Local News Archives

Man Killed In Cass County Factory Stabbing

An Elkhart man is jailed in Cass County following what police say was a homicide at a Mason Township factory. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies were called out to Ameri-Kart on Grange Street around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday over a fight between two employees. When deputies got there, they learned one of the men had stabbed the other in the neck. 24-year-old Jan Carlos Velazques Mendez, from Elkhart, was later pronounced dead. The suspect is a 23-year-old who is now in the county jail. His name hasn’t been released yet. Police say other employees managed to hold him until deputies arrived.. ...Read Full Story

New BH School Trustees Take Their Seats

Marletta Seats and Elnora Gavin have been sworn in as Benton Harbor School Trustees. At Tuesday’s work session, they took their seats for the first time. Seats was picked by the board to fill a vacancy created when James Turner stepped down, while Gavin was elected in November. Also Tuesday, the board picked its officers. Once again, Joseph Taylor is the board president. Also, Stephen Mitchell is the vice president, Lisa Gulley’s the secretary, and Angelika Macgowan is the treasurer.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Take Midwest Wolves Off Endangered Species List

Some members of Congress are making another run at taking gray wolves in the upper Midwest and Wyoming off the endangered list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had tried to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming off the list, saying those populations had recovered sufficiently to allow resumed hunting under state management plans.
But courts in 2014 re-imposed federal protections for the wolves. A bill introduced Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Liz Cheney of Wyoming would block the courts from intervening.Similar proposals failed to advance last year, partly due to White House  opposition, but farmers and ranchers who say they have no way to protect their livestock from problem wolves are hoping that changes under the Trump administration.. ...Read Full Story

Gary Peters Talks Trump Effect On Auto Industry

What will a Donald Trump administration mean for the U.S. auto industry? Michigan’s two U.S. senators discussed that on the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Monday. Senator Gary Peters was asked if his fellow Democrats will be able to work with Trump on vital issues for Michigan’s top industry.. ...Read Full Story

Crews Respond To Fire At Chicken Coop In St. Joseph

The Chicken Coop in St. Joseph will have some cleaning up to do following a fire Tuesday evening. Crews from the St. Joseph Township Fire Department were called out around 6:30. They arrived to find smoke coming out of the roof. No one was injured. The fire department hasn’t yet released the cause of the blaze. We’ll have information once it’s available.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Holding Berrien County Photo Contest

If you’re a photographer, whether amateur or professional, then state Representative Kim LaSata could use your help. She’s looking to decorate her Lansing office with photographs of Berrien County, so she’s started a contest. Just send her a picture you’ve taken and she could hang it there.. ...Read Full Story

State Senator Proposes Repeal Of Law Allowing For School Closures

A key state senator is proposing to repeal Michigan’s school-turnaround law and to overhaul a system that potentially could lead to the closure of academically failing schools. Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov said Tuesday he will introduce repeal legislation Wednesday, the first day of the two-year legislative term. His bill comes as Michigan prepares to soon release its latest school rankings list. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration has said state-ordered school closures, an unused option allowed for under a 2009 law, could be coming for chronically under-performing schools where other forms of intervention haven’t worked. Pavlov, a Republican, says the law was “created with the best of intentions” but is “deeply flawed.” He says his bill will launch a conversation about replacing the law with “something that actually incentivizes” school improvements.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 309,000 MI Residents Sign Up For Affordable Care Act

More than 309,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health insurance under the health care law, despite Republican efforts to repeal “Obamacare.” That’s about 14,200 fewer people than at the same time last year. Federal figures released Tuesday show about a quarter of enrollees live in rural Michigan. About half are between 45 and 64-years-old, and another 24
percent are 18 to 34-years-old. Fifty-four percent are white. 80% qualify for cost-reducing tax credits of $267 per month, on average. Enrollment continues on HealthCare.gov through the end of January. Consumers have until Sunday to sign up for coverage starting February 1. Nationally, 11.5 million people have signed up for marketplace coverage as of December 24. That’s 290,000 more than last year at the same time.. ...Read Full Story

