Local News Archives

Berrien County Flooding Most Severe In Niles, Berrien Springs

Flooding in Berrien County this week has been the worst in the Niles and Berrien Springs areas. The city of Niles put out word Wednesday morning the St. Joseph River level is poised to crest at 16.9 feet at approximately 7 a.m. Thursday. That would be an historic level beating out 15.1 feet in 1988. The St. Joseph River is considered to be at a flood level when it hits 11 feet. City crews have been doing welfare checks on residents and the Red Cross is working to set up emergency accommodations for anyone that has to leave their home due to flood waters.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Creek Flooding Threatens Homes

Flooding concerns all over southern lower Michigan and they’re being proactive in one area town. Part of Mattawan is threatened by floodwaters. The water is overflowing the banks of the Mattawan Creek which runs through the center of town. Mattawan Fire Chief Terren McLean says some homes are threatened by the floodwaters.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Campaign Co-Chairs

State Representative Kim LaSata has announced her campaign co-chairs as she runs for the Michigan Senate in the 21st District, and they’re some well-known names. LaSata tells us her chair for Berrien County will be Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, the chair for Cass County will be Southwestern Michigan College President Dave Mathews, and the chair for St. Joseph County will be former state Senator Cameron Brown. Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph are the three counties that make up the state Senate 21st District. LaSata says having “the support of these amazing community leaders is a tremendous early boost to my campaign.” She’s running to replace state Senator John Proos in the Michigan Senate after less than one term representing the 79th District in the Michigan House. Also running for the Republican nomination for that Senate seat is state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Shrimp Found In Lake Superior

From the Associated Press — A new invasive species has turned up in Lake Superior, the bloody red shrimp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says researchers found a single specimen of the tiny shrimp in the Duluth-Superior harbor last summer. There are now documented findings of bloody red shrimp in all of the Great Lakes. They were first found in Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan in 2006. Bloody red shrimp are native to Eastern Europe. Scientists say they may have reached Lake Superior in a ship’s ballast water. Jeremy Bates of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says there’s no indication yet that they’ve become established in Lake Superior. Doug Jensen of the Sea Grant program at the University of Minnesota Duluth says it’s not clear yet how they’ll influence Great Lakes ecosystems.. ...Read Full Story

School Trustees Forming Real Estate Plan

What to do with vacant buildings? That’s a question facing the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education as it puts together a district real estate plan in order to please the state. At a meeting Tuesday, trustees were told it could cost millions of dollars to reopen the Boynton Montessori and Fairplain West buildings. Trustee Joseph Taylor told WSJM News he wants to move some elementary kids out of MLK and perhaps to Boynton, saying it would be better for them.. ...Read Full Story

School District Announces Robotics Facility

St. Joseph Public Schools has announced plans to build a new robotics facility. To be named the Edward J. Todd Innovation Center, the 7000 square foot building will be adjacent to the Career Technical Center of the high school with access from Lakeview Avenue. The building will be used by the district’s robotics program, which sponsors 12 teams made up of students from grades two through twelve. The lead donor for the facility is Edward J. Todd, a St. Joe High School grad from the class of 1954. The district tells us he’s a strong supporter of improvements for schools. Another backer is the Hanson Family Foundation. St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education President Amy Porritt-Peirce tells us the new robotics facility will enhance the success and opportunities of the district’s FIRST Robotics program and also strengthen its emphasis on STEAM education. Construction on the robotics facility is scheduled to start this spring and be finished by the end of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Police Issue Flooding Tips

Michigan State Police recommend homeowners take steps to ensure they’re ready if any of the flooding that’s affected roads this week starts to hit homes. MSP Emergency Management Division Inspector Chris Bush tells WSJM News you can take a few precautionary measures.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Cinema Making Name Change

Celebration Cinema has announced it will begin to do business under the name Studio C. The new entity is intended to serve as an overarching brand for the company’s theatre and consumer show divisions, along with new divisions dedicated to music, dining, and investments. The new Studio C name will be applied to new theater locations, although there are no immediate plans to rename the company’s current theaters, including the location in Benton Harbor. This announcement arrives on the heels of the theatre company revealing plans for a new location in downtown Grand Rapids, slated for completion in 2019. Called Studio Park, the complex will be the company’s first venture as Studio C, with plans for dining, office spaces, a hotel, apartments, a theatre, live events, and parking. Studio C leaders say this new decision to expand their focus reflects a philosophy that “You can’t be focused on just one thing and be creative.”. ...Read Full Story

