Local News Archives

Commission Approves Moratorium On Billboards

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved a six month moratorium on new billboards. At a Monday meeting, Mayor Marcus Muhammad read from the resolution stating the ban on new off-premises advertisements is to be in effect while a review is conducted. It said the city “intends to conduct a review of its various sign ordinances to ensure the furtherance of the city’s master plan and to address the city’s concerns of visual blight, traffic, health, safety, and welfare issues that have emerged with regulated and unregulated off-premises advertisement signs/billboards or similar structures and certain off-premises signs.” The city attorney said the moratorium would ban new billboards for six months, and could be extended up to a year. The action to approve the moratorium came just before commissioners went into closed session to hear an update on Adams Outdoor Advertising’s lawsuit against the city over its proposed digital billboard on Main Street. However, commissioners came out of the closed session on that matter and took no further action.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Finalizes Lease Deal With County To Clear Way For DNR Grant

Berrien County is set to move forward with making improvements to the waterways in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The St. Joseph City Commission gave final approval to a long-term lease agreement with the county for two access points on land owned by the city. Berrien County Community Development director Dan Fette explained to the city that the state Department of Natural Resources required the county to either own the property that will be improved or have an interest in it, prompting the 20-year lease.. ...Read Full Story

Sources: Heugel Out As Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber President

There is no official word as yet, but sources confirm to WSJM News that there is a change coming at the top of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. The board of directors plans to issue a statement after this morning’s board meeting, but we’ve learned Chris Heugel is out as Chamber president. He had been at the helm since August 2015 of what had been previously known as the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce before the organization changed its name in recent months, helping to avoid confusion with the economic development outfit, Cornerstone Alliance. Prior to that hire, he was the general manager of The Boulevard Inn & Bistro in St. Joseph for just over seven and a half years. The reason for the split between Heugel and the Chamber is not yet known.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Change Day Next Week

Around 800 students and faculty members from Andrews University are set to be out and about around southwest Michigan volunteering for non-profits next week. That’s because the third annual Change Day is Tuesday. Change Day coordinator Teela Ruehle tells WSJM News Andrews cancels classes for the day so as many students as possible can take part.. ...Read Full Story

Road Association Gives Fall Color Preview

The fall color season is about to start in Michigan. County Road Association of Michigan spokesperson Dustin Earley tells WSJM News people from outside of the state come here just to check out the fall colors. The prime season starts in the U.P. around this Friday, and will work its way down through the state.. ...Read Full Story

State Notifies Employees Of Potential For Layoffs

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s 48,000 state government workers have been notified of potential temporary layoffs in case the next budget is not enacted before October 1. Budget director Chris Kolb and department directors emailed employees Monday.
About 30,000, or 62%, of state workers would be temporarily laid off. The rest would be deemed as essential to protecting the health and safety of residents and continue working. They include prison guards, state troopers, child protective services caseworkers and others. The Republican-led Legislature has started approving spending bills, though there is no deal with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.. ...Read Full Story

River Valley Cancels Rest Of Varsity Football Season

The rest of the varsity football season at River Valley High School has been cancelled. River Valley School District Superintendent William Kearney says the team was left with too few players to complete the season after the coach cut three due to a disciplinary issue. Kearney says the three were the ringleaders of a boycott of practice last week. He doesn’t know why they started the boycott. The other players who took part have been suspended. Kearney says the three who were cut, along with one injury, meant the rest of the season was over. He says the school is now putting together a JV team and has scheduled some games for it. That JV team will play for homecoming, which is still set for October 18 versus White Cloud. Kearney says he supports the decision of the coach, adding that high standards must be maintained for the players. He says things will hopefully return to normal next year.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Woman Sentenced For Attempted Murder

A 26-year-old Bangor woman is headed to prison for a stabbing attack on a man in Grand Junction in December. Niki Leigh Murphy was sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit murder. The victim survived the incident on Decemeber 14 of last year. Murphy was arrested several hours after the stabbing at a home in Breedsville, and has been in custody ever since. She was sentenced on Monday in 36th Circuit Court in Van Buren County.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Man Facing Attempted Murder Charge For Monday Shooting

A Benton Township man is facing an attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting his girlfriend in front of a home in the 13-hundred block of Agard early Monday morning. Police were called to the Sunny Spot gas station on Pipestone in Benton Harbor shortly after 1 a.m. when Ashley Rockett showed up there with a gunshot wound to her upper right arm. Officers found the boyfriend, Dewayne Osler, and arrested him without incident on the charge of attempted murder along with carrying a concealed weapon, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.. ...Read Full Story

