Local News Archives

Rally Held In Support Of Conyers

Supporters of Michigan Congressman John Conyers have held a rally where they called on due process to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against the lawmaker. Supporters say calling on Conyers to resign without an investigation is unfair. NAACP Detroit Branch President Reverend Wendell Anthony spoke with Michigan News Network about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Silverdome Implosion Fails

A partial implosion of the Silverdome has failed to bring down the upper section of the Detroit Lions’ former home. Demolition company Adamo says that Sunday morning’s blasts in Pontiac did weaken the Silverdome and it could still fall, but it’s unclear when that might happen. Rick Cuppetilli is executive vice president with Adamo and says 10% of the explosive charges failed to detonate due to wiring issues that crews are investigating.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Continue Falling

We’re still paying nearly a quarter more per gallon than a year ago, but Michigan’s gas prices are down for the third straight week according to Triple-A. The auto club puts the statewide average at $2.44, a drop of 8¢. Locally, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average is down a dime to $2.34, narrowly missing being the lowest in the state. Those prices are in the Saginaw area at $2.33, while Marquette has the highest prices at $2.64 per gallon. South Haven isn’t included in Triple-A’s survey, but they might have the state’s lowest prices if they were. GasBuddy says prices in South Haven are between $2.15 and $2.18 to start the week. Three stations in Fremont, a little north of Grand Rapids, are down to $2.08 according to GasBuddy.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Van Buren County Crash

One person is dead in a weekend car crash in Bloomingdale Township. That person died after a vehicle hit a tree around 4:30 Sunday morning on 45th Street near County Road 388. What caused the crash is not known, nor have authorities released any other information about if anyone else was in the vehicle.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission To Talk Vacancy Tonight

The nine applicants for the open slot on the St. Joseph City Commission will be narrowed down tonight. The commission has a special meeting planned for 6 p.m. at City Hall to go through the applications and resumes for the seat vacated by the resignation of Chris Heugel. Two former commissioners, Fran Chickering and Mary Goff, declined to be appointed to the open seat after they lost their reelection bids in November. Former deputy public safety director Al DiBrito contended last week that he should get the nod having finished behind Chickering and Goff in the election, but the commission decided to take applications. DiBrito is among the nine who has applied. The commission will decide tonight who to interview, and plans are to have a new commissioner appointed for next Monday’s regular meeting.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Starting Groups For Moms

A new focus at the OutCenter in Benton Harbor — moms. OutCenter Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News the last presidential election brought a lot of mothers through the OutCenter’s doors, concerned about trends they were seeing with how people are treating each other. They worry about their LGBTQ kids. Now, they’ve set up two initiatives. First, there’s Moms are IN at the OutCenter.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Program Gets National Recognition

A Berrien RESA program aimed at helping the parents of small children better guide the development of their young ones has received national recognition. The Parents as Teachers program engages the parents of kids ages 3 and under to get personally involved in the educational development of their children, says RESA’s Kerenda Applebey. She spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

MI Experiencing Slight Christmas Tree Shortage

A Christmas tree shortage may be felt slightly in Michigan this year. About ten years ago, there was a surplus of trees but fewer people were buying them because of the depressed economy. So, growers planted fewer trees, and because it takes ten years for a tree to fully grow, the fallout wasn’t felt until this year. That’s according to Amy Start, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association.. ...Read Full Story

Net Neutrality Repeal Expected This Month

Using the internet could soon be a different experience. With the FCC all but certain to eliminate protections requiring internet users to be granted equal access to all content, Lake Michigan College computer information systems instructor Jay Keeler tells WSJM News one scenario is that you’ll signing up for internet the way you sign up for TV.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remind Holiday Shoppers To Be Cautious

Holiday shopping time is now, and police say you need to keep your guard up to avoid thieves. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kelly Laesch tells WSJM News you should have a plan if you get separated with your buddy, park in well-lit areas, and don’t leave packages sitting out in the open in your car.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Reaching Out To Older Drivers

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is asking everyone to make sure the older drivers in their lives have all of the resources they need to stay safe on the road. Next week is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, and Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams tells WSJM News those older drivers need to consider a few things.. ...Read Full Story

