Local News Archives

General Motors Testing “Connected Cars”

General Motors is encouraged by some new experiments in what are known as connected cars. The automaker has been working in Macomb County to wire some stoplights near its company’s Tech Center so that they send information to Cadillac test cars. Steve Martin, with Cadillac, told Michigan News Network early test results are positive.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Preparing To Reimburse Communities For Unpaid Taxes

The office of Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is about to send out checks to local governments across the county to help them make up for the revenue they didn’t get this year due to delinquent taxpayers. He tells WSJM News it’s his job then to pursue those unpaid taxes, as it is for treasurers in every county of Michigan. Witkowski notes some communities have more delinquent taxpayers than others.. ...Read Full Story

July Event To Raise Money For Bridgman Schools

Registrations are now being taken for a new sand sculpting event planned for Weko Beach in Bridgman this summer. Organizer Kim Fenech tells WSJM News she and a friend wanted to help raise money to expand the STEM program at FC Reed Middle School. So, Building Bridgman was born. She says the city and school are helping.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Highway Ramps To Close This Week

The I-94 ramps to and from John Beers Road/Grand Mere Road in Stevensville are about to be closed. The Michigan Department of Transportation tells us on Thursday, it will close those ramps — at exit 22 — for a construction project. Anyone who needs to get on or off the highway in the area will have to use exit 23 on to Red Arrow Highway by the Meijer. The ramps will remain closed through June 15.. ...Read Full Story

Two Charged After Gun Found At Berrien County Courthouse

A couple from Wyoming, Michigan is in the Berrien County Jail after police say they were caught trying to bring a gun into the courthouse in St. Joseph on Tuesday. Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit tells WSJM News it happened about 8:30 a.m. as the Arnelda and Molly Jackson were entering the courthouse. The x-ray scanner spotted the semi automatic handgun in the woman’s purse, and then the man took off running. Heit tells us courthouse security was able to handle it and catch the two as they fled.. ...Read Full Story

Lots Of Candidates File Already For 2018

Dozens of people have signed up to run for the Michigan Legislature in 2018, more than a year before the August primary election. All 38 seats in the Senate will be on the ballot, along with the 110 seats in the House. The Detroit Free Press reports that at least 68 candidates have filed papers with the secretary of state – and the deadline still is many months away.. ...Read Full Story

Banning Hand-Held Phones Behind The Wheel

Hang up the phone and drive — that’s the message in proposed legislation in Lansing which would ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones when behind the wheel. Jim Santilli of the Transportation Improvement Association says the current law banning texting and driving doesn’t go far enough to prevent traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.. ...Read Full Story

New Push For Better Infrastructure

Saying our cars rattle down some of the nation’s worst roads, several groups and organizations today will call on state lawmakers to find a long-term solution to fix Michigan’s aging infrastructure. The County Road Association, Michigan Municipal League, American Society of Civil Engineers, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association will be involved in an 11 a.m. news conference in Lansing. A report released late last year said fixing the state’s infrastructure will cost four-billion dollars each year for the next 20 years.. ...Read Full Story

Lt. Gov. Calley To Make Announcement

Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley plans to make a major announcement this afternoon on Mackinac Island. While he was initially expected to say he’s going to run for governor, Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says he will instead likely announce his support for a part-time legislature. A proposal to put the issue before voters is expected to be submitted to the Board of State Canvassers in the coming weeks. There is also speculation that Calley also will announce sometime this week that he’s running for governor. Nearly 17-hundred political, business and community leaders will be on the island Wednesday through Friday for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference. Organizers say the three topics to be focused on are winning the race in connected technology, increasing economic opportunity and restoring civility in American politics.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Fall To Start Week

We are starting the week with Michigan’s lowest average gas price in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area. Triple-A Michigan says our average is $2.36, down about 11¢ from last week. The statewide average is $2.42, which is down a nickel, and lower than last year at this time by about 8¢. The state’s most expensive gas is in Marquette, where Upper Peninsula drivers are paying $2.48 a gallon. GasBuddy spotters in South Haven note prices there range from $2.26 to $2.29 per gallon, and are as low as $2.22 in Paw Paw.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Road Commission Taking Applications For Empty Seat