No Injuries In Dowagiac School Bus Crash

No one’s hurt following a crash involving a school bus in Dowagiac Monday. Police tell us it happened around 3:40 p.m. at the intersection of Orchard and North Street. The 17-year-old driver of a Grand Prix told officers she didn’t see the bus as she approached the intersection. The Grand Prix slammed into the side of the bus. On board were only the driver and a 5-year-old passenger, but neither were hurt. Due to Dowagiac Union Schools policy, they were still both checked out by EMTs. The 5-year-old’s parents were called to come pick their child up, and police gave a ticket to the 17-year-old.. ...Read Full Story

State Officials On The Lookout For Invasive Tree Parasite

Experts say it’s never too early in the year to take a peek at your trees, and this year, it could help to stop the spread of a dangerous pest. The hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA, is a tiny insect that secretes white wax as it feeds on the sap of hemlock trees. The wax, over time, can kill the tree. The invasive insect has already been found in parts of West Michigan. Roger Mech, with the DNR, says you don’t have to go far to see just how harmful it can be.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Leaders Hope To See Action On Erosion Of Bluff Property

St. Joseph City Commissioners are hoping to see some action to strengthen part of the bluff along Old Lakeshore Road. That’s because it appears to be in danger of collapsing. On Monday, they discussed the problem area, located around 2405 Old Lakeshore. Some residents have documented the failing of the sea wall and subsequent bluff erosion. CSX Railroad is responsible for the property, and Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News they’ve got to be convinced to do something.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Picking Up Christmas Trees This Month

The city of St. Joseph will be picking up Christmas trees all this month. Anyone looking to dispose of one should put it out at the curb and make sure it’s not surrounded by snow. Also, be sure it has nothing on it, including plastic. Anyone who needs their tree picked up from an alley should call the city public works department. The number is 983-6341.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Twp Police Looking For Burglary Suspects

Police in Chikaming Township are looking for a couple of burglary suspects who they say fired off a gun as they got away on Friday. Shortly after midnight, officers were called to a home on Sawyer Road on a report of a burglary in progress. They were told by the homeowner two men had gone into his barn. He went outside to confront them, and one of them came out and pointed a long gun at him. The two suspects then ran off while one fired the gun, possibly at the homeonwer’s dogs. The two men are described as white males wearing Carhart-style clothing. Police remind everyone to lock their cars and outbuildings at night.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Being Taken

The Berrien Community Foundation is once again taking applications for Heart of Cook grants. Heart of Cook is a grant program funded by the Cook nuclear power plant that goes to non-profits around Berrien County each year. Last year, they gave out $53,000 in funding to programs in the fields of education, human services, and environmental protection. In all, a total of 29 organizations benefited. Anyone thinking of applying for a grant for their own group can do so at BerrienCommunity.org/HOC. The deadline is February 6.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Wine Delivery Legislation

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan stores ship wine directly to in-state customers using common carriers such as FedEx or UPS but ban out-of-state retailers from sending beer and wine to Michigan customers. Beer and wine wholesalers say the law enacted Monday will crack down on illegal wine shipments from online wine retailers and “wine clubs,” and customers can still get wines directly shipped from wineries. But wine sellers say the “poorly written” bill should have been vetoed because it is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court. The law had allowed wine retailers to deliver to Michigan consumers only using their own trucks. Under the new law, common carriers such as FedEx or UPS will have to submit quarterly reports about each delivery.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago Cubs Bringing World Series Trophy To St. Joseph

If you want to get up close and personal with the World Series Trophy, also called the Commissioner’s Trophy, you’ll have your chance next month. It will be in St. Joseph on Monday, February 20 along with Kalamazoo on the same day. The World Series champion Chicago Cubs are taking the trophy on a tour of the Midwest following their first title in 108 years last fall. The time and location for the St. Joseph and Kalamazoo displays of the trophy are yet to be announced. The Cubs will also take the 24-inch trophy to South Bend on January 21st and will show it off at the South Bend Cubs’ Performance Center at Four Winds Field and Purcell Pavilion on the Notre Dame campus.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Continue Rising