Workshops Planned To Discuss New BH Income Tax

Coming up this month will be a couple of workshops organized by Cornerstone Alliance to get business owners up to speed on how to handle Benton Harbor’s new city income tax. The tax approved by voters in November will be 1% for workers and businesses based in the city. Cornerstone’s Rob Cleveland tells us he wants to make sure affected businesses know what to do.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Program Sending Holiday Letters To Military Overseas

Serving the country overseas is especially difficult this time of year. That’s why the Sons of the American Legion, Squadron 49 in South Haven wants to help. They’ve started what they’re calling the Letters from Candyland campaign. All that is asked of you is to write a letter or send a donation. Steve Hamilton of the American Legion spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Silverdome Implosion Set For Tomorrow

A send-off for the Silverdome is planned for this weekend. Come Sunday morning, demo crews will implode what’s left of the old stadium that was the site for many a Lions game, along with other iconic events including the Super Bowl, countless concerts, WrestleMania, and a mass by Pope John Paul in 1987. Pontiac Mayor Diedre Waterman told Michigan News Network  the demo has been the talk of her town this past week.. ...Read Full Story

Big Brothers, Big Sisters Honors Volunteers

Some volunteers for Big Brothers, Big Sisters Berrien and Cass have been saluted by the organization with Outstanding Service Awards. At the group’s annual gala this month, Big Brothers, Big Sisters Berrien and Cass Director Jenny Miner tells WSJM News they named Dr. Anjana Gupta and Daniel Gearhart as the Bigs of the Year at an event November 18. Each has gone the extra mile to help a young person improve their life. Miner tells us you don’t have a to be a hero to be a big.. ...Read Full Story

Six Berrien Communities Sign On To State Development Program

Cornerstone Alliance is hoping six Berrien County communities that recently signed on to a state development program will now be more attractive to business as a result. Cornerstone’s Stacey Stephens tells WSJM News the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Initiative lays out some best practices for communities to follow when preparing for development. Now joined on to get certified are Benton Harbor, Niles, St. Joseph, Watervliet, Baroda, and Stevensville. The idea is to create some uniformity so businesses are more comfortable with expanding into the participating communities.. ...Read Full Story

Bears In The Air Takes Off

South Bend International Airport is now collecting Teddy bears for its annual Bears in the Air campaign. The campaign started Friday, and on Tuesday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was among the local officials to stop by to contribute. He told WSJM News holding such a drive at an airport sends a message to visitors.. ...Read Full Story

State Police To Focus On Commercial Trucks Next Week

Michigan State Police are once again putting an extra emphasis on commercial vehicles with a new enhanced enforcement period don I-94. MSP tells us, starting Monday, motor carrier officers will join officers from the Indiana State Police, Illinois State Police, and Ohio State Highway Patrol in a coordinated enforcement operation dubbed “Eyes on 94.” They aim to reduce commercial vehicle crashes on the highway. Motor carrier officers will focus on violations by commercial vehicles that are most likely to contribute to a crash, which include speeding, following too close, improper passing, distracted driving, and improper lane use. If you’re a semi-truck driver, remember to be on your best behavior because Michigan State Police will have their eye on you through December 8.. ...Read Full Story

Kids Count Report Examines Children Well-Being In Michigan

The Michigan League for Public Policy has released some new Kids Count data. Kids Count is a report done each year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on how children are doing economically around the country. The league for public policy uses it to draft Michigan recommendations. Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy Alicia Guevara Warren tells us this year’s report had some striking statistics.. ...Read Full Story

New Michigan State Police Troopers Coming To SWM

There are some new Michigan State Police troopers coming to southwest Michigan. State Police graduated their 133rd Trooper Recruit School this week, announcing the locations to which all 127 graduates will be sent. Paw Paw-based Michigan State Police Lieutenant Dale Hinz tells WSJM News the Niles post is getting five new troopers, and the Paw Paw post is getting 8 more. He says adding eight new members to the staff will require some adjustments.. ...Read Full Story

