Local News Archives

Detroit Flooding Leads To Class Action Lawsuit

Some water-logged homeowners in the Detroit area say they’re ready to sue. Attorney Ven Johnson is filing a class action lawsuit against local water and sewer authorities due to damage from flooding this past weekend. Johnson told Michigan News Network this week all of it was predictable and avoidable. He expects several homeowners to join the lawsuit, which seeks compensation for the damage.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Starts Extra July 4 Patrols Thursday

There will be extra police patrols out on the road this Fourth of July holiday period as officers look out for drunk and drugged drivers. It’s time once again for a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement effort. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News it’s working with local and state police agencies to watch out for those who are being reckless by driving impaired. He says it’s simply not worth it to drive drunk.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves School Aid Budget

A school aid budget that eliminates a funding gap between districts has been approved by the Michigan Legislature. The $17.1 billion K-12 budget would eliminate a longstanding base per-student funding gap among districts and boost overall funding by 10%. State Representative Mary Whiteford says this is good for her district.. ...Read Full Story

Market Van Buren Holds Business Recognition Awards

The first Market Van Buren Business Recognition Awards were held this week in South Haven. Market Van Buren’s Zach Morris tells WSJM News the event was held to celebrate those businesses that have continued to make the economy grow in the area even during the pandemic. The guest speaker was Brian Calley, former Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and President of the Michigan Small Business Association. He shared the results of a survey done by his group.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Legislature Nears Final OK Of Big K-12 Funds Boost

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are nearing final approval of a $17.1 billion K-12 budget, one that would eliminate a longstanding base per-student funding gap among districts and boost overall funding by a substantial 10%. The bill was advanced by the Senate on a nearly unanimous vote after changes were made Wednesday. The House could soon send the measures to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature. Districts and charter schools would receive $8,700 in base per-student state aid, not including at least $1,093 more per pupil in federal funding from a rescue package signed by President Joe Biden in March.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Awarded Grants For Marina Improvements

The city of New Buffalo is receiving some grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for recreational water projects. The DNR this week announced more than $4 million in grants for recreational boating projects around the state. Two of the 23 grants are for New Buffalo. One grant of $189,000 is going to the city to upgrade the electric system at its marina. The other grant is for $500,000 and is for marina broadside dockage and erosion controls. The DNR’s Jordan Byelich spoke with WSJM News about the grants.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Thrill On The Hill Canceled For This Year

Buchanan’s Thrill on the Hill has been canceled for this summer. The event’s Facebook page says due to the amount of planning needed to hold the event, a decision on whether to hold it had to be made early in the year. At that time, there will still much uncertainty stemming from the pandemic. The event normally features sliding on inner tubes down the big hill downtown. Organizers say they are planning to bring Thrill on the Hill back in 2022. They urge everyone to check out other attractions in downtown Buchanan for the summer, like the farmer’s market, concerts at Buchanan Common, and trails.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Rated As One Of The Best Companies For Multicultural Women

Spectrum Health has been named one of the 2021 Best Companies for Multicultural Women by Seramount, an organization that recognizes companies that create and use best practices in hiring, retaining, and promoting multicultural women in the United States. Spectrum Health is one of three Michigan-based organizations and the only healthcare system in the state to be included on Seramount’s 2021 list. Spectrum Health Chief Human Resources Officer Pam Ries Pam Ries says, “To be honored as one of the best companies for multicultural women is particularly rewarding because the vast majority of health care workers are women.” Spectrum says it has “amplified the importance of diversity in health care within its own workplace, as well as in the clinical setting, providing quality and essential care for increasingly diverse populations.” Spectrum Health says between 2019 and 2020, women employees from multicultural backgrounds increased more than 12%, the number of women from multicultural backgrounds who were senior managers increased by 15%, and more Black, Latinx, and Asian women were promoted.. ...Read Full Story

City Commissioners Discuss Budget

The next budget for the city of Benton Harbor anticipates a shortfall that will require dipping into the fund balance. During a budget hearing Monday night, city finance staff told commissioners with some income tax revenue lost as a result of COVID, the creation of a new Economic and Community Development Department, and increased health insurance expenses, they’re looking at a deficit budget. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said given the last year, he thinks the city is still doing OK.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Seek Legal Help For Those Facing Eviction

