Local News Archives

Net Neutrality Repeal Expected To Affect Consumers

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

Michigan Wants All Lead Pipes Replaced Within 20 Years

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is planning to require the replacement of every underground lead service pipe in Michigan within 20 years while delaying by four years a deadline to implement the nation’s toughest lead limit for drinking water in the wake of the Flint lead crisis. Under draft rules environmental regulators want to finalize next year, Michigan’s “action level” for lead in drinking water would gradually drop to 10 parts per billion by 2024. The current federal threshold is 15 parts per billion.. ...Read Full Story

City Grants Extension To Jefferson Lofts Project

The St. Joseph City Commission has approved a one year extension for the Planned Unit Development designation for the Jefferson Lofts project. Jefferson Lofts is a condominium development within the former Jefferson School on South State Street. The project has been inching toward completion for the past year after getting several starts and stops over the years. This week, commissioners were told by the project’s developer five units are still being finished, and a few finishing touches are still needed for some of the landscaping. The developer  expects to have Jefferson Lofts totally completed by the end of 2018. The commission granted him the approval. The Planned Unit Development for Jefferson Lofts was first granted in 2006. The current developer’s application was approved in 2014, and it was granted a one-year extension in December of 2016. This last extension is expected to be the last one needed.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Student Chili Cook-Off This Friday

Lake Michigan College is planning a high school chili cook-off. The Napier Avenue campus in Benton Township will host student chili chefs from 17 local high schools for the competition this Friday. The schools include Benton Harbor High School, Kalamazoo RESA, St. Joseph High School, and Dowagiac High School. Each of the 17 participating teams will cook a chili recipe on site which will be judged by a panel of industry professionals including LMC’s chef instructor. Awards will be presented to the first through fifth place teams, and 14 students will have their online portfolios judged for professionalism and appeal to potential employers. This Friday’s event will be the ninth annual Lake Michigan College Chili Cook-Off.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Refueling Outage Ends

Unit 1 of the Cook nuclear power plant is now back online. Cook plant spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News its refueling outage, started September 13, ended on Tuesday morning. This outage took a little longer than usual, thanks to extra work done on the unit’s baffle bolts. There was a lot of activity at the plant these past few months.. ...Read Full Story

Work Requirements For Food Assistance Reinstated In Ten Counties

The state of Michigan has expanded work requirements for some individuals who receive food assistance. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday notified about 16,000 people who will be potentially affected by the change. It’s taking effect in Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Clinton, Eaton, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, and Livingston counties. Able-bodied adults without dependents in the 10 counties have a three-month federal time limit for receiving food assistance benefits without meeting the reinstated work requirements. Those requirements state a recipient must work for an average of 20 hours per week, take an average of 20 hours of training per week, or work for a community service organization to continue receiving food aid. The federal rules are being applied to the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is run by the state health department.. ...Read Full Story

Bears In The Air Campaign Kicks 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

Big Brothers, Big Sisters Honors Local 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. 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

Police Warn Of Rash Of Burglaries In Benton Harbor

Police are looking for some break-in suspects in Benton Harbor. The department of public safety tells WSJM News there’s been a rash of burglaries in the Jefferson Hill area. It’s identified two persons of interest. They are Deandre Shon Taylor and James Z. Griffin. A $500 reward is being offered for information that leads to arrests in the case. The department of public safety also notes this is the time of year when home break-ins increase. It reminds everyone to lock their doors and arm their houses with a security system. Anyone with information on the Jefferson Hill break-ins is asked to call Benton Harbor Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Light Up The Bluff Set For Friday

Coming up this Friday, the city of St. Joseph will light up the bluff. The St. Joe High School Choir will be on hand to perform at 6 p.m. when folks gather to see one million Christmas lights turned on for the season. That’s according to St. Joe Marketing Director Susan Solon, who spoke with WSJM News about the festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Senators Complain About Slow Pace Of Asian Carp Study

A group of U.S. senators is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to fall behind on a study of how a key waterway chokepoint could be used to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The corps is considering ways to strengthen defenses against the invasive carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. An August report estimated the upgrades could cost $275 million and take until 2025 to finish.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lt. Governor Calley Running For Governor

