Local News Archives

SMC Holds Agriculture Science Camp

Southwestern Michigan College has held its first ever agriculture science camp for middle school students. It started this Tuesday with a field trip to a 1,600 acre Cassopolis dairy farm. There, the 14 kids learned all about grass-fed longhorn beef and custom butchering. They also got to explore the nearby Newton Woods. The acre area is part of Fred Russ Forest where researchers study Christmas tree seed production and other projects aimed at preserving the diversity of Michigan forests. The SMC Agricultural Science Camp is designed to teach kids in rural areas all about how area farms function.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Rate Falls To 3.8 Percent

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent during June while the number of people in the workforce continued to decline. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget announced Wednesday the June rate compared to a rate of 4.2 percent during May and was a full percentage point lower than the June 2016 rate of 4.8 percent. The national rate in June was 4.4 percent. The agency says Michigan’s workforce shrunk by 29,000 during June. The number of unemployed workers fell by 20,000 and total employment declined by 9,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the June decline in the unemployment rate reflected a second consecutive month of a reduced labor force after several months of steady workforce growth in 2016 and early 2017.. ...Read Full Story

State Commission To Examine Mental Health Issues

The state House is looking at how to help Michigan residents facing mental health issues. Representative Klint Kesto of Commerce Township will co-chair a bi-partisan task force and says they will be going all over the state to meet with substance abuse treatment centers, courts, corrections institutions, rehab facilities and mental health institutions. He spoke with Michigan News Network about the plan.. ...Read Full Story

70-Year-Old Smokestack Demolished In Muskegon

From the Associated Press — A 70-year-old smokestack on the site of a former paper mill in western Michigan has been demolished. The Muskegon Chronicle posted video of the implosion, which left behind rubble and cloud of dust Tuesday morning in Muskegon. The demolition of “Power House Stack No. 1” came amid concerns by city officials that it might collapse if left standing. Police set up a perimeter around the site to keep onlookers safe from asbestos-laden dust. The newspaper reports officials had determined it was too dangerous to remove asbestos from the smokestack before demolition. Another smokestack, the 72-year-old “recovery boiler chimney,” still stands at the former Sappi Paper Mill site. Crews will remove asbestos paint prior to demolition. Plans call for the site to be transformed into the Windward Pointe mixed-use development.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor School Board Fires Principal

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has fired the principal of the International Academy at Hull. Romel Bryant had only been principal since February, serving as that building’s fourth principal of the academic year. The district administration recommended the board fire Bryant at a meeting last week alleging he was insubordinate and did not follow professional development directives. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News that can’t be allowed.. ...Read Full Story

Man Recovering After Injury In Cass County Lake

An Illinois man is recovering after he was pulled from a Cass County lake on Tuesday. The sheriff’s department tells us 26-year-old Nicholas Younglove was at a family gathering on Diamond Lake in Calvin Township around 1:30 p.m. when he hit his head while diving into the water. Police say the water in that area is shallow and he hit the bottom. He was pulled from the water by family and taken to a hospital by ambulance. The case remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Court Tosses Out Class Action Suit Over Jobless Benefits Case

From the Associated Press — The Michigan appeals court has tossed a class-action lawsuit filed by people who were falsely accused of defrauding the unemployment benefits system by an automated computer program. A panel ruled 3-0 Tuesday that the three plaintiffs waited too long to sue, reversing the state Court of Claims. The case centers on whether the men were hurt when the Unemployment Insurance Agency incorrectly notified them of the fraud findings or when the state intercepted their tax refunds, garnished wages and forced repayment of unemployment benefits. Judges Michael Gadola, Patrick Meter and Karen Fort Hood said the trial court “did not properly consider when plaintiffs were harmed,” and the clock began ticking when they received notice of the fraud determinations.. ...Read Full Story