No Deal: Auto Workers Strike Against GM In Contract Dispute

More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike early Monday as contract talks with General Motors broke down. Union members walked out of factories and set up picket lines at 33 plants across the nation as well as 22 parts warehouses. UAW Vice President Terry Dittes says a strike is the union’s last resort because both sides are far apart in bargaining over a new four-year contract, including on issues like health care and fair wages.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County K9 Faust Catches Stolen Car Suspect

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department K9 Faust has caught a man who is accused of crashing a car that may have been stolen in Berrien County. The 59-year-old Niles man was found by Faust while trying to hide in the middle of a large cornfield in Howard Township following a crash just after 7:30 Sunday evening. Witnesses to the wreck told officers the man was seen running away into the field. After he was caught, he was taken to Lakeland Hospital in Niles to be treated for injuries before being booked into the Cass County Jail for an outstanding warrant. Charges related to the crash are pending.. ...Read Full Story

Work Requirements Coming For Healthy Michigan Program

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is notifying those who receive healthcare through the Healthy Michigan program that work requirements are going to kick in on January 1. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News because of a change in law, those who are enrolled in Healthy Michigan will be required to report at least 80 hours of work per month to continue receiving benefits. It’s a policy inherited by the Whitmer administration.. ...Read Full Story

Creek Cleaned Up By Volunteers

A cleanup event along Ox Creek in the Benton Harbor area late last month attracted 29 volunteers from several organizations. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission senior planner Marcy Hamilton tells us local Rotary clubs, the Two Rivers Coalition, and the planning commission collected trash. How much of a difference did they make?. ...Read Full Story

Annual Health Department Report Now Online

The Berrien County Health Department has released its report for 2018. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the department gave its report to the Berrien County Board of Health earlier this month. She says some people might not realize how many things the county health department does around the community in a given year.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Thefts From Vehicles In Van Buren County

Several thefts from parked vehicles are under investigation in Van Buren County. The sheriff’s department says the thefts occurred in the village of Bloomingdale in the early morning hours of Friday. In all, eight vehicles in the north end of the village were entered. They were unlocked, and police say valuables were taken from them. So far, police have identified no suspects. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department reminds all residents to lock their vehicles. Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to contact police.. ...Read Full Story

Two Dead In Lake Township Crash

Two people are dead following a Saturday crash in Lake Township. The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department says the crash happened at Jericho Road and Linco Road around 12:45 p.m.  It was between a 2011 Chevy Silverado that had been westbound on Linco Road and a 2010 Ford Fusion that had been southbound on Jericho. The driver of the Silverado, a 21-year-old man from Stevensville, was not hurt. The driver of the Fusion was a 59-year-old man, and his passenger was a 70 year old woman from Rochester, Indiana. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not said what caused the crash, and the names have not yet been released. The crash remains under investigation with assistance from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Recycling Event Set For September 21

The Berrien County Parks Department will hold a community recycling event this month at Silver Beach. It says now is the time to clean out your garage and basement, and also take a look at what’s under your sink. The county will take unwanted household chemicals and electronics at the September 21 event. Items that get dropped off will be disposed of and recycled responsibly. They’ll take yard and garden chemicals, used oil, old gasoline, unused medication, medical needles and sharps, spent batteries, spray cans, oil-based paint, and electronics. TVs come with a $20 fee and computer monitors will be $10. Latex paint will not be accepted, but you can drop that off at Ace Hardware in St. Joseph and Stevensville for a small fee. The community recycling event will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Silver Beach County Park on September 21. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Growing Popularity For SJ Senior Center

The St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center is seeing increased attendance as word of mouth gets around and the county’s population ages. The center’s board president, Rick Freridge, gave some numbers to the Berrien County Board of Commissioners this month. He said about 260 individuals use the center on Lincoln Avenue each day, with attendance going up by about 17 to 19% each year. Freridge told WSJM News that new software, installed after the county asked for attendance numbers, has enabled the tracking.. ...Read Full Story

Near Record Water Level In Lake Michigan In August

Lake Michigan did not break its all-time high water level record in August, but it was very high when compared to average. That’s according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which recently released its Great Lakes water level report for the month. Forecaster Deanna Apps tells WSJM News Lake Superior tied its record high for the month while Lakes Michigan and Huron were about three inches below their record highs. She says the water levels have been trending up for a few years.. ...Read Full Story

M-139 Work Getting Underway

Drivers should note the Michigan Department of Transportation is doing some work on M-139 in Benton Township. It starts Monday and will continue for the rest of the month. MDOT says it’s doing concrete patching between I-94 and Napier Avenue. Anyone who’s driven that stretch of road knows it certainly needs something. Those who commute through the area are advised to give themselves just a little extra time due to lane closures that are coming with the work. You can stay on top of all MDOT construction projects at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Declares Sunday “Hunting And Fishing Day”

