Local News Archives

Niles Woman Arrested In Drug Bust

A Niles woman is facing charges after a meth bust in Cass County this month. The Cass County Enforcement Team says it searched a home in the 1,000 block of Huntly Road in Howard Township on January 12 after getting some tips. It says officers found meth paraphernalia, marijuana, and crack. 46-year-old Andrea Sutfin was arrested for possession of meth, cocaine, and marijuana. She’s now in jail on $20,000 bond. Police ask anyone with information about drug activity to call them.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s March Planned For Saturday In Lansing

On Saturday, thousands of Michigan women will take to the streets in opposition to what they say is a wave of discrimination since the November election. Sarah Eisenberg is one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Lansing, which is expected to draw more than 5,000 people. She says the event is not about President Donald Trump, but about a narrative of intolerance that she believes needs to be addressed at the state and local level.. ...Read Full Story

Three Benton Harbor Schools Could Close

Three schools in Benton Harbor are in immediate danger of being shut down by the state. On Friday, the Michigan School Reform Office released its latest list of failing schools identified as being reviewed for the Next Level of Accountability. That means they could be targeted for closure within the next 30 to 45 days. Reform Office Director Natasha Baker tells WSJM News the International Academy, the STEAM Academy, and the Dream Academy are on the list. She’s talked with the local superintendent.. ...Read Full Story

State Fines Prison Food Contractor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Corrections has slapped its latest food contractor with more than $2 million in penalties for inadequate staffing and other problems since it began providing meals in September 2015. Department spokesman Chris Gautz told the Detroit Free Press the penalties against Trinity Services Group include $905,000 for unauthorized meal substitutions, $357,000 for delays serving meals, $356,000 for inadequate staffing levels, and $294,000 for sanitation violations. Gaultz says the department believes staffing problems lead to other issues. The penalties were first reported Thursday by Gongwer News Service. They show significant problems persist with the privatization of prison food services after the state and its first prison food contractor, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, ended their contract early. A message seeking comment was left Friday at Trinity’s Florida headquarters.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Center Picked As Driverless Vehicle Proving Ground

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated a testing facility in Michigan for driverless vehicles as a proving ground for such technology. Those involved in the effort say proposals were sought for the Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds Pilot program after it was announced last year and 10 facilities were selected, including the American Center for Mobility in Washtenaw County’s Ypsilanti Township. The facility is being built at the site of a former General Motors plant. It’s also where B-24 bombers were made during World War II. It will be available for use by private industry, government, standards bodies and academia. Companies will be able to lease office space, garages and other amenities. It will include real-world environments with the ability to test under varied, yet controlled conditions.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Polish Hall Votes To Allow Women Members

From the Associated Press — For the first time in its 87-year history a Grand Rapids Polish hall will allow women to become official members. MLive reports that as many as 30 women are scheduled to be granted membership on Valentine’s Day at St. Ladislaus Aid Society. Discussion for the change came during Pulaski Days 2016, when more female volunteers came to work at the club than male volunteers. Over the course of the last eight months, current members voted to allow women members into the club on three different occasions. Andie Crapsey, 2016-2017 Grand Rapids Pulaski Queen, will become the Polish hall’s first female member. Grand Rapids currently has 14 Polish halls. St. Ladislaus Aid Society is one of the few Polish halls in the city that don’t allow women to become a member.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Thrill On the Hill Cancelled

The Thrill on the Hill in Buchanan has been cancelled. The annual sledding event had been slated for next Friday and Saturday, but warm weather has prompted city officials to call it off. They say the long-term forecast shows it will be too warm and there will likely be rain. That means they wouldn’t be able to generate enough snow for Front Street Hill. While you may be heartbroken about the news, don’t despair. The city says the Summer Thrill on the Hill is still planned for later in the year, and it will be bigger than ever.. ...Read Full Story

Warm Weather Not Expected To Damage Crops

The recent warm weather isn’t likely to damage southwest Michigan crops. Mark Longstroth, with the MSU Extension office in Paw Paw, tells WSJM News the crops went dormant in November or December, and the warm temperatures haven’t returned long enough for them to become vulnerable to another freeze.. ...Read Full Story

YMCA Merger Announced

It’s official. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA and the Niles-Buchanan YMCA are merging. The two have been exploring the possibility since March when they started forming a management agreement. They’ve been sharing services since June, and tell us it’s worked out well. Mowitt Drew, of the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, says becoming one united entity to serve all of Berrien County just made sense as the next step. The new association will be called the YMCA of Southwest Michigan. Each branch will maintain its independent identity, while the two pool their resources.. ...Read Full Story

