Local News Archives

Commissioners Hear More About Proposed Downtown Development

Cornerstone Alliance has provided more ideas to St. Joseph City Commissioners regarding city-owned property at 201 Lake Boulevard. In December, Cornerstone requested the city option the parking lot across from the Whitcomb and north of Schu’s so developers could be sought. The idea was for a mixed use apartment complex and commercial space. During a meeting Monday night, Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland said they’re still making that proposal, but have now come up with ideas to add more parking.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Collecting Items For Domestic Abuse Survivors

Everyone’s asked to make a donation to a Michigan State Police effort to support survivors of domestic and sexual assault this spring. Michigan State Police say they’re holding the Purses with a Purpose drive all throughout April. It seeks donations of purses, bags, and totes along with personal comfort items. They include toiletries, hand sanitizer, socks, feminine items, hair ties, and snacks like granola bars or trail mix. The items collected will be distributed to ministries that support domestic assault victims. There will be two drop off locations. One is the Meijer in Stevensville and the other is the Michigan State Police post in Niles. Items will be accepted all throughout April as part of recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month.. ...Read Full Story

Work On US-31 Project Resumes Next Week

Work resumes next Monday on the big I-94, US-31, I-196 project in Benton Township. Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the project to connect US-31 to I-196 is entering the final stages. As work gets started, there will at first be night time double lane closures for some bridge work.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Real Estate Market Slows Due To Low Inventory

The housing market in southwest Michigan is tight as the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says available houses, or inventory, are down to a two month supply, a record low. For February, the number of houses sold dropped 16% from February 2021 and 20% from the month before. The level of sales in February was the lowest since February of 2014. The association says the average and median selling price in February 2022 and year-to-date selling prices soared double digits to set new record prices in the year-over-year comparison that dates back to 2006. In February, the average selling price was $324,000 compared to $265,000 the year before, up 22%. The association says the low inventory has made things more difficult for buyers. In February, the homes available in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the westerly two-thirds of Van Buren counties were down to 480. For comparison, in February 2009, there were 3099 houses for sale in the region.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS School Board Releases Statement Following Townsel Announcement

A statement has been released by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education following word last week Superintendent Andrae Townsel has been offered a job elsewhere. Upon request for comment, the board sent us a pre-written statement that doesn’t reference Townsel. It says the board is confident in “our ability to move forward with engaging the community and our leadership team, as we achieve the mission, vision, and goals of our district.” It says the educational success of students remains the top priority. The board says, “We ask that the community continue to fight with the Tiger Nation as we work to revitalize Benton Harbor Area Schools.” Townsel was selected last week for the position of superintendent with Calvert County Public Schools in Maryland. That district says he is to come on board starting July 1.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Recognized For Broadband Expansion Efforts

The Michigan Economic Developers Association has recognized state Senator Aric Nesbitt as a 2022 Legislative Economic Development Champion for his efforts to support broadband expansion both in Van Buren County and around the state. Nesbitt was nominated for the honor by Market Van Buren. Market Van Buren’s Zach Morris tells WSJM News expanding broadband access is key to economic development and Nesbitt has been a partner in helping that happen. That’s not all.. ...Read Full Story

Kitchenaid Senior PGA Champion Comes To Harbor Shores

Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship winner Alex Cejka has come to Benton Harbor to see the sights and preview this year’s Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship to be held at Harbor Shores in May. Cejka spoke with reporters Monday and also took some shots at the Harbor Shores driving range to raise money for First Tee. He told us he looks forward to becoming more familiar with Harbor Shores.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Shot In Benton Township

Benton Township police are investigating a woman being shot in the arm in the 100 block of Concord. She was shot once in an arm just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Witnesses told police several people were outside firing shots, and all took off. No other description of the suspects has been given. The victim was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland and is expected to fully recover.. ...Read Full Story

Nuclear Group Seeking To Keep Palisades Open

The Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society has sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer urging her and state lawmakers to reconsider the closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant in May. The organization representing engineers and scientists who work in the nuclear industry says closing Palisades will cause economic harm and increased pollution. It says the planned closing of the Van Buren County facility “will all but guarantee an increase in the use of natural gas, a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, when Michigan’s goal is to achieve a 28% reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.” It continues to say although Entergy decided to close Palisades for economic reasons, the idea was the result of “short-sighted state policies and flawed electricity markets that favor fossil fuels and other subsidized energy technologies.” The group urges the governor to apply to the U.S. Department of Energy for “newly available funds dedicated to preventing the premature closures of nuclear power plants.”. ...Read Full Story