Huge Piece Of Palisades Equipment Passes Through SWM

If you happened to notice a convoy of police, electric crews, and a huge flatbed truck moving through your town this week, it was likely some equipment headed to the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township. The plant recently ordered a spare transformer. It’s 500 tons and it arrived from Spain at the Lafarge Dock in St. Joe on Tuesday. The equipment left St Joe late Wednesday night, and it continued its journey Thursday night after being parked at Roadside Park in Hager Township for about a day. The equipment can only be moved at about 5 miles per hour. Palisades tells us acquiring the transformer is another example of its continued investment into the plant despite plans to close it in 2022.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Announces Yearly Charitable Donations

The Niles Scream Park has ended another season by giving out more than $110,000 to non-profits all over the region. The attraction itself is a non-profit, and the more then 400 volunteers who worked there this Halloween season have made their picks for which charities it will support. Park Secretary Kellie Welch spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Watervliet Woman Killed In Friday Crash

A Watervliet woman is dead following a crash with a semi in Hartford Township Friday morning. Michigan State Police tells us it happened around 7:30 a.m. on County Road 687 at 66th Avenue. 68-year-old Deborah Baier of Watervliet was eastbound on 66th Avenue when she ran the stop sign at County Road 687, hitting a semi that was southbound on that road. Baier was pronounced dead at the scene. Her two minor children, who were passengers in the van, were transported to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo where they were treated for minor injuries. The driver of the semi was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Light Up The Bluff Tonight In Downtown st. Joseph

Tonight is the night. They’ll light up the bluff starting at 6 p.m. You’ll hear the St. Joseph High School Choir -sing for about a half hour, and then the city says one million lights will be flicked on for the winter. The downtown event has been a tradition for 11 years now. After the lighting of the bluff, St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells us they’ll have live mannequins downtown.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors Planning To Launch self-Driving Cars In 2019

From the Associated Press — General Motors expects to have autonomous vehicles working commercially in big cities sometime in 2019.
The company made the prediction Thursday in slides posted on its website ahead of an investor presentation. The company says that based on its current rate of change, it expects “commercial launch at scale” in heavily traveled urban environments in 2019. The slides mention delivery and carrying passengers. GM’s Cruise Automation unit is currently testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles with human backup drivers in San Francisco, Detroit and Phoenix with plans to test in Manhattan next year. Presumably the backup driver would be removed at the time of the commercial launch.The slides say that GM is focused on deploying self-driving vehicles safely but say the company is in the lead vs rival companies.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Hartford Crash

A crash between a passenger vehicle and a semi has killed one adult and injured two kids in Van Buren County. It happened around 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of County Road 678 and 66th Avenue in Hartford. The driver of the passenger vehicle was killed, but authorities haven’t released information yet about that person’s identity. The injuries suffered by the kids have also not been revealed. What caused the crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

New OutCenter Programs Focus On Moms

A new focus at the OutCenter in Benton Harbor — moms. OutCenter Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News the last presidential election brought a lot of mothers through the OutCenter’s doors, concerned about trends they were seeing with how people are treating each other. They worry about their LGBTQ kids. Now, they’ve set up two initiatives. First, there’s Moms are IN at the OutCenter.. ...Read Full Story

Fire, Murder Investigation In Decatur

The FBI and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department are looking for answers in an arson in Decatur that killed a 31-year-old woman. Sheriff Dan Abbott says the victim is believed to be the woman who was renting the home in the 200 block of West St. Marys Street. They were called to the home for the fire around 8 a.m. Thursday and found the body once the flames were put out. No arrests have been made, and Abbott says they’re trying to find several people for questioning.. ...Read Full Story

Police, Firefighters Opposing Municipal Pension Bills

From the Associated Press — Police and firefighters are opposing newly introduced legislation that would force municipalities to address underfunded pension and retiree health care plans. A coalition of unionized police officers, firefighters and police and fire chiefs said Thursday it had “some agreement” with Republican legislative leaders on conceptual issues, but the bills as introduced go “beyond those concepts.” The unions and groups say letting the state impose benefit changes is contrary to recommendations made by a task force created by Governor Rick Snyder. Majority Republicans say many communities are adequately addressing their unfunded liabilities or are taking steps to do so, but some are not and risk going into bankruptcy. They say the bills are designed to ensure municipalities are acting because retirement costs are eating into 20 percent of budgets in many places.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Company Announces Expansion

