Local News Archives

Saugatuck-Douglas In The Running For Title Of Best Midwestern Small Town

If you’re a fan of Saugatuck-Douglas, you can help it win an online contest. The area is in the running for the title of USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town. The poll is going on right now, and currently, Saugatuck-Douglas is ranked 5th. USA Today writes Saugatuck-Douglas is notable for its B&Bs, art galleries, and “stunning Lake Michigan shore.” Ahead of the area in the poll, as of Wednesday afternoon, were Grand Marais, Minnesota, Nashville, Indiana, Charlevoix, Michigan, and Chagrin Falls, Ohio. You can vote for Saugatuck-Douglas right here.. ...Read Full Story

First Draft Of BH Schools Partnership Agreement With The State Reached

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state are a step closer to reaching their partnership agreement. A lengthy meeting was held Wednesday for details of the deal to be hammered out between not only the state and the schools, but also local community partners that will be involved. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News those partners include Whirlpool, Lakeland, Andrews University, and Riverwood. They’ll all work together to improve Benton Harbor Schools.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Bill Allowing Minors To Refuse Breathalyzers

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has passed legislation that would allow minors to refuse requests by police to submit to breathalyzers. Officers would be prohibited from administering the tests that measure a person’s blood-alcohol level without consent by the minor or a judge-signed court order. The bill also would eliminate tickets and fines and the two points tacked onto a minor’s driving record for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer. A minor still can be arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer if an officer has probable cause that the minor was driving under the influence. The legislation is sponsored by state Representative Pete Lucido, a Republican from Macomb County’s Shelby Township. It passed 102-6 Wednesday and now heads to the state Senate for future consideration.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Money To Repair Giant Sinkhole

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved a $5 million state loan to help repair a sinkhole in suburban Detroit and has voted to allot $100 million in federal funding to address Flint’s water crisis. The mid-year budget bill cleared the Republican-controlled chamber 36-1 Wednesday. The House authorized a $3 million infrastructure grant for Macomb County to make sinkhole repairs. But Senate Republicans instead backed a $5 million interest-free loan, saying it’s up to local governments to maintain their infrastructure. Democrats and some Republicans opposed the switch.The House could take a final vote this week. The bill would formally allocate $100 million in Flint aid that Congress and former President Barack Obama enacted into law in December. It also includes $1 million for capital improvements to the Michigan Capitol building.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court Justice Robert Young To Retire

From the Associated Press — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young plans to retire and return to his former law firm. A statement from the court says Young announced his plans Wednesday during a meeting with fellow Michigan Supreme Court justices. The 65-year-old says his
retirement from the court is effective April 30 or earlier. He’s going back to the Dickinson Wright firm. Young served three years on the Michigan Court of Appeals and 18 years on Michigan’s highest court, including six years as chief justice. Young says he’s proud of his accomplishments, including helping to reduce acrimony among the court. He says in a statement “we proved that good people who may differ in their opinions can come together and accomplish important things for the people we serve – and we do it amicably.”. ...Read Full Story

Ford Investing $1.2 Billion In Three Michigan Plants

From the Associated Press — Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, including an engine plant where it plans to add 130 jobs. President Donald Trump applauded the move in an early morning tweet. Ford will spend $850 million to upgrade the Michigan Assembly Plant next year to build the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV. The suburban Detroit plant currently makes small cars, which are moving to a plant in Mexico. Ford will spend $150 million to upgrade its Romeo Engine Plant outside Detroit. The company says it will create or retain 130 jobs at that plant. Ford is also spending $200 million on a data center that will store information collected from advanced vehicles.
Michigan is expected to approve $30 million in tax incentives for Ford on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

More SWM Communities Preparing To Allow Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries are coming to southwest Michigan. This week, the Niles City Council approved a resolution stating the city intends to adopt three medical marijuana laws passed by the state last year. Plus, Buchanan leaders have held a similar vote, and plan further discussions on details April 11. Supporters are hoping medical marijuana dispensaries will lead to economic growth while helping patients of some chronic medical issues. However, some police agencies have their concerns. Niles Police Chief James Millin says the dispensaries could lead to theft. Michigan voters approved the use of marijuana for some medical conditions in 2008.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow, Peters To Oppose Trump Supreme Court Nominee