New Pedestrian Walkway Planned For South Haven

A new pedestrian walkway will be built in South Haven along Aylworth Avenue from Kalamazoo to LaGrange Streets. Public Works Director Bill Hunter tells WSJM News the paved walkway will be on the south side of the street and is possible thanks to a $134,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.. ...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

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

Four Flags Area Apple Festival Canceled

The Four Flags Area Apple Festival in Niles has been canceled for the year. Organizers of the event released a statement Monday, saying the 48th annual festival has been moved to September 30 through October 3 of next year. The board adds it is working on a plan to “provide a few events on the festival grounds which we will be able to host safely under state guidelines.” The board says the decision to cancel this year was extremely difficult, and “one that was made for us due to state restrictions.” Any vendors that would like to work with the apple festival for alternative plans this year are asked to send a message to the festival’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

SMC President Discusses Plan For Fall

Southwestern Michigan College has announced in-person classes will resume this fall, while on-campus residence halls will be open as the institution operates as normally as possible while staying safe. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells WSJM News the faculty spent the past month going around campus and assessing options for a return to classes. They have a social distancing plan.. ...Read Full Story

Census Video Produced In Benton Harbor A Finalist In National Competition

A music video produced in Benton Harbor and highlighting the importance of filling out the census is among the finalists in a national competition. The U.S. Census Bureau’s the Get Out the Count Video Prize Competition received 750 submissions from around the country, including the Be Counted Berrien video produced by Traci Burton, the community engagement specialist for Benton Harbor Area Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In Hartford Township

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Saturday shooting in Hartford Township. It says sheriff’s deputies were sent to a home in the 62,000 block of 66th Avenue in Hartford Township shortly after 7 p.m. on a report of someone shot in the stomach. When they arrived, they found a man laying on the porch with an apparent gun shot would to his abdomen. The suspect, a 36-year-old woman, arrested at the scene, and first aid given to the victim, a 34-year-old man. He was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for further treatment. The suspect was taken to the Van Buren County Jail. Police say the victim is in critical condition. No further details have been released.. ...Read Full Story

343 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan For Sunday, No Additional Deaths

Michigan is reporting 343 additional cases of COVID-19 for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,876 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported no additional deaths for Sunday, leaving that total 5,972. Berrien County reported seven additional cases of coronavirus for Sunday, making its total since the start of the pandemic 766 with 60 deaths. Cass County reported four new cases, making its total 149 with six deaths. Van Buren County listed one new case of COVID-19 for Sunday, now with a total of 209 cases and seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Reports More Than 3 Million Requests For Absentee Ballots

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says requests for absentee ballots have increased by 350% this year when compared to the same time ahead of the 2016 state primary. During this pandemic, Benson says “voters have embraced their right to vote from home with enormous enthusiasm.” The absentee requests are up by more than 1 million from the 2016 primary, and there have been more than 1.3 million requests overall. The Secretary of State says when a voter receives their absentee ballot, they should fill it out carefully, noting in state primary elections they can only vote for one party. Once completed, they should place the ballot into the secrecy sleeve and then into the return envelope. Once the envelope is sealed, the voter must sign the back of the envelope, and their signature will be compared to the one election officials have on file. Voters are encouraged to return their ballots as soon as possible. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a motorcycle and a car on Saturday. Deputies were sent to the scene at the intersection of Red Arrow Hwy and Community Hall Road in New Buffalo Township around 6:45 p.m. They found a woman lying unresponsive in the road. She was taken by ambulance to Franciscan
Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana, where she was pronounced dead. She has been identified as 23-year-old Stacy Johnson of Illinois. Deputies say she’d been riding her motorcycle north past a restaurant when a vehicle driven by a Three Oaks woman drove crossed into her path as it turned into the establishment. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Work On Napier Slated To Start Tomorrow

There’s a whole lot of work planned for Napier Avenue starting this week. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News there will be two projects starting Monday. The first is the long-awaited reconstruction of Napier from the St. Joseph River to Colfax. The work will have the road reduced to one lane in each direction for about a month. Latham says when the road is reopened, it will have been placed on a diet, reduced to three lanes.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Picks New Leaders

