Local News Archives

Michigan, Flint To Replace 18,000 Lead-Tainted Water Lines

From the Associated Press — Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit over lead-contaminated water in the troubled city. A court filing Monday says Flint will replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020, and the state will pick up the bill with state and federal money. The state said it will pay $87 million and keep another
$10 million in reserve if necessary. The settlement will be presented to a federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday for approval. Flint’s water was tainted with lead for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn’t treat the water to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.. ...Read Full Story

Today Is Oberon Day

For many, summer has begun, and that’s because Monday was Oberon Day. That’s the day each spring when Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery unleashes its latest batch of Oberon beer on to the world. Brewery Founder Larry Bell tells WSJM News folks get excited when the new batch of Oberon goes public.. ...Read Full Story

Homeland Security Secretary In Detroit Today

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be visiting metro Detroit today. No official schedule yet has been released, but Kelly is expected to meet with Arab-American leaders, who say they plan to press him on President Trump’s proposed travel restrictions on visitors from majority-Muslim countries. The “Detroit Free Press” says Kelly will also sit down with Governor Rick Snyder, and with officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit, regarding the Ambassador Bridge. He will be joined on the trip by U.S. Senator Gary Peters.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Down To Start Week

We’re paying 8¢ less a gallon in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph to fill up than a week ago. Triple-A Michigan says our average price stands at $2.26 to start the week. The statewide average is down 7¢ at $2.29. Flint’s prices are the cheapest at an average of $2.23, while the most expensive gas is in Ann Arbor and in the Upper Peninsula, where Marquette drivers are shelling out $2.33 per gallon. The state average is a penny higher than what we’re paying nationally.. ...Read Full Story

Hospitality Jobs Fair Tomorrow At Mendel Center

Coming up this week is a hospitality jobs fair at Lake Michigan College. Organized by Kinexus, the fair will include more than 50 employers in the hospitality industry seeking to hire people right now. Kinexus Director of Business and Industry Alex Grumbine tells WSJM News hospitality is a huge employer in the region.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Steps Up Efforts To Prevent Power Outages

Indiana Michigan Power is currently working on a project to reduce the number of power outages customers in its Michigan service area experience. This week, we reported Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for annual power outages, and a big reason is trees. I&M’s Tracy Warner tells WSJM News that is correct, and they’re working on it.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Health Fest This Week

Set for next week is the second annual Health and Wellness Fest at Andrews University. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, the Berrien Springs university will hold cooking schools, a 5K walk, a wellness Chapel, and screenings of documentaries around campus. This year’s Wellness Fest is a little different from last year’s in that it will emphasize presentations from on-campus health experts. Last year, they brought in a lot of guests. Andrews University Director of Heath and Wellness Dominque Wakefield says the event is in line with the university mission, noting its very logo incorporates body, mind, and spirit. The Health and Wellness Fest is open to everyone in the community, and you can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Benton Harbor Crash

One person is dead following a single-vehicle crash in Benton Harbor Saturday afternoon. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety responded to the scene on Paw Paw Avenue around 1 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was killed, and there were no passengers. Police have not yet released the victim’s identity or the cause of the crash. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is assisting in the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

“Little Free Library” To Be Dedicated In Benton Harbor Wednesday

A Little Free Library will be dedicated next week in Benton Harbor. Little Free Libraries are small boxes on a pole that are stationed in places like parks or in front of schools. Folks can drop off or take books from them. The one in Benton Harbor is sponsored by the Berrien County Democratic Party, with the party’s Julee Laurent telling WSJM News it’s all about promoting literacy.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Open House Next Week

The Palisades nuclear power plant next week will hold another open house at its operations center in Benton Harbor for everyone to come and learn everything they want to know about the facility. Palisades spokesperson Val Gent tells WSJM News they’ll have experts on hand to answer questions.. ...Read Full Story

Installation Of Luxury Seating At Celebration Cinema On Track For June Completion

