Local News Archives

Property Auction Book Available

The latest book of foreclosed properties set to be auctioned off by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office is now available. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the new book has 183 properties, of which 181 were foreclosed this year. He tells us they run the gamut. Someone looking to buy has a variety of options.. ...Read Full Story

Board Salutes Outgoing Trustee

Retiring Lake Michigan College Trustee Judy Truesdell has been saluted for her years of service by the LMC Board of Trustees. At a meeting this week, the board sent Truesdell off with a resolution commending and thanking her for her work on behalf of the college. She’s served since 1997, and told us LMC has grown quite a bit in that time.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Seeking Motorcycle Instructors

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials are looking for accomplished motorcyclists who could teach others to ride.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says safety class instructors play essential roles in the Michigan Rider Education Program.
Johnson says motorcycling is a complex skill requiring good judgment and information on the road to assess risks and react appropriately. The pay rate for “ridercoaches” ranges from $24 to $35 per hour, depending on location. Applicants must be experience motorcyclists who enjoy working with people and have good riding and communication skills. The fee for a ridercoach prep course is $75 and includes required materials. Candidates spend about 80 hours in the classroom and on the riding range. Nearly 11,500 people enrolled in a Michigan motorcycle safety class last year. More information is available online .. ...Read Full Story

SCOTUS Overturns Decades-Old Michigan Union Dues Ruling

The US Supreme Court says government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a serious financial blow to organized labor. The justices are scrapping a 41-year-old decision in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join. Illinois state worker Mark Janus sued to overturn the decades-old ruling, saying his $45 a month fee to AFSCME violated his First Amendment rights under the constitution.. ...Read Full Story

Pop-Up Kids Museum In South Haven

A temporary kids museum is coming to South Haven. Set to be open from July 1 through September 3 is the non-profit Forever Curious Children’s Museum. It will be located in a storefront on Phoenix Street, and will feature everything from sand and water tables to a cardboard construction zone to giant blocks to a tinker table and a STEAM exhibit. The museum will also have family activities. The museum says the idea is to provide a way for educational fun in the busy summer months. All of the exhibits will be approved by former educators to ensure they complement the current Core and STEAM school curriculum. Opening day for the pop-up Forever Curious Children’s Museum will be this Sunday with a kick-off party, and then the place will be open each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

FBI To Add Name To 10 Most Wanted Fugitives In Benton Harbor

A new name will be added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List” later this morning in Benton Harbor. The bureau, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michigan State Police, Benton Harbor Public Safety, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will be announcing the addition of a new person to the list, but no indication has come about who it might be. However, federal and local authorities have been trying to find 40-year-old Antwan “Tank” Mims for a double murder in Benton Harbor since March. He was initially believed to have taken off to Indianapolis after the crime and the FBI says he also has ties to Georgia and Tennessee. WSJM News will have more on this story this afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Pipestone Twp Man Badly Injured By Own Pit Bull

A 61-year-old Pipestone Township man is in bad shape after being attacked by his pit bull. Michigan State Police were called to the home in the 63-hundred block of Pipestone Road at 6:30 Tuesday night on a report of a dog attack. They found the man “severely injured” on the floor with the dog still biting his arms. The trooper shot the dog when it turned on him, and the dog’s owner was rushed to Lakeland Hospital for treatment. There is no word on his condition as yet. State police tell WSJM News the man was in shock from blood loss and had several deep cuts to both arms from the bites.. ...Read Full Story

Art Fair This Weekend

One of the highlights of summer in Michigan’s Great Southwest is the South Haven Art Fair, and it’s coming up soon. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Art Fair which brings a blend of talent that includes works in acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel and more. The setting is Stanley Johnston Park this Saturday and Sunday, and the fair has attracted as many as 120 local and regional artists, along with thousands of guests. Stanley Johnston Park is a short walk from Lake Michigan and admission to the Art Fair is free.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation For LMC President

High marks for Lake Michigan College President Trevor Kubatzke. At a Tuesday meeting, the LMC Board of Trustees gave Kubatzke a positive performance evaluation. President Michael Lindley told WSJM News since Kubatzke came on in April of last year, he’s proven to be a strong leader.. ...Read Full Story