If you’re interested in serving on the Berrien County Road Commission, you may be in luck. They’ve got a vacancy on the board. The seat representing District 1 is currently empty, and the county is taking applications. District 1 represents Coloma, Watervliet, Hagar, Bainbridge, Pipestone, and Sodus Townships. You don’t have to be from one of those places to get the seat, but there is a preference for applicants who are. The Berrien County Road Commission is responsible for more than 1,400 miles of county roads, and is governed by a board of five. Meetings are held every other Wednesday, and the District 1 term will expire at the end of 2019. You can get an application by stopping by the Berrien County Administration office in St. Joseph or BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance To Talk Business With Those Over 50

The AARP Foundation has awarded Cornerstone Alliance a grant to provide workshops on starting a business to those over the age of 50. Cornerstone’s Stacie Stephens tells WSJM News Work for Yourself@50+ workshops serve those who are interested in how the process works. AARP picked Cornerstone Alliance because of its experience with helping businesses get rolling.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Underway For Next Lest We Forget Program

Things are being shaken up a little for this summer’s Lest We Forget program. The organization has staged World War II simulations each summer in southwest Michigan for years, and the group’s Don Alsboro tells WSJM News they’re moving from the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport this year to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. There, they’ll have some Marines on hand.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Issues Warning About Unlicensed Mechanics

The Michigan Secretary of State is warning drivers not to take their cars for repairs at non-licensed shops. With the temperatures now about to get hot, the office tells us you should ask to see your mechanic’s certification before he or she works on your vehicle. It adds under state law, someone who knowingly provides automotive repair services without a registration or certificate is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Another thing to know is that unlicensed repair shot can’t seek legal action for fees owed to them for work performed. You can find a list of licensed repair places in Michigan at Michigan.gov/SOS.. ...Read Full Story

One Man in Jail After Chase

A Niles man is jailed for leading Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies on a chase through Sodus and Pipestone townships. It began late Saturday after authorities failed to pull the 46-year-old over for speeding on Pipestone Road near Evans Road. He was arrested after his vehicle was boxed in at a gas station on Meadowbrook Road in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Sent to Hospital

Sheriff’s deputies in Van Buren County say a 51-year-old had to be airlifted to Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo after being thrown from his all-purpose electric motorcycle in Breedsville. Authorities and medical personnel were dispatched to the dead end of Harmony Lane before 3 p.m. Sunday. Investigators believe the Grand Junction resident lost traction in mud while trying to enter a private blueberry field. They also believe alcohol was a contributing factor.. ...Read Full Story

Dogs Attack Livestock In Bangor

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is searching for the owner of two dogs who attacked livestock in Bangor. It happened Sunday morning in the 48000 block of M-43, with the attack killing four sheep. Another nine sheep were hurt along with a goat. A deputy had to shoot and kill one of the dogs when it became aggressive toward officers, while the second dog was captured and turned over to Van Buren County Animal Control for quarantine. The dogs are mix breed dogs. Charges against their owner are likely to include damage to livestock and trespassing.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Board Settles On New Admin

The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners has found a new county administrator. John Faul, of Mattawan, will replace the recently-retired Doug Cultra. Faul has previously worked for Van Buren County in multiple roles, including as the administrator in the early to mid-2000s. He left in 2006 to work for the Michigan Municipal League and later worked as the assistant county administrator in Kalamazoo County. Now that a contract is in place, Faul will start his new job on June 5. The board of commissioners says it hired him due to his experience.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Order Allows Greater Distribution Of Anti Overdose Drug

Governor Rick Snyder has authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue an order authorizing pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals. Nancy King, with Families Against Narcotics Southwest Michigan, works to spread awareness about naloxone. She tells us it’s been a life saver for many struggling with addiction.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet High School Presented With Spirit Trophy

Watervliet High School has been presented with a trophy by state Senator John Proos for winning his annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Each year, Proos asks schools all throughout his district to submit photos displaying their pride. He then takes more submissions over a period of several weeks to whittle the numbers down in a bracket-style competition. The winner is declared the school with the most pride. This year, it was the Watervliet Panthers, who submitted more than 2,700 photos and got more than 86,000 likes on Facebook. In all, 31 high schools took part.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Reminds Parents Not To Leave Kids In Parked Vehicle

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging everyone to take care to prevent heat stroke this summer. It declared this Friday Heat Stroke Prevention Day, reminding parents not to leave their kids alone in a vehicle. Nationwide, more than 138 children died from heatstroke between 2013 and 2016, and the department says all of those deaths could have been prevented. Health and Human Services tells us the temperatures inside a car can increase 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes, and because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, they’re more susceptible to heatstroke. It also suggests calling 911 if you see a child in a car alone. You can find out more at SafeKids.org/HeatStroke.. ...Read Full Story