Local Police See Opioid Trend Continue

Following news last week that the state of Michigan saw a continued increase in opioid deaths last year, Michigan State Police in southwest Michigan tells us they’ve seen the trend locally. Although she doesn’t have exact numbers, MSP Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News opioid abuse leading to death is all too familiar to local cops.. ...Read Full Story

BH Kids Take Part In Summer Activities Thanks To New Program

A new partnership between Benton Harbor Area Schools, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and others is enabling children in Benton Harbor to take part in positive, educational activities this summer at three area parks. “Summer Impact” offers the young people a chance to play basketball, take drama and art classes, and get free meals. The YMCA’s Jerry Price tells us lots of kids come out to Hull, Broadway, and City Center Parks each day for the programs.. ...Read Full Story

CDC Awarding $12 Million To States To Fight Opioid Abuse

It’s just a drop in the bucket, but the Centers for Disease Control is awarding $12 million dollars to 23 states and the District of Columbia to fight opioid addiction. Michigan is one of them. Most of it will be spent setting up prevention programs and better ways to track overdoses. CDC blames doctors for over-prescribing the drugs. C. Dennis Simpson, of Western Michigan University,tells WKZO News doctors have already responded by prescribing fewer opioids and at lower doses.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Panel To Discuss Human Trafficking

From the Associated Press — Several community leaders in western Michigan are expected to participate in a panel discussion on human trafficking. The free event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School campus in Grand Rapids. Panelists are to include an FBI victim specialist, a consulting company owner who opened a human trafficking victims’ shelter for minors in Michigan, the founder of an organization that advances the cause of justice and securing human rights, and a Muskegon police officer who works with an outreach program that educates the community about human trafficking. The event is open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Maker Of Driverless Shuttles Opens Plant In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A French maker of self-driving vehicles is opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility. Navya says it’s opening a 20,000-square-foot factory in Saline, Michigan, about 50 miles southwest of Detroit. The company plans to hire 50 workers and make 25 driverless shuttles at the plant before the end of this year. The factory is Navya’s first plant outside Europe. It’s close to the University of Michigan, which will begin testing Navya’s driverless shuttles on its campus this fall. Navya, which is based in Paris and Lyon, France, completed development of its low-speed, driverless shuttle in 2015. There are now 45 shuttles operating worldwide.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor To Seek City Income Tax

The city of Benton Harbor will ask voters in November to approve a local income tax to help pay for infrastructure repairs. At a Monday meeting, the vote was nearly unanimous to pursue a 1% city income tax from residents, and a 0.5% tax of the income non-residents earn in the city. Mayor Marcus Muhammad tells WSJM News the need is obvious.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Leader Named Chair Of State Hospital Association

Lakeland Health President and CEO Dr. Loren Hamel has been picked to be the chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, an industry group representing hospitals all across the state. Based in Lansing, the MHA advocates in Michigan and Washington, D.C. on behalf of healthcare providers. Hamel says he’s honored to lead its board, helping to direct policy. He began the position on July 1.. ...Read Full Story

M-140 Repaving Starts Next Week

A paving project is about to get started on M-140 in Berrien and Van Buren counties. It will be about ten miles of the road from South Haven to Watervliet. The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News traffic will remain open southbound, but there will be changes for northbound.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Joins National Driver Safety Campaign

The Michigan Department of Transportation is now part of a national campaign designed to reduce traffic fatalities. “Toward Zero Deaths” aims to let everyone know that 90% of fatal crashes occur because of a driver’s behavior. MDOT’s Jeff Cranson tells WSJM News there were more than a thousand traffic deaths in Michigan last year.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Looking For Jet Skiers Who Ran Over Geese

From the Associated Press — Michigan conservation officers are looking for two jet skiers who plowed into a flock of Canada geese, killing one and injuring others. The State Department of Natural Resources released a witness’ video Sunday that shows the two people circling around with their watercraft on Mona Lake and then running over a flock of geese. Officers say at least three geese were injured and one was killed on July 10.
They describe one jet ski as purple and the other white and yellow. The drivers are both described as Caucasian and one of them with long hair.
Lieutenant Gerald Thayer says it’s important that “justice is served.” The department says killing geese illegally is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Area Of Kalamazoo Museum To Close For Reovations