Groups advocating for affordable housing in Michigan say systemic fixes are needed to keep people in their homes once the federal moratorium on evictions ends. The Biden administration has extended the moratorium through July 31, but said it would be the last extension. Tonya Myers Phillips with Michigan Legal Services and the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice says social service groups are connecting people with emergency rental assistance, but it won’t be enough.. ...Read Full Story

Boaters Watch Cliff Collapse Along Lake Superior

From the Associated Press — A cliff wall broke away at a national park along Lake Superior in northern Michigan, stunning some boaters who captured it on video. Sandstone and dirt crashed into the lake Saturday at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The park’s cliffs are 50 feet to 200 feet above Lake Superior. Jahn Martin shared video with TV station WLUC. Martin says he could hear the cliff wall “popping and cracking” before the collapse into the lake. No injuries were reported. There was a similar incident in 2019, when kayakers on a tour narrowly escaped injury when a large section of cliff fell into Lake Superior.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Increases Scholarships For 2022

Southwestern Michigan College has boosted scholarships dramatically for next year to make higher education more affordable. SMC offered $880,000 in the 2021 budget, hiking that 62% to $1.4 million for 2022. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells WSJM News by eliminating some college costs made worse by the pandemic, SMC can improve degree attainment and, ultimately, economic prosperity in the area.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph School Board Adopts Strategic Plan

The St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education has approved a new strategic plan for the 2021-2022 school year centered on equity and inclusion for all students. It’s the result of months of work by staff, the administration, families, and the school board. Interim Superintendent Kelly Gaideski says the plan stems out of a “commitment to ensure that every student is cared for emotionally and academically in St. Joseph Public Schools.” This first-year plan is part of a three to five year framework that will continue to be developed under the direction of incoming Superintendent Jenny Fee. It includes five goal areas with commitments under each goal. The goal areas are Data Collection and Analysis, Systems of Support, Framework for Learning, Communication Systems and Business Services, and Partnerships and Projects. School Board President Barry Conybeare says the body is “committed to the vision of removing fences to create equitable, inclusive, and safe learning and working environments for all.” You can see the strategic plan at the website of St. Joseph Public Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet City Manager Gets Contract Extension

Watervliet City Manager Tyler Dotson has received a contract extension from the city commission. The body held a special meeting last week and approved keeping on Dotson for another three years. That will take him through July of 2024. Dodson’s current contract was set to expire next month. He tells us he’s thrilled to be in Watervliet and looks forward to what’s coming next. Dodson says he wants to continue helping local businesses develop and improving the downtown. Before joining the city of Watervliet in 2018, he served on the South Haven Board of Education and worked for the DDA in Blissfield. He was also on Moody on the Market’s 40 Under 40 list last year.. ...Read Full Story

Henry Ford Health System Workers Must Get COVID-19 Vaccine

From the Associated Press — COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for employees at one of Michigan’s largest health care providers. Henry Ford Health System in southeastern Michigan says the policy starts Sept. 10 and covers employees, medical students and contractors. Nearly 70% of 33,000 staff members have been fully vaccinated. President Wright Lassiter III says “safety and infection prevention are everyone’s responsibility.” There will be exemptions for people with medical or religious reasons. Henry Ford Health says employees already are required to get a flu shot every year and stay current with vaccinations for other diseases.. ...Read Full Story

President Biden To Visit Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will welcome President Joe Biden to Michigan on Saturday. The two will visit Traverse City, where they will be marking and celebrating the progress the country has made so far to battle COVID-19. Biden and Whitmer both wanted at least 70% of people to have at least one vaccination shot by the Fourth of July, but will fall short.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Industry In Michigan Earning Big Money

A new study finds Michigan’s marijuana industry did $3.2 billion of business in 2020. The study was done by the Anderson Economic Group for the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association and found there are 400 licensed medical marijuana shops and 300 recreational ones. Almost 20% of Michiganders say they use marijuana, and around 70% of cannabis transactions are outside retail stores.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Caution To Avoid Mosquitoes

With the summer well underway, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is advising everyone to take steps to avoid mosquitoes. It says the first mosquito-borne virus of the year has been found in Bay, Oakland, and Saginaw counties. Mosquitoes there were found to be carrying Jamestown Canyon virus, which can lead to fever, headache, and fatigue. Although there haven’t been any Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases in Michigan yet this year, the findings are reminder to wear insect repellent containing DEET. The state health department also says everyone should wear long pants and sleeves when outdoors and eliminate standing water on their property.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Record Lobbies Opening Back Up

