Local News Archives

Thornton’s Owner Talks Reasons For Decision To Close

Thornton’s Hometown Café owner Kathy Thornton says there were numerous factors behind her decision to close the restaurant after 20 and a half years, but a shortage of staff was big among them. Thornton told us Thursday it’s just too difficult to find people. Plus, she would like to retire after working her entire adult life. Thornton thought she would bow out while on top. The closure of Thornton’s was announced Thursday. She and her late husband Bob grew up in St. Joseph Hagar Township, respectively. They started Thornton’s Hometown Café after they’d lived elsewhere,  including Chicago, for several years. Kathy says she stayed in Chicago to support the family for a while as Bob got the café on its feet. It took a few years before it was a success, and Kathy says the best thing about running the place has been “meeting so many wonderful people.” Since she announced Thornton’s is closing, her phone has been ringing nonstop, and Kathy tells us “All the love is so much appreciated.” She owns the building, which has been for sale since last fall. Kathy says she plans to stay in the area, while also taking a few vacations away from home. Thornton’s last day will be July 31.. ...Read Full Story

New Veterans Services Director Named For Berrien County

There’s a new director in place at the Berrien County Veterans Services office. Former Director Lee Lull retired last month after 35 years of service to Berrien County. Now the Berrien County Board of Commissioners has appointed the office’s Maureen Adams to the post. She’s worked for the office since 2016 as an assistant veteran’s benefits counselor. As the department head, Adams will be responsible for providing administration, direction, and management to staff, assisting veterans and their family members with obtaining benefits and emergency assistance, and advocating for them at the local, state and federal levels. Adams says, “The work we do can be life-changing for a veteran. It is an honor to have the opportunity to provide that level of service to our community.” Adams will be paid just under $50,000 for the job.. ...Read Full Story

Divers Find Body Of Missing Man In South Haven

The body of a 33-year-old Ohio man who went missing in Lake Michigan off South Haven Wednesday has been found. The South Haven Police Department says divers from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department located Anthony Paul Diehl Thursday afternoon about 50 yards from the South Pier. Diehl went missing in the water Wednesday as he tried to rescue a 7-year-old boy from Texas. The boy drowned and was pronounced dead at Bronson Hospital South Haven. Diehl’s family has been notified of his body’s discovery. Dive teams from South Haven Area Emergency Services, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Great Lakes Search and Rescue began the search for Diehl Thursday morning due to conditions being too dangerous for diving on Wednesday night. South Haven police say the department’s sympathies are with the families.. ...Read Full Story

Thornton’s Hometown Café Closing

Thornton’s Hometown Café in downtown St. Joseph is closing its doors after around 20 years of serving up breakfasts and lunches. Thornton’s owner Kathy Thornton posted to the cafe’s Facebook page Thursday that with “a heavy heart, and much sadness, Thornton’s Hometown Café will close our doors permanently at 2:00 pm, July 31, 2022.” She says it’s been a roller coaster ride, and an exciting one. Thornton says, “Times have changed drastically, both in the restaurant industry, and in our beautiful city.” She goes on to thank employees, “both past and present, for always standing by me.” She thanks her husband, now deceased, for leading the way, and also Thornton’s customers, writing “Your support and kindness has meant so much to me!” Thornton’s has been a breakfast favorite in St. Joseph for decades. Your last chance to catch a meal there will be July 31.. ...Read Full Story

Boy Drowns In South Haven, Search On For Man

A 7-year-old boy is dead and a 33-year-old man is missing after a water rescue in South Haven on Wednesday. The South Haven Police Department says South Haven Area Emergency Services was called to North Beach around 7:30 p.m. on a report of several people struggling in the water of Lake Michigan. When responders arrived, they learned several girls had been pulled out of the water while a 7-year-old boy from Texas and a 33-year-old man from Ohio were still missing. A search began and the boy washed up on shore after a short time. He was pronounced dead at Bronson Hospital South Haven. The 33-year-old man is still missing and presumed drowned.  At the time this all happened, the red flag was flying at North Beach, indicating it was too dangerous to swim, and there were yellow flags farther to the north. Witnesses say lake conditions deteriorated quickly before the incident started. The lake conditions were too dangerous for divers to search in the water for the missing 33-year-old when responders arrived. The search will resume when conditions improve.. ...Read Full Story

