Local News Archives

Coloma Glad Peach Festival This Weekend

It’s almost time for the Coloma Glad Peach Festival. The 50th annual event will be held this Friday through Sunday, says secretary Maureen Saltzman. She tells WSJM News Friday will feature the youth parade, the opening of the main stage, and fun for the kids. Saturday will be busy all day.. ...Read Full Story

Hundreds Mingle With Police At National Night Out Events

Hundreds of southwest Michigan residents have had a chance to meet their local police thanks to the latest National Night Out event. Police departments all over Berrien County gathered in local parks Tuesday night, showing off equipment, giving out goodies, and cooking up hot dogs. Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis told WSJM News it’s about community engagement.. ...Read Full Story

Elks Club Holding Veterans Fishing Derby This Week

Set for this Wednesday is the 33rd annual Elks Club Fishing Derby in southwest Michigan. More than 100 Michigan veterans are expected to turn out for the event which will have them traveling from the Battle Creek V.A. Hospital to St. Joseph/Benton Harbor for five hours of fishing starting in the early morning. Special guests expected to turn out for part of the day include Congressman Fred Upton, Berrien County officials, and representatives of a variety of veteran groups. The veterans will be saluted for their service, and then they’ll head to the Elks Lodge in Benton Harbor for a dinner. They’ll also be given prizes. As the vets make their way through the Twin Cities, they’ll get a police escort.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Announces Record Fundraising Goal

The United Way of Southwest Michigan has announced its next yearly fundraising goal. The organization is going to try to collect $4.4 million in the coming year. It’s the 75th anniversary of the United Way of Southwest Michigan, and campaign co-chair Zack East tells WSJM News they decided to aim for what partner organizations actually need.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor School Board President Resigns

The Bangor Public Schools Board of Education is weighing the hire of a new superintendent. At a meeting this week, the board tied on a vote to hire former Bangor Superintendent Dennis Paquette or Karen Bitzer, who is also seeking the position. That’s right after the board read a resignation letter from the body’s president, Dwight Click. He said he was stepping down for personal reasons. The board now has to appoint a new trustee. It has 30 days to do so. In the meantime, Dave Peden, a retired superintendent from Mona Shores, is is serving as the interim superintendent.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Delays Posting Proposed Health Insurance Rates

From the Associated Press — Michigan will wait another month before posting rate increases proposed by health insurers that sell coverage on a government marketplace, due to uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s threat to stop billions of dollars in government payments to insurers. The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services was supposed to publish the proposed rate hikes Tuesday. But it won a 30-day extension from the federal government, citing “uncertainty” over whether insurers will be reimbursed for providing required financial assistance to low-income consumers. Open enrollment for 2018 begins November 1 and continues through December 15. Nine insurance companies want to participate in the federally-run Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Bust In Benton Harbor

A Friday drug bust in Benton Harbor has charges being pursued against several people. Officers from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and the Southwest Enforcement Team seized crack cocaine, marijuana, and drug dealing-related items during a raid at a home in the 300 block of Marshall Avenue. Authorities have not indicated how many people were in the home and could be facing charges. They add the search warrant came from an ongoing investigation into cocaine dealing in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Healthcare: Time To Move On

Congressman Fred Upton tells us it’s time to move on when it comes to healthcare reform. That’s following the U.S. Senate’s failure last week to approve legislation repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Upton doesn’t think the chamber has the votes to get anything done, and is now working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on a slightly different priority.. ...Read Full Story

State Mental Health Task Force Begins Meeting

A new mental health task force of the Michigan House has held its first meeting. The body gathered in Howell on Monday to hear from doctors, law enforcement, and other organizations who could weigh in on how the state might have better policies to serve those who struggle with mental illness. State Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs is on the panel, and tells us there are information sharing problems when it comes to the Michigan Department of Corrections.. ...Read Full Story

