Local News Archives

United Way Collecting Food For Local Pantries Wednesday

Volunteers from the United Way of Southwest Michigan are spending Wednesday helping eleven local food pantries stock up for the summer. The United Way’s Charlotte Rogers tells WSJM News it’s Christmas in June as they aim to beef up the donations given to the food pantries at a time when, usually, donations go down. Plus, the need is up right now.. ...Read Full Story

“Invasive Species Blitz” Planned For Next Month

An effort will be made around southwest Michigan early next month to fight invasive species. The Southwest by Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, or CISMA, is staging a public education blitz. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News they’re going to hold events in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties to wash boats and remind boaters that’s the best way to stop invasive species.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Gets New Interim Director

There’s a new interim director in charge at the Berrien County Road Commission. Road Commission Board Chair August Zielke tells WSJM News they’ve picked current accounts payable specialist Lindie Delk to take over the leadership role. Zielke tells us Delk has been with the commission for several years, wearing a variety of hats. He says she’s the perfect person for the job. Delk is just the interim managing director, and the commission’s board is still taking applications for the permanent post. She could wind up with it. The board posted the position about three weeks ago. The Berrien County Road Commission has been without a director since Louis Csokasy retired in April.. ...Read Full Story

Two Injured When Car Leaves Road, Hits Tree In Oronoko Township

Two people are recovering after their vehicle crashed into a tree in Oronoko Township Monday morning. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township police tell WSJM News it happened about 4:30 a.m. on Shawnee Road near Hartline Road. An SUV driven by 43-year-old Gretchen Wessendorf, of Stevensville, was eastbound on Shawnee when it left the road because a westbound vehicle veered into its lane. The driver lost control and the SUV went airborne before hitting the tree. The woman was trapped inside, while her 10-year-old son was able to free himself. Both were taken to a hospital after the driver was freed with the Jaws of Life.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Woman Wins $300,000 In Michigan Lottery

A Berrien County woman is celebrating this week because she’s a big lottery winner. The 61-year-old from Bridgman, who wishes to remain anonymous, won $300,000 in the Double Bonus Cashword scratch off game Monday. The Michigan Lottery tells WSJM News she picked up the winning ticket at Midtown Liquor Store in Bridgman and cashed in her winnings Tuesday. The lucky winner decided to keep it a surprise from her husband until after getting the check. She plans to buy a new car, and the money will help her husband retire a little early. She told the Michigan Lotto she always felt like she’s win one day. It just took her a while.. ...Read Full Story

Fettig Stepping Down As Whirlpool CEO

There is a change at the top of the world’s largest home appliance maker. Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool says CEO Jeff Fettig is stepping down from his role as CEO effective October 1. He will remain the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Whirlpool’s new CEO will be Marc Bitzer, currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Fettig has been Chairman and CEO since 2004, and has worked for Whirlpool for 36 years. In a statement, he says his “primary role is to support Whirlpool, Marc and our leadership team in this planned CEO transition.” Bitzer joined the company 18 years ago, and Fettig says he “has a deep understanding of our business throughout the world and has personally led our operations and delivered strong results.” The incoming CEO was named to his current job in October 2015 and previously served as Vice Chairman, which included overall leadership of Whirlpool North America and Whirlpool Europe, Middle East, and Africa.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Teacher Pension Changes

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Legislature has given final approval to legislation to coax more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only benefit instead of one that includes a traditional pension. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill 55-51 Tuesday. It will go to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature after a procedural step in the GOP-led Senate. Republicans say the legislation will keep the state from accumulating more debt and modernize a major public-sector retirement system. Democrats say the bill is an attack on the teaching profession and will make it harder to recruit quality educators. The measure would automatically enroll employees hired on or after February 1, 2018, in a 401(k)-only plan unless they opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current workers do.. ...Read Full Story

State House Approves Budget

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has approved a $56.7 billion state budget after an agreement was finalized between Republican leaders and Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. The GOP-led chamber voted 64-43 for a general budget Tuesday and 72-35 for the education budget. The Senate is expected to take final votes Thursday before the legislature’s summer recess. Majority Republicans say the state would spend about 2 percent more in the fiscal year starting in October, if federal dollars are factored in. They emphasize that overall spending would rise no more than inflation and be down slightly in the general fund. Democrats say money should be diverted from savings to fix deteriorating roads because a GOP-passed 2015 transportation funding plan is being phased in too slowly.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Denies Effort To Block Funding For New Detroit Arena