Poll Shows Michigan Residents Motivated To Vote In November

Michigan voters are motivated to vote this November. A WDIV-Detroit News poll shows many are motivated to vote because the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. wade. Glengariff Group founder Richard Czuba says incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer is leading all of her Republican challengers. They are Ryan Kelly, Tudor Dixon, Kevin Rinke, Garrett Soldano, and Ralph Rebandt.. ...Read Full Story

Police National Night Out Next Month

The annual police National Night Out event in St. Joseph will be held August 2 at Maiden Lane Community Park. National Night Out, now in its 39th year, is a chance for the public to get to know their local police agencies as officers gather in the park and chat with residents. The August 2 event in St. Joseph Township will include St. Joseph Township, St. Joseph city, and Lincoln Township police and fire agencies. Programs will include a Jaws of Life demonstration, a Med Flight landing, police and fire vehicles, and local emergency response equipment. They’ll also serve up hot dogs, chips, pop, and ice cream. The National Night Out will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Everyone’s invited to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors, and take the whole family over to Maiden Lane Community Park to meet their local first responders.. ...Read Full Story

Residents Unhappy With MDOT Noise Abatement Plan For I-94

There’s a petition being circulated that asks the Michigan Department of Transportation to build a noise abatement wall along the south side of I-94 near the Pinebrook Neighborhood, Maiden Lane Park, and Eaton Park. MDOT is rebuilding I-94 between the Stevensville area and Benton Harbor next year, and as part of the planning, it did a noise study that determined where those walls will be build. MDOT’s Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News there will be a noise wall on the north side of I-94 in that area, but the south side didn’t meet the federal formula requiring them.. ...Read Full Story

Decatur Man Badly Hurt In Motorcycle Accident

A 44-year-old Decatur man is hospitalized at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo with life-threatening injuries after a motorcycle crash early Wednesday morning. Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash on northbound County Road 669 near 33rd Street in Porter Township around 1 a.m. The man was not wearing a helmet, and deputies say speed appears to have been a factor in him losing control. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Township Planning Commission Grants Initial Approval To New Sports Complex

A $5 million outdoor sports complex could be coming to St. Joseph Township after its planning commission approved a special use permit for the project Tuesday night. St. Joseph Youth Sports Foundation President Nichole Schmitt told commissioners the plan is for baseball fields, football fields, a playground, batting cages, a walking trail, a splash pad, and more at Maiden Lane and Hollywood Road. The property is currently used for farming. Schmitt reached out to local football and baseball programs after seeing there aren’t enough places to play.. ...Read Full Story

State Police, Niles Police Department To Host Open House This Month

The Michigan State Police Niles post and the Niles City Police Department are planning an open house for July 31. It will be held at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex on Silverbrook Avenue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. State and Niles police say they’ll showcase some of their specialized services, like the canine unit and bomb squad. There will be food and activities, including dusting for fingerprints, child identification kits, a dunk tank, drunk goggles, and a drunk and drugged driving pedal kart. A classic MSP patrol vehicle will be brought in from Lansing to serve as a historical timepiece for the public. Recruiters from both agencies will be on hand to answer questions from anyone interested in a career in law enforcement as there are currently several trooper vacancies around the state, including at the Niles Post. Everyone’s invited to this month’s open house to learn more about police agencies in Niles.. ...Read Full Story

State House Candidates Discuss Abortion Views

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade now kicks the issue of abortion back to the states, at least until a federal law on abortion is passed. This means the views of state lawmakers on abortion now matter. During last week’s forum with the five candidates for the Michigan House in the 38th District, we asked the three Republicans and two Democrats what they think. Republican Troy Rolling noted he has the endorsement of Right to Life.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Discuss Public Comment Policy

