Local News Archives

100th Anniversary Celebration For Jean Klock Park Set For This Month

A celebration is being planned to mark the 100th anniversary of Benton Harbor’s Jean Klock Park this month. The Lake Michigan shoreline attraction was dedicated to the children in 1917 by J.N. Klock and his wife, Carrie, in honor of their deceased daughter. Since then, it’s gone through many ups and downs, and its 100th birthday will be celebrated on July 15. People will gather for a low-key, respectful event from 10 a.m. to 3 pm. They’ve got some games for the kids planned, and anyone who needs help getting down to the party can call Dial-A-Ride.. ...Read Full Story

Search Called Off For Possible South Haven Drowning Victim

Emergency responders have called off the search for a possible drowning victim in South Haven. The search started Friday night after witnesses reported seeing a man walk off the south pier into Lake Michigan and then not resurfacing. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, South Haven Area Emergency Services, and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the water all day Saturday and found nothing. They say they’ve found no evidence of the man in the water. As of Saturday night, there were no plans to resume the search.. ...Read Full Story

Analyst: 1 In 60 Chance Of Straits Pipeline Spill By 2053

From the Associated Press — Analysts say there’s a small chance but serious risk of an oil spill from a nearly 65-year-old dual pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan. Engineer James Mihell of Dynamic Risk Assessment Inc. says there is a 1 in 60
probability that the section of Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 5 pipeline running through waters that connect lakes Huron and Michigan will fail between now and 2053. The state hired the analysts to assess potential energy delivery alternatives in the area. Environmental activists have accused Dynamic Risk of underestimating the potential of a spill. Mihell disputed suggestions the firm was low-balling or sugar-coating the risk.
Analysts didn’t recommend a specific course of action by the state, but described several alternatives to the pipeline section, including construction of a new trench or tunnel crossing at the same location.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Drug And Family Treatment Court Graduates Five

The Van Buren County Drug and Family Treatment Court is celebrating five new graduates. On Friday, Judge Kathleen Brickley presided as the men were saluted for turning their lives around through the program. Treatment Court Case Manager Nehemiah Poffenberger tells WSJM News the court takes criminal offenders whose crimes were related to a substance abuse problem, and gets them help. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Man Hit, Killed By Vehicle

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a Buchanan man was hit and killed by a vehicle while walking along US-12 Friday night. Police tell WSJM News 46-year-old Michael Gaertner was found about 10:20 p.m. He’d been walking westbound when he was struck. Gaertner was taken to Lakeland Hospital in Niles where he was pronounced dead. The crash is still under investigation by Berrien County Crash Reconstruction Team.. ...Read Full Story

Search Underway For Possible Drowning Victim In South Haven

Emergency responders in South Haven are searching for a possible drowning victim. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells WSJM News they got a report shortly before 11 p.m. Friday of a person falling off the south pier into Lake Michigan and not resurfacing. Witnesses said the person was about halfway down the pier. Emergency responders searched the water surface with spot lights, a thermal imager, and a portable light tower. The Van Buren County Sheriff Department Dive Team also searched the water along the South Pier for several hours with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard before breaking it off. They resumed the search Saturday morning.. ...Read Full Story

Lane Closures This Month On M-43 In South Haven

Some lanes on part of M-43 in South Haven will be closed for the most of the month. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells our newsroom it’s doing some maintenance work on the road between Alyworth Avenue and LaGrange Street. The lane closures will take effect on Monday at 7 a.m. and be in place through Friday, July 28. If you want to get up to date information on all MDOT projects, go to Michigan.gov/Drive, and get MDOT’s app. It’s called MIDrive.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Library Seeking Input On Renovation Plans

A public meeting has been scheduled for next month for South Haven area residents to offer their thoughts on some upcoming library renovations. In May, voters approved a new millage for the South Haven Memorial Library so it could stay in its current building but do some upgrades. There are no set plans as of yet regarding what the renovations will include, and that’s why the public’s thoughts are being sought. The open forum will be held on Thursday, August 3 at 6 p.m. On hand will be library officials and representatives of Abonmarch. The renovations are set to take place this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Clements To Run For Congress Again