The records lobbies of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will be back open to walk-in service starting next Tuesday. The department says the lobbies provide services that include gun permits, sex offender registration, fingerprinting, and printed copies of police reports. The hours of operation at the Port Street office in St. Joseph will be Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours for the office on Front Street in Niles will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fingerprinting services are not offered at the Niles office. CPL fingerprinting is not available on Mondays at either office.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Of New Loft Development In Benton Harbor Tuesday

The completion of a new commercial and residential development in Benton Harbor will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday. City Center Lofts is located at the corner of Main Street and Pipestone Street in a building that was originally constructed in the 1880s. Partnerships between Cornerstone Alliance, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the City Council of Benton Harbor, and Cressy Commercial Real Estate have now resulted in the rehabilitation of the building and its new lofts. Cornerstone Alliance says the building will serve as a mixed-use space and include two commercial suites and 16 neo-industrial style lofts with exposed ductwork, spiral staircases, and 16-foot ceilings. The lofts range from studio apartments to one-bedroom apartments with an office. Cressy Commercial Real Estate’s Chris Fielding says, “The completion of this catalytic project serves as a great example of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors partner to accomplish a common goal.”. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Gets Donation For Innovation Center

A donation of $2.8 million has been made to Andrews University so it can establish a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The legacy donation comes from the family of Dr. Fay Bradley, a Pittsburg State law school graduate, physician, and philanthropist who died early this year. Andrews University President Andrea Luxton says during his life, Bradley helped many students gain an education, and helped the college in his community establish an innovation center. The new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Andrews University will be intended to provide a place for students to pursue projects and research. Andrews says it will be useful for students in just about all fields. Andrews School of Business Administration Dean Ralph Trecartin says the university envisions “new product developments, new businesses launched, new ministries created, and new social innovations that benefit an array of organizations.”. ...Read Full Story

Offices After COVID: Wider Hallways, Fewer Desks

From the Associated Press — Many companies are rethinking their office space in COVID’s wake and making changes to help employees feel more comfortable about returning in person. Food and pharmaceutical company Ajinomoto overhauled the plan for its new North American headquarters last year because of the coronavirus, and now it has wider hallways and glass panels that separate
cubicles. Steelcase, a Michigan-based office furniture maker, found that employees wanted to reconnect, so it built more cozy meeting spaces. Designers say companies should treat this as an experimental year and consider what their workers need, both for in-person and hybrid work.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Dealing With Sewer Overflows

South Haven is dealing with sewer overflows. The Golf Course Lift Station had to discharge raw wastewater intermittently starting at 8 a.m. Friday and ending at 12:30 a.m. Sunday due to the rain. About 10,000 gallons went into the Black River. Starting Saturday at 9 p.m. and ending approximately 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the South Haven Area Water Sewer Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant discharged partially treated wastewater to the Black River in the amount of roughly 100,000 gallons. The sewer system overflows are directly related to the inflow and infiltration of surface water into the collection system.. ...Read Full Story

Jack Nicklaus Coming To LMC Fundraiser This Summer

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus and Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson will return to Benton Harbor for a special scholarship fundraiser event supporting Lake Michigan College students this summer. “Lake Michigan College Legends Scholarship Fundraiser with Jack Nicklaus and Ken Harrelson” will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, August 8 at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. The event will feature a conversation with Nicklaus and Harrelson, followed by a Q&A session. LMC Advancement and Community Impact Vice President Doug Schaffer says the college is “excited and honored to bring these world-renowned celebrity sports figures together for a great cause and what is sure to be a fun and entertaining evening.” Tickets to the fundraiser are $75, and you can find out more at LakeMichiganCollege.edu/Legends.. ...Read Full Story

Grant Will Help For Palisades Closure

A grant of nearly $1 million will be used to create an economic plan ahead of the closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant next year. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the $969,000 grant was announced by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration last week.. ...Read Full Story

City Issues Reminder About Fireworks Rules

The city of South Haven is reminding residents of the rules for fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches. It says the law allows Michigan residents to only use “consumer fireworks,” or things like firecrackers, bottle rockets, or Roman candles. They may only be used certain times of the year. Those are on December 31 between 11 a.m. and 1 a.m. on January 1; from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day; from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. from June 29 through July 4; and from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday ahead of Labor Day. The city of South Haven says it’s illegal to use fireworks on public or private property without the permission of the owner. That includes in parks. Fireworks violations can carry a fine of up to $1,000.. ...Read Full Story

NEW: Cass Co Fire Wire

Want to be informed of what type of fire calls Cass County fire departments are on?