St. Joseph City Commissioners are looking to put some limits on the public comments section of their meetings, potentially saving a whole lot of time. During a meeting Monday, Mayor Laura Goos said public comments at commission meetings now are a sort of free for all with no time limit, and often with commissioners speaking back to commenters. That is unusual as most elected bodies have time limits on comments from members of the public and the elected bodies don’t answer back. Commissioner Lynn Todman noted Monday there was a recent meeting at which one woman took up more than 20 minutes talking. She, and all the other commissioners, agreed each public comment should be limited to three minutes. The question of whether commissioners should engage the commenters was tougher, with Goos noting it feels strange not to talk with them. The commission instructed city staff to draft a form for people to submit requests for commissioners. The new policy does not require a commission vote.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Man Charged In Death Of 18-Month-Old

A 22-year-old Hartford man is facing a charge of homicide in the death of an 18-month old boy. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says on April 23 of 2021, the Hartford Police Department was dispatched to Watervliet Hospital on a report of an 18-month-old baby appearing with trauma due to possible child abuse. The baby lived with his mother and her boyfriend on Elmwood Street in the city of Hartford. He was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo for emergency treatment, but did not survive. Police determined the baby had suffered blunt force trauma injuries and the cause of death was ruled murder. After a lengthy investigation, Jacob Tanner was developed as a suspect and arrested on Monday. Tanner is now charged with homicide and first degree child abuse. He was arraigned and is being held in the Van Buren County Jail without bond.. ...Read Full Story

Jet Skis Stolen In South Haven

South Haven police are looking for a Chevrolet Suburban caught on video stealing two 2022 Kawasaki Jet Skis Sunday just before 6 p.m. from VanDerZee Motorplex. In a Facebook post, they say both Jet Skis are green and have no MC registration decals. The company adds there is no plate on the trailer. They are asking anyone who sees them on the water to call police. The thief may have been staying next door at a hotel.. ...Read Full Story

Four Arrested In Portage For Paw Paw Walmart Robbery

Deputies from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office have arrested four juveniles after a robbery at the Paw Paw Walmart and a chase at speeds of around 110-miles-per-hour on I-94 Monday evening. They first went westbound on Red Arrow Highway to Lawrence, and then got onto I-94 headed east. They were able to avoid stop sticks and then tried to exit at Westnedge Avenue, where they ran a red light and hit another vehicle, causing that driver’s car to catch on fire. Police quickly put out the flames and caught the suspects after they all ran off. The driver of the vehicle, which deputies learned was stolen, was a 14-year-old from Kalamazoo who is also the Walmart robbery suspect. That driver will face several charges, and charges are pending against the others.. ...Read Full Story

Promote the Vote 2022 Ballot Campaign Turns In Petition Signatures

A campaign supporting a ballot proposal that seeks to protect the right to vote in Michigan’s constitution has turned in more than 600,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Promote the Vote 2022 would enshrine voting rights in the constitution by declaring the fundamental right to vote without harassment. Campaign Director Micheal Davis spoke Monday.. ...Read Full Story

House Candidates Talk Surplus Of Federal Funds

How should Michigan use the rest of the federal money that was sent to the state in the form of COVID and infrastructure packages? We asked the five candidates for Michigan House in the new 38th District during a candidate forum last week. Democrat Annie Brown said her top priority is education, and she sees other opportunities for the $7 billion the state is sitting on.. ...Read Full Story

Veggie Van Coming To Berrien Springs

Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Veggie Van will be rolling into Berrien Springs this month. Spectrum says the mobile farmer’s market will offer free, locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables, and nutrition information from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19 at the University Medical Center on US-31 in Berrien Springs. The Veggie Van will hand out the free vegetables drive through style, and those who stop by are asked to stay in their vehicles while someone brings their goods over to them. A total of 100 bags will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The purpose of the Veggie Van is to ensure that fruits and vegetables are available to people who otherwise have limited access. It’s possible thanks to support from Spectrum Health and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids in partnership with Spectrum Health Lakeland and the YMCA of Greater Michiana.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale For United Way This Month

