Local News Archives

Safety Grant For BH Schools Leading To New Programs


A $2 million state grant awarded last year to Benton Harbor Area Schools for safety and gang prevention has been making a difference. On Tuesday, the board of education heard the grant has paid for suicide awareness training, a leadership skills program, and self-esteem and life skills training for girls. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News that’s just some of what the district managed to do in the first few months of having the funds at the end of the last school year.. ...Read Full Story

Seven Arrests In Cass County Stolen Property Case


The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has arrested seven suspects in a stolen property and meth case. It tells us deputies were sent out to a property in the 67,000 block of Hess Road Monday morning on a report of stolen property out of St. Joseph County, Indiana. The items had been taken in a breaking and entering. During their search, police say they found a large amount of stolen property along with a firearm, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Five women and two men were arrested at the house for possession of stolen property, drug offenses, and firearm violations. Their names have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Arson Suspect Arrested

The suspect in a weekend break in and arson in Van Buren County has been caught. The Bangor Police Department tells us 21-year-old Dominick Wheeler was arrested in Allegan County with help from Michigan State Police. He’s accused of breaking into a laundromat, setting it on fire, and stealing money. Chief Tommy Simpson tells us Wheeler somehow managed to break free and escape from inside a police car after his arrest. He’s charged with arson, resisting police, and destruction of police property. Wheeler was also wanted on some outstanding warrants. Bond has been set at $250,000.. ...Read Full Story

State Police To Train For Tower Rescue Wednesday


There should be quite the sight to see in the Lansing area on Wednesday. Michigan State Police will have several public safety agencies on hand near its training academy in Diamondale for an exercise to save someone stranded on a communications tower. Dan Morgan, coordinator of the secondary complex tower training event, tells WSJM News your standard police and fire departments can’t help someone stuck on one of those huge towers.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Wants Answers On Line 5 Damage


The recent discovery of some damage to outer coating on Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac concerns Congressman Fred Upton. That’s why he’s asking Enbridge to write a report for Congress as soon as possible. Upton tells WSJM News he wants answers about the line’s safety,. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Guard Pulls Back Troopers Planned For Irma Response


From the Associated Press — The Michigan National Guard is pulling back troops being sent to Florida after being told they weren’t needed for Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. Some Michigan troops had already departed for Florida when a Guard official says the decision was made Tuesday to turn them around. Lieutenant Dawn Dancer says Florida officials decided they didn’t need additional guard troops from around the country. The Michigan Guard had planned to send about 1,000 members to Florida. Dancer says Michigan Guard leaders are monitoring Irma-related troubles in other states and will be ready to send troops elsewhere if needed.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Stabbing Suspects Arrested


A man and a woman are in the Cass County Jail for a stabbing last week. The two were arrested yesterday by Dowagiac Public Safety, and the victim is already out of the hospital. Authorities tell us the suspects are facing multiple felony assault and drug charges for the crime, and they believe Friday night’s stabbing was drug-related. They were called to Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital after the victim showed up with several stab wounds. The case is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Fennville Varsity Football Coach Put On Leave


Fennville varsity football coach Brian Sackett is on leave following an incident in the game against Coloma on Friday. Sackett is accused of grabbing a player by his collar and screaming at him for about 10 seconds according to a parent of the player. It happened after two Fennville players tackled a Coloma player, and then a shoving match ensued. Sackett then got in the face of his player. The coach has issued an apology, saying he should have handled the situation better. The district has issued a statement to television stations in Grand Rapids and the “Holland Sentinel” saying they’re “taking appropriate steps to investigate an alleged incident between a coach and a player from the September 8 football game in Coloma.” The Blackhawks are currently being guided by assistant coaches while Sackett is on leave.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman Not Seeking Re-Election


From the Associated Press — Republican Congressman Dave Trott of Michigan says he will not seek re-election. In a statement Monday, the two-term lawmaker says serving has been an honor but he has decided that the best course is “to spend more time with my family and return to the private sector.” The announcement comes on the heels of two other GOP retirements last week, with Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Dave Reichert of Washington state saying they will step down at the end of their terms. Trott represents a district west of Detroit. Democrats, in the minority, hope they have a shot at winning back control by capitalizing on the GOP retirements and open seats.. ...Read Full Story

Fight Over Fuel Rules Reignites


Environmental advocates are crying foul about an effort to undo new fuel efficiency standards to automobiles. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a meeting on its proposal to reconsider requirements that the U.S. car and light-truck fleet achieve an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Carol Lee Rawn is the transportation director for the nonprofit group Ceres, and tells us the current standards are important for innovation.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lottery Developing New Rewards Program


From the Associated Press — The Michigan Lottery is developing a new player rewards program that’s designed to make it easier to participate and earn free play. The lottery announced Monday that the program is expected to begin in early 2018. Updates will be based on feedback from lottery players who wanted more chances to earn free play without entering non-winning ticket codes online. Details will be announced later. People may sign up online to get email updates about the program. The lottery says players will have more chances to use points they have accumulated in their Players Club accounts before the current program ends. And players may continue to earn Players Club points by entering codes from non-winning tickets.. ...Read Full Story