From the Associated Press — A federal judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause “catastrophic damage” to Detroit. The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit’s public schools. It said a vote from city residents was needed first. Activist Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon, who is running for City Clerk, had sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money. The arena, which will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons, opens this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Eliminate “False Fatherhood” Problems

An effort is underway in the state legislature to eliminate an old law that sometimes makes a man the legal father of a child when, in fact, he is not the child’s father. State Representative Jim Runestad, of Milford, tells us, in Michigan, any child born in a marriage is presumed to be the father’s. He’s talked with men who have been forced to pay nearly $30,000 for a child that’s not theirs. He says it’s a problem that some people just don’t understand.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Responders Train Off Silver Beach

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and the Berrien County Parks Department continue to hone their skills when it comes to water rescues. On Monday, lifeguards trained at Silver Beach by simulating a drowning. The Coast Guard’s Bridgette Baskin told WSJM News they’re there for you.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Police Investigate Reported Kidnapping Attempt

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating a reported attempted abduction on Monday morning. It tells WSJM News six women report they were walking along Ogden Avenue in the city around 2:15 a.m. when a black Chevy Impala and a silver truck pulled up to them. The Impala had out of state plates, possibly, Indiana, with the last four characters being OG43. The women report several men armed with handguns got out of the vehicles and tried to force them in. According to police, the women ran and the men chased after them, but the women were able to escape. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Experts To Discuss Tsunami Warning System For Great Lakes

Experts are meeting in Ann Arbor this week to discuss a tsunami warning system for the Great Lakes. Scientists say tsunamis happen on the lakes, although many are too small to notice. In fact, the lakes average 106 such events a year. In the oceans, tsunamis are caused by earthquakes. Great Lakes tsunamis result from rapid changes in barometric pressure associated with fast-moving weather systems. Scientists call them “meteotsunamis.” In some cases, people standing on piers or swimming along shorelines have been swept to their deaths.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Still Has Michigan’s Lowest Gas Prices

Make it two straight weeks that Benton Harbor and St. Joseph have the state’s lowest average gas prices of the markets surveyed by Triple-A Michigan. Our prices have dropped 11¢ to $2.20 a gallon, while the statewide average is $2.32, down 8¢. GasBuddy spotters are finding prices even lower in Van Buren County, with Bangor having gas as low as $2.13 and Paw Paw stations are down to $2.12. The website has the average in South Haven at $2.22. Triple A notes prices may be close to bottoming out, though refineries continue to produce record amounts of gasoline. The Midwest’s gasoline inventory is now 55 million barrels, up nearly two-million from last year and that’s leading to the lower prices we’re enjoying.. ...Read Full Story

Deadly Van Buren County Crash Under Investigation

A deadly crash in Antwerp Township on Saturday is under investigation. 30-year-old Alex Yeider of Paw Paw was killed when his vehicle was broadsided by another driven by an 18-year-old from Paw Paw shortly before 7 pm at the intersection of 32nd Street and 45th Avenue. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News it appears the teenager ignored a stop sign, and the collision sent both vehicles off the road into a horse pasture. The teenager was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, while Yeider was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the 18-year-old’s car was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation, and police do not believe alcohol was a factor.. ...Read Full Story

Thousands Say Goodbye To Lincoln Principal

Tears, hugs, and plenty of good memories were shared last night at Shadowland Pavilion at Silver Beach County Park as thousands gathered to say goodbye to St. Joseph Lincoln Elementary Principal Mike Wagner. The 53-year-old died unexpectedly last Wednesday, and his family held a sunset service for him Sunday as part of a Celebration of Life. Wagner had been principal at Lincoln since 2004, and started his education career with St. Joseph Public Schools as a teacher at Upton Middle School in 1987.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Response Training Planned For Silver Beach Tomorrow

If you see some emergency response vehicles out in Lake Michigan tomorrow off of Silver Beach, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the Berrien County Parks Department doing some water rescue training. They’ll be out there from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The county parks lifeguard team will be honing its skills with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division. The parks department also reminds everyone to be safe in the water this summer. Never swim alone, obey all posted signs, keep off the piers when there are high waves, and know what to do in the event of a rip current.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Create New Opioid Education Program