Worker’s Error Sends 10,000 Gallons Of Sludge Into River

A South Bend official says a wastewater treatment plant worker’s mistake resulted in at least 10,000 gallons of partially treated sludge into the St. Joseph River earlier this month. City Utilities Director Al Greek says the error caused a sludge holding tank to overflow on July 22, spilling an estimated 1 million gallons inside the plant boundaries. Employees were able to clean up all but the 10,000 gallons before it spilled into the river. Greek says heavy rains that night and an ongoing $13 million construction project at the plant contributed to the spill. But he says it’s an accident that shouldn’t have happened and was caused by operator error. State environmental regulators are working with the city to prevent other spills at the wastewater treatment plant.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Details Plan Meant To Clean Up Kalamazoo River

(Otsego, MI – AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to remove a dam and create a channel along 2 miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in an attempt to clean the river and make its fish safe to eat. MLive reports that about 50 people attended a meeting in Otsego last week to hear the agency’s plans and to provide feedback. The EPA says the project could cost more than $46.5 million, including $12.5 million to remove the Otsego City Dam.. ...Read Full Story

Governor On Trade Mission To China

Governor Snyder begins his week in China. The Governor plans to meet with government leaders, business executives and educational leaders on the nine-day mission that includes stops in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hangzhou. At the same time, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is leading ten Michigan companies to China to meet with possible business partners in hopes of increasing export opportunities. The governor’s office says over the past seven years, the state has received $1.1 billion in new business investment from China.. ...Read Full Story

MI Safety Officials Taking Extra Precautions Following Ohio State Fair Death

The death of an 18-year-old man due to a ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair this week has promoted Michigan safety officials to take a look at rides in their own state. Seven people were injured, two critically, on the Fire Ball ride. Licensing director for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, Michael Beamish told Michigan News Network this incident with the “aggressive thrill ride” could lead to stricter regulations nationwide, but he feels they’re doing a good job in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Superintendent Prepares For Retirement

Buchanan Community Schools Superintendent Andrea van der Laan is retiring at the end of August. She’s been with the district for seven years now, and tells WSJM News when she first came to town from Wyoming, Michigan, her first task was to campaign for a $30 million bond. Since then, the district has undergone a physical transformation.. ...Read Full Story

Public Input Sought On Bridgman Master Plan

Bridgman residents are being invited to come out to a meeting set for Monday on the community’s next master plan. A master plan is a document that guides development in a community for several years down the line. Assisting Bridgman is forming the next plan is the Land Information Access Association, which runs a program focused on resiliency. Spokesperson Matt Cowall tells WSJM News they want to get citizens involved and hear their input.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Friend Of Court Holding Amnesty Day Next Month

The Van Buren County Friend of the Court office is planning an amnesty day at the courthouse next month. Friend of the Court Administrator Lynn Bullard tells WSJM News the idea is to give someone who has a warrant out for failure to pay child support a chance to show up and get squared away or on a payment plan without being arrested. On hand will be representatives of agencies that can help someone who has failed to pay child support due to a life circumstance.. ...Read Full Story

House Committee Approves Self-Driving Car Legislation

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for advancing some legislation designed to keep autonomous vehicles safe. The PAVE Act expands the existing authority for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to evaluate exemptions from federal motor vehicle safety standards only if there’s no reduction in safety. It also increases the number of vehicles for which exemptions may be granted to help promote the development of new safety features. Upton’s office says these exemptions are critical to the development of self-driving car technology because the allow the industry to innovate and collect information. It also says the PAVE Act maintains the government’s ability to recall self-driving vehicles for safety reasons. Congressman Upton tells us self-driving cars will play a critical role in Michigan’s economy moving forward, and it’s essential there are guidelines in place for them.. ...Read Full Story

Police National Night Out Set For Tuesday

The 34th annual police National Night Out is next week. Set for Tuesday, the event involves police departments all over the country gathering in local parks to mingle with the public. In St. Joseph, police will be at Riverview Park’s Briarwood Pavilion. St. Joseph Township Police Department Officer Rick Knapp tells WSJM News they’ll do equipment demonstrations.. ...Read Full Story

