Local News Archives

Fire At New Buffalo Hotel

Several fire departments responded to the scene of a hotel fire in New Buffalo Friday night. The fire broke out around 7 p.m at the Harbor Grand Hotel on West Water Street. The New Buffalo Fire Department told WNDU it appeared lightning struck the roof of the third floor. There were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Water Pollution Laws Poorly Enforced in Communities of Color

Low-income communities of color — like Flint, Michigan or Newark, New Jersey — are much more likely than white, more affluent towns to suffer with polluted water for years, according to a new report. The study, called Watered Down Justice, analyzed EPA data for 200,000 violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Report co-author Kristi Pullen Fedinick of the Natural Resources Defense Council says states are neglecting black and brown communities. ...Read Full Story

Two Wolf Pups At Zoo Die Of Mosquito-Borne Virus

From the Associated Press — Tests confirm two Mexican gray wolf pups at southern Michigan zoo have died of a rare mosquito-borne virus as health officials work to curb the spread of the virus in people and animals. Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek says results received this week confirm the pups that died in early September were killed by Eastern equine encephalitis. Separately, in Kent County, a necropsy revealed that a deer also had it. The state Department of Health and Human Services reports the virus has been
confirmed in humans or animals in at least 12 Michigan counties. Three people in southwestern Michigan have died. People are urged to guard against mosquito bites. The department is encouraging officials in affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or
cancelling outdoor activities including sports occurring at or after dusk until there’s a hard frost. Aerial spraying is being considered.. ...Read Full Story

Flash Flood Watch Issued For Berrien, Cass Counties

A flash flood watch is in effect for Berrien and Cass counties from the National Weather Service office in northern Indiana. Forecasters say widespread rainfall totals of 1.5 to 2″ with locally higher amounts in the watch area are expected throughout the evening. Intense downpours from thunderstorms will allow rain to quickly runoff and cause flash flooding of streets, fields, and lowland areas.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board Leadership Meets With Special Counsel Investigating Potential Conflicts Of Interest

Berrien County Board of Commissioners chairman Mac Elliott says Special Counsel John Dewane will have the freedom to “follow the arrow wherever it points” in his investigation into allegations Commissioner Terri Sue Freehling failed to fully disclose a conflict of interest regarding county drain commission contracts. The appointment of Dewane followed the announcement by Prosecutor Michael Sepic that no criminal charges would be filed against Freehling, noting it would be “too great” a task to prove any criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Public Schools Board VP Mike Welch Passes Away

Lakeshore Public Schools Board of Education vice president Mike Welch has died. Superintendent Philip Freeman says Welch passed after battling a long illness. In a statement, Freeman says the district “will be forever grateful for the leadership, commitment, spirit, and inspiration Mike Welch provided to our schools and community.” Board president Jason Beckrow called Welch a “wonderful board colleague, student champion and consummate exemplar of servant leadership.”. ...Read Full Story

Aerial Spraying To Prevent Mosquito Borne Illness Set For This Weekend

State health officials are going to conduct aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes in high risk areas for Eastern Equine Encephalitis this weekend. The spraying will take place in several southwest Michigan counties, covering a total of about 720,000 acre. This will include parts of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. In a conference call Friday, state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo said they’re targeting areas where there have been EEE cases.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Senior High School Among 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education is out with the list of the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, and New Buffalo Senior High School is among those being honored. It is one of 13 schools in the state and one of just four Michigan high schools to receive the designation. New Buffalo Area Schools superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie tells WSJM News it’s a great honor, but it’s also a refection of the entire district.. ...Read Full Story

Precautions Still Urged Against Mosquito Bites To Prevent EEE

There is a new case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Berrien County, bringing the total of confirmed human cases to two. A deer has also tested positive for EEE according to the Berrien County Health Department. Carrie Brunson is the supervisor for the Elkhart County environmental health division in Indiana and talked to our partners at WSBT about what’s behind the large crop of mosquitoes carrying the disease.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michiganders Have New Favorite Halloween Candy

Michigan has a new favorite Halloween candy. The website candystore.com tracks candy purchases by state, and says Starburst has taken over in Michigan for candy corn, which had been at the top for the past several years. In the state, we bought nearly 120,000 pounds of Starburst in 2018, compared to 106,000 pounds of candy corn and 86,000 pounds of Skittles. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend $2.6 billion on Halloween candy this year, which is unchanged from a year ago. The national favorite? Skittles, followed by Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, Snickers and Starburst making up the top five. Candystore.com notes nearly 25% of all Halloween purchases are now made online, and people spend $25 on average to stock the house for trick-or-treaters… or themselves.. ...Read Full Story