Record Amount Raised For Lory’s Place With Latest Run

A record amount has been raised for St. Joseph-based Lory’s Place with its latest Run, Walk, and Rock 5K. The run was held last Saturday, taking supporters of Lory’s Place around the Edgewater area of St. Joseph. More than 1,200 people took part, some running, some walking, and some rocking in chairs along the side of the route to show support. It was the 13th annual Lory’s Place event, and it raised more than $63,000. Lory’s Place provides grief counseling and support services. Lisa Bartoszek, Director of Lory’s Place, thanked everyone for their support.. ...Read Full Story

New Executive Announced For SWM Association Of Realtors

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has a new executive in charge. Alan Jeffries takes over as association executive for Gary Walter, who in turn had taken over on an interim basis after the resignation of Phil Amodeo in February. Jeffries comes to the organization from the Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors, where he was the board president. He’s previously worked as a manager for Century 21 Advanced Realty and has been an owner of Michigan Real Estate Services in the Kalamazoo area. Jeffries has also served as the township assessor in Saugatuck Township. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells us they’re excited to have him, as he brings more than 20 years of experience to the job.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Outer Harbor To Be Dredged Next Month

The St. Joseph outer harbor will be dredged starting next month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week approved a $374,000 contract with a Holland company to dredge harbors in Holland and in St. Joe. Army Corps Project Manager Melissa Bosman tells WSJM News they’ll start the work mid-month. Without it, the shipping industry would be harmed.. ...Read Full Story

Celebration Of Makers Planned For Tomorrow In Buchanan

There’s plenty going on in Buchanan in the next few days. That’s because they’re holding the Memorial Day Parade and the annual Unsanctioned event. Randy Hendrixson, with the chamber of commerce, tells WSJM News Unsanctioned is an celebration put on by downtown merchants who just want people to know about what they do. They started it in 2008, and this year it’s all about makers.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested With Fake Currency

South Bend police have arrested a man accused of using counterfeit money. They say 20-year-old Malik Gardner was found to be in possession of money with “For Motion Picture Use Only” printed on it. That’s the same type of fake money reported earlier this week in several instances around Dowagiac. South Bend police say Gardner was under investigation for an unrelated matter when he was found to have the fakes. Police have not said if Gardner is a suspect in the Dowagiac incidents.. ...Read Full Story

Four Suffer Minor Injuries In Allegan County Plane Crash

Two people were injured in an Allegan County plane crash Friday. The sheriff’s department tells us the small plane crashed along the side of US-131 just outside the Plainwell Municipal Airport around 1 p.m. It had four people on board, and injured were the pilot and one passenger. They’re expected to recover from minor injuries. The other two on board were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The crash backed up traffic along the northbound side of US-131. Police have not yet released details about the cause of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Dave Ramsey To Address Economic Club Of SWM This Year

We’ve now had a sneak peak of at least one guest speaker coming to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan this year. The Mendel Center tells us radio host and financial guru Dave Ramsey will stop by on September 19. Ramsey should be well-known to listeners of News/Talk 94.9 WSJM, as he’s on every weekday afternoon. Ramsey takes calls from folks seeking financial guidance and also offers his own philosophy. Plus, he’s a best-selling author. Ramsey’s visit this September was teased by the Mendel Center this week when it announced its season lineup for 2017-2018. The Mendel Center recently took over the Southwestern Michigan Economic Club to help reduce costs.. ...Read Full Story

Four Educators Charged In Child Abuse Case

Four educators are facing charges from Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic for not intervening in a child abuse case involving a 12-year-old student in 2015 and 2016. The boy was found near railroad tracks in Galien Township last August dehydrated, bruised, and extremely underweight at just 47-pounds. His father, Aaron Zemke and stepmother, Alicia Zemke, are both serving 20-to-80 years in prison after pleading no contest to child abuse and torture earlier this year. Now charged are Three Oaks Elementary School principal Heidi Clark; guidance counselor Matt Cook; special education teacher Diane Balling; and elementary teacher Sherrie Bender for not reporting what they knew about the boy’s abuse. They are all due to be in court for pre-trial conferences the week of June 5 in St. Joseph. Each is charged with two misdemeanors that carry 93-day jail sentences if convicted.. ...Read Full Story

