Local News Archives

Mackinac Island Facing Labor Shortage

From the Associated Press — Some business owners in the tourist industry of Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island say they’re experiencing a severe worker shortage because of a drop in federal visas. The Detroit News reports the federal government limits visas to 66,000 foreign
workers per year, but it doesn’t include returning workers against the cap. Congress decided not to renew the exemption for returning workers in September 2016 after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump condemned foreign workers getting American jobs.
Mackinac Island business owners say the shift has hurt the tourism industry because the island of fewer than 500 residents has depended on foreign workers to fill summer jobs for decades. Employers expect temporary relief due to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security approving 15,000 extra foreign workers for this year.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Salmonella Risks With Backyard Chickens

The largest outbreak of salmonella associated with backyard chicken flocks has hit the United States, and experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s critical that bird owners take precautions to keep it from getting worse. Megin Nichols, public-health veterinarian for the CDC, tells us some folks buy their own backyard chickens thinking they reduce the risk of salmonella, but many of those birds come from factory farms.. ...Read Full Story

State Rep Highlights Education Funding Increases

As a new academic year draws closer, state Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is applauding the increased funding schools are receiving. She tells us the state legislature last year approved a per pupil funding increase of $60 for K through 12 schools. Some smaller, rural districts are getting $120 more per student. Griffin says the budget also includes another $25 per student for high school students on top of the base allocation. She lauded the focus on career and technical education the funding has. Griffin’s office tells us state funding for K-12 education is now at a record amount.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Congress Has To Get To Work On Tax Reform

Congress gets back to work next week, and Fred Upton is ready to get a few things done. The Republican congressman from Michigan’s Sixth District told Michigan’s Big Show this week Congress has to get to work on tax reform. He tells us he doubts anything will come out of President Trump’s threats to shut down the government without a border wall.. ...Read Full Story

Two More Charged In Benton Harbor Shooting Death

Two more suspects have been charged in the shooting death of a Benton Harbor man this month. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 21-year-old Shuantae Hill and 23-year-old Denzeil Dade are now charged with felony murder, armed robbery, and felony firearm in the death of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee. Felony murder comes with a penalty of life in prison. Bond for both Hill and Dade has been set at $1 million, and they’re due back in court September 1. A total of four suspects are charged in Nathaniel Lee’s Death. He was shot and killed outside of the River Terrace apartments in Benton Harbor on August 15. The prosecutor says police believe it happened during a robbery. The other two suspects, Antonio Hall and Davion Turner, have also been arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

State Announces New Deer Hunting Rules

From the Associated Press — If you’re a hunter who shoots deer or related animals in other states, be advised that there are new rules about bringing their parts into Michigan. The tougher regulations are intended to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease among Michigan’s deer, elk and moose. The illness attacks the central nervous system of animals in the deer family and can eventually kill them.
Nine free-ranging deer in Michigan have tested positive since April 2015. Under the new rules, hunters who kill a deer in any other state or Canadian province can bring only certain parts into Michigan. Among them are hides, deboned meat, quarters, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth and antlers. The Department of Natural Resources says violators can be fined and have the animal confiscated.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Twp Police: Lock Your Doors!

A warning is going out in St. Joseph Township to keep your doors locked on your homes and your vehicles. The township police department on Facebook says they’ve had several home invasions and window peepings in the Arlington, Arbor, Clemens, and Marvin areas of the township. No description of the suspect has been released. Police say the suspect is getting in to homes through unlocked doors after midnight while people are sleeping. No other details are being released.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Issuing Driver’s License To Comply With Federal Law

Michigan is set to start issuing driver’s licenses today that residents eventually need to board domestic flights if they don’t have passports or other accepted documents. New ID standards were created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Starting in October 2020, compliant driver’s licenses or state IDs will be needed to fly or to visit federal buildings, nuclear plants and military bases unless other acceptable documents are provided. If you already have an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, you won’t need to make any changes, as that card is already REAL-ID compliant.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up, Will Go Higher Due To Hurricane Harvey

Get ready for some pain at the gas pump, courtesy of Hurricane Harvey. Prices around the state went up a modest 6¢ a gallon over the past week according to Triple-A Michigan, but more increases are on the way. We’re starting the week with an average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph of $2.44, which is currently the lowest average in the state, while Traverse City drivers are paying the most at $2.53. The statewide average is currently $2.47. On Twitter, GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan is predicting prices in the Midwest will go up by a dime to a quarter per gallon in the next two weeks. Just when the increase will start and how steep it will be remains to be seen.. ...Read Full Story