Whirlpool will hold its next appliance sale to benefit the United Way of Southwest Michigan this month. The United Way’s Jennifer Tomshack tells us the company will sell deeply discounted appliances with more than 300 available. Shoppers will be able to find Maytag, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool brand ovens, ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washers and dryers at significant savings. All the appliances are new and come with a one year warranty.. ...Read Full Story

Two Hurt In Motorcycle Crash

Two people are hospitalized at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo after a motorcycle crash in Cass County. The sheriff’s office says 38-year-old Daniel Simpson and his 9-year-old son Aidan were hurt when Daniel lost control on a curve on Morton Street in Wayne Township just after 5:15 p.m. Sunday. Deputies say both were wearing a helmet and alcohol does not appear to be a factor. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Has State’s Lowest Gas Prices

Benton Harbor has the lowest average gas price in the state. Triple-A Michigan says the area is averaging $4.67 to start the week. Statewide, prices are down 14¢ in the past week and 41¢ in the past month to $4.81 a gallon. The average is still $1.63 higher than last year. The highest prices are in Marquette at $5 a gallon, and a 15-gallon fill up will cost on average $72.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Workshop To Explain Michigan Reconnect Program

A workshop on the Michigan Reconnect program will be held at Lake Michigan College this month. LMC Admissions Director Caroline Tubbs tells us a representative of the program will be on hand to answer questions. Michigan Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship program that covers tuition costs of eligible students to attend community college to complete an associate degree or a skill certificate program. Tubbs says there are now multiple ways to overcome financial hurdles to college.. ...Read Full Story

No Injuries After Boat Capsizes In South Haven

Four people escaped injury when their boat sank while entering the Lake Michigan entrance to the Black River channel in South Haven on Saturday. South Haven Area Emergency Service and Van Buren Sheriff Marine Patrol responded to the alarm at 6:55 p.m.
The 30-foot long boat was capsized upon arrival by responders. There were four people in the boat. Three people had been rescued by occupants of another boat and a fourth was pulled from the water by people who witnessed the incident from the pier. No injuries requiring immediate medical attention were reported.
Witnesses reported seeing the boat enter the channel with its occupants feverishly bailing water. An engine had apparently stalled causing the powerless boat to be swamped. Waves on Lake Michigan were reported to be three feet at the time.
The boat was to be recovered by a private salvage company.
. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Water Line Replacements 70% Complete

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says the city of Benton Harbor’s water system has met the requirements of Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule during the most recent six-month sampling period. Test results released Thursday were the third consecutive sampling period to show declines in lead levels, keeping the city just below the federal action level. EGLE says samples taken from faucets throughout the city at 63 homes from January through the end of June were used in the calculations. Lab analysis released by EGLE showed results ranging from no detection of lead to 53 parts per billion. Five samples had more than 15 parts per billion of lead – the federal action level. EGLE says this means the city’s drinking water system is remaining stable while the city accelerates work to replace lead lines. So far, more that 70% of the service line connections in Benton Harbor have been replaced or confirmed to be lead free. ...Read Full Story

Free COVID Tests Available From State

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it’s giving out 300,000 additional COVID-19 tests to Michigan residents through a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation. Department Director of Communicable Disease Joe Coyle tells WSJM News households in eligible zip codes can apply to receive a shipment of five tests. He notes some people do have trouble getting COVID tests.. ...Read Full Story

Tech Upgrades Coming To BH City Commission Chambers

The Benton Harbor City Commission chambers will be getting some technology upgrades following action this past week by the body. Commissioners were considering a $67,000 plan to purchase new equipment like microphones and cameras so meetings can be broadcast remotely to the community in a better way. Right now, the commission broadcasts meetings on YouTube, but viewers can’t see PowerPoint presentations or the audience. During Tuesday’s meeting, there were complaints from some commissioners about federal ARPA funds being used for the upgrades, but Commissioner Juanita Henry said improvements are needed and it’s time to make them happen.. ...Read Full Story