Veteran Walking Around Lake Michigan Arrives In St. Joseph

A Marine Corps veteran who is walking all the way around Lake Michigan to raise money for fighting suicides among veterans is now in southwest Michigan. Travis Snyder arrived in St. Joseph Thursday. He started his journey about a month ago in Manistee, went around the U.P. and Wisconsin, passed through Illinois and Indiana, and then hiked into Michigan this week. He told WSJM News he’s passionate about helping struggling veterans.. ...Read Full Story

County Administrator Calls For State Review

Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf is calling for a state investigation into the conduct of local elected officials. Following the Berrien County Board of Commissioners vote Thursday to appoint a special counsel to look into disclosure and conflict of interest questions among commissioners, Wolf spoke out during public comments. He commended the board for retaining the special counsel to examine the matter following the Berrien County Prosecutor’s investigation into Commissioner Teri Freehling. Then…. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Appoints Special Counsel

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has appointed former Judge John Dewane as a special counsel to look into disclosure and conflict of interest issues surrounding commissioners following a recent investigation into Commissioner Teri Freehling. On Wednesday, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office announced there would be no charges filed out of an investigation regarding Freehling’s late husband renting out equipment to a contractor working on county drain projects. However, on Thursday Board of Commissioners Chair Mac Elliot told WSJM News the former circuit judge will examine the board’s bylaws to see if their disclosure rules should be fortified.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks Work On Drug Prices

Congressman Fred Upton is working with other members of the House to come up with a plan that could lower prescription drug costs. He tells WSJM News House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week issued a plan of her own without seeking input from Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Warrant Issued For Monday Night Benton Harbor Shooting Suspect

A two-count felony warrant is now active for the suspect in a shooting Monday night in the city of Benton Harbor. Public Safety officials say they’ve as yet been unable to find 23-year-old Uriah Beauford, who is believed to be in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, or Kalamazoo. Beauford is accused of shooting a 41-year-old Benton Harbor woman at a home in the 700 block of Vineyard just after 10 p.m. Monday. She was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland, and the last update from police indicated she was in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Wine Distributors Sold To Three Buyers

A long-time southwest Michigan company is changing hands. Paw Paw Wine Distributors is being sold to three buyers after being family-owned since 1943. The first products distributed by the firm were locally made wines from Paw Paw, including St. Julian, and continued to expand to bring in more wines like Kendall Jackson and E&J Gallo along with beer from Heineken and Kalamazoo Brewing Company, which is now Bell’s Brewing. Alliance Beverage of Grand Rapids, Great Lakes Wine and Spirits of Highland Park, and Vintage Wine Company of Roseville are buying the distribution rights to the company’s portfolio of beer and wine. Paw Paw Wine Distributors will continue operating, and says the transition is expected at the end of this year.. ...Read Full Story

One Shot, One Assaulted Overnight In Benton Harbor

A 24-year-old Benton Harbor woman is in stable condition at Spectrum Health Lakeland after being shot at a home in the 800 block of Lavette late Wednesday night around 11:30. Benton Harbor Public Safety detectives say a 27-year-old Benton Harbor man was also assaulted, and he’s been treated and released from the hospital. No information has been released on any suspects in the attack. Detectives are continuing to investigate and they’re asking any witnesses to come forward either by calling the department’s Tipline, Crime Stoppers, or using the Benton Harbor Public Safety app on their phone.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Pushing For Banking Changes For Marijuana Businesses As House Takes Action

Legal marijuana businesses in the 33 states that allow it, including Michigan, are cash-only. That’s because of the federal prohibition on marijuana, which makes it illegal for those establishments to use banks. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has signed on to an effort with 21 other attorneys general from both parties to call for a change in federal law as more states approve at least medicinal marijuana. Action has been taken in the U.S. House, with a 321-103 vote to approve a bill that would grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking.. ...Read Full Story