Retired MSP Trooper Honored In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have honored a local Michigan State Police trooper with a key to the city. Trooper Maurice Burton retired this year after serving the state police since 1986. He’d been the city’s community service trooper since the Granholm administration and told WSJM News he’s seen the community’s police presence change a lot since then.. ...Read Full Story

New Flint Scholarship Program Announced

There’s already a Kalamazoo Promise for students. Now, some business owners are trying to set up a Flint Promise scholarship program. Detroit Pistons owner and Flint area native Tom Gores, along with the Consumers Energy Foundation, on Wednesday announced they’re donating $1 million to the Flint Promise. Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe tells Michigan News Network with more donations, the program should be able to begin helping students go to college next year.. ...Read Full Story

One More Berrien County Road Commission Hearing Scheduled

Another public hearing will be held on the question of the Berrien County Road Commission. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the board is thinking about creating a new county roads department to take over the functions of the road commission. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public at the Thursday session. There’s one more to go, set to be held in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Much Work To Do In Congress

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to see the situation in the White House stabilize with recent changes in staff. He tells us he’s optimistic about the job new Chief of Staff John Kelly can do. Congressman Upton tells WSJM News there’s real work that needs to get done.. ...Read Full Story

Police Camera System Under Review In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have tabled a proposal to install some police cameras in key areas of the city to help with crime prevention. At a meeting this past week, the commission was asked to approve a $67,000 bid for the system, $25,000 of which would have been reimbursed via a grant. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats said they weren’t provided the answers to several questions he had about the system.. ...Read Full Story

Libraries To Make Push For New Card Holders Next Month

A push will be made by libraries all over Michigan to sign up kids for cards next month. Kay McAdam, with the Van Buren District Library, tells WSJM News the American Library Association declared September Library Card Sign Up Month 30 years ago. At the Van Buren District Library, they want kids and parents to know they do more than just lend out books.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Girl Scout Builds A Little Free Library

A St. Joseph Girl Scout is making good in the community by encouraging young people to read. Elise Voglewede is about to enter the ninth grade at St. Joe High School, and she’s built a Little Free Library as she pursues a Girl Scout Silver Award. Elise tells WSJM News her Little Free Library will be stationed outside of E.P. Clarke Elementary School in St. Joseph starting on September 12.. ...Read Full Story

Suicide Prevention Candlelight Vigil Planned In St. Joseph

A candlelight vigil for suicide victims will be held next month in St. Joseph. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the local event will take place on the veranda of the Whitcomb from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition Vice Chair Trent Watford tells WSJM News everyone is welcome to come out for the event. He says, too often, those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not talk about them, perhaps because of a perceived stigma.. ...Read Full Story

Charges Filed In Paw Paw-Area Stabbing

Two charges of assault with intent to murder are now faced by a 47-year-old man from Missouri for a stabbing attack on two people in a vehicle near Paw Paw late Sunday night. Boyd Hicks is in the Van Buren County Jail on a one-million dollar bond. The sheriff’s department has not released any details on what led up to the attack on M-43 near Hidden Pines Drive in Almena Township. The two victims have been released from the hospital after undergoing surgeries. Hicks is due back in court on September 6. In addition to the attempted murder charges, he’s also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Commissioners Continue Road Discussions

Another public hearing has been held on the question of the Berrien County Road Commission. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the board is thinking about creating a new county roads department to take over the functions of the road commission. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public at the Thursday session. There’s one more to go, set to be held in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata planning Energy Town Hall

State Representative Kim LaSata is planning an energy town hall. Her office tells us the meeting is specifically about clean energy issues. LaSata notes there are more than 80,000 clean energy jobs right here in Michigan, and on hand for her town hall will be speakers from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. They’ll talk about where clean energy in Michigan is heading and what people can do to help. The meeting will be at the Kinexus building on Main Street in Benton Harbor on Thursday, August 31. It will start at 5:30 p.m. and everyone’s invited.. ...Read Full Story