Democrat Paul Clements is running for Congress again in the Sixth District. This will be the third time Clements has sought to unseat Congressman Fred Upton, assuming Upton runs again next year. Clements announced he is giving it another go this week. This time around, he is facing a couple of primary opponents. They are David Benac and Eponine Garrod. Benac is a Western Michigan University professor, just like Clements, while Garrod is a tester at Pfizer. Clements has said Upton has become vulnerable due to ongoing controversies involving congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Man Killed By Falling Tree

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a 72-year-old western Michigan man who was killed when a tree fell on his home was in bed at the time. Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke identified the victim of the storm early Friday as 72-year-old Lawrence Thon. Hawke says the tree took off an addition to the house and landed on Thon, who died at the scene. He says Thon’s body wasn’t recovered until non, more than
nine hours after the storm hit Grand Haven, because a private tree company and a technical rescue team had to remove the tree using a crane before stabilizing the home. Hawke said Thon’s wife also was home at the time but in a different part of the house and made it out safely.. ...Read Full Story

Plenty To Do In St. Joseph This Weekend

With the Krasl Art Fair and Smooth Jazz at Sunset happening this weekend in downtown St. Joseph, there should be plenty of opportunities for fun in the rest of the downtown. St. Joseph Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News the many of the shops and restaurants are planning special sales or other features because of the art fair.. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Body Found At St. Joseph Marina

Police have identified a body found at a St. Joseph marina last month as that of a missing Benton Harbor man. Willie Brand was reported missing in May. On June 17, a body was found in the water at Pier 33 marina. At the time, police could not establish an identity because they said the body had been in the water for a long time. It took a DNA test at the Michigan State Police Crime Lab in Lansing to confirm that body as that of Brand. Police say drowning appears to have been the cause of death, and they found no signs of foul play.. ...Read Full Story

Lane Closures Planned For This Month On US-31 Near Berrien Springs

Some bridge work will mean lane closures on southbound US-31 near Berrien Springs for the rest of the month. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells us they’re working between Snow Road and Lake Chapin Road starting Monday. The lane closures will remain in effect through July 31 while the bridge is getting maintenance. You can stay up to date on all MDOT projects at Michigan.gov/Drive, or you can get the MIDrive app on both Android and iPhone.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette: Schools With Indian Nicknames Can’t Lose State Aid

Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Michigan school superintendent doesn’t have authority to cut off tax dollars to districts with American Indian mascots or logos. Schuette’s opinion was sought by state Representative Tim Kelly, a Republican from Saginaw County. Critics of schools with Indian mascots say they create a hostile environment and are culturally insensitive. But supporters say they’re signs of respect. In an opinion dated Monday, Schuette says state law lists specific grounds for a superintendent to stop state aid to a school district, but having an Indian mascot isn’t among them. In March, Superintendent Brian Whiston proposed cutting up to 10% of a district’s annual payments if he had authority. In Paw Paw, the school board in February voted to keep the Redskins nickname. Saranac also still uses the Redskins mascot.. ...Read Full Story

Monday Is The Deadline To Register To Vote In August

Time is running out to register to vote for some local elections taking place next month. The elections will be on August 8, and the deadline to register is next Monday. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is also telling us there will be new voting equipment being used for the first time in 63 communities. Those communities have been receiving new optical scan machines designed to make things easier for both the voters and the election workers. In Berrien County, there will be a few things to decide next month. In the city of St. Joseph, three city commission candidates will be chosen out of a field of seven in a primary. Then, the three winners in the primary will appear again on a ballot in November, with the top two vote getters receiving four year terms and the third place candidate getting a two year term. On the August 8 ballot will be Fran Chickering, Al DiBrito, Kim Jorgensen Gane, Mike Garey, Peggy Getty, Mary Goff, and Laura Goos. There will also be some ballot questions to vote on in Three Oaks Township, Berrien Springs, and the village of Three Oaks.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Drug Treatment Court To Graduate Five Friday