More legislation designed to help fight the epidemic of opioid abuse in Michigan has been approved by the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, tells WSJM News this latest six-bill package would lead to the creation of an opioid risks curriculum for Michigan students. She tells us the opioid epidemic affects everyone.. ...Read Full Story

Uber Arrives In Southwest Michigan

Uber has come to the area. The ride sharing company started operations Friday in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, New Buffalo and South Haven. Uber is also launching in Saugatuck, Holland, Muskegon, and Grand Haven. The company’s James Ondrey tells WSJM News there’s a demand for Uber in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Two Hurt In Watervliet Plane Crash

Two people are recovering after a small plane crash in Watervliet Township on Friday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News township police were called out to the Watervliet Municipal Airport around 7:20 p.m. on a report of a plane that had crashed shortly after takeoff. Police say it failed to get adequate altitude and the crashed in a wooded ravine area. On board were 27-year-old Edward Maloney, of Fruitport, and 36 year old Jonathan Amundsen, of Winterhaven, Florida. Both were seriously injured, but they managed to pull themselves out of the wreckage. They were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found In St. Joseph Marina

Police are investigating after a body was found in the water at Pier 33 Marina in St. Joseph on Saturday. The department of public safety was called out to the Morrison Channel around 9:30 a.m. and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and Coast Guard assisted as the body was retrieved. Police say the victim appears to have been deceased and in the water for a long period of time. An autopsy will be performed Monday in Grand Rapids. Police say the body has not been identified, and so far, there are no signs of foul play.. ...Read Full Story

Dads Urged To See A Doctor More Often

With Father’s Day just about here, dads everywhere are being reminded of the importance of going to the doctor. Men are less likely to see their doctors than women, and in general are less aware of medical symptoms. According to the CDC, women between 18 and 64 visit the doctor 57% more than men do. Family physician Douglas Felts, with Kaiser Permanente, tells us societal norms probably are one big reason why men don’t see doctors more often.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Gearing Up For Fourth Of July Festivities

The city of South Haven is gearing up for its annual Fourth of July celebrations. It tells us the Light Up the Lakes fireworks show will be held at dusk on Monday, July 3 this year. The fireworks will be launched from the north pier, allowing them to be seen all over the city. The draw bridge will operate on its normal schedule until about 11:30 that night when it will be closed to traffic so boats can pass by on the Black River. The city will also have about 39 uniformed police officers posted at 13 different points to help keep things orderly. COSY radio will keep people up to date with traffic information throughout the day. The following day, the Fourth of July, will be the annual Independence Day Parade. It’s set for 11 a.m. The parade route is Elkenburg to Kalamazoo Street to Phoenix Street to Broadway Avenue to Michigan Avenue to Center Street, ending at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Celebrates Opening Of Wine Program Tasting Room

Lake Michigan College is celebrating the opening of its wine program’s new tasting room. The Lake Michigan Vintners Tasting Room is located in a store front on First Street in Baroda, and the ribbon cutting was held Friday. LMC President Dr. Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News it helps to better simulate the wine business for the students.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Gas Pump Skimmers

The state of Michigan is reminding everyone about the dangers of gas pump skimmers. That’s after five more skimmers were found on pumps around the state in recent weeks. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development tells WSJM News part of its job is to inspect gas pumps to look for the credit card information-stealing devices. Considering there are more than 4,600 gas stations in the state, that’s a lot of pumps to watch. So, if you’re using the pay at the pump option when gassing up, you should take a moment to examine the scanner. Also, watch out for tamper-proof security tape, which can be a sign the pump is secure. The state has posted a video to help people learn about credit card skimmers and how to protect themselves. You can see it below. A total of 82 skimmers have been found on Michigan gas pumps so far.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Could Start Early On New Wind Park

From the Associated Press — Construction of a Consumers Energy wind turbine project in Michigan is expected to start three years ahead of schedule.The Michigan Public Service Commission on Thursday approved the Jackson-based utility’s proposal to begin work in 2019 instead of 2022 on Cross Winds Energy Park III in Tuscola County. In 2016, the commission approved the utility’s plan to buy 19 wind turbine generators for its Cross Winds Energy Park II and an option to buy 33 more for the future Cross Winds Energy Park III. Public Service Commission Chairwoman Sally Talberg says advancement of the projects will “help meet the expanded renewable energy portfolio standard set in
the state’s new energy laws.” The initial Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County started serving electric customers in Michigan’s Thumb region in 2014.. ...Read Full Story

