Local News Archives

County Board Seeking More Info On Possible Road Commission Takeover

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners wants to meet with the county road commission to get further information before moving forward with any possible takeover. At a meeting Thursday, the commission heard a draft resolution from Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf for the takeover of the roads body. Wolf’s plan would create a county road department. Some commissioners balked at allowing Wolf to appoint the acting director without more commission input. They want a workshop with the road commissioners. County Chair Jon Hinkelman told WSJM News prudence makes sense.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Collecting Funds For Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Hurricane Irma may be getting the headlines this week, but there’s still a lot of work to do in Texas and Louisiana as people recover from Hurricane Harvey. That’s why the United Way has formed a national fund to help out. Ryan Cheevers, with the United Way of Southwest Michigan, tells WSJM News the money donated to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund will be used to provide food, shelter, and other basic needs to folks affected.. ...Read Full Story

Suspected Arsonist Escapes Bangor Police

Bangor police are trying to find a man accused of breaking into a laundromat, setting it on fire, and stealing money. Chief Tommy Simpson tells WSJM News 21-year-old Dominick Wheeler somehow managed to break free and escape from inside a police car after his arrest. Wheeler was also wanted for undisclosed outstanding warrants. We have not been provided with a description of the suspect, nor has Simpson responded to messages from WSJM News to find out when the incident happened. The damage to the laundromat is “extensive” according to authorities.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Breaks Ground On Nursing Expansion

Southwestern Michigan College has broken ground on its new nursing facility expansion. SMC President Dr. David Mathews tells WSJM News dignitaries gathered Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of $9.6 million in work to roughly double the size and capacity of the nursing building.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman To Hold Master Plan Meeting Next Week

The city of Bridgman continues to work on its master plan. A third and final meeting of the public as the document is drafted has been scheduled for next Tuesday, September 12. City leaders tell us a master plan is a document that governs development within a community for several years to come, and in Bridgman, a major focus of the document is resiliency. That means they’re accounting for challenges that could arise beyond the city’s control. The city manager tells us they could include things like shoreline erosion or an economic downturn. The city has held two meetings so far to get the public’s input so far, and the next one will be at 7 p.m. at the Weko Beach House on Tuesday. Everyone’s invited. You can find out more about Bridgman’s master plan right here.. ...Read Full Story

Proos To Hold Tele-Town Hall

State Senator John Proos is planning a tele town hall meeting for this month. He tells us he wants folks to call in and offer their thoughts on any issues that might concern them. The tele town hall will be next Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. More than 1,800 people took part in the last tele-town hall organized by Proos. He tells us he holds these meetings each fall, and he’s interested in hearing what folks have to say about improving the state’s career outlook, boosting technical education, reforming the auto insurance system, and whatever else they’ve got on their minds. Totake part in the meeting, call 1-877-228-2184 and enter the ID Code 113349.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Pushing Random Acts Of Kindness

The United Way of Southwest Michigan wants you to commit a random act of kindness. The United Way’s Ryan Cheevers tells WSJM News they’ve launched a new campaign called 75 Acts of Kindness. It’s a social media experiment designed to help mark the local United Way’s 75th anniversary. He says you’re encouraged to do something kind for someone else, and then to post a picture of it to Facebook with the hashtag #75Acts United. Your act of kindness could be anything.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Suspect Arrested After Gunfire With Police

Michigan State Police say they have a murder suspect in custody after an exchange of gunfire on Friday. They tell WSJM News it happened around 5:20 p.m. on eastbound I-94 in Lawrence Township when a Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputy and a state police trooper pulled over a vehicle that had been reported stolen out of Alabama. Police say after the vehicle stopped, the driver got out and fired shots at the officers. A state police trooper and a deputy returned fire, although no one was hit. They say the suspect surrendered and was taken into custody after he’d emptied his pistol. It was later learned the suspect was wanted for a murder in Madison County, Alabama. The incident remains under investigation by Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

