Local News Archives

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

Benton Harbor Taking Applications For Income Tax Commitee

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

LMC To Hold Open House For 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

St. Joseph Ice Arena To Open On Thanksgiving

The John and Dede Howard Ice Arena in St. Joseph is about to be open for the season. The rink on Napier Avenue traditionally opens for the year on Thanksgiving day with open skate for everyone. This Thursday’s hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. After that, each day will feature open skate hours along with organized activities. You can see the city’s list of ice rink hours by clicking below.. ...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 employees pick the nominees based on their experiences at each location, and then the public gets to vote on their favorite. The Mark III serves up steaks, seafood, and Mexican fare on M-139 near Miners Road. It takes the title of Celebrated Service Award winner from the Mason Jar in Benton Harbor. Now that it’s been selected as the winner, the Mark III gets $5,000, a package of movie-related prizes, and a spotlight at Celebration Cinema theaters for the next year.. ...Read Full Story

Former Southwest Michigan Resident Running 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

Upton Still Hoping For Tax Reform By Christmas

The U.S. Senate is on break for Thanksgiving, and Congressman Fred Upton says that’s not right. He tells WSJM News Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should have kept members there for the holiday until they pushed through a tax reform plan. He says the Senate plan will have to be reconciled with the House plan.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Residents Split Over Controversial Fountain

From the Associated Press — Officials in southwest Michigan are considering how to handle a controversial fountain that some say celebrates white supremacy. The Fountain of the Pioneers in Kalamazoo features a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American. Some residents say the piece is racist, while others argue that it’s a work of art that can teach people about history.
Kalamazoo City Commission saw a presentation from city staff Monday about the Bronson Park fountain’s history. The commission didn’t have a vote scheduled on the issue and will revisit the topic in 90 days. A $2.8 million plan to restore the weathered statute and improve Bronson Park was approved in 2016. Fundraising efforts for the project have stalled because of the fountain debate.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Congressman Conyers Settled Complaint Over Sexual Conduct

A news website Is reporting that Michigan Congressman John Conyers settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman who alleged she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances. BuzzFeed reports that the office of the Detroit Democrat paid the woman over $27,000 to settle the complaint under a confidentiality agreement. BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.. ...Read Full Story

2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Logo Unveiled

The logo for the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is now at center ice of the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena in St. Joseph. The arena opens this weekend for the season, and city leaders and tournament officials gathered for the unveiling yesterday. KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship general chairman Sam Abdelnour spoke to our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Offers Thanksgiving Energy Tips

With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, utilities are giving customers some estimates regarding how much it will cost to prepare that big meal. Consumers Energy tells our newsroom it actually costs less than $2 in energy to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. That includes natural gas or electricity for roasting the stuffed 18-pound turkey at the center of the table and for cooking enough side dishes and dessert to serve 12 guests. The company adds you can increase your energy value even more by using a roasting bag to cut in half the time it takes to cook a turkey, combining several dishes when baking, and keeping the oven door closed. The utility has more energy saving tips at ConsumersEnergy.com/MyHome.. ...Read Full Story

Doctors Recommend Annual Wellness Exams

Doctors are urging everyone to make sure they get an annual wellness exam. Dr. Robert Jackson, chairman of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, tells us he’s seen many positive changes since Medicare began covering the exams in 2011. He says it’s important to remember that regardless of age, medicine has limited benefits. What he says really helps is getting patients to make long-term lifestyle changes.. ...Read Full Story

Wightman And Associates Named Wonderful Place To Work

Wightman and Associates has been picked by 269 Magazine as one of Southwest Michigan’s Wonderful Workplaces. The civil engineering firm tells us the award celebrates the efforts made by local businesses to be great places to work. Winners are recognized in the November-December issue of 269 Magazine. The publication’s Ron Kitchens tells us having a “highly engaged and productive workforce is about understanding that people who work in an amazing environment are going to do incredible things.” Wightman and Associates tells us, “Winning companies empower their workers while emphasizing overall wellness.” Other companies in the Wonderful Workplaces list are Consumers Credit Union and CSM Group.. ...Read Full Story