The renovation project underway at Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor is on track to be finished in early June. The theater is installing new luxury power recliners in all auditoriums, replacing the old seats. Spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News they’re now in three auditoriums — 6, 7, and 8. Although the new bigger seats will reduce the overall number of seats in the building and result in more sold out shows, he says the enhanced theater experience will make up for it.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Awards Given To Denise Bohn, Nancy Racine

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has handed out its annual Paul Harris Fellow Community Leadership Awards. At a celebration of the Rotary on Monday, they gave out two of the awards, which Rotary President Steve Smith tells WSJM News are all about saluting those who embody the group’s spirit, even if they’re not members.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Red Arrow Hwy To Be Renamed For Fallen State Troopers

A section of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County is being renamed in honor of two Michigan State Police troopers who were killed in the line of duty in 1971. Troopers Gary Rampy and Charles Stark were shot and killed during a traffic stop along the road in New Buffalo Township on December 31 of that year. Recently-elected Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, of New Buffalo Township, tells WSJM News he was about 14 years old when it happened. He remembers Trooper Rampy.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Comments On Failure Of GOP Health Bill

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the failure of the Republican healthcare reform plan on Friday creates a new opportunity for the GOP to work with Democrats on a package to reduce costs while making it easier for working Americans to buy insurance. She issued a statement after the White House told Republican House leaders to pull the American Healthcare Act. Stabenow says, “It’s time to come together in a bipartisan way to improve health care for middle-class families in Michigan and across the country, instead of this irresponsible rush to pass a bill that would have raised costs and reduced medical care for most Michigan families.” President Trump is now saying he’d be “open” to tackling healthcare again if the Affordable Care Act implodes, as he’s predicting.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Look For Missing Man

Michigan State Police are looking for a 75-year-old man who is missing out of the Grand Rapids area. They say Jose Sanchez was last seen in the city of Wyoming, but also may have been spotted in Portage around 5 a.m. Friday. He’s described as an Hispanic male, about 5’8, 210 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Family reports he’d been having memory issues recently, and he took off for work on Thursday morning in a blue 2001 Chevy Blazer. His vehicle was reportedly seen at a gas station in Portage Friday, but he was gone by the time police got there. Anyone who thinks they’ve seen Sanchez should call police.. ...Read Full Story

Two More Homes Being Demolished Near Suburban Detroit Sinkhole

From the Associated Press — Two homes are being torn down to help clear the way for repairs to a broken sewer line that caused a sinkhole on Christmas Eve in suburban Detroit. Three houses had to be condemned in Fraser and a major road has been closed. Macomb County Public Works spokesman Dan Heaton says one of those homes was demolished on Friday and the other is expected to be torn down on Monday.
Macomb County Public Works chief Candice Miller says in a statement that “heartfelt sympathies go out to these impacted families.” Construction crews next week plan to begin to dig a roughly 300-foot-long, 25-foot-wide shaft to allow sewer line repair and replacement. Work to restore the area is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Arrested In Meth Bust

A Niles man is facing a variety of drug charges after a meth raid on Thursday night. The Niles Police Department tells WSJM News it searched a home in the 700 block of Cass Street to investigate a report of crystal methamphetamine distribution. Inside, officers say they found 14 grams of meth, worth about $2,100. They also say they found marijuana, $1,000 in cash, and a loaded handgun. 47 year old Brian Holingsworth was arrested. He’s in the Berrien County Jail with bond set at $15,000. Two men and one woman found in the home at the time of the raid were also arrested on outstanding warrants.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Donates Car To Niles High School Automotive Program

Southwestern Michigan College has donated a car to Niles High School for its automotive technician program. The keys to the Subaru were handed off the school on Monday. Niles instructor Gary Kind says there are many things the kids could learn from working on the car. Once it’s received the required repairs and maintenance, the car will be sold with proceeds going to benefit the automotive program. SMC’s automotive program owns several vehicles so students can get hand-on training. The college tells us it recently got a donation of five. It’s approaching other schools to see if they might need one of their own.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Asian Carp Resolution