John Beers I-94 Ramp Closed

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising the public that the ramp from John Beers Road to eastbound I-94 in Stevensville has been closed. MDOT is doing shoulder and pavement repairs on the ramp. As a result, the ramp closed Thursday and will remain closed through next Tuesday. In the meantime, drivers are being rerouted over to the Red Arrow Highway ramp to 94, or exit 23. You can stay up to date on all MDOT construction projects around the state with the MIDrive app. It’s free for both Android an iPhone.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches College Mental Health Campaign

Now that a new academic year has started, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reaching out to college students to talk about the importance of mental health. Spokesperson Angela Minicuci tells WSJM News it’s often in college that mental health issues first arise. She says it’s important to make mental health something people aren’t afraid to talk about.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Drain Commissioner Preparing To Fight Japanese Knotweed In Benton Twp

Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin is looking at his options when it comes to fighting Japanese knotweed. The invasive plant has shown up in at least one Berrien County drainage area. He tells WSJM News he was notified last month when water started building up in the Willow Creek drain, which is near Napier Avenue and Ogden in Benton Township.. ...Read Full Story

Report Finds School Absenteeism High In Michigan

This week meant back to the classroom for nearly one and a half Michigan school children, but absenteeism remains a big problem. A new report finds in Michigan the rate of extreme chronic absenteeism in ALL schools is 19%, compared to the national average of 11%. Michigan Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston told Michigan News Network this week school districts need to address the problem.. ...Read Full Story

Electrical Fire Closes State Capitol

No one is injured, but the Michigan Capitol has been temporarily closed due to a small fire. State Senator John Proos tells us the electrical fire broke out Friday morning, and one person had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Proos’ office is in the Capitol building, meaning it is now closed for the remainder of this week. He also tells us the phones are also temporarily down. If you need to reach Proos’ office, wait to call until Monday or email SenJProos@senate.michigan.gov.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Utilities Send Crews To Assist With Hurricane Irma

From the Associated Press — Michigan utilities are sending hundreds of workers to Florida so they’re ready to assist with power restorations when Hurricane Irma hits the state. DTE Energy is sending roughly 300 line workers plus 100 tree trimmers. They’re
expected to reach northern Florida by Friday afternoon, where they’ll be on standby until needed. More than 200 Consumers Energy employees and contract personnel are headed from Michigan to Florida to assist local electric companies preparing for the hurricane. They’re also expected to arrive on Friday and could remain in Florida for up to two weeks. Michigan utilities often get help from out-of-state crews during major outages. During a storm in July, for example, crews from four states assisted Consumers Energy in its restoration work.. ...Read Full Story

County Road Commission Takeover On Hold For Now

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners wants to meet with the county road commission to get further information before moving forward with any possible takeover. At a meeting Thursday, the commission heard a draft resolution from Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf for the takeover of the roads body. Wolf’s plan would create a county road department. Some commissioners balked at allowing Wolf to appoint the acting director without more commission input. They want a workshop with the road commissioners. County Chair Jon Hinkelman told WSJM News prudence makes sense.. ...Read Full Story

First Responders Honored In Lansing

First responders from around southwest Michigan have been welcomed to the Michigan Capitol to mark 9/11 for the year. The state House held its annual September 11 Memorial Service Thursday. Mattawan state Representative Beth Griffin welcomed Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott and Van Buren County Undersheriff Chad Hunt as her guests.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Wine And Harvest Festival This Weekend

Wineries, breweries, and other businesses in Paw Paw plan to celebrate the region’s wine industry this weekend. It’s the annual Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. They’ll be busy all weekend with a variety of events for the whole family. Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Fest Board President Doug Craddock told WSJM News Saturday will be packed.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Home Invasion Suspect Arraigned