Open House Monday For Niles Township Trail Project

An open house is planned for next week in Niles Township for everyone to learn more about plans for the completion of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail. Members of the Niles Township Parks Commission will be on hand, along with planners from Wightman and Associates. Everyone’s invited to learn more about phase two of the construction for the trail, which is intended to be a 34 mile trail connecting Niles to Mishawaka, Indiana. Construction on phase two is supposed to start in March of next year and be finished late next year. The open house will be held on Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Niles Township Hall.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Faculty Job Fair Next Month

Lake Michigan College is looking for some new instructors, and it’s planning a jobs fair for next month in Allegan. LMC tells us it’s a part-time faculty job fair will be held on August 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Allegan Tech Center. They’re looking for part-time instructors to teach in the fall classes, which start September 5. Positions are available at the Allegan Tech Center, and at LMC’s South Haven, Benton Harbor, and Niles campuses. Right now, there are 17 open positions in a variety of subjects. Anyone who attends the jobs fair will have a chance to interview on site.. ...Read Full Story

Battle Creek Man Raises Money For Daughter’s College Via Panhandling

A Battle Creek mother says she’s raised nearly $3,000 panhandling for her daughter’s college education. That money, combined with another $2,600 raised online, will be about enough for school bus driver Lori Truex to cover half of the fall Michigan State University bill for her youngest daughter, 4.0 Lakeview High School graduate Kendall Truex. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports Kendall will cover her half of the bill with scholarships and loans. Lori started the donation drive in June, holding a sign that said “help send a 4.0 kid to college.” Lori expects she’ll need another $7,200 to help get through Kendall through the spring semester at MSU.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls For Bipartisan Healthcare Solution

Congressman Fred Upton is calling for a bi-partisan solution to the issue of healthcare. He’s joined a group of about 40 lawmakers in the House determined to stabilize insurance markets and lower premiums. This group, known as the Problem Solvers, has been meeting quietly throughout the past month. Following this week’s collapse of a Senate Republican healthcare plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Upton issued a statement saying the path forward must seek “bipartisan, common-sense common-ground.” He maintains an ACA replacement must protect those with pre-existing conditions “and ensure states that expanded Medicaid, like Michigan, are secure.” You can read Upton’s full statement below.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man To Receive Medal Of Honor Monday

South Haven war hero Jim McCloughan will receive his Medal of Honor on Monday. Army National Guard First Sergeant Ron Raflik tells WSJM News McCloughan will meet President Trump at the White House where he’ll get the medal. After that, he goes on an outreach tour. Raflik tells us McCloughan saved lives while risking his own during a battle in Vietnam.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Commission To Consider Creating A Roads Department

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will hold meetings throughout the next few weeks as it looks at the possibility of taking over the county road commission. Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf this week presented commissioners with a report outlining various options, along with their pros and cons. One of those options is to create a county roads department. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News he’s looking for the best synergy possible.. ...Read Full Story

Whooping Cough Spreads Among The Amish In Southwest Michigan

From the Associated Press — A health official says cases of whooping cough are spreading among Amish residents in southwestern Michigan.
Val Newton, prevention services director for the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency, told the agency’s board Thursday that whooping cough, or pertussis, has struck up to 30 members of St. Joseph County’s Amish community. The Daily Reporter of Coldwater reports that there is concern that the highly contagious bacterial infection could spread to Branch and Hillsdale counties. Pertussis can be prevented with vaccines and treated with antibiotics. Newton says the first area family affected by whooping cough declined treatment. Doctors in the three counties are being contacted to suggest testing patients – especially young children. Whooping cough is usually spread by coughing or sneezing. It causes a severe cough that can last for months.. ...Read Full Story