Activist Pinkney To Be Freed

Freedom is imminent for Benton Harbor political activist Edward Pinkney. He has been in prison since 2014 for election fraud related to a failed recall attempt of former Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. Pinkney forged petition signatures and changed dates on the documents to make it appear all the necessary signatures were collected in time to force the recall. That election was called off, but a subsequent recall went forward with then-City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad defeating Hightower. The Michigan Department of Corrections lists his release date as June 13, which would be two-and-a-half years after he began what could have been a decade-long incarceration. Pinkney has a criminal history of election crimes dating back to 2005, with a dozen convictions on his record.. ...Read Full Story

Lest We Forget Program Moved To August

Things are being shaken up a little for this summer’s Lest We Forget program. The organization has staged World War II simulations each summer in southwest Michigan for years, and the group’s Don Alsboro tells WSJM News they’re moving from the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport this year to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. There, they’ll have some Marines on hand.. ...Read Full Story

Former South Haven Mayor Dies

A former South Haven mayor has passed away. David Paull was Mayor from 1990 to 1995 and served on the planning commission. He was also instrumental in the process of development of Riverfront Park and the Southside Marina. Partly as a result of his efforts, the city was awarded the Governor’s Tourism Award in 1992. David Paull passed away on May 21. A memorial will be held on Friday, June 2nd, in Council Chambers at City Hall from 2 to 4.. ...Read Full Story

Parents, Teachers Learn About Opioid Addiction At BH School Event

Parents and teachers in Benton Harbor have had a chance to learn about opioid addiction and anti-overdose drugs, thanks to an event Thursday at Benton Harbor High School. It was the Benton Harbor Area Schools Summer Safety Fair. The kids played basketball and had ice cream while the adults heard from Nancy King, with Families Against Narcotics of Southwest Michigan. She told WSJM News knowing addiction and how to use Naloxone is increasingly important.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Announces Next Season Lineup

The next lineup for the Mendel Center Mainstage has been announced. The venue at Lake Michigan College announced the 2017-2018 visitors this week, telling us the whole thing will kick off September 8 with a performance by the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra featuring the Texas Tenors. What will follow is a season featuring 13 additional guests which include comedian Howie Mandell, Riverdance, a touring production of Cabaret, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, and Art Garfunkel. Mendel Center management adds there will likely be a couple of additions to be announced later. You can find the whole lineup and get tickets at TheMendelCenter.com.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Looks To Fill Vacancy

If you’re interested in serving on the Berrien County Road Commission, you may be in luck. They’ve got a vacancy on the board. The seat representing District 1 is currently empty, and the county is taking applications. District 1 represents Coloma, Watervliet, Hagar, Bainbridge, Pipestone, and Sodus Townships. You don’t have to be from one of those places to get the seat, but there is a preference for applicants who are. The Berrien County Road Commission is responsible for more than 1,400 miles of county roads, and is governed by a board of five. Meetings are held every other Wednesday, and the District 1 term will expire at the end of 2019. You can get an application by stopping by the Berrien County Administration office in St. Joseph or BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill To Make Overdose Drug More Available

Governor Rick Snyder has authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a standing order pre-authorizing
pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals. Snyder’s office said Thursday that pharmacies that obtain the standing order will be able to dispense naloxone to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose and to family members, friends, or others who might be able to help such individuals. Naloxone currently is only available to be administered by law enforcement and other first responders.
Health and Human Service Department chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells says the shorter response time allowed by the standing order is a vital step in  reducing opioid-related deaths in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Introduces Hotel Carbon Monoxide Bill

The carbon monoxide poisoning death of a teenager at a Quality Inn hotel in Niles last month is prompting a potential new law. Republican state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs is teaming up with Democratic Senator Steve Bieda of Warren to introduce bills requiring all hotels have carbon monoxide detectors. It’s mandatory for new hotels, but this would ensure older ones add them, as well. Eleven people were sickened by the odorless gas from malfunctioning equipment in the pool area over spring break at the Niles Quality Inn. A lawsuit has been filed by the family of Bryan Douglas-Watts. Thirteen states already have the requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Agency: Ending Pensions For New Teachers Costs Billions