The suspect charged in a series of home invasions around St. Joseph Township has been arraigned in Berrien County Court. The prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 36-year-old James Jonathon Dulaney, of Benton Harbor, is charged with 1 count of felony home invasion and 6 misdemeanor offenses related to the case. He’s accused of breaking into homes throughout St. Joe Township during the overnight hours between August 23 and September 6. The first degree home invasion charge pertains to an August 23 break-in in which the resident awoke in bed to the intruder’s touch. The prosecutor also says Dulaney is charged with five counts of illegal entry, along with window peeping. Dulaney was arrested Wednesday morning when a Michigan State Police K9 tracked him down after a search around the Fairplain area. Dulaney faces up to 20 years in prison and his bond has been set at $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

Investigation Continues Into Niles Fatal Crash

A fatal crash that happened last week in Niles remains under investigation. The Niles Police Department tells us five people were hurt when two vehicles collided head-on at South 11th Street and Marion Street Wednesday afternoon. 42-year-old Amy Ruth Perry died as a result of her injuries. Police say the case will be handed over to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office for review once the investigation is complete. All five involved in the crash were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Harvey Relief Funding

Congressman Fred Upton is praising a House vote on Wednesday to advance Hurricane Harvey relief funding. The emergency legislation setting aside more than $7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund passed on a vote of 419 to 3. In a statement Wednesday, Upton says the vote is a great first step in helping the people of Texas and Louisiana. He also told WSJM News this week the Harvey vote would be just the beginning of a very busy week in Washington.. ...Read Full Story

Still More Time To See The Nina And The Pinta

Good news for you if you missed out on your chance to check out the Nina and the Pinta at South Haven’s Michigan Maritime Museum last week. The museum tells us the two replicas of the famous ships used by Christopher Columbus will be there all this week. Due to weather conditions on Lake Michigan, and Nina and the Pinta have not shoved off for Michigan City as planned, and will instead hang out in South Haven through Sunday. They’re still available for tours starting Thursday. The Michigan Maritime Museum tells us a whole lot of people showed up for tours last week. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To find out prices, consult the museum.. ...Read Full Story

Weekend 5K To Benefit SWM Police

Set for this weekend is a 5K run to raise money for police around southwest Michigan. Marianne Groth with the Southwest Michigan Racers tells WSJM News it’s the second time her group has partnered with Berrien County Strong Community in Action for such an event.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor School Trustee Avoids Censure

Benton Harbor School Board Trustee Lisa Gulley has avoided censure. At a meeting this week, the board rejected a resolution that would have formally censured her for allegedly violating the code of conduct during meetings and talking board business on social media, among other things. Gulley’s attorney, Martin Kirk, said the charges were not fair.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Raising Funds For Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Although Hurricane Irma is getting most of the headlines this week, the recovery from Hurricane Harvey continues in Texas, and it will be for a long time to come. That’s why the United Way of Southwest Michigan is urging folks to help out the victims with donations to a national Hurricane Harvey relief fund. The United Way’s Ryan Cheevers spoke with WSJM News about the effort.. ...Read Full Story

Police: Weekend Death In Benton Harbor May Have Been An Overdose

Police say a woman who was found dead over the weekend in a Benton Harbor home possibly died as the result of a drug overdose. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety was dispatched to a home in the 1,200 block of Superior on Sunday. There, they found the body of 36-year-old Jeanette Finehout. Police say they’re still investigating the source of the drugs. The department of public safety tells us an autopsy was done this week at Western Michigan University. They’re waiting for final toxicology results which could take a few weeks. In the meantime, anyone with information on the death is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder On Trade Mission To Japan, Germany

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is traveling to Japan and Germany for a 10-day trade trip. The governor leaves Tuesday for Japan, where he will stay until next Monday, when he heads to Germany. Snyder says the world is increasingly interconnected and “it’s important for leaders in other countries to hear about what Michigan has to offer.” In Japan, he will meet with auto company leaders, celebrate Michigan’s relationship with a sister state and attend the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association meeting. In Germany, he will visit the Frankfurt Auto Show. It’s Snyder’s sixth investment mission to Germany and his fourth to Japan.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect In Slew Of Home Invasions Caught