Five men will graduate Friday from the Van Buren County Drug and Family Treatment Court. Judge Kathleen Brickley will preside and share some information about the transformation that’s occurred in each grad’s life. All five of them are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, and in some cases, they’ve been able to avoid jail or prison by taking part in the rigorous treatment program the specialty court provides. The Van Buren County Specialty Courts Administrator tells us the programs offer community supervision and treatment to addicts who find themselves in the legal system because of their substance problem. The goal is to reduce the rate of reoffending, cut costs for taxpayers, and preserve families. The graduates will celebrate their completion of the programs at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Paw Paw.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies In Niles Area Roll Over Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a fatal crash which occurred Thursday afternoon on US-31 near Niles. MSP tells us officers arrived on scene to find a single vehicle that had rolled over. The driver was trapped inside, and the Bertrand Township Fire Department had to get him out. The man, 71-year-old James Panos, of Martinsville, Indiana, went into cardiac arrest while being extricated. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police are still working to determine what caused the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo County Approves New ID Card Program

From the Associated Press — Kalamazoo County has decided to create an identification card program for residents who lack documents needed to get a state ID. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the county Board of Commissioners’ 6-5 vote Wednesday was split along party lines, but the Democratic majority approved a resolution creating the program. The resolution authorizes an initial budget of $60,000 to begin the program in
January. It also creates an advisory board that would report to the Board of Commissioners. The program will ensure an estimated 27,000 residents without a state-issued ID still have access to government and commercial services. Residents would be required to prove their residency status with several documents. However, state and federal programs may not recognize the ID.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan AG: Schools With Native American Nicknames Can’t Lose State Aid

From the Associated Press — Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Michigan school superintendent doesn’t have authority to cut off tax dollars to districts with American Indian mascots or logos. Schuette’s opinion was sought by state Rep. Tim Kelly, a Republican from Saginaw County.
Critics of schools with Indian mascots say they create a hostile environment and are culturally insensitive. But supporters say they’re signs of respect. In an opinion dated Monday, Schuette says state law lists specific grounds for a superintendent to stop state aid to a school district, but having an Indian mascot isn’t among them. In March, Superintendent Brian Whiston proposed cutting up to 10 percent of a district’s annual payments if he had authority. In Paw Paw, the school board in February voted to keep the Redskins nickname.. ...Read Full Story

Double Murder Suspect Found Competent

There is some movement in a Berrien County double murder case. The “Herald-Palladium” reports Alex Perez has been found competent for trial after several months of treatment. He is accused of killing Renee Mitchell and her father, John, in their Hagar Township home in January 2016, and trying to flee to California with his two children he had with her. Perez and the children were found in Colorado the next day after a nationwide Amber Alert was issued. He is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. Perez is due in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing and is being held on five-million-dollars bond in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Concerns About Possible Water Rule Changes

The public comment period on the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule is expected to begin this week. The move would reverse pollution protections for streams and wetlands that supply one third of the nation’s drinking water. Jan Goldman-Carter, with the National Wildlife Federation, tells us a majority of the nation’s stream miles and wetland acres are at stake.. ...Read Full Story

Group Aims to Create Park Celebrating Italian Culture In Benton Harbor

An effort is underway to spruce up an area of Benton Harbor that used to be known as Little Italy. Al DiBrito, of St. Joseph, tells WSJM News the plan is to turn land near Territorial and 2nd Street into a park celebrating Italian culture. He told city commissioners this week about its history as an Italian neighborhood, and outlined what he has in mind for the park property.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Planning Major Expansion Of Nursing Program

An effort is underway to expand Southwestern Michigan College’s nursing program. The college plans to update the nursing instruction building with the latest technology and also double its size. The $9.6 million initiative is in response a shortage of nurses in the region. SMC says the goal is to increase nursing program enrollment by 40%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting 19% job growth for registered nurses by 2022, and more than 1 million job openings in the field. SMC’s nursing expansion is expected to be finished by the state of classes in the fall of 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Five Arrested In Two BH Drug Raids

