Local News Archives

Paw Paw River County Park Moves Forward


The Berrien County Parks Commission is getting ready to start working on a new park in Watervliet. Paw Paw River County Park has been in the works for awhile, and parks director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the plan is to have it open by early August. Bailey says it will be a trailhead for the Paw Paw River Water Trail.. ...Read Full Story

MSP Director Docked Pay For Facebook Post On NFL Protests


The director of the Michigan State Police will lose five days of pay for sharing a Facebook post that called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates.” Governor Snyder announced the decision Thursday. He says Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue still must work while her salary is suspended for five days. The governor says he has “full faith” in Etue’s leadership. On September 24, Etue shared a meme on her personal Facebook page that called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “millionaire ingrates who hate America.” She has apologized but hasn’t publicly explained why she shared it. Some black lawmakers want her fired. Snyder says it’s time to “find common ground rather than rehash past mistakes.”. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Pausing Plan To Sell Properties


The pause button is being hit by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board on trying to sell some properties. The district is in the middle of a facilities usage study, which officials say might result in new buildings on land owned by BHAS. The board is working with GMB Architects + Engineers on the study as they consider their options and await a final facility assessment report. GMB has told board members that building new schools might wind up being as or more cost efficient compared to remodeling existing buildings. The board is now looking at the option of constructing new buildings in the city limits on its land, and has asked the Michigan Department of Treasury for permission to hold off on the real estate plan until any decision on new schools can be made.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Expanding At BH High School


The number of students being served by the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program at Benton Harbor High School is being doubled this year thanks to a partnership with Youth Solutions. The expansion means 100 students, roughly 15% of the total school population, is now able to receive targeted employability skills training that’s aimed at helping kids successfully transition to the workforce when they graduate high school. Students from 9th through 12th grades are eligible, and they will be formally inducted into the program next Friday at 9 a.m. State Representative Kim LaSata is slated to be the event’s keynote speaker. Kinexus started the JMG program at Benton Harbor High School in 2008, and for the past three years, 100% of the seniors taking part have graduated, with 97% moving on to positive outcomes that include jobs, college, or military service.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Launches Text-To-911


Van Buren County’s Central Dispatch can now accept text messages sent to 9-1-1. The Text-to-911 service will work from anywhere in Van Buren County, and it’s been being tested since early May. All four major wireless carriers were finally brought into the system late last month after the first provider went live with the program in May, followed by two more in mid-June. The sheriff’s department says calls are still preferred, but in the event that’s not possible, they can now take in texts. They also are reminding people it’s only for emergencies, and it can’t be used in a group text message. The system is also not equipped to handle photos or video.. ...Read Full Story

Private Marina Draws Opposition


A plan to build a private marina and nearly 40 home sites near Saugatuck Dunes State Park is drawing opposition from area residents and environmentalists. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing Tuesday night at Saugatuck High School. The Grand Rapids Press reports that of the more than 45 people who spoke during the two-and-a-half-hour hearing only one spoke in favor of the project. The 300-acre property once belonged to oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who proposed large-scale development before his death last year. Its new owner is moving ahead with development plans. The DEQ’s public comment period ends Oct. 27th. DEQ and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits are required to remove sand and build the marina off the Kalamazoo River where it meets Lake Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Mi-Journey and WSJM News Host ‘Suicide Prevention Town Hall’


Ray Gustafson of WSJM News moderated a special Suicide Prevention Town Hall held Tuesday (October 17) at the Mi-Journey Drop-In Center, featuring panelists from the community. The event aired live on News/Talk 94.9 WSJM and sister station ROCK 107 WIRX along with Facebook live without commercial interruption to shed light on the troubling statistics and stories of loss, and movement forward for those in need of help.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Income Tax Up For Vote


The Benton Harbor City Commission is being urged by some in the area to get busy getting the word out regarding the income tax proposal on the November ballot. At Monday’s commission meeting, activist Ed Pinkney of Benton Township said city leaders haven’t done a good job yet.. ...Read Full Story