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has his sight set on the top job. He is launching his campaign for governor today, vowing to continue an economic rebound that has resulted in the addition of more than a half million jobs in Michigan. Calley touts the Michigan unemployment rate at a 17-year low this year and says the state leads the Midwest in job creation, ranks sixth nationally and is first in new manufacturing jobs.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Online Auction This Week

Now that the dust is settling from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, the United Way of Southwest Michigan is hoping folks will take a moment to give. It’s declared today to be Giving Tuesday, says the United Way’s Ryan Cheevers. He spoke with WSJM News about what is planned.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Now Testing Some Drivers For Drug Impairment

From the Associated Press — Michigan State Police officers are conducting roadside saliva tests on suspected drug-impaired motorists as part of a program spurring questions about the tests’ accuracy. State Police Special First Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells the South Bend Tribune that the program uses a portable saliva-testing device that can tell officers if a driver has certain drugs in his system, such as marijuana or opiates. Michigan Medical Marijuana Association president Michael Komorn says he’s concerned about the tests’ accuracy and the program’s experimental nature. The $150,000 program is called the Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis. Flegel says it aims to combat an increase in fatal crashes caused by drug-impaired drivers. He says officers must have a reason to suspect impairment before testing a driver. The program is currently being used in five Michigan counties: Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Announces New Line 5 Safety Agreement

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials and Enbridge Inc. have set a deadline of August 15, 2018, to determine the future of twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge. The date is part of an agreement announced Monday amid rising concerns about the safety of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends across northern Wisconsin and Michigan on its way to Sarnia, Ontario. A 5-mile segment rests on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. Valerie Brader of the Michigan Agency for Energy says if the two sides can’t agree by the deadline, the state will “take another path” that could include shutting down the line. But she said the state will consider other alternatives, including routing the underwater segment through a tunnel. Enbridge will evaluate three tunnel options by next June.. ...Read Full Story

Levin Endorses George Franklin For Congress In Sixth District

U.S. Senator Carl Levin has weighed in on the race for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth District. The Democrat from Detroit has endorsed George Franklin in his party’s primary for the district. George Franklin is one of six Democrats vying to face off against Congressman Fred Upton next year. He’s the most recent Democrat to announce a candidacy. In his endorsement issued Monday, Senator Levin says he’s worked with George Franklin for years, adding Franklin will “deliver on job creation, ensuring safe workplaces, supporting strong schools, and guaranteeing every family has access to affordable, quality health care.” Franklin worked as a lobbyist for Kellogg before starting his own consulting business. He lives in Glenn, and Senator Levin joined Franklin at a fundraiser in Kalamazoo Monday night. Also in the Democratic race to run against Fred Upton are David Benac, Paul Clements, Eponine Garrod, Rich Eichholz, and Matt Longjohn.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan K9 To Receive Bullet Protective Vest

A K9 for the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a donation from a non-profit organization. Lajki the dog is getting that extra protection from Vested Interest, a group that gets safety gear for police dogs all over the country. It’s previously helped out the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. Lajki’s vest is paid for by an anonymous sponsor and will be embroidered with the sentiment, “This gift of protection provided by Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporated.” The K9 officer is expected to receive the donation in 8 or 9 weeks. K9 Lajki is a two-year-old German Shepard from Poland, and has been with Allegan County Sheriff’s Department since February of 2017.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Receives Nine Applications For Open Spot

The city of St. Joseph has received nine applications from residents interested in filling a vacancy on the city commission. The term, left empty when former Commissioner Chris Huegel resigned this fall, still has two years on it. Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News commissioners decided Monday to ask the nine applicants for more information on themselves and their resumes.. ...Read Full Story

Wahmhoff Farms Ships Out Nearly 800 Christmas Trees To Troops

787 Christmas trees have been loaded up and shipped out to a military base in Florida as part of this year’s Trees for the Troops program at Wahmhoff Farms in Gobles. The nursery has taken part in Trees for the Troops each Christmas season since 2006. The farm’s Betsy Wahmhoff-Perales tells WSJM News it just feels right to send a Christmas gift to the families of those who serve.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Police Warn About Counterfeit Money

The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety is warning the public about some fake currency that’s been reported circulating in the community. In a Facebook message, the department says there have been complaints from local businesses recently. The Secret Service has offered a few tips to know if you’re dealing with funny money. First, it says you can hold a bill up to the light to look for a hologram of the face image on the bill. Both images should match. Second, it says you can look at the bill through a light to see a thin vertical strip containing text that spells out that bill’s denomination. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety tells us store clerks and others who handle money should be especially vigilant.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Accidentally Shot In Pipestone Twp