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has kicked off its 2020-2021 year with the induction of a new president and board of directors. The new president is Matt Hanley. He replaces Brandi Smith, who says she has enjoyed her year at the helm of the organization. She says the “connections I’ve made with the community mean so much to me. I’m also grateful to the club’s board for all of their support through what was an unpredictable year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced us to pivot in terms of how we gather and serve.”. ...Read Full Story

398 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan Saturday

Michigan is reporting 398 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,533 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported three additional deaths for Saturday, making that total 5,972. The state’s coronavirus website did not update county data on Friday. For Saturday, it had Berrien County listed with 759 cases and 60 deaths from COVID since the start of the pandemic. Cass County was listed as having 145 cases and six deaths since the start of the pandemic. Van Buren County is listed as having 208 cases with seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Fair Canceled

The Allegan County Fair has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Allegan County Fair Board of Directors says the decision has been one of the toughest it’s ever faced, but it had to make the health and safety of visitors, vendors, and employees the top priority. The board will work on details for the 4H animal displays with MSU Extension, and those who bought tickets to a Jeff Dunham show planned for September 11 can receive refunds. This is only the second time the Allegan County Fair has been canceled. The first time was during World War II.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs Bill To Support Researchers

Legislation from Congressman Fred Upton would provide funding to research labs that have not been much of a focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He tells WSJM News the Research Investment to Secure the Economy, or RISE, Act would set aside $26 billion in emergency relief for federal science agencies to award to research universities, independent institutions, and national labs.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Urges Caution When Setting Off Fireworks

Those who plan to set off fireworks as they celebrate the nation’s independence this Fourth of July are being asked to take care not to start wildfires. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildfire prevention specialist Paul Rogers tells WSJM News hot and dry conditions in some parts of the state increase the risk. That’s not so much the case around southwest Michigan, but he has some general safety tips.. ...Read Full Story

New Auto Insurance Options Available

Legislation approved last year to reform Michigan’s auto insurance system is now in effect. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells us Michigan drivers are no longer required to have unlimited injury protection in their policies. However, she notes the situation isn’t exactly simple.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Plan For Fall Designed To Be Flexible

Lake Michigan College’s fall reopening plan was drafted with flexibility in mind. So says LMC Vice President of Academic Affairs Leslie Kellogg. She tells WSJM News the college will have five class types when the fall semester begins. They are flexible learning, all online, remote courses via webcam, hybrid remote and online, and hybrid face to face with some on-campus work in small groups and more online.. ...Read Full Story

MI Garage Sale May Have Exposed Customers To Coronavirus

From the Associated Press — Health officials in Michigan are telling people who attended a weekend garage sale near the community of Charlotte that a person working at the sale has reported having symptoms of the coronavirus. The Barry-Eaton Health District also says that people who bought or handled items at the sale should monitor themselves for symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, and loss of a sense of smell or taste. The district also urges people to sanitize anything they may have bought with a disinfectant. The sale was at 1748 West Kalamo Highway.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Health Department Working With Schools On Plans For Fall

The Berrien County Health Department is hard at work helping local school districts prepare for the resumption of classes in the fall. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the governor’s return to school road map leaves many things up to the locals so they can respond to their own circumstances. Conrad says there can be big differences from district to district.. ...Read Full Story

543 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 543 additional cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 64,675 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 15 additional deaths for Thursday, although it notes 13 of those were identified via a vital records search. The state’s total number of COVID deaths is now 5,966. Berrien County had six new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 742 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had three new cases for Thursday, making its total 137 with five deaths. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 205 cases with seven deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Professor Discusses Renaming Of State Building

The former Lewis Cass state building in downtown Lansing has been renamed the Elliot Larsen Building following an executive order from the governor this week. The move honors the authors of the state’s landmark civil rights act, Daisy Elliot and Melvin Larsen. Professor Dewitt Dykes, Jr. from Oakland University reflected on the work done by the two.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Wendzel Brewery Bill

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel to increase the limit faced by breweries that self-distribute their beer. Right now, breweries are limited to 1,000 barrels per year when they self-distribute. Wendzel’s bill increases that to 2,000. Wendzel tells WSJM News it’s a good time to make things easier on those small businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Advisory Council Chair Talks Return To School Plan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week unveiled a plan to reopen K-12 schools this fall with extra safety precautions. Tonya Allen is the chair of the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council. She says students in grade six through twelve will have to wear face masks at all times, while younger students will not be wearing face masks in the classroom.. ...Read Full Story