Business Group Praises New Tax Incentives For Job Creation

Higher wages for people in Michigan are just some of the expected benefits of the recently-enacted “Good Jobs for Michigan” law. Business Leaders for Michigan’s Doug Rothwell tells WSJM that he’s proud of state lawmakers for passing the bills this summer, and says the law will help people who feel left behind by the state’s economic recovery since the recession.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Alleges State Improper Aided Anti-Gerrymandering Group

From the Associated Press — A Republican strategist has filed a complaint against Michigan’s elections bureau, alleging staff improperly gave advice on the wording and legality of an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative. The Board of State Canvassers approved the petition form last week, and the group Voters Not Politicians is collecting signatures to qualify for a 2018 statewide vote. But Bob LaBrant, a longtime GOP political adviser, said in a complaint Thursday that elections staffers “engaged in mission creep” and ignored rules that
limit them to reviewing petition formatting and other technical issues. The secretary of state’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. The redistricting initiative would create an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative seats. The Legislature and governor currently control the once-a-decade process.. ...Read Full Story

SMC President Marks 20 Year Milestone

Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David M. Mathews is celebrating 20 years with the school. He received a service pin from the board of trustees on Monday. Mathews tells us when he joined the school in July 1997, SMC had 45 faculty and a replacement value of $26 million. Today, he says they have 60 full-time faculty and a replacement value of $116 million. SMC Chairman Thomas Jerdon tells us, “David checks all the boxes we could ever want in a president.” Mathews joined SMC as the dean of arts for science and instructional innovation. He was appointed Vice President of Instruction in 1998 and became the college’s seventh president in 2001.. ...Read Full Story

Second Suspect Charged In Benton Harbor Shooting

A second suspect has been charged in a shooting death in Benton Harbor this month. 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee was shot twice and killed outside of the River Terrace apartment complex on August 15. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News police believe Lee was killed during a robbery attempt. Already charged in the case is 19-year-old Davion Turner of Conyers, Georgia. The newest charges are against 21-year-old Antonio Hall of Benton Harbor. He was arraigned Wednesday on charges of Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, and Felony Firearm. He’ll be back in court on September 1. Police believe there were two other suspects involved in the robbery. They continue to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Crash That Killed Southwest Michigan Fire Chief

From the Associated Press — A 24-year-old man has been charged with reckless driving in the death of a fire chief who was hit while responding to a crash in southwestern Michigan. Brandon Clevenger of Springfield was charged Tuesday with reckless driving causing death. The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s office says he was driving nearly 90 mph and distracted by his phone just seconds before hitting a cement median wall. The car then crossed lanes on Interstate 94 and struck Ed Switalski. Switalski served as chief of Comstock Township Fire and Rescue for four years. The 55-year-old Switalski worked at the Kalamazoo-area department after more than three decades at the Pleasantview Fire District in suburban Chicago. WOOD-TV reports a judge Wednesday set Clevenger’s bond at $5,000. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago-Area Kids Arrested After Stolen Car Crash

A wild overnight incident for Michigan State Police along with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and police from the city of St. Joseph, St. Joe Township and Lincoln Township. All of those departments were involved in the search for six young people out of the Chicago area after troopers tried to pull over what turned out to be a stolen car from Chicago on I-94 just before 2 a.m. Wednesday. The driver took off, got off on M-139, and crashed into a house. Three people were arrested there, but the others ran and stole a second car in the Wyndwicke neighborhood. They then crashed that one trying to get away, and were caught after a search of the area. Three of them, all girls 17 and younger, were released, while three juvenile boys are going to be facing multiple charges including possessing a stolen vehicle, hit and run, and theft of a motor vehicle. Somehow, no one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Pipestone Freeway Exits To Shut Down For Construction

Some traffic changes are coming to I-94 in Berrien County this week as a result of construction. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells WSJM News the ramps to both east and westbound 94 from Pipestone Road in Benton Township will be shut down starting this Wednesday. They’ll stay that way through November 30 while MDOT does bridge repairs. Also, it notes there will be some lane closures in effect on Pipestone under the highway. Additionally, lane closures on the I-94 Business Loop at exit 23 in Stevensville take effect Wednesday as a result of bridge work in that area. Once again, the project will run through November 30.. ...Read Full Story

