Local News Archives

Anti-Prevailing Wage Group May Be Short On Signatures Again

From the Associated Press — A group pushing to repeal Michigan’s law that requires higher “prevailing” wages on state-financed construction projects may be short signatures – again. The state elections bureau said Tuesday that of 535 signatures sampled, 370
are valid. That’s shy of the 373 required by a statistical model. Officials will next pull a larger sample of 4,000 signatures to review.
A ballot committee backed by the nonunion Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan says it turned in more than 380,000 signatures for the veto-proof legislation. About 252,000 signatures must be valid. The group’s previous repeal push in 2015 faltered due to invalid signatures gathered by paid circulators. The group’s leader, Jeff Wiggins, says the initial sample shows there are 10,000 more signatures than needed and he’s confident the number will grow.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Men Busted For Breaking-And-Entering

Two Indiana men are in the Cass County Jail awaiting breaking and entering charges. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News they were called out to help Silver Creek Township police for a possible burglary in progress in the 31-thousand block of Magician Lake Terrace. Police had noticed a suspicious vehicle and a house that had been broken into around 2:30 this morning, and the sheriff’s department called for K9 officer Faust to track the two. They were hiding in the nearby woods. One man is 26 and from Michigan City, while the other is 29 and from Elkhart. Their names are being withheld until they’re arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

Man Rescued From St. Joseph River

A man is hospitalized after falling on the ice under the Bi-Centennial Bridge on Main Street overnight between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard had to go into the water in cold water ice rescue suits to help rescue the man. The St. Joseph Firefighters Local 1670 says on Facebook the incident happened overnight, but no details have been released as to how the man got onto the ice on the St. Joseph River to begin with. The Coast Guard used a stokes basket to bring the man to shore, and Medic 1 rushed him to the hospital. There’s no word on his condition.. ...Read Full Story

Small Waterway Cleanup Grants Available To MI Communities

From the Associated Press — Officials plan to divide $25,000 into small grants to support local river, stream and creek cleanups in Michigan. The state Department of Environmental Quality and Great Lakes Commission are offering the grants to local governments, which can partner with nonprofit groups or other volunteers to do the work. Local recipients must match at least 25 percent of the funding.
Michigan’s Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program is supported by fees from the sale of specialty water quality protection license plates. The deadline to apply for the grants is Feb. 20. The grant application package is available online. Decisions are expected in early May.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Now Available

Applications for the Heart of Cook grants are now available. The Berrien Community Foundation tells us Heart of Cook is a program funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook nuclear plant to help non-profit programs in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana. Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for Heart of Cook. The grant review committee, comprised of Cook plant employees, gives special consideration to projects that involve I&M staff. The program is administered by the Berrien Community Foundation, and applications are available at its website. The deadline to apply is February 9. Last year, the Heart of Cook program gave out more than $52,000 to 36 non-profits. You can find the webpage to apply right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Optimistic On DACA Replacement

A replacement for the federal DACA program could be coming by the end of the month. That’s according to Congressman Fred Upton, who tells WSJM News a meeting this week on immigration reform with President Trump was promising. Upton says most are on the same page when it comes to helping out the young dreamers in the DACA program.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Aims To Reduce Wrong-Way Crashes On Highways

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police are teaming up to reduce the number of people who drive onto the wrong ramp and cause high speed head-on crashes that usually result in fatalities. MDOT Traffic Safety Engineer Josh Carey tells us they will be improving signage on ramps, installing cameras that will detect wrong way drivers earlier and posting alerts on highway information signs.. ...Read Full Story

January Is School Board Recognition Month

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers is calling on everyone to salute their school board. Ivers tells WSJM News school board members put in countless hours of work attending meetings and training just so they can help ensure the children of their community receive a quality education.. ...Read Full Story

Seats Named President Of BH School Board

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education starts off a new year with a new president. Marletta Seats was picked for the post at the board’s re-organizational meeting Tuesday. Seats told WSJM News the new board leadership aims to continue following the district’s partnership agreement with the state.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Court To Celebrate Swift And Sure Graduations This Week

The Van Buren County Trial Court is set to graduate eight enrollees from the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program this Thursday. Van Buren County Specialty Courts Administrator Rachel Lindley tells WSJM News Swift and Sure is a way to help an offender avoid jail time while turning their life around through intense probation. She notes going through the program can be tough.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Works Reduces Energy Consumption

The St. Joseph Department of Public Works has been able to save thousands of dollars in recent years thanks to work done to increase energy efficiency. Public Works Director Tom MacDonald told city commissioners this week the department has switched to LED lighting and fixed problems with its heating system. That’s led to more than $4,000 in rebates from AEP and Michigan Gas. He tells WSJM  News commissioners voted to allow the work a few years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Sees December Jump In Flu Cases

The explosion in flu cases reported in some parts of the United States this winter hasn’t quite come to Michigan, although flue cases have been up. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News there was a jump in local flu cases toward the end of December. Still, the state is still doing better than many others.. ...Read Full Story