A plastic injection mold company in Stevensville has announced a major expansion. Dura Mold, which also produces die casts, is investing $1.4 million in an 8,000 square foot addition. It’s expected to create 7 new jobs. The announcement comes after the Lake Township Board of Trustees this week approved a tax abatement for the work. Cornerstone Alliance helped Dura Mold in seeking it. Cornerstone’s Greg Vaughn tells us Dura Mold is a good example of a Berrien County business that’s thriving. The expansion to Dura Mold’s facility on Linco Road is expected to be finished by March of next year.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance To Hold Workshops On BH Income Tax

Coming up this month will be a couple of workshops organized by Cornerstone Alliance to get business owners up to speed on how to handle Benton Harbor’s new city income tax. The tax approved by voters in November will be 1% for workers and businesses based in the city. Cornerstone’s Rob Cleveland tells us he wants to make sure affected businesses know what to do.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies In Bainbridge Farming Accident

Michigan State Police are investigating a farming death in Bainbridge Township. Troopers say first responders were sent to a cut cornfield in the 9,400 block of Territorial Road around 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday and found the body of 62-year-old Rafael Alonzo Zarate of Watervliet. Police believe Zarate had been chopping the remaining corn stubble in the field with a brush hog when he got off the tractor. For unknown reasons, he then reached across the power takeoff portion of the brush hog, got his clothing wrapped in the PTO, and was pulled into the machine. Zarate was alone at the time. Co-workers called police. State police say he’d been last seen Wednesday morning, so they haven’t yet determined what time the incident happened.. ...Read Full Story

Police Tips On Safe Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping time is now, and police say you need to keep your guard up to avoid thieves. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kelly Laesch tells WSJM News you should have a plan if you get separated with your buddy, park in well-lit areas, and don’t leave packages sitting out in the open in your car.. ...Read Full Story

Police, Firefighters Rally Over Pensions

From the Associated Press — Hundreds of police and firefighters have rallied at Michigan’s Capitol in a show of force against pending legislation they fear could lead to cuts in retiree benefits. Bills haven’t been introduced, and Republican Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders continue to meet. But police officers and firefighters are in Lansing Wednesday to push lawmakers to not curtail retiree health benefits. Republicans are concerned about $10.1 billion in unfunded liabilities for municipal retiree health care. Public safety officers agree it’s a problem, but say legislators should stick with consensus recommendations included in a task force report – not potentially interfere with collectively bargained contracts. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says the state should
provide a “pathway” to resolve unfunded liabilities locally – through increased revenue or benefit changes.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Hurt In Car-Pedestrian Accident In Van Buren County

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash between a car and a pedestrian in Arlington Township. It happened around 5:30 last night in the 57-thousand block of 48th Avenue when a Kalamazoo woman was taking a client from Beacon Specialized Living for a walk and was hit by a Chevy Impala driven by a woman from Hartford. The driver told police she didn’t see the two until it was too late, as there are no street lights in the area. The victim is 24-years-old and was sent to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for treatment of head and back injuries. Just how badly she was hurt hasn’t been released, however, deputies say she was breathing but unresponsive when the arrived. The client and the driver were not hurt.. ...Read Full Story

U Of M Students Walk Out Over Possible Spencer Speech

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel has said his administration has not made a decision yet about whether to allow white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. Schlissel did say he would meet with Spencer’s group, the National Policy Institute, before making that decision. That prompted a walkout Wednesday afternoon of about 300 to 400 students who ended up on the steps of the union. Kwi-aun Saum with the Stop Spencer Campaign spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Issues Brochure On Safe Holiday Giving

The Michigan Attorney General’s office is reminding everyone to be careful about where they give their charitable donations this Christmas season. The AG’s office tells us it has released its annual Giving Wisely brochure, a resource that aims to help Michigan donors make wise charitable gifts. The Michigan Nonprofit Association, Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Michigan Association of United Ways all work with the attorney general on putting the brochure together. It contains information on how people can protect themselves while making donations online and to be wary of aggressive fundraising phone calls. You can find the new brochure right here.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Announces Plans For Park Development