50,000 Expected At Chicago Women’s March

From the Associated Press — Organizers say about 50,000 people are expected to attend a women’s march in Chicago the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March on Chicago is scheduled to begin with a rally in Grant Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The march through downtown is set for 11:30 a.m. The event is planned for the same day as a larger Women’s March on Washington. About 200 other “sister marches” are scheduled around the country. Organizers say that like those marches, the Chicago event is intended to send a message to the Trump administration “that women will defend and further their rights.” Jessica Scheller is a co-chairwoman for the Chicago march. She says grassroots organizers will rally attendees and highlight ways they may get involved in various issues.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Hit-And-Run Under Investigation

A hit-and-run accident is under investigation in Cass County. Michigan State Police say a pedestrian was hit in Howard Township Tuesday night around 6 in the 1000 block of Huntly Road. Police haven’t yet determined what kind of vehicle hit the man, but did recover a passenger side mirror at the scene. The victim is expected to recover despite suffering serious injuries. State police are asking anyone who knows what happened call the Niles post.. ...Read Full Story

Speedway Hiring More Than 1,000 Employees

If you’re looking for a job, Speedway needs about 1,000 people. The gas station-convenience store chain announced Wednesday it’s about to hire that many workers across nine states, including Michigan. They’ll be doing open interviews at every store next Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Speedway says it’s filling all positions. There are Speedways in Bridgman, Berrien Springs, Coloma, Three Oaks, Niles, Bangor, Paw Paw, and Mattawan. Good luck.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Working With Other States To Prepare For Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are about to take over the world, and road agencies in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania want to be prepared. That’s why the new Smart Belt Coalition is being formed. Matt Smith, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, tells us MDOT is working with its counterparts to ensure technology to accommodate self-driving vehicles is installed on roads.. ...Read Full Story

Student Arrested While Handing Out Constitution Sues College

From the Associated press — A Battle Creek community college is being sued by a student and two others who say they were arrested while peacefully distributing the U.S. Constitution last fall. Michelle Gregoire says she was told she needed permission to distribute written materials. A lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court accuses Kellogg Community College of violating free speech rights and other protections. A group called Young Americans for Liberty is also a plaintiff. The lawsuit says Kellogg Community College allows “expressive activity” only at an information table in the Student Center. Gregoire and others were arrested while talking to students outside the performing arts center and then locked in jail for hours. The prosecutor dropped the case. The college says it will review the allegations in the lawsuit.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Today Announces Hiring Of New Director

The St. Joseph Today Board of Directors has announced the hiring of Amy Zapal, of St. Joseph, as the organization’s new executive director. Zapal comes to St. Joe Today from the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph, where she has been the executive director. She’ll take the reins from Interim Director and Events Manager Brian Smith, who stepped in following the resignation of former director Whitney Behnke in October.. ...Read Full Story

Septic Systems Pollute Waters Across Michigan

From the Associated Press — Research shows septic systems are polluting waters across Michigan. The Detroit Free Press reports more than 1 million of the individual waste disposal systems that don’t connect to a city sewer line still remain in the
state. A 2015 published research study from Michigan State University found E. coli from humans in all of the 64 rivers studied in the Lower Peninsula. Higher concentrations were found in areas with more septic systems. Grenetta Thomassey, spokeswoman for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council based in Petoskey, says while 11 of Michigan’s counties have inspection requirements for septic systems when a property is sold, most counties and health districts don’t have one.
The study says Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t manage septic systems statewide. Millions of homes nationwide still use septic systems.. ...Read Full Story

State: Commercial Fishing Enclosures Not Allowed In Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says state law doesn’t allow for net-like commercial fishing enclosures in the Great Lakes. In an opinion released Tuesday, Schuette said net-pen aquaculture operators would have to register with the state, and laws related to aquaculture don’t permit registration of such facilities in Michigan’s Great Lakes waters. Schuette says raising fish for commercial purposes is permitted in private waters, but the Great Lakes are part of the “public trust.” The opinion came in response to a request by Republican state Senator Wayne Schmidt. The Associated Press emailed Schmidt seeking comment. State agencies last year recommended against net-pen aquaculture, saying it
would pose risks to the environment, recreation and tourism. Michigan has received aquaculture proposals. There are no net-pen fish farms in U.S. Great Lakes waters.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Commissioners Hear Positive Audit Report

