Local News Archives

Andrews University Planning Third “Change Day”

Andrews University is gearing up for its next Change Day, when students and staff will fan out across the community to make a difference. The university says the big day is September 24, and its teams will collaborate at about 70 sites around the community to spruce things up. The first Andrews University Change Day was in 2017, and the second was last year. On those days, Andrews cancelled classes so its volunteers could do things ranging from painting a mural in a school to cleaning beach areas and parks to offering hundreds of high school students information about career choices. Locations last year included the Therapeutics Riding Center, the Area Agency on Aging, and Habitat for Humanity. Andrews says the students who take part learn valuable lessons about how just a little effort can make a big difference to others. You can find out more about Change Day at Andrews.edu/ChangeHub.. ...Read Full Story

Naloxone Being Given Away Statewide Saturday

The fight against opioid overdose deaths continues Saturday with the statewide distribution of almost 52,000 Naloxone kits. That is the medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has sent out the medication to more than 1,000 pharmacies, which will give it away for free and without a prescription all day. Twenty-three pharmacies in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties will have Naloxone available as part of the effort. In 2017, the last full year for which stats are available, state health officials say Michigan had 2,053 opioid overdose deaths. Here is the link to a map with all the participating pharmacies.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County K-9 Finds Missing Man

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says a Cassopolis man is safely back home after being missing for several hours on Thursday. Deputies were called to the 26-thousand block of M-60 in Jefferson Township shortly before 9 p.m. by the caretaker for 70-year-old Michael Cox, who had gone on a walk and hadn’t returned. The caretaker was concerned due to incoming storms and Cox’s medical issues, noting he’d been missing since 6 p.m. Almost 5 hours after he had last been seen, Deputy Graves and K-9 Nellie found him in a swamp behind his home. Cox was cleared by Life Care Ambulance medics.. ...Read Full Story

Lawton Man Dies From Crash Injuries

Injuries from a crash on Wednesday in Van Buren County have claimed the life of a 60-year-old Lawton man. The sheriff’s department says he was not wearing a seat belt when a Paw Paw woman ran a stop sign at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 30th Street in Antwerp Township and hit his SUV, causing it to flip. His passenger was not hurt. The driver who hit his vehicle spun into a tree, but she was buckled in and deputies did not say if she was hurt. The man died yesterday at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Police are still investigating the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Conducting Siren Tests This Month

Indiana Michigan Power says it will be testing the emergency sirens near the Cook nuclear power plant starting this month. The tests will begin the week of September 16 and continue through the week of September 30. The 70 sirens within a ten mile radius of the plant in Bridgman will be sounded by the Berrien County Emergency Management Department. Each siren will be activated three to four times for about 30 seconds to obtain readings and make adjustments to ensure proper coverage and reliability. Maintenance will also be performed. In order to avoid confusion, the tests will not be done if there is severe weather. The Cook plant notes in the event of an actual emergency, the early warning sirens are all sounded continuously for three minutes. The testing is expected to take place in different locations Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the three-week period.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Officials Honored For Crisis Intervention Support

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and 911 Director Dave Agens have been honored by the Riverwood Center for their efforts to help ensure those experiencing a mental health crisis get help instead of winding up in the criminal justice system. At Thursday’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Riverwood Jail Diversion Supervisor Gretchen Carlson presented the two officials with awards. Carlson told us 911 dispatch can be helpful when to comes to crisis intervention.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Praise Vaping Regulations

Local health officials are giving high marks to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s action last week to ban flavored vaping products in Michigan. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News not enough is known about e-cigarettes to say they are safe. In fact, the evidence points to otherwise.. ...Read Full Story

LMC College Night This Month

Lake Michigan College has scheduled its next College Night for Monday, September 23. It’s a chance for LMC students to meet with representatives of four-year universities around the region and learn about enrolling. LMC says there will be more than 50 colleges represented at the event. They’ll include Andrews University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University, and the University of Michigan. LMC staff also will offer financial aid sessions during the event, and help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the next academic year. College Night will be on the 23rd from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Upton Hall at LMC’s Mendel Center on the Benton Township campus. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Ranked 23rd On List Of 50 Best Cities In U.S. To Live

St. Joseph is getting some national recognition this week, landing at number 23 on the list of the 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S. on the website 24/7 Wall Street. The city lands right behind the much larger Rochester, Minnesota in 22nd, while Traverse City is the only other Michigan city at 48. St. Joseph Mayor Pro Tem Laura Goos says its a good thing for the entire region, not just the city.. ...Read Full Story

State Budget Talks Break Down Over Road Money

Budget talks have broken down between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer just days after they agreed to sideline negotiations over a long-term road-funding plan. The issue that caused the negotiations to hit a pothole the size of a Buick on Wednesday is the amount of money to be included in the coming budget for roads.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Announces Four Candidates For College President

Southwestern Michigan College has announced there are four internal candidates in the running to be the next college president. On August 6, SMC President David Mathews announced he’ll be retiring at the end of this year after 22 years with the institution. The SMC Board of Trustees voted to conduct an internal search for a new president first. With the deadline now passed, the four candidates who have put in for the job are Dr. David Fleming, Dr. Lucian Leone, Dr. Joseph Odenwald, and Dr. Stacy Young. SMC says Fleming has served as SMC’s Vice President of Instruction since 2011, Leone serves as SMC’s Director of Admissions, Odenwald has served as SMC’s Vice President of Student Services since 2017, and Young has served as SMC’s Dean of the School of Business and Advanced Technology since 2013. Now that the four candidates are known, the board of trustees is taking public input. Those with comments are invited to the next regular board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on September 16 at the Dowagiac campus. It’s likely the board will talk about interview at that time.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Holding Bed Race This Month