Komen Working On New Breast Cancer Treatment 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

Benton Harbor Preparing For Local 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

Part Of Territorial Road To Be Shut Down

Territorial Road between North Branch Road and Millburg Drive will be closed starting next Monday 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

Recount Affirms BH Income Tax Vote

Benton Harbor’s city income tax takes effect January 1. It’s a done deal after a recount on Monday. Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler announced to election workers the 21 vote difference between yes votes and no votes didn’t change, although each side did gain one vote.. ...Read Full Story

Final Report Issued On Controversial Pipeline

From the Associated Press — State officials have released a final analysis of options for the future of a controversial oil pipeline that runs beneath the channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan. The report by the Canadian consulting firm Dynamic Risk lists six alternatives. Among them is continued operation of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5, which runs from Superior, Wisconsin, through northern Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. The segment that crosses the Straits of Mackinac is divided into two lines. Among other options are building new pipelines that would bypass the straits or be buried in tunnels; moving Line 5’s oil through other pipeline networks; or transporting the oil by rail, truck or barge. The report makes no endorsement but analyzes the various alternatives’ potential risks and costs. Michigan officials will accept public comments for 30 days.. ...Read Full Story

Group Submits Signatures To Legalize Marijuana In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A ballot committee proposing to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Michigan has submitted more than 360,000 voter signatures in a bid for a statewide vote in 2018. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in the signatures to state election officials in Lansing on Monday. Michigan already allows for the use of marijuana for medical reasons. The proposal would make it the ninth state to legalize the drug for recreational use. Adults 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed. The ballot group needs roughly 252,000 valid signatures.The state is expected to take a couple months reviewing the petitions.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices In Michigan Down 11¢ From Last Week

AAA Michigan says we’re paying around 11¢ less per gallon to fill up compared to last week. The Dearborn-based auto club says Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.63 per gallon. Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.52 per gallon in the Lansing and East Lansing areas. The highest was about $2.71 per gallon in the Ann Arbor area. In Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, we’re at $2.57, down 14¢ from a week ago.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Tax Recount Underway

The recount is underway of the Benton Harbor city income tax vote. It passed November 7 by just 21 votes. If that result is upheld, city residents would pay 1%, and non-residents who work in the city would pay 0.5%. We will update this story when the final numbers are available. The recount is being done at the Berrien County Courthouse.. ...Read Full Story

GM: Next Gen Electric Vehicle To Cost Less, Go Farther

From the Associated Press — General Motors is telling investors its next generation of electric vehicles will cost the company 30 percent less than current ones, making them profitable after the new version debuts in 2021. CEO Mary Barra made the forecast at an investor conference Wednesday. She expects to cut battery cell cost from $145 per kilowatt hour of electricity to under $100, yet produce a range of over 300 miles. The company also plans to reduce manufacturing costs and gain sales as electric vehicle demand rises worldwide. GM has pledged to roll out 20 new zero-emissions vehicles by 2023 with two new ones coming in 18 months. Currently most automakers lose money on electric vehicles. Barra says GM generates enough capital to finance electric and autonomous vehicle research as well as traditional vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Expert Offers Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips

Now that the cold weather is here, you might notice your furnace running for long periods of time without your home warming up much. There are simple things you can do to make sure your furnace is running efficiently. Jack Heron, owner of Haven Heating and Air Conditioning in South Haven, told WSJM News some home heating tips.. ...Read Full Story