An 18-year-old Pipestone Township resident is in the hospital in critical condition after being accidentally shot on Sunday night. Michigan State Police tell us it happened around 10 p.m. in the 5,000 block of Old Pipestone Road. 18-year-old Delaney Nicole Flagel was unloading her vehicle after a day of hunting when a rifle was accidentally dropped causing it to discharge a round into her chest. Arriving troopers found her lying on the ground near her vehicle. She was brought to Lakeland Hospital in critical condition. Police say alcohol was not a factor in the incident.. ...Read Full Story

Trees For Troops Loading Today

Christmas trees will be sent to soldiers around the world from Gobles today. Wahmhoff Farms Nursery will load up semi trucks for their annual Trees For Troops event at 10 this morning. The trees will be shipped to Hurlburt Field at the US Air Force Auxiliary Base in Okaloosa County, Florida. Last year, the trees were shipped to Fort Benning, Georgia.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Continue Decline

Our gas prices in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are down 12¢ a gallon from last week to $2.45, but we’re not the lowest in the state. Triple-A Michigan says statewide, prices fell 10¢ from last Monday to mark two straight weeks of a drop of at least a dime. The state average is $2.53. The lowest prices in Michigan are in Saginaw, where the average is $2.39. For the fourth straight week, Ann Arbor has the highest prices in the state at $2.61. South Haven is not covered by Triple-A’s survey, but GasBuddy spotters are finding regular as low as $2.14 at most stations, with a high of $2.19 at Village XPress and $2.29 at the Marathon in Grand Junction.. ...Read Full Story

Conyers Gives Up Judiciary Post Amid Sex Harassment Probe

Congressman John Conyers is giving up his leadership position as top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. The decision by the Detroit lawmaker comes ahead of a congressional probe into allegations of sexual harassment made against him. Conyers says he doesn’t want the allegations to undermine his colleagues in the Democratic caucus or those who serve on the Judiciary committee or in the House in general.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Accidentally Shoots Self

Michigan State Police are investigating what they’re calling an accidental shooting in Eau Claire. An 18-year-old woman shot herself in the 5000 block of Old Pipestone Road Sunday night. Our reporting partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 say the shooting happened before 10:30 p.m., and no other details have been released including the victim’s name and her condition.. ...Read Full Story

Vaccine Waivers Up In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Vaccine waiver rates for school-age children have increased slightly in Michigan. The Detroit News reports that Department of Health and Human Services data shows 3.2% of kindergartners and seventh-graders received immunization waivers in 2016 compared to 3.1% the year before. The immunization rate was 4.8% in 2014. Since 2015, the state has required parents to attend educational sessions if they want to delay or decline immunizations for diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio,
diphtheria, hepatitis B and chickenpox. The newspaper reports that schools are required to report the immunization status of kindergarten, seventh-grade and transferring students. The state says there were 7,657 fewer waivers reported from schools in 2015 compared to the year before. Michigan allows waivers for medical reasons and on religious and philosophical grounds.. ...Read Full Story

Applications Sought For BH Income Tax Committee

The city of Benton Harbor is now taking applications from residents interested in serving on the new City Income Tax Oversight Committee. The body will determine how revenue from the city’s new income tax will be spent each year. It’s estimated that could be more than $2.5 million yearly. The deadline to apply to be on the City Income Tax Oversight Committee is Wednesday, December 27 at 5 p.m. Applications must be dropped off at the Benton Harbor City Clerk’s office, located at city hall. Anyone with questions should call.. ...Read Full Story

Komen Michigan Working On New Cancer Pilot Program

A new pilot program will be launched next year to help keep women in the loop regarding the breast cancer services available in Michigan. Komen Michigan’s Erica Bills tells WSJM News the organization has been selected to work with several agencies of the Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control and Navigation Program on a Breast Cancer Toolkit. She says there are many programs in place to prevent and treat breast cancer, and the more people know, the better.. ...Read Full Story