From the Associated Press — Legislative economists estimate that it would cost $410 million in the first year to close Michigan’s pension system to newly hired teachers and instead provide them a 401(k) only. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency released its analysis Wednesday, a day
after Republican-sponsored legislation was introduced. The bill would affect new school employees hired after September 30. The analysis
estimates transition costs would total $2.3 billion in the first full five years, or about $465 million annually. Majority Republican lawmakers say the pension plan should be closed to new hires so the state stops accumulating debt. Governor Rick Snyder and Democrats say a 7-year-old hybrid pension/401(k) plan is working and upfront costs of a switch are too high.. ...Read Full Story

BH Event Focuses Attention On Plight Of The Transgendered

The struggle faced by transgendered Americans is being highlighted by the OutCenter in Benton Harbor. It held an event with Equality Michigan Wednesday to bring attention to the economic and other problems the transgendered face. Natalie Mooney is the mother of a transgendered southwest Michigan man. She said people need to think about the language they’re using, and also about how they can make things better for others.. ...Read Full Story

Owner Of Allegan County Antique Shop Killed In Shooting

The owner of a Casco Township antiques shop is dead following a Wednesday morning shooting. Michigan State Police tell MLive 58-year-old Robert Hill was killed by his 27-year-old stepson at Hill’s home in the 1,100 block of Blue Star Highway. The stepson’s name has not been released, and he gave himself up without incident. The victim’s wife was home at the time, but police say she wasn’t hurt. Police are investigating the circumstances of the shooting. Hill was the owner of Farmhouse Glenn Antique Shop, located on the same property.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Charged With Selling Heroin

A Niles man is facing drug charges after police say he sold heroin to an undercover officer. The Niles Police Department tells WSJM News 29-year-old Daqone Williams was under investigation for possible crack and heroin distribution in the area. They and the Cass County Sheriff’s Department teamed up for a month-long operation in which the heroin sale allegedly took place. Williams was arrested this week after a search of his home that police say turned up heroin, crack, and marijuana. They tell us the drugs have a street value of about $8,000. Williams was arraigned Wednesday with bond set at $20,000.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Planning For Major Infrastructure Work

A whole lot of infrastructure work is needed in St. Joseph, and at a Wednesday meeting, city leaders spoke with residents to find out what work they consider the most pressing. Engineering consultant Shawn Keough tells WSJM News residents have to offer input because the dozens of projects likely in the next several years won’t be cheap.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Votes To Allow Dogs On Restaurant Patios

From the Associated Press — Patrons could bring their dogs along while eating in outdoor areas of restaurants under a bill advancing in the Michigan Legislature. State law generally prohibits live animals at restaurants. The legislation was approved 32-6 by the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the House for consideration. The bill would allow dogs on restaurant patios under certain circumstances. Dogs would have to be leashed and couldn’t pass through the restaurant interior or sit in chairs or on customers’ laps. Patios would have to be free of dog hair. Surfaces contaminated by dog waste would have to be disinfected immediately. The legislation wouldn’t require restaurant owners to allow dogs, and local
communities could pass ordinances prohibiting dogs on restaurant patios.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent Bound Over For Trial

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood will go to trial in August for embezzlement. At a preliminary exam Wednesday, Berrien County Judge Donna Howard found there was enough evidence Seawood knowingly presented falsified documents to members of the school board and the district’s HR office when submitting for reimbursement of unused vacation days. Seawood’s accused of getting about $41,000 he wasn’t supposed to be paid under his contract. The judge found probable cause to let Seawood be bound over. His attorney, Keith Lynch, said they were disappointed, telling us they’re confident a jury knows how hard Seawood worked for the community will find him not guilty. Seawood will be tried starting August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Vows To Protect Great Lakes Funding

President Donald Trump’s administration says state and local governments should pay for cleanups of the Great Lakes and other iconic waterways. The proposed federal budget for 2018 would eliminate $427 million for regional water restoration initiatives. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan told Michigan News Network the money is vital for the environment.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate OKs Big Changes To Natural Resources Fund

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved significant changes in how the state buys and improves land for public recreation. Legislation passed 24-14 Wednesday by the Republican-controlled chamber would empower the Legislature to have more say in decisions that largely are made by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board. Another bill would spend nearly $8 million more on projects this year than recommended. Senators say the state should spend more from the fund. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is opposed to the bill, saying it is an unconstitutional overreach. Attorney General Bill Schuette has been asked to weigh in with a legal opinion. The fund consists of royalties paid by companies to drill for oil and natural gas on state property and is used to buy and improve land for public recreation.. ...Read Full Story