Local News Archives

Berrien Springs Apartment Fire Underscores Need For Renter’s Insurance

If you live in an apartment or rent your home and don’t have renters insurance, here is your wake-up call. None of the residents of Park Manor Apartments in Berrien Springs, which burned to the ground on Saturday, were insured. They all lost everything in their homes except their lives, and while they’re getting some help, it doesn’t bring things back. Corey Flaugh runs Flaugh Insurance Group in Benton Township and talked to WSJM News about the importance of having that coverage.. ...Read Full Story

Rip Current Warnings, High E. Coli Shuts Down Silver Beach County Park

There is no swimming today at Silver Beach County Park or Rocky Gap County Park. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News they’ve put up red flags at both beaches due to the wind picking up and resulting in high waves and a rip current warning from the National Weather Service. But there’s another issue at Silver Beach that’s also closed it for the first time in a few years.. ...Read Full Story

State Marks Black Breastfeeding Week

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is marking this as Black Breastfeeding Week. It says it’s partnered with the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association to promote the positive effects breastfeeding has on infant health and reducing infant mortality rates. It’s part of the department’s ongoing effort to eliminate health disparities among Michigan’s population. The state health department says breastfeeding is better for babies in that it leads to easy digestion, production of antibodies, and reduced risk of infections and childhood obesity. It’s teaming up with the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association at several events this week. They include a screening of Chocolate Milk: The Documentary at the Library of Michigan in Lansing on Tuesday, and a Twitter chat on Wednesday. The Berrien County Health Department also has more information on the benefits of breastfeeding.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Awards Raise To City Manager With Glowing Evaluation

St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson is getting a raise. The city commission held a closed session Monday night to give Hodgson his fourth performance evaluation since he was hired, and Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News they didn’t score him in any particular categories, noting his excellent work ethic and “what he’s brought to the city.” Garey says the commission felt Hodgson’s starting pay, which hasn’t gone up since he was hired, was too low.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Residents Fed Up With Silver Beach Traffic Issues

The city of St. Joseph is being urged by those who live below the bluff to put pressure on the Berrien County Parks Department to make changes at Silver Beach County Park to cut down on traffic congestion in the summer. The issue dominated the public comment portion of Monday night’s city commission meeting. June Bowman noted in her comments that their issues from past years with lines of cars waiting to get into the park jamming things up for hours haven’t gone away, even with new summertime traffic patterns.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Program Stresses Importance Of Fathers

A new program is coming to Van Buren County for fathers to learn about how they can better prepare their children to make the right decisions growing up. Friend of the Court early intervention case manager Able Munoz tells WSJM News 24/7 Dad seeks to promote more fatherly engagement in the lives of kids so they have the right disciplinary and moral foundations.. ...Read Full Story

Three Potential Cases Of Eastern Equine Encephalitis In Berrien, Kalamazoo Counties

A potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness may have returned to Berrien County. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are three suspected cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in residents of both Berrien and Kalamazoo counties. Six horses have died from the disease in Barrry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties, and none were vaccinated. There is no vaccine for EEE available for people. A case of a similar mosquito-borne disease, California encephalitis virus, has been confirmed in a resident of Genesee County.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Association Announces Grant For New Buffalo Light Project

The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors has announced a $2,400 Placemaking Grant to the city of New Buffalo for a program intended to make the downtown area more vibrant. It says the city will use the funds to explore the viability of projecting artwork, moving images, and videos on to walls at night along the two block downtown streetscape. The idea is designed to bring light, movement, and excitement into the area year-round. The city’s Design Visual Impact Committee says an art and light show would have an economic impact by encouraging visitors to linger in the downtown area to shop, eat, and drink. The lights would be projected on to exterior walls starting with the intersection of Whittaker and Merchant streets, projecting from Brewster’s parking lot onto the Villager’s southeast wall. Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Placemaking Grants are the organization’s way of helping to better communities. In the past, they have helped to pay for a dog park in Baroda, a park and playground area next to Milton Township Hall, and a Victorian style exterior post clock in downtown Watervliet.. ...Read Full Story

Efforts Underway To Help Residents Of Burned Apartment Building

Following the destruction of an apartment building in Berrien Springs over the weekend, Andrews University is collecting funds to help some of the people who were displaced. Andrews put out a statement on Facebook Sunday saying the university was able to reach all of its students who lived at Park Manor Apartments, and they all had found alternative accommodations. It also says the most urgent need is for cash donations to address food and housing. Meanwhile, Andrews Services and Administration Director Teela Ruehle told our reporting partners at WSBT some affected students started classes this week and were facing hardship.. ...Read Full Story

