Local News Archives

Upton Announces Dredging

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fiscal Year 2018 Work Plan because it includes money to dredge recreational harbors in southwest Michigan. He tells WSJM News the weather this year has left those harbors in need of some cleaning up.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Budget

State Senator John Proos is pleased with the budget approved by Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday. The $57 billion spending plan for the 2019 fiscal year includes boosts in funding for education, courts, and roads. Proos tells us lawmakers continue to scrape together a little more road funding each year.. ...Read Full Story

Knotweed Fight Not Over

Progress is being made in the battle by the city of St. Joseph against Japanese knotweed, but it’s slow. Public Works director Tom MacDonald says when he goes into the ravine at this time of year, he sees evidence the plants have been killed in some spots.. ...Read Full Story

Millage Request For Senior Services

The senior population is the United States is growing rapidly and funding for senior services has not kept up. That’s why one organization is seeking a millage increase this summer. Senior Services of Van Buren County Director Diane Rigozzi tells WSJM News she hopes voters will help out with funding at the ballot box in August.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Opioid Legislation

Congressman Fred Upton spoke on the U.S. House floor Tuesday as the chamber passed his legislation intended to fight the opioid epidemic. He tells WSJM News his bill in the legislative package focuses on developing alternatives to opioids for doctors to prescribe.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Talks Tax Progress

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is seeing an increase in the amount of property taxes his office can collect since the closure of a loophole last year. Witkowski tells WSJM News the loophole closed by legislation from state Representatives Dave Pagel and Kim LaSata made it possible for out-of-state property owners to claim the homestead exemption on their properties in Michigan. Since the loophole was closed, Witkowski has seen a jump in tax dollars collected due to declined exemptions.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Heart Of Cook Grants

33 southwest Michigan non-profit organizations have been selected for Heart of Cook grants this year. The Berrien Community Foundation tells us more than $53,000 is included in the 2018 plan. The Heart of Cook is a corporate-advised fund held by the community foundation, supported with money from the Cook nuclear power plant. Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps Downey tells WSJM News a committee made up of Cook employees reviewed 85 applications this year that totaled more than $330,000.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Animal Shelter Donation

Albemarle Corporation of South Haven has made a $15,000 donation to the Al-Van Humane Society for critical medical care and life saving emergencies for animals and to finish work on the new adoption center on Blue Star Highway in South Haven. Albemarle has donated over $40,000 to the shelter’s general operating fund over the past six years. The Al-Van Humane Society was founded in 1968 and is a no-kill non-profit welfare organization providing emergency food and shelter for homeless pets. Al-Van continues to seek corporate donations for shelter programs. Contact Jennifer Nuernberg at 637-5062 for more information.. ...Read Full Story

Pence Raises Money For Schuette

From the Associated Press — Vice President Mike Pence came to Michigan to raise money for Bill Schuette’s gubernatorial campaign and to highlight the effect of federal tax cuts on businesses and workers. Pence first attended a fundraiser Friday for the Republican state attorney general in Birmingham and then visited a construction company in Rochester to tout the tax changes before traveling to Columbus, Ohio. He said cutting taxes and regulations have helped Frank Rewold & Son and its
employees. The firm where he stopped is marking a century in business. In a statement, the Michigan Democratic Party called the tax cuts “giveaways to millionaires.” Pence, the former Indiana governor, visited Michigan in May to give a
commencement speech at Hillsdale College. Both he and President Donald Trump have endorsed Schuette in the governor’s race.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Road Millage

Officials with the Van Buren County Road Commission are spending a big part of this summer trying to educate the public about the need for additional road funding in the hope of getting a new millage approved in August. Road Commission Engineer-Manager Larry Hummel tells WSJM News they’re seeking an additional three mills for 12 years.. ...Read Full Story

Effort To Preserve Chikaming Twp Beach Property

A group of Chikaming Township residents is working to raise enough money to purchase a parcel of land next to Cherry Beach so they can keep it pristine. Cherry Beach Committee Co-Chair Susan Phelan tells WSJM News the group hopes to collect about $1 million for the three acres adjacent to Cherry Beach so the beach can be expanded.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department On Beach Water Quality

The Berrien County Health Department is putting the word out to residents about how they can tell if the water at local beaches is healthy to swim in this summer. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the department tests 14 beaches each week for E. coli, and Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph early this month came up with elevated levels.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Girl To Ride In Flag Day Parade

There will be a special guest riding in the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade this Sunday. It’s seven-year-old Kennedy Arney of St. Joseph, and she’ll be decked out in a police uniform and sworn in for the day as a Three Oaks police officer. Darlene Buller, the wife of Three Oaks Police Chief Dennis Buller, tells us she learned from Kennedy’s mother that the seven-year-old is one of the youngest in the nation to be diagnosed with juvenile ALS, a neurodegenerative disease. She also learned Kennedy has a dream of being a police officer. So, her husband arranged to have Kennedy sworn in.. ...Read Full Story

Engler Resisting Calls To Resign

From the Associated Press — Interim Michigan State University President John Engler is not caving to calls from board trustees and legislators for him to resign. After two trustees said Friday that Engler was unfit to lead the university, Engler insisted he’s looking ahead to a public Board of Trustees meeting, scheduled for next Friday. Engler underscored his role in the university’s $500 million settlement to hundreds of women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by a now-imprisoned former campus sports doctor, Larry Nassar. On Friday, trustee Brian Mosallam said the Nassar-related campus crisis won’t settle until Engler steps down. Hours later, he was joined by fellow trustee Dianne Byrum. Joining outraged Nassar survivors, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof also said Engler, a former Republican governor, should resign. Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard declined to comment.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago Violence Claims Covert Girl