Road Department Deals With Flooding

The Berrien County Road Department and the Van Buren County Road Commission are both dealing with a large number of roads that have been flooded over this week. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Lathum tells WSJM News the crews are out and marking problem spots.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Work To Evaluate Superintendent

The annual performance evaluation of Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Shelly Walker is now being worked on by the board of education. However, the board is facing one complication. Walker is currently suspended for an unspecified investigation. Trustee Joseph Taylor tells us the board will just have to get materials for its evaluation from the Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson.. ...Read Full Story

City Of St. Joseph Announces Closings

The city of St. Joseph is advising everyone of some weather-related closings. The Howard Ice Arena is now shut down because of the warm weather. The city will keep us updated regarding its status. Also, the city says it’s closed Kiwanis Park due to flooding, adding it may very well also be closed on Wednesday. Furthermore, the city says the closing of Riverview Park may be forthcoming. It’s being monitored, and with the anticipated forecast of more rain, city staff may be forced to close Riverview at some point in the coming day. Anyone who wants more information can contact city hall or watch the city’s website for updates.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Superintendent: No Immediate Threat To Students

St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon tells WSJM News the investigation into a threat against the high school is continuing between the district, St. Joseph Public Safety, and the FBI. Cardon says there have been no arrests, and everyone involved in the incident is cooperating. She and Public Safety Director Brian Uridge are continuing to call the situation a “miscommunication posted briefly on social media.” On Facebook, parents of St. Joseph students have said it was a Snapchat post threatening a shooting at the high school. Cardon and Uridge say there is “no immediate threat to the students or the community.” Extra police were sent to the high school today in response to the online threat.. ...Read Full Story

Road Weight Restrictions Now In Place

Truck weight restrictions took effect Monday to avoid damaging Michigan roads as the weather begins to warm up. The restrictions are imposed on all state highways from the Michigan-Indiana and Michigan-Ohio state lines north to Muskegon County. Dan Weingarten is with the Michigan Department of Transportation, and spoke with Michigan News Network about the weight restrictions.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching To Remove Ice Shanties

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding anglers that mandatory ice shanty removal dates are approaching. For counties in the southern Lower Peninsula, shanties must be removed from the ice by midnight Thursday, March 1. For all Upper Peninsula counties, shanties must be removed by midnight Saturday, March 31. Meanwhile, Coast Guard Lieutenant Jodie Knox tells Michigan Nes Network it has been a precarious season for those going out on the ice.. ...Read Full Story

Extra Police At SJHS Tuesday; Threat Deemed Not Credible

There will be stepped up security at St. Joseph High School Tuesday following a threat made by a student on Monday. St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon says she’s been told by police the threat is not credible after they interviewed several students. St. Joseph Public Safety Chief Brian Uridge told parents in an email from Cardon that there is “no immediate danger to students and it appears to be a miscommunication based on overheard conversations and posts on social media.” The superintendent adds that in light of the Florida school shooting last week, the district understands that parents have “a tremendously heightened sense of concern,” and that is why the city’s public safety department will have officers at the school today.. ...Read Full Story

Crew Fighting Coloma Restaurant Fire

Firefighters worked Monday night to battle a fire at a Coloma restaurant. Berrien County Central Dispatch tells us one department responded to El Asadero Mexican restaurant on North Paw Paw Avenue. Witnesses reported a large amount of smoke and said it looked like the fire was toward the rear of the building. No word yet on the extent of the damage.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Talks Run For State Senate

Experience. That’s what state Representative Dave Pagel says he has heading into the race for the 21st District Michigan Senate seat. He has announced he’s running to replace the term-limited state Senator John Proos. Pagel tells WSJM News he wants to better fund public education. He’s been concerned about some legislative action on that front.. ...Read Full Story