Gas prices continue to go skyward in Michigan. Triple-A puts the statewide average to start the week at $2.51, up 15¢ from last week and higher than last year by 59¢ a gallon. In the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area, we’re paying $2.49 on average, which is up 16¢. The state’s cheapest fuel in the ten areas surveyed by the auto club is found in Flint at $2.48, while drivers in Ann Arbor pay the most at $2.53. Michigan’s average price is the ninth-highest in the nation and the highest in the Midwest. AAA says the oil markets are being driven higher by OPEC’s decision to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Store Robbed Twice Since December 26

Thieves have hit JB Party Store on East Empire in Benton Harbor not once, but twice since the day after Christmas. Both armed robberies resulted in the suspects getting away with what public safety considers a “large amount of cash,” but no exact amount has been released. The most recent robbery was early last Thursday morning, and during that one, one of the suspects actually fired a shot into the ceiling. No one was hurt. Investigators have released surveillance photos of the suspects in the hope someone recognizes them and turns them in to police. Benton Harbor Public Safety officers believe the two robberies on December 26 and January 5 are related.12262016 1 jb 12262016 3 jb 01052017 6 jb 01052017 4 jb 01052017 3 jb 01052017 2 jb 01052017 1 jb. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Begins First Term As State Representative

Newly-elected state Representative Kim LaSata is settling into her Lansing office. WSJM News checked in with her this week, and she told us lawmakers are meeting to set an agenda ahead of next Wednesday’s official start of business. LaSata’s ready to get to work on finding ways to provide more job training around the state.. ...Read Full Story

Dogs Helping To Detect E-Coli In Berrien County Waterways

A program to test Berrien County waterways for E-coli contamination is utilizing dogs to help do the initial detecting. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the dogs can detect human waste in the water, and from there, the researchers take samples. Getting them helps pinpoint where runoff and leaks are causing the E-coli contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Ann Arbor To Hold Another Deer Hunt

State wildlife officials have signed off on Ann Arbor’s plan to kill up to 100 deer and sterilize dozens more. The Ann Arbor News says 11 parks and nature areas will be closed from 3 p.m. to midnight during the 15-day hunt, which starts January 30. The shooting will be performed by sharpshooters from White Buffalo Inc. Ann Arbor wants to reduce the deer population to protect plants and animals and to reduce deer-vehicle crashes. A deer management plan was approved by the city council, 9-2, in November. Mayor Christopher Taylor opposed it, saying the $250,000 cost to manage deer is too expensive. Taylor says the killing of deer in parks “shakes people” and “undermines their sense of home.”. ...Read Full Story

Doctors: Get A Flu Shot

Now that the flu season is here, doctors are once again urging everyone to get a shot. Dr. David Davenport, with Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, tells us the most-prevalent strain of the virus this year is covered by the latest vaccine. Still, he says about 60% of people go unvaccinated.. ...Read Full Story

Groups Call For Further Reform Of State Forfeiture Laws

The Mackinac Center of Public Policy and the ACLU are teaming up to call for the continued reform of Michigan’s civil forfeiture laws. The Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup tells WSJM News reforms made in 2015 have helped to reign in, to a degree, how and when often the police can seize property during a criminal investigation. However, he thinks more needs to be done.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Proos Organ Donation Legislation

The Michigan Secretary of State will ask people applying for a driver’s license if they want to sign up to be an organ donor under legislation signed this week by Governor Rick Snyder. The plan was introduced by State Senator John Proos. He says although 90% of Americans support organ donation, only about 30% of adults nationwide have actually signed up as donors. The plan is known as Lauren’s Law, named after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant which she did eventually get. Lauren’s Law was brought to Proos’ attention by John Grinnell, a kidney transplant recipient from Niles.. ...Read Full Story

U.S. Employers Add Jobs In December

U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in December, capping a year of slower but solid hiring. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7%. Michigan News Network Business editor Murray Feldman tells us Michigan is helping to lead the way with health care jobs.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Requires Quicker Public Reporting Of Lead Levels In Water