From the Associated Press — A children’s play area at a museum in southwestern Michigan has closed during renovations of a nearby interactive science gallery. MLive reports the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Children’s Landscape will be closed until at least September. The play area isn’t changing but had to be closed due to its proximity to the science gallery. Museum director Bill McElhone says creating a pathway around the gallery would have taken up too much time. McElhone says the previous science gallery, Science in Motion, was becoming old and outdated. It was installed in 2001. The new installation has been in the works for the past four years. A committee of about 45 people decided to highlight the concept of innovation in the new exhibit.. ...Read Full Story

High Winds, Waves Spur Capsizing, Dropouts In Mackinac Race

From the Associated Press — Strong winds and waves have caused roughly two dozen boats to bow out of the annual 333-mile sailboat race from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan. Race organizers say 29 boats have exited as of Sunday afternoon. That included Windquest, a decorated vessel owned by Amway heirs Dick and Doug DeVos.Another boat, the High Priority 2, capsized in the overnight hours of Saturday and Sunday. Race spokeswoman Tracy Gladden says four sailors were rescued by a boat launched from a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. Infinite Diversion, a 62-footer, was first to finish Sunday morning in the Cruising Division. That division left Chicago on Friday and the Racing Division fleet left Saturday. About 300 boats overall are competing. First held in 1898, it’s the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. Winners are determined based on a handicapping system.. ...Read Full Story

Section of Red Arrow Highway Dedicated To Fallen Troopers

Red Arrow Highway between US-12 and Union Pier has now officially been dedicated as the Trooper Charles Stark and Trooper Gary Rampy Memorial Highway. That’s after Berrien County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday stating as much. Commissioner Ezra Scott helped to usher through the move to honor the two Michigan State Police troopers who were shot and killed by a drunk driving suspect the night of December 31, 1971. He told WSJM News it took loo long.. ...Read Full Story

Merger Formed Between Girls On The Run Chapters

Girls on the Run of Berrien County is merging with Girls on the Run of Van Buren-Cass-St. Joseph counties. Berrien Girls on the Run Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the national program wanted to consolidate some chapters, so essentially, Berrien is taking over the other regional county operations. This will not affect next spring’s Girls on the Run event in Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Starts Tomorrow

The 62nd annual Van Buren Youth Fair gets truly underway on Monday. Fair secretary Iris Swift tells WSJM News Monday’s events will include animal shows and a talent show. It’s also Armed Forces Day when veterans and military personnel get in for free. Tuesday brings the tractor pull. The fun doesn’t end there.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Defends Part Time Legislature Proposal

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is hitting back following claims his proposal for a part time state legislature is just a ploy to attract conservative support ahead of an expected gubernatorial campaign. He tells WKZO News he’s been calling for a part time legislature since 2009. Calley says the state could save a whole lot of money if lawmakers only worked for a portion of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Teams Up With Hartford Library To Encourage Reading

The Pokagon Fund is teaming up with the Hartford Library to attract more kids and also offer them a little fun. It tells us they’re launching the Hartford Public Library Card campaign. Between now and August 7, any children or parents that gets a new library card and borrows a book can get a free trip to the Potawatomi Zoo. The trip will be August 15. The goal is to register more than 75 new children with library cards. Anyone looking for more information can contact the Hartford Library.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In Dowagiac

Three people are in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust in Dowagiac on Thursday. The sheriff’s department tells us they had a tip that someone was coming to the area from Kalamazoo and selling meth, and found that person’s car in a parking lot on North Front Street in Dowagiac. Surveillance video from inside a nearby store showed a Kalamazoo woman running into the bathroom when police got to her car, and she and two men were arrested when they walked out of the store. Detectives were called back to the store Friday along with the Dowagiac Department of Public Works when the toilet in the women’s bathroom stopped working, and they found a bag of meth and syringes clogging it up. That discovery is bringing extra charges of possession with intent to distribute meth against the 32-year-old woman. One of the other men was arrested on unrelated warrants. Police have not detailed the charges against the third person.. ...Read Full Story