Over 2,100 Pets Adopted In Latest BISSELL Pet Foundation Event


It was touted as the largest BISSELL Pet Foundation “Empty The Shelters” event to date, and it delivered this past weekend. Foundation founder Cathy Bissell tells WSJM News that overall, more than 21-hundred pets were adopted, with her organization paying the adoption fees throughout Michigan and in select shelters in Chicago, upstate New York, and Kentucky. As for the numbers in our area, Bissell says the Al-Van Humane Society in Van Buren County did 24 adoptions in two locations in South Haven and Grand Rapids.. ...Read Full Story

United Federal Credit Union Expanding To South Bend


United Federal Credit Union is getting ready to expand. The credit union broke ground yesterday for its first branch in South Bend. It will be the first of six new branches in St. Joseph County, Indiana. The new location will be at the northeast corner of Ireland Road and Lafayette Boulevard on the south side of South Bend, and another will get under construction at Main Street and Edison Lakes Parkway in Mishawaka later this month. Locations for the other four branches, set to be open over the next four years, have not been selected as yet.. ...Read Full Story

Second Indiana Man Sentenced For State Trooper Attack


An Indiana man accused in an attack on a Michigan State Police trooper has been sentenced to 15 to 50 years in prison. 19-year-old Travis Wise of Middlebury was sentenced Monday for assault with intent to murder in a Berrien County courtroom. Police say Trooper Garry Guild was chasing a stolen motorcycle February 20 in Berrien County near the Indiana state line. Wise’s half brother, Michael Barber of Mishawaka, charged Guild after crashing the motorcycle. Police say Wise then pulled up and joined in attacking Guild. Two motorists stopped the men, allowing the officer to arrest his attackers. Barber was earlier convicted and sentenced to at least 14 years behind bars. Wise pleaded no contest last month.. ...Read Full Story

Two Hospitalized After South Haven Boat Fire


Two people are being treated at South Haven Hospital after the boat they were on caught fire in Lake Michigan off the coast of South Haven. It happened just before 4 p.m. Monday near north beach, and South Haven Area Emergency Services says the two were rescued by another boater who was nearby. They were taken to the hospital by ambulance. A SHAES fireboat put out the flames, and the U.S. Coast Guard responded from St. Joseph as well. No cause for the fire has been determined.. ...Read Full Story

Still No Decision On Senate Run By Fred Upton


Congressman Fred Upton says he will make a decision soon whether or not he will run for Congress next year, or take a gamble at trying to unseat Senator Debbie Stabenow. The St. Joseph Republican has a lot to consider, as pundits believe his chances are better if he stays in the 6th District U.S. House seat, where he also has seniority. Republican pollsters think Stabenow is vulnerable but GOP strategist Greg McNeilly thinks Upton has name recognition problems statewide.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM, WIRX, MIJourney Holding Suicide Prevention Town Hall


Rock 107 WIRX and News/Talk 94.9 WSJM will be airing a town hall forum Tuesday night regarding suicide prevention. Anna Magdalena-Christensen is with MIJourney in Benton Township, and is hosting the event at their offices at M-139 and Nickerson at 6 p.m. She says the idea for the forum was spawned by the recent suicide of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, and talked to us about the goal of the event.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. LaSata Signs On To Constitutional Amendment For Budget


A resolution in the state House which would mandate in the Michigan Constitution that the budget be done and sent to the governor by July 1 is now co-sponsored by Berrien County Representative Kim LaSata. The Bainbridge Township Republican signed on Monday as a co-sponsor of House Resolution X, moving up the deadline for the budget from the start of the fiscal year on October 1. In a statement, LaSata says she’s seen the frustrations of not knowing the state budget firsthand as a teacher when it comes to trying to plan for the next year. Under Governor Snyder, it’s not been a problem, as the budget has been finished and signed into law by July 1 every year. However, a decade ago, state government shut down in October 2007 due to a stalemate in Lansing. If two-thirds of the House and Senate vote yes, it will be on the November 2018 ballot. Lawmakers won’t get paid for every day past July 1 that they fail to have a budget agreement in place.. ...Read Full Story