Local Police Working With Schools On Security

Being prepared for emergencies is among the top priorities for schools in Michigan, and here in Berrien County, helping them is a function of the sheriff’s department’s emergency management and homeland security division. The office’s Captain Rockey Adams tells WSJM News the department teams up with local police agencies to have plans for possible scenarios like school shootings.. ...Read Full Story

Deputy To Run Across Michigan To Honor Fallen Officers

From the Associated Press — A reserve deputy plans to run across Michigan to honor the state’s fallen officers. WXMI-TV reports that Kent County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Squad Reserve Deputy Matt Garbarino will run from the fallen officer memorial in Pontiac to a
memorial at the Ottawa County Sheriff Office. Garbarino will begin the 160-mile trek June 4 to raise money for the Concern of Police Survivors charity that supports the families of fallen officers. He plans to run about 40 miles each day to finish by June 7. WOOD-TV reports that Garbarino will also carry the Thin Blue Line American Flag, which represents solidarity with police and honors those who’ve died in the line of duty. The Officer Down Memorial Page says 590 Michigan officers have died in the line of duty.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Covert Township Child Found Safe

A tip to Covert Township Police has helped find a missing eight-year-old boy. Police Chief Jay Allen confirms to WSJM News that Xavier Preston was found this morning in a “neighboring community” thanks to the tips that came in overnight. Preston had last been seen playing in his yard in the 72-thousand block of 24th Avenue around 10 a.m. yesterday. Chief Allen says they are currently working to reunite the child with his family and adds Preston was found safe.. ...Read Full Story

Former Playboy Playmate From Sawyer Claims Trump Affair

The latest woman to come forward and claim an affair with President Trump has local ties. Karen McDougal grew up in Sawyer, graduated from Three Oaks High School, and was the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year. She tells the “New Yorker” she had a nine-month affair with Donald Trump shortly after the birth of his youngest son, Baron, in 2006. McDougal says she first told her story to the publisher of the National Inquirer and was paid $150,000 in a non-disclosure agreement after doing so. The story was never published. She now says she regrets doing that. McDougal says the affair happened shortly after the President married First Lady Melania Trump, and she ended it after he made derogatory comments about her mother’s age.. ...Read Full Story

Filling Up Not As Painful This Week

Michigan’s average gas price is down 11¢ a gallon to start the week at $2.45. According to Triple-A Michigan, the prices in the St. Joseph and Benton Harbor area fell 13¢ a gallon over the last week to $2.42. GasBuddy spotters note South Haven’s prices, not included in the AAA survey, are down to $2.33. Michigan’s drop is the largest week-to-week decline in the country this week. Triple-A says the highest prices for the third straight week are up in Marquette at $2.67, while Flint drivers have the lowest prices at $2.34. The drop is due to gasoline inventories in the Midwest rising every week this year, and the entire region is enjoying a drop at the pump. The statewide average is down 20¢ a gallon from last month, but remains higher than last year by 19¢.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. Pagel Wants Senate Seat

State Representative Dave Pagel is now running for the Michigan Senate in the 21st District. The Republican is term-limited out of the House at the end of this session, as is Senator John Proos. Pagel will face Representative Kim LaSata of Bainbridge Township in the Republican primary in August. LaSata decided to run for the Senate when former Representative Al Pscholka, who is currently Governor Snyder’s budget director, announced he would not seek the office. Pagel was elected to the House after serving on the Berrien County Board of Commissioners for four years and 14 years on the Berrien Springs school board. He says his experience in the House over his three terms sets him up well to represent Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in the Senate. Pagel is an apple farmer and processor by trade.. ...Read Full Story

Union Pier Restaurant Damaged

Some repairs are needed for a restaurant in Union Pier. A car hit the outside of Timothy’s shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, damaging the exhaust hood system. The restaurant wasn’t able to open as a result of the crash yesterday, but WSJM News has been told by a manager they’re hoping to be open at the normal time of 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The restaurant is not open Monday or Tuesday during the winter. Two people were in the car that hit the front part of the restaurant, and both walked away uninjured. No one was inside at the time. The gas had to be shut off to the building, prompting yesterday’s closure. The car went through bushes that are in front of the building, but no damage was done to the inside of the restaurant.. ...Read Full Story