The Michigan Senate has once again spoken up on the matter of the Asian carp. It’s approved a resolution from Senator John Proos asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement immediate control technologies at Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois. Proos tells WSJM News that would be a good start.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Partnership With State Could Be Finalized Next Week

The partnership agreement between Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state is coming together and could be approved next week. District trustees met with state officials Thursday to hear more about how the department of education will oversee progress on turning around three struggling buildings that had been facing closure. School Board President Joseph Taylor says he liked what he heard.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Taking Extra Steps To Prevent Power Outages

Indiana Michigan Power is currently working on a project to reduce the number of power outages customers in its Michigan service area experience. This week, we reported Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for annual power outages, and a big reason is trees. I&M’s Tracy Warner tells WSJM News that is correct, and they’re working on it.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Asking For Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is putting out a call for donations of type O and AB blood. It says recent severe weather led to the cancellation of some 250 blood drives, resulting in more than 8,500 uncollected donations in March. Spokesperson Todd Kulman tells WSJM News it’s easy to schedule an appointment to give.. ...Read Full Story

Man Airlifted To Hospital Following Buchanan Area Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a head-on two vehicle crash near Buchanan on Wednesday night. It happened in the area of North Red Bud Trail and Miller Road around 8:35. Troopers say a vehicle driven by 48-year-old Timothy Glosson, of Buchanan, was northbound on North Red Bud when it crossed the center line and hit a southbound vehicle driven by 19-year-old Michelle Coulson, of Berrien Springs. Glosson was airlifted to a hospital in South Bend to be treated for serious injuries, but is now in stable condition. Coulson and her two children were treated and released at the scene. Police say the two children were seated in proper car seats, and everyone involved was properly buckled up.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Votes To Require Police Personnel Records To Be Kept

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has passed legislation designed to ensure a police officer’s bad behavior is not hidden if the officer resigns and takes a new job elsewhere. The bill approved unanimously Thursday next goes to the House for consideration. The measure would require law enforcement agencies to keep records of the reasons for and circumstances surrounding an officer’s separation from
employment. Officers would have to sign a waiver allowing a prospective employer to contact their former employer, and the prospective employer could not hire the officer without first receiving the personnel records. Republican Senator Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge, says he introduced the bill after an Eaton County sheriff’s deputy who was accused of making an abusive arrest resigned and got a similar job in Lenawee County.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Jobless Rate Rises To 5.3% In February

(Lansing, MI – AP) – The state says Michigan’s unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in February, while the number of people entering the job market continued to grow. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said the rate rose from 5.2% in January and compared with a national February jobless rate of 4.7%. Last month’s jobless rate in Michigan was three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state’s year-ago rate of 5.0%. The agency says the state’s workforce rose by 23,000 during February, with increases in both total employment by 17,000 jobs and in unemployed workers by 7,000. It says February marked the second consecutive monthly jobless rate increase in Michigan and continued an upward trend from a low of 4.8% last May and June.. ...Read Full Story

Area Housing Market Softens A Bit

Housing prices are down a bit in Michigan’s Great Southwest. The latest monthly report from the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors notes February’s average selling price dropped 22% from January, while the median price of $114,000 was down 20%. When compared to last year, the prices are higher by 7% for the average price and 4% for the median price. There were 187 houses sold in Berrien County and the western parts of Cass and Van Buren counties last month, a drop of 7 homes from a year ago. Houses are spending fewer days on the market, however, with it taking an average of 116 days for a home to sell compared to 131 days in February 2016.. ...Read Full Story

Astronaut Scott Kelly Speaks To Economic Club Of SWM

Captain Scott Kelly is the latest guest to appear before the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The retired NASA astronaut addressed the crowd at the Mendel Center Wednesday night, reflecting on what he learned during his more than one year in space and throughout his military career. He said that he’s marveled at the International Space Station, reflecting on all the work some 15 nations put into constructing it in seemingly-impossible conditions.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Not Expecting Final Budget To Include Some Proposed Cuts