Sewer Overflow In South Haven


The heavy rain over the weekend has resulted in a sanitary sewer overflow into the Black River in South Haven. The city’s department of public works says between 10,000 and 13,000 gallons of diluted wastewater overflowed into the storm drain and then the river. The situation is being monitored by city staff, and reports will be filed with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Van Buren County Health Department. South Haven is currently building new interceptor sewers, a new main pump station, and an equalization basin to address the overflows that happen on occasion on Dunkley Avenue, some 300 feet north of Dyckman Avenue and upstream from the Main Lift Station.. ...Read Full Story

Dam Breached In Paw Paw


Southwestern Michigan authorities say a dam in the village of Paw Paw has breached following heavy rainfall. Paw Paw officials say that after the breach was discovered around 5 a.m. Sunday, crews were summoned to open an additional spillway. Officials don’t believe the dam breach poses a threat to residents or properties. Officials say crews will evaluate the dam and make recommendations to ensure its future stability. Authorities had been checking the dam periodically throughout Saturday due to heavy rainfall. The pedestrian bridge over the dam, which separates Briggs Pond and Maple Lake, has been closed.. ...Read Full Story

Non-Profit Seeks Permission To Open South Bend Abortion Clinic


From the Associated Press — An Austin, Texas-based nonprofit has applied for a state license to open a non-surgical abortion clinic in South Bend. The South Bend Tribune reported Friday that the clinic operated by the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance would offer abortion medication that women would take in the presence of a physician, then take medication at home one or two days later and return to the clinic to confirm their pregnancy had been terminated. Indiana State Health Department spokeswoman Jeni O’Malley said the clinic’s
application is being reviewed. Currently, the nearest abortion providers to South Bend are in Merrillville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. A South Bend abortion clinic closed in late 2015. St. Joseph County Right to Life and Indiana Right to Life are encouraging supporters to voice their opposition to the proposed clinic.. ...Read Full Story

SJ City Commission Hears About Summer Safety Results


St. Joseph Public Safety Director Brian Uridge is pleased with how his department’s summer safety strategy worked. Now, he wants to improve it for next year. At this week’s city commission meeting, Uridge said the plan for this past summer was mostly met with positive reviews. His department implemented it after a series of meetings ahead of the summer. Uridge told WSJM News folks liked the more than 50 new parking spaces at Lions Beach Park created by making the upper drive one-way.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Receiving Several Grants For Specialty Courts


Van Buren County has received word that it’s getting several large grants for its specialty courts. First of all, it’s been awarded $715,000 for the Drug Treatment Court, the Family Treatment Court, the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, the Adult and Youth Recovery Courts, and the Sobriety Court. The money comes in grants from the State Court Administrative Office for 2018. Additionally, the county has been awarded a 5 year, $1.9 million grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to enhance its Family Treatment Court. Plus, Van Buren County has received word it’s getting a grant of just under $400,000 for its Drug Treatment Court from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Van Buren County has several specialty courts. They’re designed to help some offenders avoid prison while addressing the root cause of their crimes. News of the grants came this past week.. ...Read Full Story

Report Gun Ownership In Detroit Lower Than In Rural Areas


From the Associated Press — Michigan State Police statistics show that the area surrounding metropolitan Detroit has some of the lowest per capita legal handgun ownership in the state. Police statistics from Oct. 2 show that rates for approved concealed pistol licenses were 68 firearms per every 1,000 residents in Macomb, 62 in Wayne and 61 in Oakland County. The area is often maligned for its level of violence.
A Detroit Free Press analysis found those rates were nearly half the rate of legal gun ownership of more rural parts of Michigan, such as Alcona, Keweenaw and Montmorency counties. Those counties tallied approved licenses rates of 122, 119 and 114 per 1,000 residents, respectively. Lawmakers recently debated the issue of gun ownership while considering legislation that would allow lawful gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Signs Off On $46 Million Plan To Clean Kalamazoo River