More than 15 months after Flint’s water emergency broke open, Governor Rick Snyder has signed the first policy bill stemming from the man-made crisis. The governor signed legislation in Flint Friday requiring utilities to more quickly warn water customers if there is too much lead. The deadline is being cut to three business days instead of 30 days. Snyder and lawmakers previously allocated hundreds of millions of dollars toward the crisis. Residents continue drinking either filtered tap water or
bottled water. The last round of testing showed the 90th percentile of lead concentrations in Flint was 8 parts per billion, below the “action level” of 15 parts per billion. Experts will assess the water at a summit in Chicago next week, but the state
says no major announcements are expected.. ...Read Full Story

WMU Looking For New Football Coach

Western Michigan University is looking for a new football coach. PJ Fleck is leaving to take the head coach job at the University of Minnesota, and WMU Athletics Director Kathy Beauregard says she’s confident they can get a top notch leader, despite recruits signing letters of intent soon.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Named Chair Of House Subcommittee On Energy

Congressman Fred Upton has received his latest committee assignment. He’s going to serve as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee, which is under the umbrella of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, works to shape the nation’s energy policy. Upton tells us Michigan has been a leader in promoting 21st century policies when it comes to energy, and he wants to do the same on the federal level. Upton has been replaced as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Congressman Greg Walden, of Oregon. Walden just gave Upton his new assignment Friday, while praising Upton for the work he did as Energy and Commerce Chair.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Declares Emergency In Southeast Michigan Due To Giant Sinkhole

Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency for a county north of Detroit following the collapse of a massive sewage line that – so far – has caused a football field-sized sinkhole. The disaster declaration was made Friday by Governor Rick Snyder and makes state resources available to Macomb County and communities affected by the sewer collapse. It follows a similar determination by Macomb County’s executive. The sewer collapse was discovered Christmas Eve after a family in Fraser awoke to find their home sinking. That house and two others have been condemned. Families in 19 other homes were
evacuated after water and gas services were cut. Snyder’s office says there is a threat of widespread and severe damage to 11
communities, a military base and more than 200,000 homes.. ...Read Full Story

Biden To Visit Michigan Next Week

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to stop in Michigan and Illinois next week, part of a three-state tour in his final days in office. The White House announced Friday that Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday in Detroit at an event for Motor City Match. It’s a grant program to help entrepreneurs. Biden will also travel Tuesday to Chicago, where President Barack Obama is
expected to deliver his farewell address. Obama is planning to give the evening speech at McCormick Place, a convention center in his hometown. Earlier in the week, Biden is expected to travel to California with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Opposes Betsy DeVos For Education Department Secretary

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will vote against Betsy DeVos as the next head of the U.S. Education Department. The Michigan Democrat says she talked to DeVos. Stabenow says DeVos’ support for charter schools has “seriously undermined public education” in the state. DeVos, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, is in favor of giving parents more education options. Her husband, Dick DeVos, started a charter high school in the Grand Rapids area that focuses on aviation and engineering. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan against Jennifer Granholm in 2006.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman To Trump: Renegotiate NAFTA

Flint area Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee doesn’t oppose everything President-elect Donald Trump has suggested. For example, he’s all for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Kildee tells us Canada and Mexico should agree to tougher environmental standards. Trump promised to renegotiate NAFTA when he stumped in Michigan, but Kildee says we need real action.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland On Silver Beach Recognized As Top Wedding Venue

Shadowland on Silver Beach has been recognized as one of the best venues for a wedding in Michigan by TheKnot.com. The Knot, which is a wedding site, added Shadowland to its “Best of Weddings” list, which recommends vendors soon-to-be-married couples should hire for their big day. It’s the only venue in southwest Michigan to show up there. Shadowland tells us The Knot looked at nearly a million reviews as it compiled the Best of Weddings list. This is the fifth year Shadowland has been on it.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill Allowing Some Higher Speed Limits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan motorists drive faster on at least 1,500 miles of rural highways as long as safety studies say the higher speed limits are OK. The bill enacted Thursday authorizes a 75 mph speed limit on 600 miles of freeways and a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of other roads. The limits will be raised within a year if a study shows it is safe and the new limits are no more than what 15 percent of traffic is exceeding. Proponents say speed limits are too low in rural areas.. ...Read Full Story