Three Arrested In Buchanan Area Meth Bust

Three people are facing charges following a meth bust near Buchanan. The Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team tells us detectives searched a home in the township on Tuesday after getting tips about drug activity there. At the home, they found meth ingredients and some old reaction vessels, which are the pots used to make meth. Arrested were 22-year-old Ciara Miller, 25-year-old Kyle Wellington, and 22-year-old Zachariah Freeman. They’ve all been arraigned on meth charges. The Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team is an anti-drug agency made up of Michigan State Police, several sheriff’s departments, and local police departments throughout southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Apologies Demanded From Steve Harvey Over Flint Comment

From the Associated Press — Apologies are being demanded from comedian Steve Harvey following comments about Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis. Flint resident Dee Smith says Harvey told him to “enjoy your brown cup of water” during a Wednesday call-in to Harvey’s radio show.
The 68-year-old Smith said he told Harvey, a Cleveland native, the Cavaliers didn’t deserve to win the NBA championship. Harvey later told WSMH-TV in Michigan that he has “great affection” for Flint and that his joke was directed at Smith. Lead leached into homes in 2014 after Flint began tapping the Flint River. Elevated lead levels were found in some children. Residents were forced to drink and bathe with bottled or filtered water. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says “to make a joke out of a tragedy such as this was in poor taste.”. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Heading To Europe On Trade Trip

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder is using a trade trip to Europe to boost trade relationships and lure businesses to Michigan.
Snyder will travel to several countries to meet with government, automotive and other business leaders to show what types of opportunities Michigan can offer. His weeklong jaunt starts Saturday and takes him to France, Germany and Italy. The Republican governor touts the state’s leadership in automotive research and design on such trips. This marks his administration’s fifth visit to Europe, and other destinations have included China, Japan and Mexico. Also attending are Macomb and Oakland County officials and Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Automation Alley representatives.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan To Offer Free Tuition To Some Students

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan will offer four years of free tuition for in-state students whose families make less than $65,000 annually. The school says it’s “Go Blue Guarantee” starts January 1. Regents approved it Thursday as part of the $2 billion fiscal year 2018 general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus. Chair Mark Bernstein says the guarantee is expected to increase socio-economic diversity on the campus. It will not cover room and board, but students also may be eligible for additional aid to cover non-tuition costs. Tuition for in-state students at Michigan is about $7,413. Bernstein says funding for the program is generated from out-of-state tuition and university cost containment. The university says the program will not reduce need-based financial aid for students who parents earn more than $65,000.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Reminds Residents Of Fireworks Rules

The city of South Haven is reminding everyone of the rules regarding fireworks now that Fourth of July is getting close. The police department tells us, in 2012, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act legalized the sale, possession, and use of consumer fireworks in the state. However, the law has been since modified to allow local governments for more control of when fireworks may be used. The city of South Haven has restricted fireworks use to the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday, except between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. In other words, next month, you’ll be allowed to use fireworks on the Fourth of July, or on the day before or after it from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Anyone looking for clarification should call the police department.. ...Read Full Story

Bill To Teach Students About Opioid Dangers Approved By MI House

More legislation designed to help fight the epidemic of opioid abuse in Michigan has been approved by the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, tells us this latest six-bill package instructs the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission to develop recommendations for a curriculum on opioid risks that could be taught to students. Then, the Michigan Department of Education would work on it. She tells us it’s everyone’s responsibility to educate the young about the dangers of such drugs. Other bills in the package increase access to opioid addiction treatment, increase requirements on pain management facilities, and allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription under certain circumstances. The legislative packaged passed the state House Tuesday and now goes to the state Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Facing Charges After Kicking Out Police Vehicle Window

A 17-year-old is facing charges in Van Buren County for kicking out the window of a police cruiser. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News deputies were called out to the 31,000 block of Red Arrow Highway in Paw Paw Thursday morning on a report of blight. They found a 43-year-old woman and the 17-year-old boy living as squatters at the property. When deputies ran their names, they learned both the teen and the woman had warrants out. They put the teen in the back of a squad car while talking to the woman, and that’s when he kicked out the back window and took off running. He was quickly caught, and now faces charges of malicious destruction of property and resisting and obstructing. The 43-year-old was also arrested and turned over to another police agency due to her warrant.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Series Of I-94 Crashes