From the Associated Press — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a five-year, $46 million plan to clean up a stretch of the Kalamazoo River that’s contaminated from past paper production. The project will cover nearly 2 miles of the river between Plainwell and Otsego City Dam. The Otsego dam will be removed as part of the work. The plans are part of ongoing efforts to clean up the 80-mile Allied Paper/Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site, which has been listed on the agency’s National Priorities List since 1990. Plans also are in the works to redevelop the Allied Paper site. A main concern for the EPA is PCBs leftover from industrial processes at paper mills that began operating along the river in the 1950s.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Mayor Talks Income Tax


Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad says something must be done to deal with the city’s crumbling streets, and his suggestion is voters approve a new city income tax. A tax of 1% for residents and 0.5% for non-residents who work in the city will appear on next month’s ballot. Muhammad tells WSJM News the city comes nowhere close to generating enough revenue to fix streets, alleys, and sidewalks as things stand now.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Leaders Fighting Short-Term Rental Bills


St. Joseph City Commissioners are hoping residents make their voices heard to state lawmakers when it comes to new zoning legislation. A plan in the state House and Senate would strip a community’s ability to restrict short-term rentals. St. Joe Commissioners Monday night warned such a plan, if passed, would mean out of control summer vacation homes in town, something they’ve worked to avoid for years. City Commissioner Jeff Richards said neighborhoods sit empty for half the year when that happens, and schools suffer.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Calls For End To Driver Responsibility Fees


Kinexus is now among the groups on record hoping to see an end to Michigan’s Driver Responsibility fees. Testifying in the state House this week about a bill that would do away with them was Kinexus Senior Director of Innovation Duane Berger. He tells WSJM News Kinexus has seen many southwest Michigan workers get hit with the fees, be unable to pay them, and then lose their license.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM Sports Anchor To Be Honored Today


WSJM’s own sports anchor Phil McDonald is receiving a special honor. He’s been picked to be inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan’s Hall of Honor for his nearly 30 years of local sports broadcasting. Phil tells WSJM News it’s wonderful to be recognized and to work at an organization committed to sports.. ...Read Full Story

SJ City Commission Vacancy To Be Filled After Elections


A vacancy on the St. Joseph City Commission will remain just that until after the elections next month. City commissioners this week said a post left empty with the resignation of former member Chris Heugel should be filled by the new commission which will be seated after the election. Although that leaves more than a month with a vacancy, the sitting commission said the folks who wind up serving on the board next month should get to pick Heugel’s replacement. Applications will be taken at that time. Heugel resigned last month because he moved to the township. His term runs through 2019. The city commission election is November 7.. ...Read Full Story

Mi Combat Center Tests Positive For Contamination


From the Associated Press — A combat center in northern Michigan has become the third military installation in the state to test positive for contaminated groundwater. Captain Brian Blumline says preliminary results came in this week for tests conducted at five locations at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center earlier this year. He says all the sites showed elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctyl sulfonate.The contaminants are from fire-fighting foam that used to be involved in training at the base. Blumline urges the public to attend an informational meeting at the base next week. He says state environmental and health agencies will provide updates on
what steps will be taken moving forward. Contamination has been found at Camp Grayling and the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Hopes To Empty Its Shelter Tomorrow


This Saturday will bring another Bissell Pet Foundation Empty the Shelter event. That’s when the Grand Rapids-based Bissell will pay the adoption fees for animals at shelters all over the state. Taking part is the Cass County Animal Shelter in Cassopolis. Director Ron Butts tells WSJM News they’ve got lots of critters who need homes.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases List Of HeartSafe Schools


The state of Michigan this week recognized 125 schools for achieving HeartSafe status. Under a program of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, schools in Michigan can be certified for having taken the right steps to be prepared for cardiac arrest on their grounds. In order to get HeartSafe status, the schools must have an AED on site and have trained their staff in its use. Included on the list of Heartsafe Schools are every major school in Van Buren County, thanks to an effort by the Van Buren ISD. They’ve been on the list since 2014. As for Berrien County, only the Benton Harbor Charter School Academy and the Blossomland Learning Center are on the list. You can find the list of all the state’s HeartSafe schools right here.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Cracking Down On Unsafe Commercial Drivers