Niles-Buchanan Relay For Life Today

The Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life is today. From 10 a.m. to midnight, teams will take it in turns to either walk or run around the track at Niles High School to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Relay organizer Mike Megyesy tells WSJM News there will be more than 20 teams.. ...Read Full Story

Advocacy Groups Praise State Budget

Governor Rick Snyder signed the new state budget on Friday. It’s a plan some analysts describe as both promising and concerning. Rachel Richards, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us the $56.5 half billion state budget includes several measures to help the state’s most vulnerable residents. They include extending the “heat and eat” program and more funding for the “Double Up Food Bucks” program, both of which increase access to healthy foods. Richards adds the budget also improves child-care assistance, by increasing eligibility and raising payments to providers.. ...Read Full Story

One Charged In Child Porn Case

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in a child pornography case. It tells us it searched a home in the 13,000 block of US 12 in Union on Monday and found a computer containing pictures it believes are child porn. The search was conducted after the department got a tip. Police also say they also found methamphetamine in the home. A 44-year-old man has been arrested and faces charges of possession of child pornography, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of meth with intent to deliver. His name has not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Deaths Continue To Rise In Michigan

The number of drug overdose deaths skyrocketed in Michigan last year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 1,689 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, up from 1,275 in 2015. Health Department spokeswoman Jennifer Eisner told Michigan News Network there is one key factor in the increase.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Gets In Full Swing Monday

The 62nd annual Van Buren Youth Fair gets truly underway on Monday. Fair secretary Iris Swift tells WSJM News Monday’s events will include animal shows and a talent show. It’s also Armed Forces Day when veterans and military personnel get in for free. Tuesday brings the tractor pull. The fun doesn’t end there.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In Benton Twp Drug Bust

One person is facing charges following a drug bust in Benton Township this week. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the Southwest Enforcement Team searched a home in the 1,200 block of Parkway Drive on Thursday. It was the culmination of an eight month investigation into the distribution of marijuana and cocaine. Officers say they seized more than six ounces of marijuana, ammunition, several prescription opioid medications, a vehicle, and $500 in cash. Information on the suspect has not been released. The Southwest Enforcement Team is made up of law enforcement agencies from all over southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Former West MI Golf Course Turns Into Hilly Grassland

From the Associated Press — A former golf course in western Michigan has transformed into hilly grassland for hikers to walk through and for nature to thrive. The Grand Rapids Press reports that the Blandford Nature Center officially opened The Highlands to the public in Grand Rapids Thursday. The trail was formerly known as the Highlands Golf Club and is now considered an extension to the nature center.
The nature center acquired the more than 120-acre former golf course in February in partnership with Land Conservancy of West Michigan and has nearly doubled the size of the center. Blandford President Jason Meyer says that The Highlands’ hilly terrain is different from the original nature center and allows for more access to winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs State Budget

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $56.5 billion budget, capping months of work with lawmakers on the state’s next spending plan. The Republican governor signed the bills Friday in Grand Rapids, at a career tech center run by the Kent Intermediate School District. He says the budget includes record spending on K-12 schools, including a big boost for at-risk students and to buy equipment for career and technical education programs. Snyder says the budget “will make a difference” in people’s lives. The plan includes a $35 million deposit into a state infrastructure fund, more spending on roads and bridges, and extra debt payments as part of an agreement to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement plan.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Steer New School Workers Into 401(k)-Only Plan

Governor Snyder has signed into law a plan to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit instead of one with a pension. Republicans say Thursday’s move will prevent future underfunding, while teachers unions worry the measure could ultimately lead to closing the pension system entirely to new hires. Starting February 1, new school workers will be automatically enrolled in a 401(k)-only plan like what state employees receive. They could opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current school workers do, assuming more of the risk of underfunding. New school employees have qualified for both a pension and a small 401(k)-type plan since 2010. It’s unknown how many new hires will take just the 401(k). Currently, 20% do.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Center Applauds Teacher Pension Reforms