Greg Borzo; With Respect 11-26-17

John’s guest this week Greg Borzo is an historian/journalist who has highlighted unique and important parts of the City of Chicago. His latest book is Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains. They walk through the iconic (Buckingham Fountain, the Millennium Park giant fountains) to the most delicate and beautiful artistic and historical fountains around the City. It is a celebration of water, marble, glass, history and art which covers 130 unique sites in the town. . ...Read Full Story

Performance Of Handel’s Messiah Planned At Andrews University

Coming up in early December will be a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrews University in Berrien Springs. The university tells us the Andrews University Singers, Chorale and Chamber Orchestra will put on the show at 7 p.m. December 1. Andrews says those who attend can expect a fresh rendition of Messiah with “faster tempos, the authentic Baroque style of performance, and less familiar vocal solo movements.” Admission to the show will be free, but tickets will be required. To get a ticket, call the Howard Performing Arts Center box office or go to Howard.Andrews.Edu.. ...Read Full Story

Bob Carr Talks Run For Senate

Congressman Fred Upton may not be making a Senate run next year, but another man with southwest Michigan ties who is running is Bob Carr. With Upton bowing out of the GOP race to replace Senator Debbie Stabenow, Carr tells WSJM News he felt it was right to step things up. Carr says he grew up in foster homes all over the St. Joseph area. He now lives on Mackinac Island and tells us historical preservation has been his passion. He took a recent tour of the region and realized whole towns need to be preserved.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Berrien Twp Crash

An 80-year old Sawyer man is dead following a single vehicle crash in Berrien Township Saturday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us officers responded to a report of a crash on Long Lake Road
near Rangeline Road around 8:30 a.m. They found the driver, James Braddock of Sawyer, deceased. Police say Braddock was driving a 2005 Lexus west on Long Lake Road when the vehicle left the road and hit a large tree. It came to rest in the center of the road. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Crash Reconstruction Unit is investigating the cause. Police say the weather does not appear to have been a factor.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Preparing For New Income Tax

Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson has a lot of work to do in the next couple of months. He tells WSJM News he’s meeting next week with representatives of cities that have local income taxes now that Benton Harbor voters have approved one. He’s also working with city commissioners as they draft an ordinance to govern how the tax will work.. ...Read Full Story

Analyst: Tax Package Will Increase Federal Deficit

The fast-moving Republican federal tax bill is on the minds of many Michiganders this holiday season, and a new analysis finds the plan would have negative impacts on services across the state for many years. Rachel Richards, legislative coordinator for the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us the plan will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years, adding a deficit that large would leave lawmakers no choice but to right size the budget.. ...Read Full Story

Elkhart Man Reunited With Dog Found 200 Miles Away In Michigan

From the Associated Press — An Indiana man who thought he’d never see his dog again after it vanished in September has been reunited with the pooch, which was 200 miles away in central Michigan. Gene Valdez of Elkhart, Indiana, spent two months periodically checking a
local animal shelter for his Brittney Spaniel, Rock. But then his nephew contacted the Cass County Humane Society, located about 10
miles away in Cassopolis, Michigan. He learned that Rock had been rescued and was eventually moved to a shelter in Saginaw, more than 200 miles northeast of Elkhart. Valdez picked up Rock there last week. He tells The Elkhart Truth that his other Brittney Spaniel, Megan, is “happy as can be” since her companion returned. Both dogs will take part in a family pheasant hunting trip this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Mark III Wins Celebrated Service Award

The Mark III Grille and Bar in St. Joseph is the latest winner of the Celebrated Service Award. The Celebrated Service Award is given out by Celebration Cinema each year to salute businesses in the theater chain’s area for their high level of service. Celebration Cinema’s Emily Loeks tells WSJM News voters in the awards greatly appreciate the businesses that treat them special.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Planning To Showcase New Tech Program

Lake Michigan College is planning an open house to show off a new model of learning to anyone interested in earning computer technology degrees. LMC tells us its new Virtual Learning Environment — or, VLE — model is being unveiled at the open house. The VLE is designed to allow students to switch back and forth between attending classes either online or in person, depending on what’s most convenient for them on a given day.. ...Read Full Story

Shoppers Urged To Go Local This Saturday

When you buy local, more money stays in the community. In fact, it’s to the tune of $68 of every $100 spent flowing back into the community. That’s more than double the benefit of big box stores. So, many towns are asking you to support local businesses tomorrow for Small Business Saturday. However, there are more than just monetary benefits, says Farmington Downtown Development Authority Director Kate Knight. She spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Home Sales Continue To Be Strong