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are both opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Each of Michigan’s senators, both Democrats, released statements Tuesday, saying Neil Gorsuch will get a vote of no from them when his appointment is finally brought to the Senate floor. Stabenow says a review of Gorsuch’s rulings shows “he has a long record of siding with special interests and institutions instead of hard-working Americans.” She says Gorsuch doesn’t meet standards of “balance and impartiality.” Peters, meanwhile, says “Judge Gorsuch’s previous rulings indicate he “believes that corporations have greater rights than individuals.” Gorsuch could get his vote next week.. ...Read Full Story

New LMC President To Start April 10

The new president at Lake Michigan College will start on April 10. That’s according to LMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Michael Lindley. He tells us Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, who’s coming to southwest Michigan from Milwaukee Area Technical College, has already moved to buy a house in the area. Lindley says Kubatzke is a good fit and has experience with a lot of the things LMC is doing.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Today Has Busy First Quarter

It’s been a busy first quarter for St. Joseph Today. On Monday, Executive Director Amy Zapal gave her quarterly report to city commissioners, saying the St. Joe Welcome Center has had nearly 3,000 visitors this year. She also went over the events the organization’s had the past three months. Zapal tells WSJM News as more activities are held downtown, even in the winter, the area sees more visitors overall.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Adding Technical Courses To Graduation Requirements Advances In State House

State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, is hailing a Michigan House committee’s passage Tuesday of legislation updating the state’s high school graduation standards. Griffin tells us the three-bill package includes a plan from her to boost technical education in the state by giving students options to have technical courses count toward graduation.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Arraigned In Murder Of His Father

An Elkhart, Indiana man is charged with open murder in the death of his father in Cass County Monday night. Michigan State Police say they were called to a home in the 16,000 block of State Line Road in Mason Township about 8:30 p.m. There, they found a 59-year-old man dead from stab wounds. 32-year-old Joseph Allen Craigo was arrested in the death. He was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Fourth District Court in Cassopolis. Police say the case remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Co. Road Commission Managing Director Leaving

After about three and a half years on the job, Louis Csokasy is stepping down from the Berrien County Road Commission as its managing director. He tells WSJM News he’ll be 70 in July and the time is right to exit the position he’s held since being hired in October 2013. Csokasy was hired after the Berrien County Board of Commissioners removed several road commissioners and managers over allegations of a hostile work environment and fiscal mismanagement. The commission was also investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier in the decade. Csokasy says rumors that he’s being “forced out” are not true, and his contract runs through May 26. He adds he’s not aware of what plans the road commission may have to fill the post after he leaves this spring.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Murder Investigation

A murder is under investigation by the Michigan State Police in Cass County. A 32-year-old Elkhart man is in custody and accused of stabbing a 59-year-old man to death in Mason Township last night. Troopers were sent to a home in the 16-thousand block of State Line Road just after 8:20 last night and found the victim dead. No details about what lead to the murder have been released. Authorities have also not released the names of the suspect or victim.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Building Officials Begin Property Inspections

Property inspections in the city of St. Joseph have begun for the year. City Chief Building Official Cecil Derringer says the staff is in place to go property by property looking for violations for their owners to address. They’ll check out each lot from the street or the adjacent property and look at everything from the roof down to the ground. Folks with violations will be notified, and they’ll have several weeks to address each matter. This season, the city is focusing on homes from about Old Lakeshore Road to the St. Joseph River, almost all of them west of Main Street. Then, they’ll do another area next year, and so on. It’s been about ten years since such inspections were conducted.. ...Read Full Story