A 12-year-old southwest Michigan girl spending the summer in Chicago has been shot and killed just hours after attending a cousin’s eighth-grade graduation. Family members at the hospital identified the girl as She’nyah O’Flynn of Covert. She was shot in the neck while getting out of a car Thursday night, apparently an unintended victim of gunfire during a party in West Garfield Park. Police say there have been no arrests. The girl’s mother tells the “Chicago Tribune” that her daughter was a good student who loved playing soccer. She’nyah was planning to spend the summer in Chicago with relatives. A 36-year-old man was injured, and his mother says Chicago’s violence is too much saying “They’re killing our future.”. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools May Have Acted Prematurely With CEO Pick

The Benton Harbor Area Schools board of education may have acted prematurely in announcing the selection of Dr. Robert Herrera, the superintendent of South Haven Public Schools, as the district’s new CEO. Herrera has issued a statement saying he has not been offered a contract and has not received assurances from the Michigan Departments of Education or Treasury regarding the legalities of creating the CEO position at Benton Harbor. He does confirm he’s been working with BHAS on a consultant basis, using personal leave time.. ...Read Full Story

State Enacts Strictest Lead Rules In U.S.

From the Associated Press — Michigan now has the country’s strictest drinking water rules for lead. The plan filed Thursday will eventually result in the replacement of all 500,000 lead service pipes statewide in the wake of the contamination of Flint’s
supply. The rules will drop the “action level” for lead from 15 parts per billion, the federal limit, to 12 in 2025. Underground lead service lines connecting water mains to houses and other buildings under a broader plan to repair and replace buildings will be replaced by 2040, unless a utility can show regulators it will take its water infrastructure. The plan could cost $2.5 billion over decades, money that is expected to largely come from water customers. Governor Rick Snyder says the federal lead rules do not do enough to protect public health.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM Morning News – June 15, 2018

  • Berrien County Register of Deeds Lori Jarvis has been killed in a car crash. 
  • The Benton Harbor Area Schools will be under new leadership in two weeks. 
  • Legislation designed to recognize students for taking STEM classes in high school has been approved by the Michigan Legislature. 
  • The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has some concerns about a piece of legislation now in the Michigan Senate. 
  • Republican state Senator Rick Jones says the interim president of Michigan State University should step down. 
  • Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% in May. 
  • Nearly 45-thousand lives were lost to suicide in 2016. 
  • Japan reacts to President Trump’s decision to suspend major U-S military exercises in South Korea.
. ...Read Full Story

Money Set Aside For South Haven Dredging

South Haven Harbormaster Kate Hosier says dredging the South Haven Harbor channel won’t be needed for some time because of the high lake level. In fact, she says there are erosion issues. The Army Corps of Engineers has set aside $365,000 to dredge the channel when needed. Hosier told us how depth testing is done.. ...Read Full Story

Free Recycling This Weekend

Berrien County will hold a household chemicals and electronics recycling event this weekend. The parks department tells us it will be Saturday at the New Buffalo Township Fire Station on Clay Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’ll take items that include most household and garage chemicals and cleaners, pills, sharps and other home medical waste, batteries of all sizes, and electronics. There will be a fee of $20 for TVs and $10 for computer monitors. All of the other items can be dropped off for free. You can find more information right here.. ...Read Full Story

Donation To Galien River County Park

There will be some upgrades coming to Galien River County Park. At this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, the board accepted a Pokagon Fund donation of more than $46,000 to asphalt the parking lot at the park. Right now, it’s gravel. The donation will also pay for the removal of some stumps at the park’s entrance and the installation of a recycled waste container. The county commission’s resolution notes Shembarger Asphalt out of Berrien Springs was the low bidder to do the parking lot work, coming in at just under $44,000. The commission notes the Pokagon Fund has donated more than $315,000 to the Galien River County Park since its creation.. ...Read Full Story

Register Of Deeds Killed In Crash

A car crash has claimed the life of Berrien County Register of Deeds Lori Jarvis. County administration tells us the single-vehicle crash happened around 10 a.m. Thursday. Jarvis had served the citizens of Berrien County since January of 2001. The county says the Register of Deeds office at the Berrien County Administration Center will be closed on Friday, and the flags at all county facilities will be flown at half-staff beginning Friday, June 15 and will remain at half-staff until burial. Congressman Fred Upton, who knew Jarvis for decades, issued a statement Thursday, saying her “legacy of dedicated public service will live on and for that we are all grateful.” He calls Jarvis a “wonderful mother, wife, and friend.”. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves STEM Bills

Legislation from state Senator John Proos designed to recognize students for taking STEM classes in high school has been approved by the Michigan Legislature. Proos tells WSJM News his plan would create a special STEM endorsement for the diplomas of students who take extra classes in those subjects.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Concerned About Senate Bill

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has some concerns about a piece of legislation now in the Michigan Senate that could hit the county’s bottom line. At a meeting this week, the board tabled a motion to officially oppose Senate Bill 1031 until it can hear from the plan’s sponsor, state Senator John Proos. Board Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the bill would exempt utility property from personal property taxes. That include electric poles and lines, substations, water systems, and gas storage.. ...Read Full Story