Local News Archives

SJ Schools Getting Robotics Facility

St. Joseph Public Schools has announced plans to build a new robotics facility. To be named the Edward J. Todd Innovation Center, the 7000 square foot building will be adjacent to the Career Technical Center of the high school with access from Lakeview Avenue. The building will be used by the district’s robotics program, which sponsors 12 teams made up of students from grades two through twelve. The lead donor for the facility is Edward J. Todd, a St. Joe High School grad from the class of 1954. The district tells us he’s a strong supporter of improvements for schools. Another backer is the Hanson Family Foundation. St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education President Amy Porritt-Peirce tells us the new robotics facility will enhance the success and opportunities of the district’s FIRST Robotics program and also strengthen its emphasis on STEAM education. Construction on the robotics facility is scheduled to start this spring and be finished by the end of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Discusses Race For MI Senate

Experience. That’s what state Representative Dave Pagel says he has heading into the race for the 21st District Michigan Senate seat. He has announced he’s running to replace the term-limited state Senator John Proos. Pagel tells WSJM News he wants to better fund public education. He’s been concerned about some legislative action on that front.. ...Read Full Story

What’s Next After Disaster Declaration

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Friday declared a Local State of Emergency due to the flooding this week. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News the declaration is the first step in getting either state or federal aid to clean up. The move enables the county to pursue assistance from the state when it comes to flood cleanup.. ...Read Full Story

State Seeking Volunteers For Frog, Toad Survey

From the Associated Press — Michigan biologists are looking for volunteers to help with an annual survey of frogs and toads. Declining numbers of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest they’re disappearing because of habitat loss, pollution, disease and collection. Lori Sargent of the state Department of Natural Resources says Michigan has
seen a decline in Fowler’s toads and mink frogs over the past 20 years. They have a limited range in Michigan, unlike other frog and toad species. The surveys are conducted by volunteer observers along a system of permanent routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. They listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species and estimate abundance. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Sargent at 517-284-6216 or SargentL@michigan.gov.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Looks At Flood Recovery Ahead

The U.S Coast Guard will continue to be ready to assist local first responders if they need to evacuate anyone else from flooded areas of Berrien County. However, another big focus is what’s ahead. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lazaro Lopez tells WSJM News local waterways will be affected by this flooding for months.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Appeals Pension Decision

An appeal has been filed by Southwestern Michigan College in its fight against a Michigan Auditor General’s order to take teacher pension system contributions out of the paychecks of part-time students who work on campus. SMC President David Mathews tells WSJM News it makes no sense to take those deductions from the student workers.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Taking Donations For Flood Relief Fund

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is already looking at the long-term needs of Berrien and Cass counties when it comes to flood cleanup. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy tells WSJM News that’s why the organization has teamed up with the Berrien Community Foundation for a disaster relief fund. Money donated to the new disaster relief fund will be held by the Berrien Community Foundation, and then go to the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Helping With Flood Rescues

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has rescued more than 40 people and their pets from flooded neighborhoods in southwest Michigan this week.
The Coast Guard said Thursday it’s helping local authorities conduct house-to-house rescues and evacuations in some areas along the St. Joseph River. In one case Thursday morning, it said its St. Joseph station was asked to check on two people living in a mandatory evacuation zone in Sodus Township. Fire  department crews were unable to reach the two because of high water. A Coast Guard crew arrived on scene and helped the two people from their flooded home. Crews from the Michigan City, Indiana, station also have participated in the rescues.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Wants More For Education

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder wants Michigan to spend an additional $100 million to educate students who can fill jobs in professional trades, information technology and other high-demand fields. Snyder is calling it Michigan’s Marshall Plan for talent, a reference to the U.S. effort to help rebuild Europe after World War II. Speaking Thursday in Detroit, the governor says the state must be ready to respond to the needs of the economy. The $100 million would help schools change course offerings and buy equipment. The money also would create programs to offer certifications to students in certain fields. Snyder says “many more jobs are still going unfilled.”
The governor says businesses would have opportunities to become partners with schools. The Legislature would have to approve the spending.. ...Read Full Story