Homeland Security Secretary Speaks In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he told members of the Detroit area’s Arab-American and Latino communities that he is committed to keeping the country safe without targeting anyone based on a person’s ethnicity or religious affiliation.
The retired Marine general spoke to reporters after the private meetings that took place Monday in Detroit’s suburbs. He also toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Detroit just across the river from Canada. President Donald Trump has focused on building a wall at the Mexico border in an effort to boost security. He also wants to restrict immigration from six majority-Muslim countries, but federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked his revised executive order on the topic. Messages left with some people who attended the meeting were not immediately
returned.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Officials Still Hope To See Blighted home Torn Down

The city of St. Joseph continues efforts to have a dilapidated house on Niles Avenue torn down. Last week, the city’s Property Maintenance Board of Appeals granted the owner of the home near the AT&T store a five week delay as part of his appeal of the demolition order. That was only because one of the board’s members wasn’t present, which St. Joe City Commissioner Jeff Richards tells WSJM will be fixed soon with more alternate appointees. He says the property’s owner has run out of time to do needed repairs.. ...Read Full Story

MI Truckers Helping Out In Kansas, Texas After Fires

A convoy of trucks has left Michigan for Kansas and Texas to help relief efforts following some devastating fires there. You may have spotted some of those trucks over the weekend after they left the Thumb region. Trucker Matt Schaller, with Hunt Farms, tells WKZO News it all started as a small thing on social media and just kept growing and growing.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Could Get A Playground Accommodating Special Needs Children

St. Joseph could become just the second city in Michigan to have a playground that caters to special needs children. That’s after the city commission Monday night approved the concept for Riverview Park. They heard from Craig Carlson, of the Ray Carlson Memorial, a non-profit that operates under the umbrella of the Elks Lodge. He tells WSJM News he’s looking to raise money for a playground with a variety of features for kids with all sorts of disabilities.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan, Flint To Replace 18,000 Lead-Tainted Water Lines

From the Associated Press — Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit over lead-contaminated water in the troubled city. A court filing Monday says Flint will replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020, and the state will pick up the bill with state and federal money. The state said it will pay $87 million and keep another
$10 million in reserve if necessary. The settlement will be presented to a federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday for approval. Flint’s water was tainted with lead for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn’t treat the water to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.. ...Read Full Story

Today Is Oberon Day

For many, summer has begun, and that’s because Monday was Oberon Day. That’s the day each spring when Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery unleashes its latest batch of Oberon beer on to the world. Brewery Founder Larry Bell tells WSJM News folks get excited when the new batch of Oberon goes public.. ...Read Full Story

Homeland Security Secretary In Detroit Today

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be visiting metro Detroit today. No official schedule yet has been released, but Kelly is expected to meet with Arab-American leaders, who say they plan to press him on President Trump’s proposed travel restrictions on visitors from majority-Muslim countries. The “Detroit Free Press” says Kelly will also sit down with Governor Rick Snyder, and with officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit, regarding the Ambassador Bridge. He will be joined on the trip by U.S. Senator Gary Peters.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Down To Start Week

We’re paying 8¢ less a gallon in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph to fill up than a week ago. Triple-A Michigan says our average price stands at $2.26 to start the week. The statewide average is down 7¢ at $2.29. Flint’s prices are the cheapest at an average of $2.23, while the most expensive gas is in Ann Arbor and in the Upper Peninsula, where Marquette drivers are shelling out $2.33 per gallon. The state average is a penny higher than what we’re paying nationally.. ...Read Full Story

Hospitality Jobs Fair Tomorrow At Mendel Center

Coming up this week is a hospitality jobs fair at Lake Michigan College. Organized by Kinexus, the fair will include more than 50 employers in the hospitality industry seeking to hire people right now. Kinexus Director of Business and Industry Alex Grumbine tells WSJM News hospitality is a huge employer in the region.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Steps Up Efforts To Prevent Power Outages

Indiana Michigan Power is currently working on a project to reduce the number of power outages customers in its Michigan service area experience. This week, we reported Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for annual power outages, and a big reason is trees. I&M’s Tracy Warner tells WSJM News that is correct, and they’re working on it.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Health Fest This Week