Expansion Announced By Hagar Twp Company

A Hagar Township business has announced an expansion project. According to Cornerstone Alliance, Monte Package Company, a manufacturer and supplier of packaging for the produce industry, is adding 3,600 square feet to its shipping and receiving area in its warehouse facility in Riverside. The total investment for the expansion project is $140,000, and two new jobs will be created. Cornerstone tells us Hagar Township has been supportive of the expansion plan, granting it a tax abatement this week. Monte Packaging says remaining in the area was always important to the company. The business has operated in Berrien County for 92 years.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Royalton Twp Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is trying to identify a man killed in a single-vehicle crash Sunday morning in Royalton Township. Deputies were called to M-139 north of Dickenson Road shortly before 7 a.m. and found the man’s Ford Fusion had gone off M-139 and through a long stretch of fence. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, and did not have a license or any other identification on him.  The vehicle has been seized as evidence by the sheriff’s department.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Reading Grant Awarded To Countryside Academy

Countryside Academy in Benton Harbor will take part in a new kind of summer reading program this year thanks to an $8,000 grant the school has received. Administrator Sarah Brookshire tells WSJM News kids in kindergarten through grade three will be part of the Kids Read Now program. It sends them educational books throughout the summer. It could help reduce summer brain drain.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Talks Retail Closings

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski sees a trend that will probably continue when he considers the upcoming closure of the Benton Harbor Target store. He tells us the store’s closing is the result of a general decline in shopping at brick and mortar retailers. As far as the Benton Harbor Target’s tax contribution to the county, Witkowski says not a whole lot is being lost. In 2007, the Target paid $131,000, but last year it paid $59,000. However, Witkowski can see a bigger problem being caused as more retailers close.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County To Mark Adoption Day Tuesday

With more than 2,600 children in Michigan waiting to be adopted, the Van Buren County Circuit Court’s Family Division next week will celebrate those who have navigated the process. It’s national Adoption Day, with the court’s Veronica Stillson telling WSJM News special guests will be on hand, along with some choirs. She says it’s a joyous affair.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Police Substation Opening In South Bend Monday

The Pokagon Tribal Police Department is expanding to South Bend as the Pokagon band prepares to open its new casino there. On Monday, tribal police will hold the grand opening of the new Pokagon Band Tribal Police Substation on Prairie Avenue in South Bend. The substation is located on tribal land which is also the site of the Pokagon Tribal Village and Four Winds Casino South Bend. On hand for the grand opening of the new police substation will be representatives of the Pokagon Band who will highlight the partnerships being formed between local law enforcement and the tribal police. The South Bend Four Winds Casino is expected to open early next year.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Receives Audit

Benton Harbor Area Schools has received a clean audit for the most recent fiscal year, with its business office getting some praise this week from auditors. At a Tuesday meeting, the board was told the district added $6.3 million to its fund balance last year. That’s partly due to a loan, the auditor said, of $3.4 million. Also in the most recent year, Benton Harbor Area Schools reduced the deficit from $11.7 million to $5.4 million. Again, the loan factors into that. Nevertheless, School Board President Joseph Taylor thanked retiring Chief Financial Officer Scott Johnson for improvements in the business office.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Calls For More STEM Opportunities

State Senator John Proos is calling for more opportunities for Michigan students to receive a STEM education. He took to the Senate floor last week as part of National STEM Day. He pointed to the expected demand over the next decade for workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and math right here in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

New SJ Commissioners Look Forward To Term Ahead

Two new St. Joseph City Commissioners were sworn in and seated this week. Following their wins in elections last week, Laura Goos and Peggy Getty were made official Monday night, along with the re-elected Michael Garey. Goos, a newcomer, told WSJM News her first task is to learn. After that, she wants to engage more of the public. She hit the ground running Monday, being appointed mayor pro tem.. ...Read Full Story

Economists: MI Economy Could Absorb NAFTA Changes

From the Associated Press — Economists say Michigan’s economy would likely absorb the effects of possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement fairly well. University of Michigan economists released their annual analysis of the state’s economy Friday. They say the prospect of a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA is unlikely, but they examined the potential effects of changes. The economists say the effects would depend on whether Mexico and the U.S. place additional tariffs on each other’s exports. They say Michigan could gain
6,400 jobs by 2020 due to more light truck production if there are no new tariffs, but could lose 7,000 manufacturing jobs if there are retaliatory tariffs. The overall 2018-19 forecast for Michigan sees steady job growth, low unemployment, tame inflation and an economy that continues to diversify.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Department Offering Stop Smoking Classes