Five people are facing charges following a couple of drug raids in Benton Harbor in recent days. First, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team searched a home in the 1,300 block of Union Avenue on Friday and found crack, two handguns, and evidence of drug trafficking. 48-year-old Margaret Casnave and 33-year-old Marcus Willis were arrested on charges of possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine and maintaining a drug house. They were taken to the Berrien County Jail. The second drug bust happened Wednesday morning in the 800 block of East High Street in Benton Harbor. Three people were arrested when officers found two pounds of marijuana and three handguns. The names of the suspects, who are also accused of drug trafficking, have not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Company Looking To Build Solar Farm In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Huron County is developing a solar energy ordinance after a renewable energy company said it wants to build about a dozen solar farms in the area. MLive reports California-based Cypress Creek Renewables has been pitching the idea to county residents in the county at the northern tip of Michigan’s Thumb region. Cypress Creek Director of Development Casey May says the company hopes to build the farms “in a staggered fashion” between late 2018 and 2020. Each solar farm is about 20 to 25 acres. Huron County Board Chairman Sami Khoury says the board adopted a one-year moratorium on solar farm development to give commissioners time to approve an ordinance. Khoury says “this way they just don’t put them wherever.” May says the farms would provide power throughout the county.. ...Read Full Story

Gobles Man Killed In Personal Water Craft Accident

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a deadly personal water craft accident on Magician Lake. They tell WSJM News 28-year-old Derek Jackson of Gobles hit a wave and was thrown off the water craft, and it then hit him after he landed in the water. He was pronounced dead after being airlifted to South Bend Memorial Hospital. The coroner’s office in St. Joseph County, Indiana has ruled Jackson’s death a drowning. Police say he was wearing a life jacket, but there was no alcohol involved in the incident. It happened just after 5 p.m. yesterday.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Holding Pesticide Collection Event

If you have pesticides you need to get rid of, you’re in luck. On July 26, Berrien County will hold a pesticide collection event in Benton Township. However, you have to register in advance, and the deadline is July 12. Berrien County Parks Department Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells our newsroom they hold these events each year. She says it’s much better to drop off such chemicals at the event than it is to throw the chemicals away.. ...Read Full Story

Celebrate Bridgman Begins Wednesday

This is the week to Celebrate Bridgman. Mayor Hannah Anderson tells WSJM News the city is holding a series of events throughout the week, Wednesday through Sunday. Everything kicks off with a walk from the library to Weko Beach on Wednesday. Thursday brings the Curious Kids Show and then the dances start.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man in Jail After Pursuit

A South Haven man remains in jail after a Police pursuit. About 11:20 Monday night, troopers from the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation on Gull Road near Sprinkle Road in Comstock Township. The vehicle fled and a pursuit continued into the City of Kalamazoo. While travelling West on West North Street, the suspect vehicle ran a red light at South Park Street and crashed into a passenger vehicle that was travelling North on North Park Street. The driver of the suspect vehicle is a 27 year old South Haven man and he alone in his vehicle. He was treated for injuries at Bronson Hospital and is currently being held in the Kalamazoo County Jail. Upon arrest, Troopers found the suspect had multiple warrants for his arrest, a suspended driver’s license and was in possession of open intoxicants and marijuana at the time of the crash. The suspect’s name is being withheld pending arraignment. The 3 occupants of the other vehicle the suspect hit were transported to Bronson Hospital where they were treated for their injuries. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

How To Properly Display Your Flag

This Fourth of July, many Americans are showing their patriotic spirit by flying the Stars and Stripes, and they’re being asked to keep flag etiquette in mind. Mark Sutton, with the American Legion Department of Michigan, tells us the American flag should be respected because it represents freedom, democracy, and the values of a nation that many have fought to defend.. ...Read Full Story

Car vs Motorcycle Accident

A man and a woman remain in the hospital after the motorcycle they were riding on collided with a car early Tuesday morning. Around 12:15am Berrien County Deputies located a car vs. motorcycle accident on M-63 near Central Avenue in Hagar Township. Authorities reports the couple from the motorcycle received severe injuries and were transported to Lakeland Hospital. They also say they were not wearing helmets. The driver of the car was not injured. Alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in the accident. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Crash Investigation Team is still investigating this incident.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan: No Personal Data Will Be Given To Trump Commission