High School To Help Fight Cancer

The St. Joseph High School football team is going to team up to fight cancer this year, and there are ways you can help. The Team Up Against Cancer campaign’s Regina Ciaravino tells WSJM News the Bears will use a September 24 game to raise money for the Marie Yeager Cancer Center and Berrien County Cancer Services.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Suspect Caught

Police have caught a murder suspect out of Van Buren County who had been on the run since last week. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us 38-year-old Troy Lee Taylor was arrested Tuesday afternoon. Investigators received a tip about his location. Police had been looking for Taylor since last Thursday when the body of 40-year-old Timothy Henley of Kalamazoo was found at a home in Gobles. It’s alleged Taylor shot and killed Henley. Prosecutors have issued a warrant for Taylor on charges of for open murder and felony firearm.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines MI Gerrymandering

How big of a problem is gerrymandering in Michigan? According to a new report from the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, it’s a significant one. “Quantifying The Level of Gerrymandering In Michigan” finds the practice goes back to the 1800s as politicians drew districts in order to benefit their own parties. Research Associate Jordon Newton tells WSJM News one way to quantify gerrymandering is to look at the “efficiency gap,” which measures what percentage of votes in district are wasted.. ...Read Full Story

Helping Foster Kids Pay For College

When kids age out of foster care in Michigan, what do they do if they want to go to college? Fundraising efforts have been underway for the past several years through Fostering Futures to raise scholarship money for those who have aged out of foster care. Robin Lott is the executive director of the Michigan Education Trust and says 70% of kids who age out of foster care nationwide want to attend college.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor Appeals Resentencing

The re-sentencing of a man convicted of second degree murder in Berrien County nearly 40 years ago is being appealed by Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic. Michael Johnson was 17 when he pleaded guilty to the murder charge in the death of 16-year-old Sue Ellen Machemer. The two were classmates at Lakeshore High School. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison in 1980. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down life without parole sentences for juveniles prompted Judge John Donahue last month to order a re-sentencing for Johnson, but Prosecutor Sepic says that ruling didn’t apply to Johnson’s case. He’s appealing to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Sepic writes the “reason this is important to other cases is that the natural extension of Judge Donahue’s decision is that any 17 year old — an adult for criminal law purposes in Michigan — convicted of any crime would have to be sentenced” using factors related to the Supreme Court case. He says “That is not what the United States Supreme Court requires.”. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Water Warning

From the Associated Press — It’s summer, but don’t be fooled — the Great Lakes are still dangerously cold. The U.S. Coast Guard says water temperatures below 77 degrees can quickly cause hypothermia for someone who falls from a boat. All five of the lakes are well below that mark. A sudden plunge into cold water can trigger a gasp reflex leading to inhalation of water and drowning. In addition to wearing life jackets, the Coast Guard says mariners should dress according to the temperature of the water, not the air. They also should file a float plan or at least inform others about where they’re going and when they expect to return.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Slam Travel Ban Decision

Reaction is pouring in to the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban targeting mostly Muslim nations. Bill O’Keefe with Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore tells the Michigan News Network the decision is a ruling on the legality of the ban, but not on its morality.. ...Read Full Story

Clements Officially Off 6th District Ballot

Paul Clements will not be on the primary ballot next month when voters choose which Democrat will face Congressman Fred Upton in November. Clements has lost his legal challenges to state elections officials ruling he was nine signatures shy of the 1,000 needed to be on the ballot. The issue was voters signing nominating petitions but not clearly indicating if they lived in the city or the township in areas where the same name is shared, like Kalamazoo and St. Joseph. The Western Michigan University professor was the Democratic nominee in the 6th Congressional District in 2014 and 2016 and has endorsed the candidacy of Dr. Matt Longjohn ahead of the August primary.. ...Read Full Story

West MI Photo Contest

A photo contest is being held by the West Michigan Tourist Association as it prepares to put together its 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. The association tells us it wants photos that depict the beauty of the region from all west Michigan residents. The photos can be of everything from Harbor Country to the Upper Peninsula. The first place winner will have their submission featured on the cover of the 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. They’ll also get a free trip to Grand Rapids and other goodies. Second and third place will get their photos featured on the inside of the travel guide, and some tickets to attractions in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. You can find our more about the photo contest right here.. ...Read Full Story