Warrant Issued In Niles Shooting

A warrant has been issued in a weekend shooting in Niles. The Niles Police Department says it’s looking for 21-year-old Dayshawn Lavell Smith of Niles. It says the shooting happened around 7:50 p.m. Saturday in the 600 block of Wayne Street. Arriving officers found a vehicle in the middle of the street and a 21-year-old man lying on the boulevard with muliple gunshot wounds. Police performed first aid until an ambulance arrived, and it took him to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition. The investigation has determined at least two gunshots happened inside the vehicle, and that three suspects got out of the vehicle and ran. On Monday, a felony warrant for aggravated assault with intent to murder was issued for Smith. Police say they’re looking for two additional suspects. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the Niles Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Armed Robbery In Union Pier

The Chikaming Township Police Department is investigating a Friday armed robbery in Union Pier. It says officers were sent to the Whistle Stop Store on Red Arrow Highway just before 8 a.m. and learned a suspect had gone into the store, pointed a handgun at the clerk, and demanded money. The clerk complied, and the suspect ran out with cash. The suspect is described as a white male, very thin, with dark hair, standing between 5’8 and 5’11. He was wearing a mask over his jaw. He took off in a dark or navy blue Chrysler 300, model year between 2008 and 2010. Police ask anyone with information regarding the suspect to contact them. The Chikaming Township Police Department says the “armed robbery is being aggressively investigated by our staff.” Meanwhile, it also says it has arrested a suspect in a series of burglaries to unoccupied homes in the Harbert area. However, it has not released further details on that development.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Apartment Building

A Berrien Springs apartment building has been destroyed by fire. It happened Saturday night at Park Manor Apartments on Rosehill Road. The entire building, consisting of 20 units, was wrecked. Our partners at WSBT report crews had to tear down what was left of the building. There were no reported injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Record Year For Lighthouse Tours

The demand for lighthouse tours in St. Joseph has been up this year. In fact, the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center says there has been a record number of tours. The museum’s Kate Ulrey tells WSJM News there has been great demand from tourists and residents alike.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Launches Search For New President

Southwestern Michigan College needs a new president, and it’s going to start by looking within. At a meeting this past week of the SMC Board of Trustees, the vote was six to one to do an internal search for a new president. That’s as Dr. David Mathews plans to retire at the end of this year. Mathews has been SMC president since July of 2001. SMC Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Jerdon tells us he thinks they’ve already got some qualified candidates right there on campus, and the college knows them better than it could get to know anyone from a one hour interview. Also, he says SMC wants to be upwardly mobile. The board directed that the position of president be posted as soon as possible for internal candidates, with the application period closing in time for materials to be available to it by the September meeting. Jerdon also invited the public to come to the September 16 session to offer its input. Jerdon said hiring a firm to do a national search would be a good Plan B if the internal search doesn’t work out.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Dishes “The Dirt On Weed”

A new campaign to educate the public about marijuana has been launched by the Berrien County Health Department. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News The Dirt on Weed features a new website, billboards, radio ads, social media activity, and presentations regarding how marijuana affects different groups. She says the campaign is possible thanks to a $45,000 state grant that became available when marijuana was legalized for adults in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Public Comment Being Taken On Plan For Schools

A survey has been put online by Benton Harbor Area Schools asking the community for feedback regarding the state’s latest proposal to improve the district. This is following a presentation last week by the Michigan Department of Treasury to the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Treasury proposed that a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee consisting of various local stakeholders and education leaders be established to assess the school district and then draft a list of recommendations. The committee will have six months to put together its report. The board of education was asked to approve a resolution in support of the idea, perhaps at a meeting in September. In the meantime, the school district has put its survey and an electronic copy of the state proposal up at BHAS.org. The survey asks people for feedback and suggestions for improvement. The district asks everyone to have their input in by August 28.. ...Read Full Story

Paddlers Invited To Fight Invasive Species

Coming up on September 7 will be event for paddlers of all kinds to help fight invasive species in southwest Michigan. Michigan State University Extension Sea Grant educator Mary Bohling tells WSJM News kayakers and others are invited to come out to the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission office in Benton Harbor for a paddling session in the Paw Paw River.. ...Read Full Story

Guided Dune Tour Next Month

Preserve the Dunes and Chikaming Open Lands are inviting everyone who wants to learn about protecting the region’s environment to come out to a guided tour at Warren Dunes State Park next month. Set for September 14, the tour will feature information on protecting the dunes, says Preserve the Dunes President Marcy Hamilton, who spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Rare Form Of Gonorrhea

A rare form of gonorrhea has shown up in southwest Michigan. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News there have been four confirmed cases in Kalamazoo County, and one in St. Joseph County. It’s also investigating one possible case in Calhoun County. This form of the illness, commonly called DGI, is more serious than your standard gonorrhea.. ...Read Full Story