This Sunday is Hunting and Fishing Day in Michigan, thanks to a proclamation from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She says declaring the day is a way to draw attention to an industry that generates $11 billion each year in Michigan and supports more than 171,000 jobs. Whitmer says the state has a rich tradition of hunting and fishing. Her proclamation also notes Michigan’s sportsmen and women were among the first conservationists to support the establishment of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitat. You can read the governor’s proclamation right here. . ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Intervenes In I&M Power Plan

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is intervening in an Indiana Michigan Power filing with the Michigan Public Service Commission to determine if the utility is following an energy plan that will protect the state’s natural resources. Her office says Nessel on Thursday intervened in I&M’s Integrated Resource Plan, currently under review by the MPSC. I&M’s Integrated Resource Plan details the five, ten, and 15 year projections for its energy needs and how it plans to meet them. I&M is required to review its current generation, forecast its future energy needs, and outline what power plants might retire and how it will make up that lost energy supply. Nessel says she intends to “review every detail of I&M’s IRP application and engage other environmental and consumer advocacy partners to ensure affordable, reliable and renewable energy products are the company’s top priority.”. ...Read Full Story

LMC College Night To Feature More Than 50 Representatives

Just in time for the fall is Lake Michigan College’s annual College Night, set for September 23. LMC Admissions and Recruitment Director Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News it’s a chance for students interested in pursuing post-secondary education to meet directly with representatives of more than 50 institutions in the region. Schaeffer says hundreds of people come out for the event.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Planning Third “Change Day”

Andrews University is gearing up for its next Change Day, when students and staff will fan out across the community to make a difference. The university says the big day is September 24, and its teams will collaborate at about 70 sites around the community to spruce things up. The first Andrews University Change Day was in 2017, and the second was last year. On those days, Andrews cancelled classes so its volunteers could do things ranging from painting a mural in a school to cleaning beach areas and parks to offering hundreds of high school students information about career choices. Locations last year included the Therapeutics Riding Center, the Area Agency on Aging, and Habitat for Humanity. Andrews says the students who take part learn valuable lessons about how just a little effort can make a big difference to others. You can find out more about Change Day at Andrews.edu/ChangeHub.. ...Read Full Story

Naloxone Being Given Away Statewide Saturday

The fight against opioid overdose deaths continues Saturday with the statewide distribution of almost 52,000 Naloxone kits. That is the medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has sent out the medication to more than 1,000 pharmacies, which will give it away for free and without a prescription all day. Twenty-three pharmacies in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties will have Naloxone available as part of the effort. In 2017, the last full year for which stats are available, state health officials say Michigan had 2,053 opioid overdose deaths. Here is the link to a map with all the participating pharmacies.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County K-9 Finds Missing Man

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says a Cassopolis man is safely back home after being missing for several hours on Thursday. Deputies were called to the 26-thousand block of M-60 in Jefferson Township shortly before 9 p.m. by the caretaker for 70-year-old Michael Cox, who had gone on a walk and hadn’t returned. The caretaker was concerned due to incoming storms and Cox’s medical issues, noting he’d been missing since 6 p.m. Almost 5 hours after he had last been seen, Deputy Graves and K-9 Nellie found him in a swamp behind his home. Cox was cleared by Life Care Ambulance medics.. ...Read Full Story

Lawton Man Dies From Crash Injuries

Injuries from a crash on Wednesday in Van Buren County have claimed the life of a 60-year-old Lawton man. The sheriff’s department says he was not wearing a seat belt when a Paw Paw woman ran a stop sign at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 30th Street in Antwerp Township and hit his SUV, causing it to flip. His passenger was not hurt. The driver who hit his vehicle spun into a tree, but she was buckled in and deputies did not say if she was hurt. The man died yesterday at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Police are still investigating the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Conducting Siren Tests This Month

Indiana Michigan Power says it will be testing the emergency sirens near the Cook nuclear power plant starting this month. The tests will begin the week of September 16 and continue through the week of September 30. The 70 sirens within a ten mile radius of the plant in Bridgman will be sounded by the Berrien County Emergency Management Department. Each siren will be activated three to four times for about 30 seconds to obtain readings and make adjustments to ensure proper coverage and reliability. Maintenance will also be performed. In order to avoid confusion, the tests will not be done if there is severe weather. The Cook plant notes in the event of an actual emergency, the early warning sirens are all sounded continuously for three minutes. The testing is expected to take place in different locations Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the three-week period.. ...Read Full Story