With the Great American Smokeout taking place this past week, the Berrien County Health Department is reminding all area smokers of the programs it offers to help them quit. The health department tells us its next smoking cessation classes will begin in January. The class is open to the public at a cost of $10.00 and provides those who take part with a workbook and stress-relieving techniques. The health department says quitters are most successful when using a combination of therapies, like nicotine replacement, counseling, self-help materials, and a strong support network of family and friends. Anyone who wants to sign up for a Berrien County Health Department smoking cessation class can just call the department. It tells us tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Michigan, killing more than 16,000 residents each year.. ...Read Full Story

Two Berrien Deputies Complete Corrections Training

Two Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies have completed training as corrections officers. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies Mark Boelcke and Ryan Streelman attended the officer training academy held at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The four week academy covers subjects like custody and security, defensive tactics, first aid, suicide awareness, fire safety, and communications. The sheriff’s department says the academy is an important part of teaching deputies how to keep the jail and its inmates safe. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey congratulated Boelcke and Streelman for completing the corrections training.. ...Read Full Story

Appeal Sought In Demolition Of SJ House

It could be a year before the battle over a blighted property on Niles Avenue in St. Joseph is resolved. St Joe City Commissioners Monday heard from City Attorney Laurie Schmidt that the owner of the home at 1015 Niles — the house with the tarp on its roof — has filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Berrien County Circuit Court last month ruled in favor of a city demolition order on the house, which inspectors have said is unlivable. However, the owner had one more place to turn and the state appeals court was it. The city attorney said that owner filed the appeal on the day of the deadline. Now, she says it could be as long as a year before the appeals court makes a decision. She told commissioners it might be quicker, but “realistically, the court of appeals does take a long time.” Meanwhile, some other properties the city has fought to clean up have seen progress. Schmidt said a home at 517 Archer was demolished last week, has a new owner, and there will be a new home built there in the spring. As for other homes on Hoyt Street and Wayne Street, she said they’re about halfway fixed.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seeking Suspects In BH Armed Robbery Last Month

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department could use your help in catching an armed robbery suspect. It tells us Benton Harbor Public Safety responded to a robbery at H and B Liquor Store on Broadway Avenue on Halloween night. Officers learned two male suspects wearing all black went into the store flashing handguns and demanding cash. They got away with an undisclosed amount. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Crimestoppers is offering up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Anyone with information on the armed robbery can call Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Road Commission Gearing Up For Winter Maintenance

With the winter here, the Van Buren County Road Commission is reminding everyone how it will handle snowplowing in the coming months. Road Commission Engineer Manager Larry Hummel tells WSJM News the plows will work steadily throughout snowy days from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. When it’s extra snowy, they dial things up.. ...Read Full Story

Police Officer Charged In Shooting Incident

The Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office has authorized a charge against a former Mattawan police officer who allegedly fired shots at a car that had sped away from her early this month. It happened on November 3 when Mattawan Police Officer Chelsey Omilian initiated a stop on a stolen vehicle. There was a brief chase and that’s when the officer fired at the vehicle. One of the vehicle’s three occupants was injured in the incident. The Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office tells us Omilian was arraigned Friday on a charge of reckless use of a firearm. It’s a 90 day misdemeanor that could come with a $500 fine. Omilian is now free on bond. She’s been on administrative leave since the shooting incident.. ...Read Full Story

AG Asks Legislature To Consider Changes To Hunting Rules

The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he has issued some recommendations to state lawmakers for how they could strengthen hunting rights. AG spokesperson Andrea Bitely tells WSJM News hunting is something that Schuette views as important to all Michiganders. That’s why he’s making some suggestions. For one thing, Schuette asks lawmakers to remove a ban on using or possessing a loaded hunting weapon in a vehicle. Bitely says that’s so DNR rules on duck hunting in a boat will match the actual state law.. ...Read Full Story