New Apprenticeship Program

The new Michigan Apprenticeships Experience Sooner campaign kicked off Monday in Kalamazoo. Stephanie Beckhorn is the director of the Michigan Workforce Development Agency. She tells us the program is a collaboration between the state, education institutions, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Blasts Proos Utility Bill

A second local governmental unit is on record opposing a bill from state Senator John Proos to exempt utilities from paying personal property taxes on new equipment, including transmission lines and power generation devices like solar farms and windmills. The St. Joseph City Commission last night joined the Berrien County Commission in saying they don’t want the bill passed. Mayor Mike Garey says as it stands, the city will lose over $100,000.. ...Read Full Story

Police K9 Gets Vest

A K9 with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has received a donation of body armor thanks to a non-profit group. Vested Interest Incorporated, which works to provide bullet and stab protective vests to police dogs across the country, has sent K9 Luca a vest of his own. Since 2009, Vested Interest has provided more than 3,000 protective vests to K9s around the United States. It’s able to do so thanks to donors. The charity notes the cost to sponsor a vest for a police dog is $950, while each vest has a value between $1,700 and $2,200. Luca is partnered with Allegan County Deputy Ryan Rewa, and they’ve been working together for almost a year. The sheriff’s department tells us Luca is trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and handler protection.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks For Superintendent

St. Joseph Public School Trustees are pleased with district Superintendent Ann Cardon. At a Monday meeting, the board of education approved Cardon’s annual performance evaluation and extended her contract through June 30, 2021. Board President Amy Porritt Peirce told WSJM News Cardon has been rated “highly effective” for the sixth year in a row.. ...Read Full Story

County Park Expanding

Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center is expanding. At their most recent meeting, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners approved putting up a match for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant approved by the governor last year. The trust fund will provide Berrien County with $56,000 to buy 12 acres of property adjacent to Love Creek County Park on its northwest edge. The county’s contribution is $19,000. The Berrien County Parks Department tells us the total $75,000 acquisition from the Higgins family will allow for expanded skiing, hiking, and biking trails. Parks Director Brian Bailey has also told us the new land has a pond, creating educational opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

$185,000 In Scholarships

$185,000 in scholarships will be handed out by the Berrien Community Foundation in the 2018-2019 academic year. The foundation announced the scholarship recipients at a reception last week. Foundation Program Manager Susan Matheny tells WSJM News the scholarships managed by the organization are all possible due to endowments set up by individuals, non-profits, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Farm Reaches Settlement With Migrants

From the Associated Press — Lawyers for 330 migrant workers and a western Michigan blueberry farm have agreed to settle a lawsuit over pay. A federal judge is holding a hearing Wednesday. Each worker is likely to get at least $300. Payments could be higher if people can’t be found and money is leftover. Blue Star Farms in Allegan County was accused of failing to keep accurate
records and failing to fully pay workers during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. The farm denied the allegations but agreed to settle the lawsuit. The money would be paid over a few years because the farm can’t immediately afford to foot the bill. The total settlement is valued at $200,000. Lawyers for the workers would get up to $66,000.. ...Read Full Story

Increased Summer Travel

It could be a record summer travel season in west Michigan through the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. That’s after it was the busiest May ever with travel up 11.5%. Spokesperson  Tara Hernandez spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

Women Safe After Water Rescue In Niles Twp

Three women are safely back on land after a water rescue in the Dowagiac Creek by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office. They were not in life jackets when their inner tube flipped over as they were floating along in Niles Township just after 6 p.m. Sunday. Two of them were able to swim to shore, but struggled doing so, while the third grabbed onto a tree over the river and waited for help. Deputies say they worked with local and state police and fire units on the water rescue and are reminding people to always have a life jacket when you’re on the water. The creek had a steady current and was high due to recent rains.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Take Big Tumble

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide have fallen about 13¢ in the past week to about $2.90 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline is about 53¢ more than at the same point last year. Michigan’s lowest average price was $2.75 in the Traverse City area. The highest was $2.99 in the Ann Arbor area. AAA says it’s the eighth week in a row that the Ann Arbor area has had the highest average. In the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area, we’re at $2.85, down 16¢ from last week. South Haven prices range from $2.77 to $2.82 according to GasBuddy, but those prices are not included in Triple-A’s survey.. ...Read Full Story