Vape Shop Sues To Stop State Ban

From the Associated press — The owner of a northern Michigan vape shop is suing to stop Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, contending the emergency rules are illegal and will force him to close his store. Marc Slis, who operates 906 Vapor in Houghton, filed the lawsuit in Houghton County Circuit Court on Wednesday. It is believed to be the first of what could
be several legal challenges against Whitmer’s ban. Stores are supposed to start complying with the ban on October 2. Slis says the emergency rules are invalid, arbitrary and capricious in part because tobacco products – the most prevalent source of nicotine – are
unaffected by the ban. Whitmer has said the e-cigarette industry is using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to target children.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Agency Teams Up With LinkedIn

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has announced a new partnership with job searching social network LinkedIn to help clients find new employment. Unemployment Insurance Agency Deputy Director Kimberly Berry tells WSJM News Michigan is part of a three-state pilot being launched by LinkedIn to have special portals for those who are unemployed and receiving benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Manufacturing Day Set For Next Month

Michigan Works is getting ready for the next Manufacturing Day in Berrien and Van Buren counties, and this year, they’re doing it a little bit differently. Michigan Works Sector Relations Coordinator Erin Venno tells WSJM News for the six previous Manufacturing Days, they took local high school students on tours of manufacturing businesses. This year, they’re taking the manufacturers to the students.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Official Talks Racial Health Disparities

Spectrum Health Lakeland Director of Population Health Lynn Todman is working to help the community understand some of the factors that go into a person’s health outcomes, and a big focus is on race. Todman tells WSJM News her studies at Lakeland have shown major racial disparities when it comes to health in the region. She says part of her job is making sure doctors understand that things like the neighborhood where someone lives determines how healthy they are.. ...Read Full Story

Court Opens Waiting Room For Children Going Through Protective Proceedings

There is a new waiting room just for children at the Berrien County Courthouse as the family division works to create a more welcoming environment. Berrien County Trial Court Family Division Intake Manager Jean Lawrence tells WSJM News an initiative to have more children directly involved in their own child protective proceedings made the waiting area necessary. She says it’s a best practice to have the kids there when their well-being is discussed.. ...Read Full Story

Man Faces Up To Life Following Meth Conviction

A Mishawaka man is facing up to life in prison after being convicted in Cass County of resisting and obstructing a police officer and possession of methamphetamine. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 26-year-old Danzig Weed was stopped by sheriff’s deputies on March 17 after leaving the scene of a vehicle fire in Pokagon Township. Officers held Weed at gunpoint after he moved his hand toward his back pocket and refused to comply with commands to get down on the ground. A search revealed that he had a syringe filled with methamphetamine in his back pocket. His trial this week included the showing of body cam footage from an arresting officer. The jury on Tuesday found Weed guilty on the two charges, but not guilty on a second count of resisting. Weed also has a pending criminal case in Indiana for stealing a vehicle. He faces up to life in prison as a habitual offender with three or more prior felony convictions when he’s sentenced on November 8.. ...Read Full Story

Fest In The Southwest Set For Saturday

Set for this Saturday is an event to raise money for the Cora Lamping Center for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Berrien County. It’s the third annual “Fest in the Southwest” at Watermark Brewing Company in Stevensville. Avenue Family Network board member Ryan Ogle tells WSJM News $20 will get you a beer stein, two drink tokens, and a brat ticket. 95% of the proceeds from the event will go to the safe shelter for survivors of domestic violence. The fundraiser comes as the center is seeking to expand.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven’s Second Lighthouse Keeper To Be Honored This Week

Water Street in South Haven will have an honorary name added to it this week. The city council recently gave the go-ahead to name the street Captain Donahue Drive for Civil War Captain James Donahue. After losing a leg in the war, he was hired as South Haven’s second lighthouse keeper at the age of 32 in 1874. Among the at least 15 lives he’s credited with saving were his two sons, and in some of those rescues, he dove into the water personally to pull someone to safety. The city will hold a ceremony at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the intersection of Water and Kalamazoo streets at the top of the hill to unveil the new signs. Donahue died in 1917 and is buried at South Haven’s Lakeview Cemetery. Friday’s ceremony is open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Special Counsel To Report Back To Berrien County Board In Three Weeks Regarding Conflicts Of Interest Case

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will be conducting its own investigation of potential conflicts of interest by Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling. The commission says in a statement released after Prosecutor Michael Sepic announced no charges would be filed against Freehling that it has retained a Special Counsel to “review the facts of this conflict of interest issue and to advise the Board concerning its appropriate course of action.” A report will be given to the Board within the next three weeks.. ...Read Full Story