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s secretary of state says she will comply with some requests for voter information from President Donald Trump’s voting commission, but personal data won’t be released. Ruth Johnson posted a response on Facebook on Monday, five days after the commission said it was asking states for information, including partial Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Birth years are fair game, but Johnson says Michigan law puts a shield on Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. She says some basic voter information has been public for decades, including registrations and election participation history. Trump’s national commission was formed to investigate allegations of U.S. election fraud. Michigan found that at least 31 people voted twice last fall, although their names haven’t been released.. ...Read Full Story

New Editions Of Michigan Duck Stamp And Prints Released

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Duck Hunters Association and the state Department of Natural Resources are introducing the 2017 collector’s edition Michigan duck stamp and prints. The Michigan Waterfowl Stamp Program was established in 1976 and has become popular with hunters, conservationists and collectors around the nation. Proceeds from the stamp sales are used for projects that help conserve wetlands and other waterfowl habitat. This year’s duck stamp features a pair of northern shovelers, painted by wildlife artist Guy Crittenden of Richmond, Virginia. People interested in buying limited-edition prints and collector’s edition stamps can learn more at www.michigan.gov/waterfowl .. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Challenging Public Funding For Detroit Arena Dropped

A federal lawsuit seeking to block some public funding for the Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs has been dropped. The lawsuit was filed by activist Robert Davis and city clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon. They argue the project shouldn’t be funded without a vote from Detroit residents. Their attorney submitted a court notice Saturday to voluntarily dismiss the case.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gas Prices Fall For July 4th Holiday

Gas prices in Michigan continue to buck the historical summertime upward trend, falling 6-cents a gallon this week to a statewide average of $2.29. Locally, AAA Michigan says the price in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area is down 11-cents to $2.23, which is also two-cents lower than this time last year. The auto club notes the Great Lakes region is finally experiencing some price stability, and Michigan’s price drop over the past week and the last month is the second-largest in the nation. The lowest prices in Michigan are in the Saginaw-Bay City-Midland area at $2.22, while Ann Arbor drivers are paying the most for the third straight week at $2.35 a gallon. GasBuddy spotters put the South Haven average at $2.14, though just one station is selling gas for more than $2.13 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Boating Accident Sends One To Hospital

A 25-year-old is being treated at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph following a boating accident on Round Lake in Van Buren County’s Keeler Township. Deputies tell WSJM News there were two people on a tube being pulled by a boat when a second boat dumped a waterskier in front of them. Their boat operator turned to avoid the skier and hit a raft, tossing the two on the tube to be thrown off. A 22-year-old woman who was on the tube wasn’t hurt, and neither was the waterskier. The driver of the boat, however, was cited for traveling at a greater than slow-no-wake speed within 100 feet of a dock, raft, or other fixed object. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

NWS Confirms Landspout Tornado

An EF-0 landspout tornado was on the ground near Grand Junction for a brief time Friday night. The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has confirmed the small twister, which had peak winds of 60-miles-per-hour and was on the ground for about two-tenths of a mile. No one was hurt, and no damage was done. Landspout tornadoes are formed from either heavy rain storms or weak thunderstorms, and meteorologists say they typically dissipate quickly.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Sheriff’s Department Preparing For Fourth Of July Enforcement

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will have its eye on you this Fourth of July at Silver Beach. Sheriff Paul Bailey addressed St. Joseph City Commissioners this past week to assure them his department and St. Joseph Public Safety are working closely together to keep it safe. Bailey told WSJM News he’ll have a lot of uniformed deputies and deputies in plain clothes roaming the beach all day and until everyone leaves.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Prohibit Left Turns On Portion Of Phoenix Street

Traffic is about to change in South Haven. Starting next week, the city of South Haven will have “No Left Turn” signs posted along westbound Phoenix Street from Broadway to Water Street. They’re being given a 90 day trial to see if they improve traffic flow. Phoenix Street is the main street running through South Haven’s downtown. During the summer, a long line of traffic headed to the beach often causes congestion as drivers try to make left turns. It’s hoped the No Left Turn signs might help. The South Haven City Council will review the results at the end of the 90 day trial.. ...Read Full Story