The city of Benton Harbor is on strong financial ground. On Tuesday, commissioners heard the latest audit presentation, with Paul Matz, of the CPA firm Rehman Robson, telling them they added $413,000 to the fund balance this year. It now stands at about $4.3 million. He told WSJM News that’s good news, commending the administration and commission for planning well.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Joins Suit Seeking Home Water Delivery In Flint

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has joined Flint residents in a lawsuit that seeks home delivery of bottled water if lead filters haven’t been properly installed. In a court filing Tuesday, Schuette urged a judge to keep a November injunction in place. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration wants federal Judge David Lawson to drop the order, citing improvement in Flint’s water. Schuette and special counsel Noah Hall say state regulators have “lost credibility” to enforce rules on lead in water. Lawson’s order directs the state and Flint to deliver bottled water if a home filter isn’t working. At the same time, he’s also appointed a mediator to try to settle the dispute between the state and Flint residents. Residents are urged to drink bottled water or filtered tap water.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Announces $90,000 In Grants

Lakeland Health has announced $90,000 in grants for four local organizations. The money comes from Lakeland’s Community Wellness Endowment, which was created in 2014 to sponsor groups that promote healthy living. The recipients for 2017 are the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, which will receive $25,000 for a capital expansion, Centered on Wellness, which is getting $20,000 for technical support, the Greater Niles Economic Development Corporation, getting $35,000 for a trail project, and LOGAN Community Resources, receiving $10,000 for its autism learning center. Lakeland says it hopes the grants will empower local organizations to increase access to care and improve outcomes.. ...Read Full Story

Police K9 Helps Find Runaway Teen

A teenager who ran away from Goshen City, Indiana is back with his family after being found in Cass County Monday. The sheriff’s department says deputies were called out in the early evening to Newberg Township on a report of three runaway teens in the area. Deputies arrived to learn two of the teens had already decided to go home, but the third one was hiding out in some woods. So, a department K9 named Faust was brought in and his nose led them to the missing 17-year-old. The teen was taken into custody and then brought back to his grandmother.. ...Read Full Story

Man Accidentally Shot In Cass County

Police are looking into possible charges after a Cassopolis man was accidentally shot on Monday. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells our newsroom deputies were called out to a home in Milton Township around 12:30 p.m. on a report of a man with a gunshot wound. They got there to find 42-year-old Justin Anderson with a non-life threatening injury. Turns out Anderson was hit by a shot fired by his neighbor about 500 to 600 yards away. The neighbor had been target shooting when one of his shots missed the backstop. The bullet went through some woods before it hit the victim. He’s now recovering and police are looking into whether to charge the neighbor. They remind everyone to use caution when target shooting.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan Announces Projects To Fight Poverty

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan is announcing a series of projects as part of its new initiative to address poverty. The effort called “Poverty Solutions” will explore and test models to ease the effects of poverty and broadly share that knowledge. The Ann Arbor school on Tuesday is revealing details of nine projects funded through the program with
grants totaling $200,000. The projects include efforts to alert low-income homeowners about an exemption to reduce their property taxes. Others include employing health workers in neighborhoods to help residents and collaborative community-academic research partnerships. The program is co-sponsored by the Detroit Urban Research Center, a partnership among the U-M schools of Public Health, Nursing and Social Work; the Detroit Health Department; Henry Ford Health System; and nine community-based organizations.. ...Read Full Story

GM To Invest One Billion in U.S. Plants

No details yet but General Motors will announce plans today to invest a billion dollars in its U.S. plants today, something it’s reportedly been planning for months. The plans will reportedly maintain or create about a thousand jobs.  Some of the money will go into Michigan plants, but beyond that we have no detail.  Edmunds-dot-com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell says it reportedly has nothing to do with tweets from Donald Trump threatening to impose 35% tariffs on vehicles made in Canada or Mexico. She says the Trump tweets may be changing the way they deliver the good news, but not the news itself.. ...Read Full Story

Charity Gives Out Record Amount Of Food In 2016

Despite the economic recovery, many southwest Michigan families continue to need food assistance and Feeding America West Michigan tells us it’s been able to step up and meet that demand. Spokesperson Andrew Steiner tells WSJM News the organization gave out a record amount in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties in 2016.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Interview Finalists For President This Week