Set for next week is the second annual Health and Wellness Fest at Andrews University. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, the Berrien Springs university will hold cooking schools, a 5K walk, a wellness Chapel, and screenings of documentaries around campus. This year’s Wellness Fest is a little different from last year’s in that it will emphasize presentations from on-campus health experts. Last year, they brought in a lot of guests. Andrews University Director of Heath and Wellness Dominque Wakefield says the event is in line with the university mission, noting its very logo incorporates body, mind, and spirit. The Health and Wellness Fest is open to everyone in the community, and you can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Benton Harbor Crash

One person is dead following a single-vehicle crash in Benton Harbor Saturday afternoon. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety responded to the scene on Paw Paw Avenue around 1 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was killed, and there were no passengers. Police have not yet released the victim’s identity or the cause of the crash. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is assisting in the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

“Little Free Library” To Be Dedicated In Benton Harbor Wednesday

A Little Free Library will be dedicated next week in Benton Harbor. Little Free Libraries are small boxes on a pole that are stationed in places like parks or in front of schools. Folks can drop off or take books from them. The one in Benton Harbor is sponsored by the Berrien County Democratic Party, with the party’s Julee Laurent telling WSJM News it’s all about promoting literacy.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Open House Next Week

The Palisades nuclear power plant next week will hold another open house at its operations center in Benton Harbor for everyone to come and learn everything they want to know about the facility. Palisades spokesperson Val Gent tells WSJM News they’ll have experts on hand to answer questions.. ...Read Full Story

Installation Of Luxury Seating At Celebration Cinema On Track For June Completion

The renovation project underway at Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor is on track to be finished in early June. The theater is installing new luxury power recliners in all auditoriums, replacing the old seats. Spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News they’re now in three auditoriums — 6, 7, and 8. Although the new bigger seats will reduce the overall number of seats in the building and result in more sold out shows, he says the enhanced theater experience will make up for it.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Awards Given To Denise Bohn, Nancy Racine

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has handed out its annual Paul Harris Fellow Community Leadership Awards. At a celebration of the Rotary on Monday, they gave out two of the awards, which Rotary President Steve Smith tells WSJM News are all about saluting those who embody the group’s spirit, even if they’re not members.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Red Arrow Hwy To Be Renamed For Fallen State Troopers

A section of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County is being renamed in honor of two Michigan State Police troopers who were killed in the line of duty in 1971. Troopers Gary Rampy and Charles Stark were shot and killed during a traffic stop along the road in New Buffalo Township on December 31 of that year. Recently-elected Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, of New Buffalo Township, tells WSJM News he was about 14 years old when it happened. He remembers Trooper Rampy.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Comments On Failure Of GOP Health Bill

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the failure of the Republican healthcare reform plan on Friday creates a new opportunity for the GOP to work with Democrats on a package to reduce costs while making it easier for working Americans to buy insurance. She issued a statement after the White House told Republican House leaders to pull the American Healthcare Act. Stabenow says, “It’s time to come together in a bipartisan way to improve health care for middle-class families in Michigan and across the country, instead of this irresponsible rush to pass a bill that would have raised costs and reduced medical care for most Michigan families.” President Trump is now saying he’d be “open” to tackling healthcare again if the Affordable Care Act implodes, as he’s predicting.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Look For Missing Man

Michigan State Police are looking for a 75-year-old man who is missing out of the Grand Rapids area. They say Jose Sanchez was last seen in the city of Wyoming, but also may have been spotted in Portage around 5 a.m. Friday. He’s described as an Hispanic male, about 5’8, 210 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Family reports he’d been having memory issues recently, and he took off for work on Thursday morning in a blue 2001 Chevy Blazer. His vehicle was reportedly seen at a gas station in Portage Friday, but he was gone by the time police got there. Anyone who thinks they’ve seen Sanchez should call police.. ...Read Full Story