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law some teacher pension reforms. The plan is expected to largely move new teachers in Michigan over to 401(k) style retirement plans, rather than being put into the old traditional pension system. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s James Homan tells WSJM News it’s better for teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Red Arrow Highway Dedicated In Honor Of Fallen State Troopers

Red Arrow Highway between US-12 and Union Pier has now officially been dedicated as the Trooper Charles Stark and Trooper Gary Rampy Memorial Highway. That’s after Berrien County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday stating as much. Commissioner Ezra Scott helped to usher through the move to honor the two Michigan State Police troopers who were shot and killed by a drunk driving suspect the night of December 31, 1971. He told WSJM News it took loo long.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Schools To Seek $21 Million Bond

Lakeshore Schools has locked in a date to ask voters for a 25 year, $21 million bond. The board of education has bene thinking for several months about asking voters for the improvement funds. They would be used for parking lot work, door and window replacements, electric upgrades, and improvements to the high school auditorium. Lakeshore Superintendent Philip Freeman has told us the work is the second half of what the district had in mind when it pursued a $36 million bond. District officials note this latest bond would not cause taxes to go up because it’s coming up right as another millage expires. The bond will appear on your ballot in November, according to The Herald Palladium.. ...Read Full Story

Borgess-Lee Hospital Donates $10,000 To SMC Nursing Expansion

Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac is helping Southwestern Michigan College with its big nursing program expansion. The hospital this week announced a $10,000 donation to SMC as it works to roughly double the number of nursing students it can accommodate. The college is awarding bids this month for the expansion of its nursing building to more than twice its current size. Borgess-Lee Hospital representatives say they’re contributing to the SMC effort because the hospital will directly benefit from the college’s nursing program. SMC is spending $9.6 million to expand the program, partly in response to a growing need for nurses in the region.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Chapters To Merge

Girls on the Run of Berrien County is merging with Girls on the Run of Van Buren-Cass-St. Joseph counties. Berrien Girls on the Run Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the national program wanted to consolidate some chapters, so essentially, Berrien is taking over the other regional county operations. This will not affect next spring’s Girls on the Run event in Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story

Cass Co. K9 Credited With Locating Missing Man

Cass County Sheriff’s Department K9 “Faust” is once again being saluted for his efforts to help law enforcement. The department tells our newsroom deputies were called out to the 69,000 Block of Hazel Road in Union around 10:30 a.m. Thursday on a report of a man who’d gone missing. Deputies were told the man had taken a large amount of prescription drugs following an argument with his wife before disappearing. The sheriff’s department called in its K9, “Faust.” The dog found the missing man unresponsive in a field a short time later. Deputies performed first aid and the man was taken to a hospital by ambulance. The sheriff’s department was assisted in the situation by Porter Township Ambulance and Medflight.. ...Read Full Story

Overdose Deaths Up Last Year, Many Involving Opioids

From the Associated Press — State officials say overdose deaths jumped by 18% last year in Michigan with the majority of cases involving opioid abuse. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 were opioid-related. There were 1,275 opioid-related deaths in 2015. Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl. The state’s Health and Human Services department has launched a media campaign to raise awareness about opioid use, treatment options and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs. Earlier this year, Michigan received more than $16 million in Opioid State
Targeted Response funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant is being used to promote prevention and increase access to treatment by funding state initiatives.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Starts Saturday

Fair season in southwest Michigan starts Saturday. The Van Buren Youth Fair will run from July 15-22. Monster trucks will be featured this year for the first time with the Michigan Monster Truck Shootout Wednesday night. Friday night will close with a fireworks show, and the last evening event next Saturday will be the demolition derby. This is the 62nd year for the Van Buren Youth Fair.. ...Read Full Story