Home sales around southwest Michigan continued to smash records in the month of October. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells WSJM News October was the tenth month in a row sales were up over the same month in the previous year. The number of houses sold in October 2017 increased 9%, while overall for the year, the number of houses sold is up  5%. Meanwhile, inventory around the region dropped 12% from October of 2016. The average selling price for October of this year was up 18% over October of 2016. Despite the average mortgage rate being slightly up — 4.1% from 3.9% percent in September — the market has remained robust. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells us a warm fall and dwindling inventory may have kept buyers motivated throughout the month.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Saturday Events Planned In Buchanan

While you’re taking part in Small Business Saturday sales this weekend, one place you may want to go is Buchanan. That’s because the downtown area is hosting special events for White Saturday. The Buchanan Downtown Development Authority’s Barbara Wallace tells WSJM News the festivities are about celebrating Buchanan and having some fun.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Man Killed In South Haven-Area Crash

One man is dead following a two-vehicle crash in Allegan County Thursday night. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened at the intersection of 109th Avenue and 66th Street around 9:35 p.m. Arriving deputies found two damaged vehicles, one of which was a truck that had rolled over in a field. The driver was pinned in the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. He has been identified as 63-year-old Paul Hapke, Jr. of the Pullman area. The other driver, a 20-year-old South Haven woman, told deputies she was southbound on 66th Street when she was unable to stop for the stop sign at 109th Avenue. She then struck the pickup truck, which had been eastbound on 109th Avenue. The crash remains under investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Territorial Road To Be Closed For Culvert Work

Territorial Road between North Branch Road and Millburg Drive will be d starting Monday closed while the Berrien County Road Department works to strengthen a recently-rebuilt culvert. It’s been put in danger by heavy rains throughout November. Berrien County Road Department Traffic Safety Supervisor Mike Juengling tells WSJM News crews just finished work on the collapsed Blue Creek culvert.. ...Read Full Story

Injured Chikaming Twp Officer Slowly Improving

It’s been a slow recovery so far for injured Chikaming Township Police Officer David Wyman. He was hit by a car on I-94 at exit 12 eastbound on November 12, and was sent to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph and then to a hospital in Kalamazoo. On Facebook, Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor writes Wyman “continues to improve each day and slowly recover.” The chief adds the officer has experienced kidney issues, which have been a challenge as he works to get healthy. A 67-year-old man hit Wyman as he was clearing the scene from an earlier accident in which a car went into a ditch.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Son Pleads Guilty

Nikolas Abbott, the son of Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott, has entered a guilty plea to a charge of being an accessory after the fact in the shooting death of E.J. Holland. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office was assigned the case and say Abbott supplied the gun to Thurmond Fletcher, who took it to a drug deal with Holland in a Bangor Park in February. The drug deal went sour, Holland wound up dead, and Fletcher wounded. Fletcher pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a gun felony earlier this year. Abbott has now cut a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to being an accessory, a gun charge and a drunken driving charge. Four other charged will be dropped.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Casco Township Crash

One person is dead in a crash in Casco Township. It happened just before 10 last night at 109th Avenue and 66th Street. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us the driver of a pickup that rolled in the crash was killed and the driver of the SUV involved was hurt. We don’t yet know the extent of those injuries or what caused the crash. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Hunters Reminded Of Safety Tips

Hunters have fanned out across the state to seek out that prize deer as part of firearm hunting season. It kicked off this week, running through November 30, and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News hunters must be cautious. He notes some may face an increased heart attack risk if they’re out in the woods lugging things around.. ...Read Full Story

New Website Launched For Berrien County

Now up and running is a redesigned Berrien County website. Berrien County IT Director Ken Hoffman tells WSJM News the county board this year approved an update for the site in order to meet new state accessibility requirements. The new site launched last week. It’s designed to better handle mobile devices and has other features.. ...Read Full Story

Hunters Could Help To Stop Invasive Plant Species

Hunters have a chance this month to do their part in preventing the spread of invasive species. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News a hunter should clean off their gear and boots before moving from one forest to another. That’s because small pieces of invasive plants can get on those things and then cause their spread elsewhere. That could be bad for deer habitat.. ...Read Full Story