One person is dead following a Thursday morning crash on I-94 near Paw Paw. Michigan State Police tell us it happened around 11 a.m. when a semi rear-ended a westbound car in the construction zone at mile marker 63. A front seat passenger in that vehicle was killed. The semi then crashed into three other vehicles before coming to rest in the median. MSP says several people suffered injuries, adding distracted driving may have been a factor. About 20 minutes after the incident near mile marker 63, another crash occurred at mile marker 66. In that case, a driver swerved to avoid congestion caused by the earlier crash and hit the cable guardrail before his vehicle wound up on its roof. The driver, a 54-year-old Mattawan man, was taken to a hospital. Westbound I-94 in the area had to be closed for a couple of hours.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Schools Mourn Lincoln Principal

Parents, teachers, staff members, and students of St. Joseph’s Lincoln Elementary School are in shock with the news of the sudden passing of Principal Mike Wagner. Superintendent Ann Cardon told parents in an email this morning that Wagner died unexpectedly yesterday. Staff from Lory’s Place is helping school administrators prepare to support school families and the community, and Cardon says details on that will be released soon. Celebration of Life service information is also pending.. ...Read Full Story

Uber Expanding To SWMI

Uber is coming to the area. The ridesharing company will start operating in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, New Buffalo and South Haven on Friday. Uber will also launch service in Saugatuck, Holland, Muskegon, and Grand Haven the same day. The company says both UberX, which is their normal rides and UberXL, with room for up to six passengers, will be available. The rides are hailed using the company’s smartphone app, and there will be one free ride available to new users using the promo code LAKEMI17 through October 1. Uber is also looking for drivers for the area. WSJM News has reached out to the company for comment.. ...Read Full Story

Fire, Power Outage Delays Herald-Palladium

If you like to start your day with the Herald-Palladium, you likely noticed that didn’t happen today. The newspaper had a lightning strike right outside the building last night that caused a power surge and a fire that knocked out their computer network, and forced the paper to be printed for today in South Bend. The HP tells WSJM News there will be limited home delivery today starting after 1 p.m. Most of that will be in the core subscription areas of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, and Stevensville. The papers will start showing up early this afternoon at retail locations as well. They’re expecting everything to operate as normal tomorrow.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Crashes Into Lane Automotive In Watervliet

A blown tire is blamed for a semi crash early this morning in Watervliet. Police say the driver of a semi went off I-94 and into the side of the building at Lane Automotive. Police tell WSJM News no one was hurt. The cab of the truck wound up inside the building. The accident happened shortly before 3 a.m. There is no damage estimate yet regarding the building.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Creating New Partnership Agreement Accountability Position

Benton Harbor Area Schools will get a little extra help as it aims to meet all terms of its partnership agreement with the state. This week, the board of education authorized Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker to create the new position of partnership agreement accountability assistant. Walker told WSJM News this person will go from building to building to make sure everyone’s doing what they should be doing.. ...Read Full Story

Whilpool Volunteers Help Non-Profits For Kitchenaid Day Of Caring

More than 150 volunteers from Whirlpool and Kitchenaid have had a chance to make a difference in their community by taking part in the eighth annual Kitchenaid Day of Caring. It took place Wednesday, as the Whirlpool and Kitchenaid employees fanned out to 11 non-profits to help them out for the day. They also invited others. St. Joseph Public Safety Director Brian Uridge took them up on the offer to help build a new playground at the Discovery Enrichment Center in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Native In Intensive Care Following Washington Shootings

From the Associated Press — Family members of Matt Mika say the Michigan native suffered multiple gunshot wounds and remains in the intensive care unit in critical condition after surgery. Mika was wounded Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice,
injuring a congressman and others. His family said in a statement late Wednesday that they expect Mika to remain hospitalized for at least several days. The family said, “we continue to be in disbelief that he would be part of this heinous attack.” Mika is a former aide to Michigan Republican congressman Tim Walberg. He is director of government relations for Tyson Foods Washington, D.C., office and has worked for the company for more than six years. Mika’s family described him as “a very thoughtful, fun-loving person who is competitive and loyal; all things which contributed to his continued commitment to the Congressional Baseball Game.”. ...Read Full Story