Coming up on Friday, September 20 will be the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary’s Great Bed Race. It’s a team competition in which several local businesses race each other on wheeled beds down Lake Boulevard in downtown St. Joseph. The Rotary’s Bryan Tutton tells WSJM News the event is more than just good fun. It’s also a fundraiser that sends dollars to Slumberland Furniture’s 40 Winks campaign. It buys beds for children in need, and Tutton says there is great demand.. ...Read Full Story

Weekend Symposium To Focus On Closing Of Predominantly Black Schools

There will be a symposium this weekend in Detroit for supporters of predominantly black school districts in Michigan to talk about the fight to keep those schools open. “Fighting Back Against the Dismantling of Predominately Black School Districts” will feature a panel discussion with experts from communities all across Michigan, including visitors from Benton Harbor, Inkster, Albion, and Highland Park. Organizer Thomas Pedroni, a professor at Wayne State University, tells WSJM News he wants everyone to share their experiences, but also come out with recommendations to prevent school closings.. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Mark 9/11 In Lansing

The Michigan House marked the anniversary of 9/11 with a ceremony on Wednesday. Southwest Michigan lawmakers invited guests to take part. Among them were Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and Niles Fire Department Chief Larry Lamb, invited by state Representative Brad Paquette of Niles. Paquette said the occasion called for a salute to first responders.. ...Read Full Story

Heritage Museum Offering Spooky Fall Tours

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph is planning some spooky tours for this fall. The museum’s Sandra Spiering tells WSJM News there will be two kinds of haunted tours. First will be the cemetery tours on Saturday, October 5. They’ll run from 4 to 9 p.m. and each will be about 45 minutes. They’ll provide information on some of the people buried at the city cemetery. For example…. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Police Release New Info On Monday Incident That Prompted School Lockdown

Hartford police are providing more information on a situation that resulted in a lockdown of Hartford Public Schools on Monday. Police Chief Tressa Beltran tells WSJM News they were contacted by the mother of an 18-year-old man that afternoon, telling them he was distraught over his girlfriend “possibly being in a volatile situation at her home” north of the city. Due to previous concerns, the mother told him to stop at a relative’s home and pick up his shotgun, which he did and put it in the trunk of the vehicle. She then called police for help finding him to ensure he didn’t harm himself. He was found in the parking lot of Hartford High School with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s mother, and was taken by police to a hospital for a psychological evaluation. The incident happened after school was out for the day, but there were still students and staff at the building.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Public Safety: Two Shootings Under Investigation

Benton Harbor Public Safety officers are investigating a pair of Tuesday night shootings. In the first, a 29-year-old man was shot at a home in the 900 block of Ogden Avenue just before 9 p.m. and is in critical condition at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. Benton Harbor officers, however, weren’t called to that scene until about an hour later. He had initially been taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland and was later transferred. The second shooting happened around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday in the 900 block of Lavette, where a 44-year-old man was shot. He is in stable condition at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. No arrests have been made, and police have not identified any suspects in either shooting. Michigan State Police Major Crime Unit detectives are assisting.. ...Read Full Story

Chief Justice McCormack Calls Van Buren Courthouse Murals “Jarring”

The chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court says it’s “jarring” to see violent paintings in the Van Buren County courthouse. But Bridget McCormack says it’s not her job to tell local leaders how to manage the building. McCormack was there last week participating in an effort to observe and assist judges. One mural in a stairwell shows a bare-breasted woman holding a decapitated head and a spear. Another painting above a judge’s bench shows a nude man and nude woman begging for mercy. Local judges want the paintings covered up or removed, but county commissioners have said no. McCormack says the painting with the decapitated head could traumatize a crime victim. She says the old paintings might be appropriate for a museum but seem out of place in a courthouse.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Shooting Under Investigation

A shooting is under investigation in Benton Harbor. Our partners at WSBT-TV report a 29-year-old man was shot one time in the stomach shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday in the 900 block of Ogden Avenue, but no one called police for a little over an hour. The victim underwent surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. There’s no word on any suspects at this time. The victim did not live at the home where he was shot, but was apparently visiting relatives there.. ...Read Full Story

Chamber Of Commerce Pleased Government Shutdown Avoided, Confident On Roads

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is glad to hear Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders in Lansing have reached a deal to have a state budget in place by the end of September even if it doesn’t include money to fix the state’s roads. Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Rich Studley tells WSJM News getting road money in place shouldn’t take priority over avoiding a state government shutdown.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Signals Support For Advisory Committee

The proposed Community Engagement and Advisory Committee to draft a plan for turning around Benton Harbor Area Schools is a step closer to becoming a reality. The state has proposed the creation of the autonomous committee that would have six months to issue recommendations for the district, and at a Tuesday meeting, the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education signaled initial support. Vice President Joseph Taylor spoke with us after the meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Issues Annual Report

The Berrien County Health Department has released its report for 2018. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the department gave its report to the Berrien County Board of Health last week. She says some people might not realize how many things the county health department does around the community in a given year.. ...Read Full Story

Man Pleads Guilty To Cass County Shooting

The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says a man charged in a shooting outside of a bar last year has pleaded guilty to second degree murder. Rolandis Russel was charged with first degree murder in the death of Fabian Wesaw, and the plea deal reduces the charge to second degree murder while also dropping charges of assault with intent to murder, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and four felony firearm counts. The prosecutor’s office says Russel admitted to leaving the Beeson Street Bar in the early morning hours of July 29, 2018 and getting a loaded AK-47 out of his SUV. He then fired 13 shots at a man with whom he’d been arguing. Instead, he hit and killed Wesaw, who had been standing nearby. Russell will be sentenced to a minimum of 43 years in prison on October 25.. ...Read Full Story