Two More Homes Being Demolished Near Suburban Detroit Sinkhole

From the Associated Press — Two homes are being torn down to help clear the way for repairs to a broken sewer line that caused a sinkhole on Christmas Eve in suburban Detroit. Three houses had to be condemned in Fraser and a major road has been closed. Macomb County Public Works spokesman Dan Heaton says one of those homes was demolished on Friday and the other is expected to be torn down on Monday.
Macomb County Public Works chief Candice Miller says in a statement that “heartfelt sympathies go out to these impacted families.” Construction crews next week plan to begin to dig a roughly 300-foot-long, 25-foot-wide shaft to allow sewer line repair and replacement. Work to restore the area is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Arrested In Meth Bust

A Niles man is facing a variety of drug charges after a meth raid on Thursday night. The Niles Police Department tells WSJM News it searched a home in the 700 block of Cass Street to investigate a report of crystal methamphetamine distribution. Inside, officers say they found 14 grams of meth, worth about $2,100. They also say they found marijuana, $1,000 in cash, and a loaded handgun. 47 year old Brian Holingsworth was arrested. He’s in the Berrien County Jail with bond set at $15,000. Two men and one woman found in the home at the time of the raid were also arrested on outstanding warrants.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Donates Car To Niles High School Automotive Program

Southwestern Michigan College has donated a car to Niles High School for its automotive technician program. The keys to the Subaru were handed off the school on Monday. Niles instructor Gary Kind says there are many things the kids could learn from working on the car. Once it’s received the required repairs and maintenance, the car will be sold with proceeds going to benefit the automotive program. SMC’s automotive program owns several vehicles so students can get hand-on training. The college tells us it recently got a donation of five. It’s approaching other schools to see if they might need one of their own.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Asian Carp Resolution

The Michigan Senate has once again spoken up on the matter of the Asian carp. It’s approved a resolution from Senator John Proos asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement immediate control technologies at Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois. Proos tells WSJM News that would be a good start.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Partnership With State Could Be Finalized Next Week

The partnership agreement between Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state is coming together and could be approved next week. District trustees met with state officials Thursday to hear more about how the department of education will oversee progress on turning around three struggling buildings that had been facing closure. School Board President Joseph Taylor says he liked what he heard.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Taking Extra Steps To Prevent Power Outages

Indiana Michigan Power is currently working on a project to reduce the number of power outages customers in its Michigan service area experience. This week, we reported Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for annual power outages, and a big reason is trees. I&M’s Tracy Warner tells WSJM News that is correct, and they’re working on it.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Asking For Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is putting out a call for donations of type O and AB blood. It says recent severe weather led to the cancellation of some 250 blood drives, resulting in more than 8,500 uncollected donations in March. Spokesperson Todd Kulman tells WSJM News it’s easy to schedule an appointment to give.. ...Read Full Story

Man Airlifted To Hospital Following Buchanan Area Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a head-on two vehicle crash near Buchanan on Wednesday night. It happened in the area of North Red Bud Trail and Miller Road around 8:35. Troopers say a vehicle driven by 48-year-old Timothy Glosson, of Buchanan, was northbound on North Red Bud when it crossed the center line and hit a southbound vehicle driven by 19-year-old Michelle Coulson, of Berrien Springs. Glosson was airlifted to a hospital in South Bend to be treated for serious injuries, but is now in stable condition. Coulson and her two children were treated and released at the scene. Police say the two children were seated in proper car seats, and everyone involved was properly buckled up.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Votes To Require Police Personnel Records To Be Kept

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has passed legislation designed to ensure a police officer’s bad behavior is not hidden if the officer resigns and takes a new job elsewhere. The bill approved unanimously Thursday next goes to the House for consideration. The measure would require law enforcement agencies to keep records of the reasons for and circumstances surrounding an officer’s separation from
employment. Officers would have to sign a waiver allowing a prospective employer to contact their former employer, and the prospective employer could not hire the officer without first receiving the personnel records. Republican Senator Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge, says he introduced the bill after an Eaton County sheriff’s deputy who was accused of making an abusive arrest resigned and got a similar job in Lenawee County.. ...Read Full Story