Michigan State Police are making an extra effort to bust unsafe commercial drivers in the coming week. “Operation Safe Driver Week” is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and is a national partnership between government and professional groups. State police are putting an extra effort into making sure commercial truck drivers are safe. The goal is to decrease the number of deaths and injuries resulting from crashes involving large trucks, buses and passenger vehicles due to unsafe behaviors like speeding and distracted and aggressive driving. The extra patrols start this Sunday and run for one week. State police tell us the goal is to reach zero traffic crash deaths. You can find out more at TowardZeroDeaths.org.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hoping For DACA Replacement Soon


Congressman Fred Upton is still holding out hope legislation to replace the DACA program can be approved within the time frame established by President Donald Trump. He told Michigan’s Big Show he was in Kalamazoo this week to hear from young people personally affected by Trump’s decision to end DACA.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Rename Part Of Red Arrow Highway For Fallen Trooper


State Representative Kim LaSata has introduced legislation to rename part of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County after a fallen police officer. Her office tells WSJM News Michigan State Police Trooper Robert J. Mihalik was killed in the line of duty on September 9, 1984. He’d been arresting a suspect for failing to pay for gas at a Shoreham area station when he was shot. Representative LaSata’s bill would rename Red Arrow between Glenlord and Hilltop roads the Trooper Robert J. Mihalik Memorial Highway. It’s been introduced to the Michigan House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mihalik was the 38th Michigan State Police trooper to be killed in the line of duty.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Junction Man Convicted Of 14 Charges


A Grand Junction man who hates the government, allegedly wrote threatening letters to local judges, and confronted a Michigan State Police trooper with a shotgun when the detective came to ask about the letters has now been found guilty on 14 felony counts for a 15-hour long armed standoff with police. Hundreds of rounds were exchanged during the stand-off between police and Jason Kohlhoff, but no one was hit. Kohlhoff took the stand to testify why he felt justified in having a gunfight with police. He could get up to life in prison when he is sentenced for attempted murder.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Breweries Raise $45,000 To Fight Hunger


An effort made this September by breweries across the region to raise money for Feeding America West Michigan has resulted in $45,000 going to fight hunger. Feeding America West Michigan’s Sean Little tells WSJM News Hops Against Hunger involved dozens of brewers who held fundraisers, sometimes for one day and sometimes for several. He notes hunger is a major problem here in west Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Testing Self-Driving Shuttles


From the Associated Press — A developer is testing two self-driving shuttles in downtown Detroit with an eye on the future of public transit and autonomous vehicle technology. Ann Arbor-based May Mobility has partnered with Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock real estate firm to bring the Polaris GEM e6 vehicles to the city as a way of improving access and safety for riders needing transportation
downtown. The shuttles are being tested on a pilot route for five nights ending Friday. The vehicles carry up to six people, run at 25 mph and are surrounded with sensors measuring distances from at least 320 feet away.The service is expected to officially launch in summer 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Officials Hope For Passage Of Income Tax


Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad says something must be done to deal with the city’s crumbling streets, and his suggestion is voters approve a new city income tax. A tax of 1% for residents and 0.5% for non-residents who work in the city will appear on next month’s ballot. Muhammad tells WSJM News the city comes nowhere close to generating enough revenue to fix streets, alleys, and sidewalks as things stand now.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Artist Preparing To Dedicate New Mural In Dowagiac


A new work of public art is going to be celebrated this weekend in Dowagiac. The city will dedicate a 67 foot mural along Pennsylvania Avenue that remembers the Orphan Train. The Orphan Train was a network set up in the 1800s to find homes throughout the west for New York orphans. Many of those orphans wound up in Dowagiac. Mural artist Ruth Andrews tells WSJM News the mural is in the form of three panels. The first shows the orphans’ rough life in New York. The second is a little more hopeful.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Reported At Stevensville Business


Sensational Spas suffered some damage in a Thursday night fire. It was reported shortly before 8 p.m. and at least three fire departments, including Lincoln Township, Baroda, and Royalton Township, responded. The building suffered smoke damage. No word yet on the cause of the fire.. ...Read Full Story