Police believe they’ve caught the man who’s been breaking into homes in St. Joseph Township in recent weeks and watching people sleep. The 33-year-old was caught at 6 this morning in a garage in the 500 block of Montezuma, just north of Napier east of the St. Joseph River. This came after the man was confronted by a homeowner during an attempted home invasion in the 100 block of West Delaware. That followed police being called to a home on Hoover just after 2 this morning. St. Joseph Township Police say Michigan State Police Trooper Joel Service and his K-9 Patch tracked the suspect after a third call of a home invasion in the 500 block of South Ottawa at 5 a.m. The suspect is in the Berrien County Jail and his name is being withheld pending arraignment.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commissioners Approve New Trash Contract

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have taken a step to save residents some money. At Tuesday’s meeting, they approved a new trash collection contract, opting to sign up with We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation, a company owned by the same person the city once worked with before the appointment of an emergency manager. City Manager Darwin Watson told WSJM News this is the first new garbage contract the commission has adopted since regaining local control.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Urges Congress To Protect Young Immigrants

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is urging Congress to act quickly to authorize and clarify the status of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children since President Donald Trump is phasing out a program that protects them from deportation. The Republican governor said Tuesday many people are “working toward success” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Congress should act “for the certainty of their future.” The Trump administration is giving Congress six months to develop a legislative fix before it stops renewing permits for people already covered. The program was created by former President Barack Obama and benefits 6,430 people in Michigan. The Michigan Democratic Party says Trump’s actions are “cruel” because the immigrants “were brought to this country through no fault of their own.”. ...Read Full Story

Toddler Killed In Cass County Accident

A two-year-old girl is dead after being hit by a vehicle this week in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened around 7 p.m. Monday in the 20,000 block of Old 205 in Mason Township. It occurred during a family birthday party when a 64-year-old woman was pulling into the driveway and struck the toddler who has been indentified as Nayla Ryans of Elkhart. Family tried CPR on the child, but she was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Police say the woman whose vehicle hit the child is cooperating with them. The incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Suspect Behind Fraudulent Check Scam

Michigan State Police are investigating a rash of fraudulent checks being deposited at United Federal Credit Union locations around west Michigan. Troopers from the Niles MSP post tell WSJM News the fraudulent activity has been going on since December of last year and has happened at the UFCU branches in Niles, Stevensville, Benton Harbor, and Holland. A suspect described by state police as “a heavy set black female wearing sun glasses” will deposit a check in an ATM on a Friday night so the funds can be drawn over the weekend before business hours on Monday. The woman does take steps to conceal her face, but we have surveillance photos posted in this story. Police say no United Federal Credit Union accounts have been jeopardized.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Shooting Spree Victim Going Back To School

The mother of the youngest survivor of an Uber driver’s alleged shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is returning to school part-time. Vickie Kopf tells WOOD-TV 15-year-old Abigail Kopf will attend Harper Creek High School in Battle Creek for two to three hours per day, possibly five days per week. Abigail was in seventh grade when Uber driver Jason Dalton allegedly shot her and seven other people in February 2016. She and another woman were the only victims to survive. Kopf says her daughter suffers severe headaches. Part of Abigail’s skull has been replaced with a plate because of damage from a gunshot wound. Kopf says Abigail will have a personal assistant with her at all times to ensure she has all of the support she needs.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Drug Operation Busted

The break-up of a drug ring operating in Benton Harbor and Grand Rapids over the weekend has resulted in 18 arrests, with four suspects still at large. Authorities seized about a million dollars cash, 30 kilograms of heroin and cocaine, several pounds of marijuana, a bullet-proof vest, four handguns and an assault rifle. The bust also left one suspect in critical condition with a gunshot wound. DEA agents and the Kent County Tactical Unit executed warrants at the Burton’s Landing Apartment Complex in Grand Rapids at about 4 am Sunday. The drugs were reportedly smuggled on board a tractor trailer that drove to west Michigan from California. The officer who shot one of the suspects has been put on administrative leave while a routine shooting review is conducted. The suspects could face 20 to life if convicted on the federal counts.. ...Read Full Story

