Local News Archives

Paw Paw State Police Seeking Volunteer For New Drug Program


Michigan State Police are expanding their Angel Program to the Paw Paw post. First Lieutenant Dale Hinz tells WSJM News Angels are volunteers who drive individuals who are struggling with an addiction to a treatment facility. He says police are increasingly backing away from the old method of locking people up for having a drug problem and focusing on getting them treatment instead.. ...Read Full Story

Half Of Mayoral Candidates In Detroit Have Criminal Past


(Detroit, MI – AP) – Half of Detroit’s eight mayoral candidates have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons. A “Detroit News” analysis shows that three of the contenders on next Tuesday’s primary ballot were charged with gun crimes, and two of them were charged for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades. The most recent was in 2008.. ...Read Full Story

M-40 Lane Closures Start Next Week


The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers about some lane closures planned for M-140 in Van Buren County next week. On Monday, work begins on the road from County Road 665 to St. Joseph Street in Paw Paw. MDOT is doing some repairs to the roadway. The lane closures will remain in effect through Friday, September 15. You can stay on top of all of MDOT’s summer road projects with the agency’s app, MIDrive. It’s free on both iPhone and Android.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Self-Driving Car Legislation


Congressman Fred Upton is hailing committee passage last week of legislation designed to help regulate self-driving cars without holding back their development. He tells WSJM News the PAVE Act allows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to approve exemptions for self-driving cars from federal motor vehicle safety standards. He tells us this allows for smooth development of autonomous vehicle technology. ...Read Full Story

Roxy’s Hamburgers To Close


A staple of St. Joseph will soon be closing. Roxy’s Hamburgers on Cleveland Avenue has been serving up burger, fries, and milkshakes to the community for more than 50 years, but this is its last month. Roxy’s posted to its Facebook page last month, “Sad news today. August 25th will be the last day of Roxy Hamburgers. New owners decided not to keep it Roxy.” There’s no word yet on what Roxy’s new owners are planning for the property, but you’ve got until the 25th to have a burger at Roxy’s for the last time.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In BH Heroin Bust


A Benton Harbor man could soon be facing several drug charges following a heroin bust on Wednesday. The Southwest Enforcement Team tells us the arrest came at the conclusion of an eight month investigation into activity at 561 Heck Court. The team has received several tips about drug activity in one apartment at that address, and on Wednesday, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department arrested Derrious Antron Fields for some outstanding warrants. The enforcement team then searched the apartment, and says it found and seized heroin packaged for sale, marijuana, and some cash. It’s now seeking drug charges against the suspect.. ...Read Full Story

Preparations Underway For Berrien County Youth Fair


Preparations are well underway for the 2017 Berrien County Youth Fair. This is the 72nd year for the fair, and this time around the theme is “Fairadise.” From August 14 through the 19, more than 125,000 people are expected to stop by the fairgrounds in Berrien Springs. Fair Director Karen Klug tells WSJM News they’ll have something on the grandstand every night, including a demolition derby, live music, and tractor pulls.. ...Read Full Story

State Capitol Getting $70 Million In Renovations

From the Associated Press — The grounds at Michigan’s Capitol will be under construction for the next two years as part of $70 million in improvements to its mechanical and electrical systems. MLive reports the Capitol building in Lansing will be open during the Capitol Infrastructure Upgrade Project, but the west side will be closed. Different sections of the building will be cordoned off throughout the
process. John Truscott, vice chairman of the Michigan Capitol Commission, says it’s the first time in 30 years that the building’s heating and cooling systems, electrical systems and other inner workings have been slated for an upgrade. The state legislature earlier approved funding for the work. Truscott says switching to more energy-efficient systems will eventually lead to a significant savings in energy bills for Capitol operations.. ...Read Full Story

Jim McCloughan Welcomed Home


Fresh from receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, James McCloughan was greeted by dozens of well-wishers at Gerald R. Ford International in Grand Rapids late Wednesday night. His flight was four hours late, but they stuck it out anyway. McCloughan said it was the first time he had ever gotten a welcome home ceremony. He thanked everyone for coming out, and will be embarking soon on an outreach tour. He was awarded the nation’s highest military award for valor this week by President Trump for saving the lives of ten men during a battle in Vietnam, despite being wounded himself.. ...Read Full Story

President Declares Emergency In Parts On Michigan


From the Associated Press — President Donald Trump has made a disaster declaration for four Michigan counties that sustained widespread damage amid severe storms and flash flooding in June. The announcement Wednesday makes federal funding available to residents and
business owners in Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties for things such as temporary housing, repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. The assistance also will aid the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe within Isabella County. Trump’s declaration also means communities statewide are eligible to participate in a program to help reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards. Governor Rick Snyder had asked Trump for the disaster declaration.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Rep Leads Gathering Of Local Officials


Mattawan State Representative Beth Griffin has held her first local officials meeting. She tells us it’s a tradition started by her predecessors to gather representatives of agencies that affect the lives of residents all over southwest Michigan. She tells WSJM News a big topic of discussion at the meeting this week was education funding.. ...Read Full Story

Gray Wolves Remain On Endangered Species List


Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes will remain on the endangered species list. That word from the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, which overturned a previous ruling from US Fish and Wildlife Services. Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity told Michigan News Network one of the main faults the court found in the previous ruling is that gray wolves are gone from more than 90% of their range across the country.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Receiving New Voting Machines


New voting machines could be coming to a polling place near you just in time for next week’s August 8 elections. All of Michigan’s 1,500-plus precincts will see the new machines by next fall as part of a $40 million rollout by the Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the acquisition.. ...Read Full Story

World’s Longest Garage Sale Next Week


It’s almost time for the 14th annual World’s Longest Garage Sale. The event is held each year along the length of US-12 across Michigan. It features sales run by businesses and individuals in communities from New Buffalo to the east side. Kristopher Martin, with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, tells us it’s a lot of educational fun.. ...Read Full Story

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