BH Police Identify Weekend Murder Victim

Police have identified the victim of a weekend murder in Benton Harbor. Public Safety Chief Dan McGimnnis tells WSJM News 38-year-old Novena P. Mathis of Benton Harbor was found dead in her car on at Hayward Wells Apartments on Sunday. The suspect, 38-year-old William “Coonie” Edwards of Benton Harbor, was quickly identified and arrested in Kalamazoo later. A warrant for open murder and some gun charges has been authorized against him, and he’s still being held in Kalamazoo County. McGinnis tells us Mathis and Edwards had been in a relationship for about 20 years and shared two children. He adds there was a history of domestic violence in the relationship. An autopsy performed on Mathis Tuesday confirmed the cause of death as a gunshot.. ...Read Full Story

Edwardsburg Woman Killed In Crash

A 40-year-old Edwardsburg woman is dead after crashing her vehicle into a tree in Jefferson Township in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News Jennifer Johnson was killed just before 7 last night in the crash on Calvin Hill Street near North Shore Drive. Investigators say she lost control of the car on an icy road and was the only one in the vehicle. Johnson had not been drinking, and was wearing her seat belt. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Judge: Lawmakers Can Be Questioned About Straight-Party Voting Ban

From the Associated Press — A federal judge says some Michigan lawmakers must sit for interviews about a law that bans straight-party voting. The questions will be limited to what they might have said about their motives to people outside their offices. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub says communications between lawmakers and their staff are protected. The depositions are part of a lawsuit. Straight-party voting means making a single mark on a ballot to pick candidates of one party. Critics of the ban say it violates the rights of black voters in urban areas who typically vote for Democrats. A judge suspended the law in 2016, but the litigation is ongoing. Majzoub’s decision affects Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, Senator Marty Knollenberg, Sen. David Robertson, Rep. Michael McCready, and former Rep. Lisa
Lyons.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Moves To Boost Personal State Tax Exemption

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is proposing legislation so taxpayers can continue claiming Michigan’s personal exemption in the wake of the federal tax overhaul, and also is calling for a large state exemption increase. The plan was first unveiled Monday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who is running for governor. The administration has warned that state taxes will rise if nothing is done. Calley tells The Associated Press that while 98% of the potential tax increase is because of how Michigan’s exemptions are linked to the U.S. tax code, Michigan’s personal exemption should be raised to address other issues such as the elimination of deductions for moving expenses. Calley says the “simplest, most fair answer” to protect people is to increase Michigan’s $4,000 personal exemption to $4,500 by 2021.. ...Read Full Story

Minimum Wage Push Continues In 2018

Michigan rang in 2018 with a 35 cent hike to the minimum wage, but some say that doesn’t go far enough and want voters to have the final word. This week marked the last of three scheduled increases under a law passed in 2014, taking the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour. The group Michigan One Fair Wage is circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot to raise it to $12 an hour by 2022. Alicia Renee Farris chairs the campaign and tells us the state’s lowest earners still need more money.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Showing Off New Tech This Week

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show underway in Las Vegas this week, Whirlpool is showing off some new tech. The appliance maker tells us it’s using the event to showcase its Apple Watch and Honeywell thermometer compatibility. Whirlpool says starting this year, its smart and connected appliances will be controllable with the Apple Watch. You can also use the wrist device to check the status of an appliance. That’s including ovens, washers, and dryers. Additionally, this year Whirlpool is rolling out a new collaboration with Honeywell that will enable customers to connect smart appliances to Honeywell’s line of connected thermostats. That means remote management of their appliance operating modes and energy outputs. Whirlpool Vice President of Brand and Strategy in North America Brett Dibkey says the company’s “consumers are sophisticated and expect their appliances to work smarter, not harder.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Woman Wins $1 Million In Lottery

A Berrien County woman is the latest big-time lottery winner in Michigan. The Michigan lottery tells us the 65-year-old has chosen to remain anonymous after she won $1 million from a scratch-off last week. She picked up her prize money on Friday, opting to take a lump sum payment of $634,500 instead of a 30 year annuity. The woman bought her winning Triple Millions instant ticket at the Exit 76 Auto Truck Plaza in Byron Center. She told the Michigan Lotto she’s been playing lottery games for years and still can’t believe she really won. She plans to pay bills, donate to her church, buy a brand new car, and then save the remainder of the money.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Woman Found Dead In Benton Harbor

A woman who was reported missing in Benton Harbor over the weekend has been found dead, and police suspect foul play. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us a young woman was reported by family as missing on Sunday. Police later found her vehicle and body outside the Hayward Wells apartment complex in Benton Harbor. A suspect was quickly identified, and he was later arrested in Kalamazoo on unrelated charges. A warrant request is pending in Berrien County for open murder, and an autopsy is planned on the victim for Tuesday. Police have not released the victim’s name.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Gas Price Average Falls 6¢

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have declined by about 6¢ per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.63 per gallon. Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.55 per gallon in the Bay City, Midland and Saginaw areas. The highest was about $2.66 per gallon in the Jackson area. We’re at $2.64 in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area, down 5¢ in the past week.. ...Read Full Story