LGBT Advocacy Groups Talk Trump Transgender Ban

President Donald Trump’s abrupt ban on transgender troops serving anywhere in the U.S. military caught the Pentagon flat-footed. Defense officials struggled to explain what they called Trump’s “guidance” and say it won’t be followed until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is actually directed to stop allowing transgender Americans into the service. Locally, OutCenter executive director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News this sort of rhetoric from the White House is dangerous because transgender people are “supremely at risk” when this stuff happens.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Begins Trade Trip To China

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is leaving this weekend on a nine-day investment mission to China. The Republican governor says he plans to focus on promoting business growth that will create jobs, attract investment in Michigan and promote Michigan as a tourist destination. He’s scheduled to leave on Sunday and return to Michigan on August 8. Snyder will visit Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hangzhou, where he will promote Michigan business opportunities, visit companies and meet with government leaders. He will participate in forums in Guangdong and Sichuan on trade, tourism, education and other topics. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, 10 Michigan companies and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Director Jamie Clover Adams also are among those traveling to China.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Celebrating 100 Years Of Trucks

Ford Motor Company is marking the 100th anniversary of its line of trucks. Ford historian Bob Kreipke tells us trucks have always been around, but in the beginning, they were like longer and tougher cars. Ford’s original 1-ton truck left it up to its owners to install a box for hauling. As far as the company’s top selling truck, it’s a familiar one.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Receives $50,000 For Nursing Facility

The new expanded nursing facility at Southwestern Michigan College has received another substantial donation. The Huizenga Family Foundation has awarded a $50,000 classroom to the building. The foundation is named for Charles B. Huizenga, who led the Niles School Board in the 60s and 70s, sat on the Niles City Council, and also sat on the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees. His granddaughter carries on the tradition of service by running the foundation. The $50,000 classroom at SMC’s nursing building comes as the college spends $9.6 million to more than double its size so twice as many students can be accommodated. SMC says it’s doing so in response to increasing demand for nurses in the region and around the country. The goal is to be finished next fall.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Honors Volunteers

The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College has honored its volunteer of the year. During its annual volunteer appreciation reception this month, the center gave the award to Jean McNitt, who has worked for Mendel for 19 years. She has served during Mendel Center events in several ways during that time, and most recently has been the box office clerk. Also this month, the Mendel Center saluted ten of its volunteers who have hit the 25 year mark for service. Grace Kelmer, the associate director of The Mendel Center Mainstage, says the volunteers “exemplify an incredible level of commitment to what The Mendel Center does for our community.”. ...Read Full Story

Police National Night Out Next Week

It’s almost time once again for the annual police National Night Out. Next Tuesday, from 5 to 8 p.m. police departments all over the country will be hosting gatherings at parks in their communities to meet the public and do some demonstrations. In St. Joseph, you’ll be able to find officers at Riverview Park’s Briarwood Pavilion. In Benton Harbor, police will be at Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. This will be the 34th year for National Night Out, and in addition to just chatting with folks, police will be providing hot dogs and beverages. In St. Joseph, they’ll have Ronald McDonald on hand. Everyone’s invited to lock their doors, leave on their porch lights, and go to a local park to spend time with neighbors and police.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Schools Superintendent Retiring

Buchanan Community Schools Superintendent Andrea van der Laan is retiring at the end of August. She’s been with the district for seven years now, and tells WSJM News when she first came to town from Wyoming, Michigan, her first task was to campaign for a $30 million bond. Since then, the district has undergone a physical transformation.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Halts State Aid Payment To Private Schools

From the Associated Press — A judge has extended a freeze on $2.5 million in state aid for Michigan private schools. Judge Cynthia Stephens signed an injunction Tuesday after reviewing the possible impact of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The American Civil Liberties Union and public-school groups are challenging the appropriation to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. They say it violates the Michigan Constitution’s ban on aid for private schools. The Supreme Court recently said it was illegal for Missouri to deny a grant for
a church preschool playground. Stephens says the Michigan case is a different matter that’s not focused on religion. She notes the state Constitution prohibits public money for any private school. Dan Korobkin of the ACLU of Michigan says, “Our constitution could not be
clearer.”. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Remains Hot For Sellers