Powerball Jackpot Up To $700 Million

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is now up to $700 million. That’s the second highest it’s ever been. The Michigan Lottery’s Jeff Holyfield tells WSJM News he’s met Lotto players who have won some of those massive jackpots, and they tend to have something in common.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Charged In Child Porn, Meth Case

A Cass County man could get life in prison in a case involving a total of 59 charges, many of which are child porn related. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us 44-year-old Jason Ryans is charged with using a computer to commit a crime, possession of child sexually abusive material, habitual child sexually abusive activity, and possession of meth, among other things. He’s accused of committing those crimes between the start of this year and mid-July. Bond for Ryans has been set at $200,000, and police ask anyone with additional information on the case to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Schools Superintendent Receives Positive Performance Evaluation

The St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education has released the results of Superintendent Ann Cardon’s annual evaluation. The board this week congratulated Cardon on what it called an outstanding performance with highly effective outcomes for the 2016-17 school year. The board writes, “Ann is a leader who cultivates an inclusive, caring and supportive school community that promotes academic success for each student in our district.” The board also applauded Cardon for presenting what it called sound methodologies in regards to staff development, school improvement, and instructional practices. Trustees say they forward to a continued partnership with Cardon.. ...Read Full Story

Water Company Employee Accused Of Stealing Drugs From Customer Homes

An employee of a water supply company is facing charges in Van Buren County after police say he used his position to break into the homes of customers to steal prescription drugs. Sheriff’s deputies were called out to the 27,000 block of Second Avenue in Pine Grove Township on Monday to investigate a breaking and entering complaint. That led them to the 35-year-old suspect. They say he’d been breaking into customers’ homes during his shift, and they’re looking for other possible victims. The name of the suspect has not yet been released. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Facing Charges Over Theft From Utility Drop Box

One man is facing felony charges following a break-in to a utility payment drop box in Dowagiac this month. The police department tells us 53-year-old Garry Means was picked up on a warrant August 13 while charges were pursued in the theft case. Means is accused of stealing money from a drop box located along Pennsylvania Ave and New York Ave south of Commercial Street. He’s in the Cass County Jail with bond set at $200,000. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Dowagiac Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Two Benton Harbor Schools Damaged By Vandals

Benton Harbor Areas Schools has suffered a blow just ahead of the start of a new academic year. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News two of the district’s buildings were vandalized over the weekend, with “significant” damage done to them. Walker says it happened either late Saturday or early Sunday at the STEAM Academy at MLK on East Britain and the Discovery Enrichment Center on South McCord. She couldn’t tell us exactly what the vandals did, but says they damaged about 15 classrooms at STEAM and also damaged some modular classrooms at Discovery. The district is taking donations for anyone who wants to help it recover. They can be given to the Berrien Community Foundation. Also, anyone who knows anything about the crime is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Coloma Township Crash

A motorcyclist is dead after a crash with a car on eastbound I-94 in Coloma Township Monday night. The Coloma Township Police Department tells WSJM News the crash happened around 9 p.m. The motorcyclist has been identified as 66-year-old Michael Feller of Wellston, Michigan. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the passenger vehicle, 23-year-old Hannah Joseph of Grand Blanc, suffered minor injuries. The cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Getting A Biggby Coffee

Paw Paw is the latest southwest Michigan community to get a Biggby Coffee. The new establishment opens for business Tuesday at the corner of Kalamazoo Street and Berrien Street just off of I-94. Owner Linda Marcon says she thought a Biggby would be the perfect fit for her as an business owner, as well as for her hometown. Macron is active with several community organizations, and adds she looks forward to tying them in with her new venture. Biggby Coffee opened in 1995 in East Lansing, and has since expanded to 254 locations in nine states.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Honor Retired State Police Trooper

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have honored a local Michigan State Police trooper with a key to the city. Trooper Maurice Burton retired this year after serving the state police since 1986. He’d been the city’s community service trooper since the Granholm administration and told WSJM News he’s seen the community’s police presence change a lot since then.. ...Read Full Story

Crowds Gather To View Solar Eclipse

Crowds around southwest Michigan have had their chance to check out this week’s solar eclipse. Viewing parties were held around the region on Monday as the sun was totally obscured by the moon for a few minutes. The Lincoln Township Library held one party, with organizer Vicki Rausch telling WSJM News she was pleased with the turnout.. ...Read Full Story