One Hurt In Snowmobile Vs Vehicle Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash between a snowmobile and a car in Silver Creek Township. The sled was piloted by Joseph Vantuyle of Dowagiac, who didn’t yield at a snowmobile crossing to the vehicle driven by a San Antonio man. Vantuyle was taken to Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac to be treated for minor injuries. Deputies tell WSJM News that helmets and seat belts were worn, and alcohol isn’t believed to have been involved. The crash happened around 5 p.m. Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Tickets On Sale For Humane Society Fundraiser

On sale now are tickets to one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven. The organization’s Jennifer Nuernberg tells WSJM News the bi-annual Fur Ball fundraiser will be in late February, but you’ll want to reserve your spot now. They’ll be pitting some top chefs from South Haven against each other in a competition.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds Preparing For New Casino Opening

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi has announced the opening date for its new Four Winds Casino. The new one in South Bend will open to the public on Tuesday, January 16 at 4 p.m. The casino is located on 166 acres of tribal trust land and will be the first casino in Indiana owned and operated by a Native American tribe. It’s the latest addition to the Pokagon Four Wind brand, with the other locations being in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac. The tribe tells us Four Winds South Bend will have 175,000 square feet and 1,800 games, four restaurants, a players lounge, a coffee shop, three bars, a retail outlet, and about 4,500 parking spaces. When complete, the casino will employ about 1,200 people. John Warren, Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, says the new location will “generate revenue to fund services and programs that will create additional economic opportunities for Pokagon Citizens, the city of South Bend, and also fund community projects, local organizations and schools.”. ...Read Full Story

Bill Aims To Prevent Rapists From Getting Partial Custody Of Children

State Senator John Proos is praising legislation now headed for a vote of the full Senate designed to prevent an individual convicted of rape from getting custody of a child born as a result of that crime. He tells us there’s currently a loophole that can give a rapist partial custody when a mother applies for welfare assistance through the Family Independence Program. That’s because the mother has to disclose paternity of her child when applying.. ...Read Full Story

Tickets On Sale For SJ Beer Fest

Tickets are now on sale for the next St. Joseph Winter Beer Festival. St. Joe Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News 16 local and regional breweries will be on hand offering samples. The event isn’t until January 27, but tickets are limited, and they may go fast.. ...Read Full Story

Muhammad To Deliver State Of The City Address

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad is planning to deliver a State of the City address. The mayor announced this week he’ll be discussing Benton Harbor as it is heading into its first year of total local control after a long period of state intervention while previewing goals for the future. Muhammad’s State of the City speech will be at the Benton Harbor Public Library on Tuesday, January 23 at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to come and listen.. ...Read Full Story

BH Police To Get New Radios

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety will be getting some new radios. City Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of 22 police radios at a cost of $31,500. A $25,000 grant pays for most of it, with Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis telling commissioners the extra money makes these replacements a lot easier.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Reviews 2017

Congressman Fred Upton is maintaining that much was accomplished in Washington throughout 2017. His office has released a 2017 year in review report, which can be found on its website. Upton says, “2017 was a transformational year but my focus never wavered from local initiatives such as helping constituents with problems big and small, and on bipartisan policies that create jobs and improve our economy.” He then predicts both parties can work together throughout 2018 to solve problems everyone cares about. Among accomplishments Upton wants to highlight for last year are helping South Haven’s Jim McCloughan get a Medal of Honor, his role with the Fuel Economy Harmonization Act, a plan that’s designed to reduce manufacturing costs for cars, and the FDA Reauthorization Act. You can see Upton’s report right here.. ...Read Full Story

Eagle Injured In Indiana Finds New Home At Detroit Zoo

From the Associated Press — A bald eagle that was injured in southern Indiana has a new home at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. The Detroit Zoological Society says Thursday that the eagle named Mr. America could not be released back into the wild because one of its wings had to be amputated after the bird possibly flew into a power line. A licensed rehabber in Vincennes, Indiana, cared for the eagle. It arrived at
the zoo in mid-November and has been recovering from its injury. Mr. America is believed to be between 5 and 6 years old. He joins another rescued bald eagle, Flash, at the zoo’s American Grasslands habitat. The zoological society operates the zoo.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Effect Snow Wrapping Up

Allegan, Van Buren and Berrien Counties were hit hard over the past few days as winds out of the north put a steady lake effect tendril over our area. Some areas received up to a half a foot of new snow overnight, on top of the foot that fell just the day before. Buchanan is reporting 29-inches and they will be spending the weekend digging out. The story inland has been the blistering cold with temperatures well below zero. We could see a high of near 30 tomorrow and actually see highs above freezing and a melt off this coming work week.. ...Read Full Story

Horizon Bank Welcomes New President

Horizon Bank has a new leader. The chairman and CEO of Horizon Bancorp announced on Wednesday James D. Neff has been named president of both Horizon and Horizon Bank. In addition, Neff will serve on Horizon Bank’s board of directors. The promotion was effective January 1. Neff has worked in banking since 1978, and has been part of Horizon’s executive management team since 1999. He serves on the Purdue University Northwest Advisory Board, the Sinai Forum Board, and is a member of the Michigan City Rotary Club. Horizon Bancorp says Neff’s “expanded authority and responsibilities will ensure Horizon’s continued commitment to excellence and profitable growth.”. ...Read Full Story