The city of South Haven has its eye on a new recreational development. The city manager’s office tells us the South Haven Area Recreation Authority Board has settled on a new location for the long-proposed South Haven Area Recreational Park, or SHARP. The city started planning for the large gathering place and recreation spot as far back as 2006. The first site the city identified for it, located in Casco Township, proved to be too problematic. Now, the recreation authority has settled on a 40 acre parcel in South Haven Township. Located at 75327 14th Avenue, the plan now is to buy the property and establish the SHARP there. It will feature a community gathering spot, baseball fields, softball fields, walking paths, and soccer fields. The city will use proceeds from the sale of the old 96 acre parcel in Casco Township and a $300,000 state grant to make the project happen. The goal is to have the funds next year.. ...Read Full Story

State Receives Millions In Skilled Trades Funding

Millions of dollars in grant money coming to Michigan will be used to help help the state develop talent and companies to fill thousand of jobs. The Skilled Trades Training Fund ensures residents have continued access to training for in-demand skills and that employers continue creating opportunities for skilled workers. Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes spoke with Michigan News Network about the funding.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Program Receives National Recognition

A Berrien RESA program aimed at helping the parents of small children better guide the development of their young ones has received national recognition. The Parents as Teachers program engages the parents of kids ages 3 and under to get personally involved in the educational development of their children, says RESA’s Kerenda Applebey. She spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Six Berrien Communities Sign On To MEDC Program

Cornerstone Alliance is hoping six Berrien County communities that recently signed on to a state development program will make themselves even more attractive to business. Cornerstone’s Stacey Stephens tells WSJM News the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Initiative lays out some best practices for communities to follow when preparing for development. Now joined on to get certified are Benton Harbor, Niles, St. Joseph, Watervliet, Baroda, and Stevensville. The idea is to create some uniformity so businesses are more comfortable with expanding into the participating communities.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Scream Park Donates $110,000 To Non-Profits

The Niles Scream Park has ended another season by giving out more than $110,000 to non-profits all over the region. The attraction itself is a non-profit, and the more then 400 volunteers who worked there this Halloween season have made their picks for which charities it will support. Park Secretary Kellie Welch spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Morning Crash In Bertrand Twp

A crash which police believe may have been alcohol-related is under investigation in Berrien County. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies were called out to US-12 near Mayflower Road in Bertrand Township around 10 a.m. Wednesday. They learned a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire driven by a 24-year-old man from the Niles area had attempted to pass a trash hauler as they headed west on US-12. The Sunfire sideswiped the garbage truck, crossed the centerline, and then crashed head-on into an oncoming 2013 Chevrolet. The driver of the Sunfire was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend with serious but non life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Chevrolet was treated for minor injuries at the scene and released, and the driver of the garbage hauler was not hurt. Police say they do believe alcohol was involved in the crash They’ll forward their report on to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office when it’s complete.. ...Read Full Story

Agency Says US, Canada Fall Short On Great Lakes Protection

From the Associated Press — A joint U.S.-Canadian agency says untreated sewage releases, chemical pollution and algae blooms show that the two nations have a long way to go to meet their pledge to clean up the Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission on Tuesday released its first progress report since the two countries approved an updated version of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 2012.
It credits them with moving forward on the cleanup of sites contaminated by industrial pollution and setting targets for reducing hosphorus runoff into Lake Erie that causes explosive growth of toxic algae. But it says those targets aren’t enforced. And it faults both countries for
failing to keep drinking water and sewage treatment facilities in good condition. The report also says agencies are behind on identifying new contaminants such as fire retardants.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Approved To Ban Ousted Lawmakers From Running For New Seats

From the Associated Press — The Michigan legislature has voted to prohibit a lawmaker who resigns or who has been expelled from office from running in the special election to fill the seat. The bill cleared the Senate on a 35-3 vote Wednesday after winning House approval earlier this year. It is a response to former Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat running in special elections to finish the remainder of their terms in 2015. He had resigned and she had been expelled after being accused of misusing state resources to try to cover up their extramarital affair. They lost the special elections. Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.. ...Read Full Story