movement in Michigan. Niles History Center Assistant Director Molly Watson tells WSJM News “Placing X: A Novel in Michigan Cultural History” will be a presentation by Dr. Michelle Johnson, a public scholar in the fields of African American history. She’ll talk about the popular young adult novel, X: A Novel.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Benton Township Shooting

Police are investigating a fatal shooting in Benton Township on Thursday afternoon. The Benton Township Police Department tells us a 20-year old man shot himself in the head with a gun he thought either wasn’t working or was unloaded. That was according to witnesses. They called police to the 3,600 block of Fieldtree just before 3 p.m. The victim’s identity has not been released, but police say he was a white male. They ask anyone with further information to call them.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speaker Series Plans

The Speakers Series of South Haven will have its opening presentation of 2018 at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven Campus on Thursday, April 19th. The featured speaker will be Professor Fred Johnson of Hope College. “While Black People Slept” will assess how the much hoped for post-racial America heralded by Barack Obama’s 2008 election has been eroded. Johnson is recognized as a vibrant speaker and an effective teacher and a well-known author. Tickets are ten dollars including the reception. There is no charge for students, educators and clergy. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Part-Time Legislature Effort Stalls

The ballot initiative for a part-time legislature in Michigan has stalled because of a lack of petition signatures. The petition drive was started last year by Lieutenent Governor Brian Calley, who is now running for governor. Calley has been criticized by some who say the effort was politically motivated. However, campaign organizer Norman Kammeraad told Michigan News Network that’s not the case.. ...Read Full Story

Waterfronts Symposium Next Month

The fifth National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium will be held in Grand Rapids May 14th through the 17th. The purpose of the symposium is to connect and unite stakeholders from around the country to showcase and initiate solutions for waterfront lands and infrastructure. Ports, marinas, harbors, and fishing docks around the country will be studied. Michigan Sea Grant is hosting the symposium featuring presentations that emphasize the Great Lakes. More information can be found at national working Waterfronts.com.. ...Read Full Story

House Finishes Nassar Investigation

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers say they plan to introduce more proposals stemming from the fallout of the Larry Nassar scandal. House members announced Thursday they finished their investigation into the Nassar case. They say a bipartisan legislation will be introduced in the coming days that will build on measures already passed by the state Senate. They add more changes are needed to protect other sexual abuse victims and prevent a future “tragedy.” Recommendations call for placing limits on medical treatment that involves penetrating minors. One would require the state to create a standard consent form for such treatment. It would include statements regarding the use of gloves and the presence of another health care professional. Nassar admitted molesting athletes using his ungloved hand under the guise of medical treatment. Lawmakers also recommend giving the governor authority to remove officials from university governing bodies.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Foreclosures Down This Year

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

Heugel Running For County Commission

A familiar face in the St. Joseph community is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Chris Heugel, the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce president and a former St. Joseph city commissioner, has announced he’s seeking the Sixth District position that is currently occupied by Berrien County Commissioner Jeanette Leahey. He spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

MI Doctor Speaking At Opioid Summit

The war against opiod and heroin abuse needs to move to a new front. That’s the message from Dr Chad Brummett, a University of Michigan professor who delivered an address at the National Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta this week. He chatted with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Responding To Great Lakes Spill

The Coast Guard has established what’s called the Unified Command to oversee the pollution response to the coolant fluid that spilled into the Straits of Mackinac. The leak came from a transmission cable that carries electricity under water. Coast Guard Ensign Pamela Mannes spoke with Michigan News Network about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Crime Victims Right Week

Next week is Crime Victim Victims’ Rights Week, and law enforcement throughout Michigan will hold events to remind everyone of the need to keep the people hurt by crime in their minds. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us his office will host a memorial event at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph next Friday to remember everyone who lost their lives because of crime in 2017 and 2018. Invited guests will be given balloons on which to write a message and then they’ll be escorted outside with a victim advocate to launch their balloon in memory of loved ones. The event is set for 11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, the Cass County Prosecutor’s office is working with elementary schools for art submissions, planning a flagpole ceremony for Wednesday, and holding an essay contest. The flagpole ceremony will be at noon next Wednesday at the Cass County Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. The names of crime victims will be read aloud.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Ranked As Top Employer

Kinexus in Benton Harbor is a great place to work. So says The Nonprofit Times, a trade group representing non-profit organizations around the country. It’s selected Kinexus as one of its top 50 non-profits when it comes to the work environment. Kinexus Human Resources Vice President Jamie Quigno spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Workshop On Service Animals This Month

Coming up this month at the Disability Network Southwest Michigan will be a presentation on the dos and don’ts of service animals. The network tells us the free workshop is being offered to address confusion about what constitutes a service animal versus an emotional support animal. Different rules apply to the two, and what type of assistance animals are allowed in different places and whether an establishment can deny access to an assistance animal varies. The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan tackles the topic as it becomes increasingly relevant. Anyone who wants to attend is invited to do so, although registration is required. The workshop will be Monday, April 30 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the network office on Lakeview Avenue in St. Joseph. To find out more or sign up, go to their website.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Holding Out Hope For DACA

Congressman Fred Upton is still hoping something can be done to salvage the federal DACA program. DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — is the program created by President Barack Obama that enables illegal immigrants brought into the country as children to avoid deportation. President Trump this week tweeted “DACA is dead,” blaming Democrats. Congressman Upton still hopes for a DACA replacement.. ...Read Full Story

Autonomous Car Facility Opens

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s 500-acre center for autonomous vehicle research is officially open and will partner with technology giant Microsoft. Governor Rick Snyder trekked to the Ypsilanti-based American Center for Mobility for Wednesday’s grand opening.
Last year, the site became one of 10 places designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “proving grounds” for an automated vehicle pilot program. Microsoft will work on the center’s data infrastructure and cloud resources. The growing hub of driverless vehicle testing in southeast Michigan ties into the state’s ongoing campaign to be the next epicenter of autonomous driving. The University of Michigan’s 32-acre “Mcity ” in Ann Arbor also is doing driverless-car experimentation.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Offering Tulip Time Trains

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

Planning Commission Taking Napier Input

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

City Gets State Grants

The city of Benton Harbor is receiving a couple of state grants for water system improvements and public safety. This week, city commissioners approved the acceptance of Financially Distressed Cities Grants for the installation of new water meters and the purchase of a fire truck. City Manager Darwin Watson said the first grant, for the water meters, is for $309,000, while the grant for the fire truck was for $490,000. The city applied for both back in October, and the state announced them last month. City commissioners accepted the grants at Monday’s meeting with no comment.. ...Read Full Story

Coolant Spill Into Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Officials say hundreds of gallons of potentially toxic coolant fluid have leaked from two electric power cables in the waterway that links Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. American Transmission Company says the fluid is a mineral-based synthetic oil
used for insulation that can be harmful if released into the environment. District Supervisor Joe Haas of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the agency is investigating but it’s too early to know the extent of the damage in the Straits of Mackinac. The company says the cables have been taken out of service. They carried electricity between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula.
Spokeswoman Jackie Olson says it hasn’t been determined what caused the leak of about 550 gallons, which was discovered after two circuits went offline Sunday night.. ...Read Full Story

It’s National Public 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