Relief Fund Set Up To Help Local Families Hit By Floods

The United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Berrien Community Foundation have set up a special fund to help those who have been affected by flooding in southwest Michigan this week. The organizations tell us 100% of the money donated to this disaster relief fund will go to assistance through the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy says the fund is intended to help local families. To donate, you can go the United Way’s website. You can also text “UWSMRELIEF” to 51555. American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan Director Breeze Ettl says the fund should go a long way for residents right here in southwest Michigan. Meanwhile, the United Way and the Berrien Community Foundation are working with the Red Cross for any volunteer needs that might arise.. ...Read Full Story

BH Principal Placed On Leave

Another official with Benton Harbor Area Schools is on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave pending an unspecified investigation. This time, it’s STEAM Academy at MLK Principal John David VanDyke. In a brief statement issued Thursday, the school district said VanDyke’s on-leave status is indefinite.The district tells us Jordan Wright will assume the duties of principal while VanDyke is out. All of this while Superintendent Shelly Walker remains on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave pending the results of another  investigation. Any parents with questions can call the central administration office. School officials are offering no further details.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: DACA Now Up To House

Congressman Fred Upton is still holding out hope for a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program after the Senate failed last week to put together an immigration bill. The DACA program enables young people brought into the country illegally as children to stay in the U.S. Upton tells WSJM News he’s been in regular contact with DACA kids in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

More Berrien County Evacuations Ordered

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department continues to help local first responders deal with flooding. Undersheriff Chuck Heit tells WSJM News the department was helping to evacuate some Royalton Township residents on Thursday in the area of of Linden and Derfla Drives. The area had water surrounding it, leading to the rescue of about 25 residents.. ...Read Full Story

Democrat Talks Candidacy For 79th District

The current political climate has inspired a local Democrat to run for Michigan House in the 79th District. Joey Andrews operates a solar energy company and works for a family business in the St. Joseph area. He tells WSJM News he thinks promoting renewable energy should be a major priority in Lansing.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Responders Rescue Two Girls

Two girls are back with their families following a rescue by South Haven Area Emergency Services this week. The department tells us firefighters on Tuesday afternoon rescued the girls who were stuck in a ravine area behind Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park in Geneva Township. The 12-year-old girls had gone back there looking for something, and before they knew it, they were surrounded by moving water. South Haven Area Emergency Services was called out by the park superintendent when he found the girls. A crew of 15 responders showed up and was able to get the girls back to dry ground. The water was about two feet deep in the area, and the agency tells us it would have been dangerous for the girls to wade in. They were reunited with their parents and checked out at a local hospital.. ...Read Full Story

No Injuries In Van Buren County Bus Fire

23 passengers aboard an Indian Trails bus that caught fire on I-94 in Van Buren County Thursday are unhurt. Michigan State Police tell us the bus was in the eastbound lanes of the highway near Hartford when it caught fire around 9:30 a.m. The driver heard a loud bang and then saw smoke toward the rear of the bus. It may have been a tire blowout. The driver managed to evacuate all of the passengers before the fire spread. Michigan State Police troopers tell us the bus was a “huge ball of flame” by the time they rolled up a few minutes later. The Hartford Fire Department put out the blaze, and then a Hartford school bus came to the scene and picked up the passengers after a state police headcount. The passengers were later loaded on to a Greyhound bus that happened to be not far away. The original bus had been on its way from Chicago to Kalamazoo. State police tell us the incident could have been a lot worse.. ...Read Full Story

U Of M Changes Time Policy

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan is changing a policy that allows for classes to begin 10 minutes after their scheduled start. The university announced that the “Michigan Time” policy will be phased out on May 1. The policy was put in place in the 1930s to allow for transfer time between classes on the more than 3,200-acre (campus. Transfer time will now be shifted to the end of class periods, so classes that end on the hour will wrap up 10 minutes earlier. UM Provost Martin Philbert says officials decided to move away from Michigan Time in order to be more consistent across the system’s schools and colleges. The university says the switch will allow the campus to be more in sync with off-campus activities.. ...Read Full Story