It continues to be a red-hot sellers market for existing homes in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors reports June sales tied the record set in June 2006 with 388 homes sold, which was up 11% from the same time last year. Inventory was down by 17%, making the jump in the number of homes sold significant. Prices were steady with May, going up just a half-percent for the average selling price compared both to May and June 2016. The average stands at just over $225,000. The association calls the market “robust,” noting there is just a 6.5-month supply of homes on the market. Another record low was set for sales of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions, which has fallen to 5%, breaking May’s record of 6%.. ...Read Full Story

Woman’s E-Mail Sparks Conversation On Workplace Mental Health

A Michigan woman’s story of using her sick days to cope with anxiety recently went viral after an exchange with the company’s chief executive, and one expert is calling it a model for how to talk about mental health in the workplace. Kevin Fischer, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, tells us the conversation is moving in the right direction, and it could shift the societal understanding of mental illness.. ...Read Full Story

Foxconn Building Plant In Wisconsin

It looks like southwest Michigan won’t be getting a Foxconn plant anytime soon. There had been word the company was considering the region for a new plant to make smartphone displays, with Moody on the Market reporting a Foxconn corporate jet landing at the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport last month. Also, Congressman Fred Upton sent a letter to the Taiwanese company last week extolling the virtues of southwest Michigan and also pointing to tax incentives the state legislature recently approved. Nevertheless, word came Wednesday Foxconn has chosen southeastern Wisconsin to be the site of its new plant. The $10 billion facility is expected to create about 3,000 jobs there. The Trump administration says the plant could eventually lead to thousands of additional jobs in nearby states, including Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Approves “Good Jobs” Plan

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a package of bills that provide incentives to large companies that create more than 250 jobs in the state. The jobs also have to pay at least the regional average wage. Standing at the site of a former landfill in Oakland County Wednesday, the governor said while the legislation is focused on large companies, he doesn’t want to look past small business.. ...Read Full Story

Child Killed At Portage Summer Camp

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a 7-year-old boy who was attending a summer camp run by a school district has died after being struck by a vehicle in southwestern Michigan. Portage police say Nicolaus Moehle of Texas Township died in the collision Tuesday afternoon in the city just south of Kalamazoo. The Portage Public Schools district says the boy was participating in the “Bug Science” camp with about 20 other children in first through third grades. District spokeswoman Michelle Karpinski tells the Kalamazoo Gazette that the children had been on a field trip when the child was struck at or near a crosswalk near 12th Street Elementary School. She says the class was supervised by three adults. Karpinski says school administrators have cancelled this week’s remaining sessions. The collision remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Traverse City Film Festival Underway

It’s a party atmosphere in downtown Traverse City as the Traverse City Film Festival gets underway. They shut down part of the downtown area Tuesday for the opening night gala. Traverse City Film Festival Creative Director Meg Weichman tells us they’re showing 125 feature films over the six day festival.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Changes State Benefit System For Live-In Partners

Legislation is being introduced in the Michigan Senate to change how state benefits are offered to employees now that same sex marriage is legal. The Granholm administration enacted a policy of allowing same sex partners to be covered by a state worker’s benefits. However, state Senator Rick Jones tells WKZO News, now that such couples can marry, the policy should be changed.. ...Read Full Story

Heritage Museum To Hold Presentation On Early Automotive Industry

Coming soon to the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph will be a presentation on the history of the American auto industry with a special guest speaker perfectly suited to discuss the subject. Matt Anderson, the curator at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, will be in St. Joseph on August 10. Heritage Museum Interim Director Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News he’ll talk about the origins of one of Michigan’s most important industries.. ...Read Full Story