Congress will likely be hammering out a federal budget all the way through the summer, according to Congressman Fred Upton. He tells our newsroom President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Meals on Wheels, AmeriCorps, and other popular programs should not be regarded as etched in stone just yet. Meals on Wheels, for example, is something Upton thinks Congress will preserve.. ...Read Full Story

State House Unanimously Approves Bill To Help Human Trafficking Victims

Human trafficking victims would get help rebuilding their lives under legislation approved by the Michigan House. House members unanimously approved the measure on Wednesday. Republican Representative Bronna Kahle, of Adrian, sponsored the bill that could forgive
prostitution-related offenses victims were forced to commit, even if they have a prior conviction. She says the bill would make them eligible for parole and deferral instead of jailing them so that they have a chance to become productive members of society. Victims now are only eligible for one-time deferred sentences for certain charges the victim was forced to commit if all conditions of probation have been met. It also only applies to victims who have had no previous convictions. The bill now moves on to the GOP-controlled Senate for approval.. ...Read Full Story

New Board Chair At Honor Credit Union

There’s a new board chair in place at Honor Credit Union. At a meeting this week, former Honor CU Board Chair Larry Olson stepped down and handed the gavel to Mimi Elwell. Olson has served on the Honor Credit Union Board as a volunteer for more than 40 years, with his most recent tenure as chair beginning in 2007. He’ll now serve in the vice chair role. Elwell started with Honor CU in 1980 as the chair of the Supervisory Committee. She has served the last eight years as secretary of the board, and Honor CEO Scott McFarland says if anyone can fill Larry Olson’s shoes, it’s her. During Olson’s tenure, Honor Credit Union, which used to be known as Berrien Teachers Credit Union, has grown to be a more than $700 million operation. The credit union also serves 60,000 members across the state of Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Amber Alert!

AMBER Alert is being issued for Burton Police Department. Child#1: Arinna Buning, white female, Age 2, brown hair, hazel eyes, 3 foot tall, 28. Pounds, wearing a  pink coat purple pants and blue snow boots. Child#2: Lincoln Buning, white male, 9 months, brown hair, blue eyes, 2 feet tall, 22. Pounds, wearing footy pajamas with truck on them. Suspect: is a black male, 5 foot 10 inches, 300. Pounds, wearing red hoodie sweater and is heavy set. Vehicle is a  Blue Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Michigan Registration of DKZ4121 last seen travelling east on Schumacher St. from the Admiral Gas Station located at 4232 S Saginaw St. in  Burton. Please contact Burton Police Department at 810-742-2542 or dial -911 to report any information on this abduction.  you can also Visit amberalertmichigan.org for more Information.. ...Read Full Story

Website Ranks Benton Harbor As Among The Top Places To Retire Early

Benton Harbor is among the best places in the country in which to retire early, according to at least one report. A study from Magnify Money published this month takes a look at factors including the cost of living, the quality of life, and employability when determining where early retirees might like to live. In general, it finds the lowest cost of living to be in the Midwest or the south, although the best quality of life is in the northeast. When factoring all of those things together, Magnify Money says Benton Harbor ties with Sherman, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee in second place for best place to retire early. In first place is Knoxville, Tennessee, while the worst place to retire early, according to the study is Arlington, Virginia. You can see the full report right here.. ...Read Full Story

State Helping Property Owners Permanently Shield Forest Land From Development

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials are taking applications from owners of forest land who would like to enroll their property in a program that shields it permanently from development. Michigan’s Forest Legacy Program uses federal and matching funds to protect
environmentally important woodlands in certain areas. That could mean buying the property and converting it to public ownership. Other arrangements involve leaving the land in private hands and paying the owner to make sure it stays protected. Some owners might also get tax benefits for limiting the future use of their property. Kerry Wieber of the Department of Natural Resources says the legacy program is
important for preserving wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Applications are due by June 16. Additional information is posted online.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Grants Tax Abatement To Metal Stamping Company