Big Waves Topple Small Boat In South Haven

Despite warnings that the water was going to be rough over Labor Day, there were still people who braved it. In one instance in South Haven, it could have had some unpleasant results. A small Zodiac boat got flipped in the channel Monday, but the two people aboard were able to get back on top of the capsized boat and get it over to the side. Emergency crews from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department and South Haven Fire Department were called to the scene just after 11:30 a.m. and within 10 minutes had cleared the scene with no injuries. We do have a small craft advisory through late tonight for Lake Michigan from the Indiana border north past South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Former Roseland Councilman Dies In St. Joseph

One of the loudest opponents to the CVS Pharmacy in St. Joseph is dead at the age of 65. David Snyder and his wife, Dorothy, moved to St. Joseph a few years ago after having served on the Roseland Town Council near South Bend. The two made up two-thirds of that council, and Snyder was arrested in 2007 for battery of a police officer for an incident with the town marshal after he was ejected from a meeting. The charges were later dropped. Once moving to St. Joseph, he waged a bitter fight in vain against the pharmacy being built at Niles and Napier, often extending St. Joseph City Commission meetings by hours. Snyder died from complications of multiple sclerosis and is survived by his wife, two sons, parents and siblings.. ...Read Full Story

Four Rescued When Sailboat Capsizes Near Warren Dunes

The Lake Township Fire Department and the US Coast Guard had to go to the aid of four boaters whose vessel capsized about 500 yards from shore off the coast of Warren Dunes State Park yesterday. The fire department’s marine unit had rescued the four by the time the Coast Guard arrived from St. Joseph and a helicopter from Muskegon got to the area. The Coast Guard says thankfully, all four were wearing life jackets and no one was hurt. The owner of the 16-foot sailboat is trying to salvage the craft according to the Coast Guard. The incident happened just after 9 a.m. Monday in choppy waters.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Due To Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey gets the blame for a big 16¢ jump in Michigan’s average gas price, and Triple-A says more price hikes could be coming in the next week. The auto club is warning prices could jump another dime to 20¢ a gallon due to Harvey. The statewide average is now $2.62 a gallon, with our prices in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph up 16¢ to $2.60. The state’s lowest prices are in the Saginaw/Bay City/Midland area at $2.57, and the Upper Peninsula has the highest prices at $2.69 in Marquette. Van Buren County stations aren’t included in Triple-A’s survey, but GasBuddy spotters are reporting South Haven prices at $2.57, with one station in Paw Paw as low as $2.47 this morning.. ...Read Full Story

Infrastructure Work Starts Tomorrow In South Haven

Infrastructure work gets underway next week in South Haven. Specifically, crews will be working to install new sewer and water lines, along with improvements to roads and parking areas on Black River Street. The city tells us the project will require occasional utility shutoffs throughout the next several months, but any residents or businesses to be affected will get notices. During construction, the road will be closed to through traffic with temporary access arranged for nearby businesses and homes. Work starts Tuesday and will be done next spring.. ...Read Full Story

5K Run To Benefit Police This Month

A new event is coming up in St. Joseph to raise money for police causes around Michigan. St. Joseph City Commissioners last week approved the Back the Blue 5K for Riverview Park on September 9. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Roger Johnson tells us this run will raise money for MI-COPS.. ...Read Full Story

Doctors Urge Parents To Talk Vaccinations

Back to school time means time to make sure you kids have all of their vaccines. Dr. Pamela Rockwell sits on two vaccine advisory committees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and tells us it’s helpful to have a close relationship with a health professional who knows the facts. She adds many parents these days have been reluctant to get their kids all of their shots.. ...Read Full Story