Anyone interested in meeting the finalists for the job of president at Lake Michigan College will have a chance to do so this week. LMC will have each of the three finalists in town to tour all of its campuses and meet with the community. Interviews are also planned. On Wednesday, Dr. Rebekah Woods will be interviewed at the Mendel Center North Training Room at 5:30 p.m. Then on Thursday, Dr. Jon Mandrell will be at the same place at the same time for his interview, while Dr. Trevor Kubatzke has an interview set for 5:30 on Friday at the Mendel Center South Seminar Room. Anyone who attends is invited to submit their thoughts to the board of trustees through January 23. The three finalists were picked out of a total 92 applications submitted.. ...Read Full Story

Betsy Devos Confirmation Hearing Tuesday

From the Associated Press — Betsy DeVos is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary. Such a move is certain to bring pushback from teachers unions. Democrats and civil rights activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs might impact minority and LGBT students. A Senate committee begins considering her nomination Tuesday. Her financial questionnaire shows DeVos has donated to the political campaigns of at least four committee members. The committee chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, says DeVos will work to ensure equal access to a high quality education. DeVos spent the past two decades advancing charter schools. She also has pushed for vouchers, which use public money to help low-income families send their kids to private and religious schools of their choice.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Guide Helps You Pronounce 2,200 People, Places Or Things

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan wants to help residents and visitors pronounce the names of 2,200 people, places and things in or connected to the Great Lakes State – from Aaliyah (uh-LEE’-uh) to Zilwaukee (zil-WAW’-kee). The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library recently created the “You Say it How in Michigan?” guide, with audio and phonetic pronunciations. Officials say it was developed for audio book production for the blind and visually impaired but can benefit anyone.The guide can help newcomers sound like natives, such as when it advises accenting the second syllable of the Lansing-area community of Charlotte (shar-LOT). But in some cases the list recognizes residents are of two minds, such as when it allows for Michigan’s biggest city to be pronounced “DEE’-troit” or “de-TROIT’.”. ...Read Full Story

Car Hits Tree In Millberg

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us a car has hit a tree in Millberg at the intersection of South Street and North Highland. According to dispatchers, there are not believed to be any injuries. That said, roads are slick – drive safely!. ...Read Full Story

Thousands Show Up For Sanders Health Care Rally In Michigan

An estimated crowd of over 10,000 people showed up for a rally in suburban Detroit where U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders spoke in support of President Obama’s signature health care law. Sanders was joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Michigan’s two U.S. Senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. It was one of several rallies around the country by Democrats yesterday ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Trump has promised a speedy repeal and replacement of the law that was one of Obama’s proudest achievements.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Down 18¢ Locally, Drop 10¢ Statewide

Gas prices in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area are down 18¢ in the past week according to Triple-A Michigan’s latest survey. The auto club says statewide, we’re down a dime to an average of $2.40 a gallon. Locally, they put the average at $2.31, but you can find gas as low as $2.15 in Benton Harbor and $2.17 in St. Joseph. Go a bit north, and GasBuddy says South Haven prices are as low as $2.10, which is the lowest in West Michigan. According to Triple-A, Flint has the state’s lowest prices at $2.30, while up in Marquette they’re shelling out $2.52 a gallon with the state’s highest prices. Statewide, our prices are up 61¢ from this time last year.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Praises Trade Commission Ruling

Whirlpool Corporation’s chief executive says a recent decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission is a big win for workers at its washing machine factory in northern Ohio. The commission ruled last week that two foreign manufacturers made washing machines in China and then sold them in the United States at less than fair value. The ruling means the companies must start paying duties on washers made in China and imported to the United States. Both Samsung and LG say they disagree with the decision. Whirlpool chief executive Jeff Fettig says it’s a gratifying win for the 3,000 employees at the company’s factory in the Sandusky County city of Clyde. The appliance maker based in Benton Harbor also has Ohio operations in Marion, Findlay, Ottawa and Greenville.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Working To Help Protect St. Joseph Bluff

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping his office can help keep a rail line that runs along the bluff in St. Joseph safe. St. Joe City Commissioners have reached out to him, asking him to contact CSX Railroad about its property around 2405 Old Lakeshore Road. The sea wall down below the bluff has failed, and neighbors fear the bluff itself could collapse.. ...Read Full Story

“Great Kindness Challenge” Coming Up At SJ Schools

St. Joseph Public Schools is gearing up to celebrate kindness this month. The district has announced all five of its schools will take part in the Great Kindness Challenge the week of January 23. The challenge calls on students and staff alike to commit to doing something kind for someone else each day of the week. The acts could include complimenting someone or leaving them a thank you note. Kids for Peace created the Great Kindness Challenge in 2012 to encourage more positive learning environments. In 2016, more than 5 million kids took part, resulting in 250 million acts of kindness.. ...Read Full Story