Go Fund Me Campaign Launched For Family Of Boy Killed In Crash


A Go Fund Me campaign has been launched to help pay the funeral expenses for a 13-year-old boy killed in a Berrien County highway crash on Sunday. The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department tells us Osvaldo Leon of Elgin, Illinois was killed along with 32-year-old Francisco Valle-Lopez of Mexico in the Lake Township crash on I-94. It’s thought a blown tire may have been the cause. The Go Fund Me campaign to pay for Osvaldo Leon’s funeral service was launched Monday, and had raised more than $1,4000 of its $10,000 goal by late evening. You can find the Go Fund Me page right here. . ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Students Receive Positive M-STEP Results


Good news out of Bridgman Public Schools. The district tells us its students were among the top in the county across the subjects of math, science, social studies, and English on the latest M-STEP tests. The M-STEP is Michigan’s standardized test for students in several grades. According to the district, Bridgman students ranked in the top three Berrien County public school districts for each content area tested on the 2017 M-STEP. They were number one in Berrien County when it comes to Total Science Proficiency and Total Social Studies Proficiency. Superintendent Shane Peters tells us he’s proud of the hard work done by both students and staff.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Unit 1 Refueling Outage Begins This Week


A refueling outage at the Cook nuclear power plant’s Unit 1 will begin this Wednesday. Cook plant spokesperson Bill Schalk tells WSJM News this will be the 27th refueling outage for the unit. Around 1,000 extra workers will be on hand at the Bridgman area plant for the next several months to conduct a variety of maintenance tasks.. ...Read Full Story

Syndicated Radio Host Glenn Haege Passes Away


A well-known syndicated radio host and columnist who you’ve probably heard right here on WSJM has passed away. Glenn Haege, the host of the Handyman Show, which airs on the weekend on WSJM, died Monday after a short battle with cancer. The Detroit News reports Haege hosted his weekly program on Detroit’s WJR radio for many years. It’s also a show that’s syndicated on more than 135 other stations. Haege’s producer told The Detroit News he was a “consummate radio professional who really cared a great deal about his audience.” Funeral arrangements for the handyman are still pending.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Michigan: Statewide Average Gas Prices Up 7¢


AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 7¢ per gallon in the past week as the effects of hurricanes on fuel supplies are felt. The Dearborn-based auto club says early Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.69 per gallon. That’s about 48
cents more than at the same point last year. Gas prices climbed last week during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which cut U.S. refining capacity, and in anticipation of Hurricane Irma’s impact. The lowest average price in Michigan was about $2.66 per gallon in the Detroit area. The highest was about $2.76 per gallon in the Traverse City area. Locally in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, the prices rose about 9¢ to average $2.70. AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Gas Station Robbed


Police are looking for a man who robbed the Speedway gas station on West Ash Street in Three Oaks early Monday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us a white man walked in around 4:30 am and ordered the cashier to give him all the money from the register. He got away on foot and a sheriff’s department K-9 was unable to track him. The suspect is about 5’3″ and 180 pounds, and was wearing a tan shirt and a neon green and yellow baseball hat. If he had a weapon, it wasn’t used during the robbery, which is still being investigated. Anyone with information is urged to call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Blue Star Highway Construction To Start This Month


The Van Buren County Road Commission is about to start a major project on Blue Star Highway. It tells us crews will be working on Blue Star from Phoenix Road to Baseline Road in South Haven Township starting on Monday, September 18. They’re doing milling and resurfacing work, along with guardrail upgrades and the construction of a bike path. Phase 1 of the work will mean the closure of the outermost northbound and southbound lanes through October 18. At that time, Phase 2 will start, meaning the closure of the inner northbound and southbound lanes. The project is expected to be finished on November 1. The $513,000 project is being paid for with a combination of federal and local funds. The Van Buren County Road Commission’s share of the cost is $325,000.. ...Read Full Story

Two Killed, Five Hurt In I-94 Crash


A blown tire may be to blame for a crash that killed two people and injured five others on Interstate 94 in Lake Township just before 3 p.m. Sunday. The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department tells WSJM News 13-year-old Osvaldo Leon and 32-year-old Francisco Valle-Lopez were pronounced dead at the scene. Both were passengers in a vehicle driven by 38-year-old Raul Leon, who was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph along with three other passengers: 17-year-old Osiris Leon, four-year-old Osmiry Leon, and 15-year-old Oscar Leon. A fifth person, 33-year-old Alma Leon, was flown to South Bend Memorial Hospital. She and Valle-Lopez were visiting from Guerrero, Mexico, while the others were from Elgin, Illinois. The single-vehicle crash closed westbound I-94 between the 22 and 16 mile markers for about three hours on Sunday, with traffic sent on to Red Arrow Highway. The crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

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