Come join CASS COUNTY FIRE WIRE Facebook page. The newest way to find out what’s going on on a daily basis. Besides hearing it on scanners apps & the news. Come and join this fast growing Fire family group. Almost 550 new members within the last month. Also be informed of fire prevention & fire related news & happenings. Feel free to contribute, share, invite friends & ask questions. Please support your local Volunteer Fire Departments & Firefighters. Like myself who proudly serve on Howard Twp Fire. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Board Holds Organizational Meeting

Dashuna Robinson is the new president of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. The body held its first meeting of the year on Tuesday of this past week, selecting its officers for 2021. Robinson started serving on the board in February of last year and now replaces former Trustee Joseph Taylor as the leader of the body. The vote for Robinson was unanimous.. ...Read Full Story

Chamber President: Delay Of Return To Indoor Dining A Blow To Restaurants

Southwest Michigan restaurants are not confident the state will really let them reopen indoor dining on February 1. That’s according to Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber President Arthur Havlicek, who tells WSJM News the chamber’s phone started ringing off the hook when the governor and head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced this week the indoor dining ban was being extended again. Havlicek says restaurants are hurting.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Give Out Spirit of MLK Spotlights Monday

Lynn Todman, Jada Willis, and the Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan will all receive Spirit of MLK Spotlights this coming week from Lake Michigan College. LMC says the Spirit of MLK Spotlights are designed to shine a light on an individual, organization, and student “who embodies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit of brotherhood, sisterhood and love through their direct action throughout the community.” The Spotlights going out on Monday are the first the college has awarded. Todman is the vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health Lakeland, Willis is Miss Benton Harbor 2020, and the Race Relations Council was founded in 1998 to bring together individuals from different racial groups. The Spotlights will be presented Monday morning during the LMC MLK Celebration Week Kickoff.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Art Center Reopens

The Krasl Art Center has reopened after it shut down in November over concerns about COVID-19. Krasl Director Julia Gourley Donohue tells WSJM News they feel the situation in Berrien County has improved enough to welcome people back.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Fab Lab Holding Summer Camps, Workshops

Lake Michigan College’s Fab Lab is up and running for the summer. LMC says it’s offering several summer camps and workshops for kids and adults at the lab. There will be digital art camps featuring laser engravers, 3D printing, and more. You can also us the Fab Lab’s laser cutters and sewing machines to make your own masks and other PPE, there will be sessions related to video games, and courses on YouTube content creation. The Fab Lab is Lake Michigan College’s maker space. Information on all of the programs they’re offering there this summer can be found on LMC’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Bringing Trash Collection In-House

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have opted to bring trash collection in-house. After years of problems with contracted trash collecting services, the idea of bringing the entire thing in-house was floated at a meeting last month. During a Monday virtual meeting, the city commission formally approved the idea. Commissioner Ron Singleton was part of the study that determined the move is feasible.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Seeking Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is teaming up with Wonder Woman, sort of, to get more people to donate blood this summer. The Red Cross says blood donations are down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s an urgent need to get more people to give. As a special thank you, those who give blood in July will automatically be entered for a chance to win a Wonder Woman 1984 movie prop replica package. Plus, those who give between now and this Wednesday will receive a Wonder Woman 1984 T-shirt, while the supplies last. Wonder Woman 1984 was supposed to be released into theaters in June, but got delayed through October due to the pandemic. The Red Cross says there will be several blood drives in southwest Michigan in the coming month.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Crowded Lake Party In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking at possible charges that could be filed over a Fourth of July party on the Diamond Lake sandbar that attracted hundreds of people who made little effort to social distance. A video of the Independence Day bash has more than 10 million views on social media. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says it has never been in support of the sandbar party because of problems with partiers cutting through private property to reach it. Prior to this year’s event, the department says it reached out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ask about controlling it with a permitting process, but was told the DNR “did not see the need for a permit for the sandbar event.” The sheriff’s office also reached out to the party’s organizers and was told steps would be taken to enforce social distancing. The department writes, “The sheriff’s department cannot keep events like this from happening on the lake” and that it never worked in conjunction with the organizers. It’s now investigating, and says the “Cass County Prosecutor will be forwarded any and all possible criminal charges involved to be reviewed.”. ...Read Full Story