A Niles-based metal stamping company seeking to expand into Benton Township has been granted a tax break to make it possible. Modineer is looking to locate its coating division in the township, creating 21 new jobs. Township trustees approved the tax abatement on Tuesday. Modineer has been working for several months with Cornerstone Alliance on the project, and it’s also seeking some state help. Cornerstone says it appreciates the township’s support in helping to keep the company in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Deputies Complete Corrections Officer Training

Two Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies have received extra training to be better prepared for service as corrections officers. The sheriff’s department tells our newsroom Devonte Hureskin and Brandon Dipert just wrapped up a four-week course at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Law Enforcement Training Center. There, they learned about things like custody and security, defensive tactics, first aid, suicide awareness, and interpersonal communications. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey tells us the training the deputies have received will help them better serve the jail and keep inmates and staff safe.. ...Read Full Story

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Added To Endangered Species List

From the Associated Press — The rusty patched bumblebee is officially an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the designation took effect Tuesday, making the rusty patched bumblebee the first bee species in the continental U.S. to receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Advocates say the bee has disappeared from about 90 percent of its range in the past 20 years. Bees are crucial for pollinating crops and wild plants. The listing was announced in January and had been scheduled to take effect February 10. But the Trump administration ordered a last-minute review and postponed the listing until Tuesday. Some environmentalists had feared the designation
could be canceled. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit over the delay, saying it had been ordered without required public notice and comment.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder: GOP Health Plan Would Harm Michigan Residents

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has written letters to every member of Michigan’s congressional delegation to warn how House Republicans’ health care legislation would “adversely impact” the state’s most vulnerable residents. The Republican governor’s letter, dated Tuesday, says the debate has largely focused on people participating in the expanded Medicaid program. But he says half of all Michigan children are served by the traditional Medicaid program, which would also be affected by the bill. Snyder says the legislation would shift financial risk to state taxpayers, and he is concerned it would also lead to “significant cost increases” on older residents who buy insurance in the individual market. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. Nine of Michigan’s 14 House members are Republicans. Democrats plan to oppose the legislation.. ...Read Full Story

Drowning Victims Identified

The two anglers who drowned in Keeler Lake over the weekend have been identified. According to Michigan State Police, the victims were 45-year-old Douglas McIntyre of Decatur and 64-year-old Robert Novick of Illinois. The two died at separate hospitals. Their boat overturned Saturday, and they were found about 75 yards offshore.. ...Read Full Story

Former Kellogg Exec Might Challenge Upton

A retired Kellogg Corporation vice president is said to be eyeing a run for Congress in Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. Lansing’s MIRS News reports George Franklin is considering running against Congressman Fred Upton if the St. Joseph Republican decides not to seek another term in the House. It’s not known if Franklin would run for the seat if Upton decides to run for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabenow, which has been rumored previously in MIRS reports, but so far denied by the congressman. Franklin has contributed to Upton’s campaigns in the past. He would run as a Democrat if he gets into the race, and has the support of former Congressman and one-time Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer.. ...Read Full Story

Cable Barrier Prevents “Catastrophic” I-94 Crash

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is crediting the cable barrier in the median on I-94 with preventing what could have been a very bad accident Monday afternoon. Deputies say the driver of a semi fell asleep just before 1 p.m. and crashed at full speed into the barrier near the 58 mile marker west of Paw Paw. 37-year-old Lane Halter of Ohio was cited for reckless driving. His rig destroyed 45 cable barrier posts, and got entangled in the cables as they are intended to do. The sheriff’s department says had he not been stopped by the barrier, the results “could have been catastrophic.” Halter was not hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Missing West Michigan Teen Found In Iowa

A southwest Michigan teenager will be returning home soon after being found in Ames, Iowa on the campus of Iowa State University. Michigan State Police issued an Endangered Missing Advisory yesterday for 16-year-old Joy Dene Martin of Fennville, and say she was located safe and sound last night. Martin had left home voluntarily on Saturday, taking a Greyhound bus to meet up with someone she had been talking to over the internet using the KIK messenger app. Investigators have not released any information about who Martin had taken off to meet.. ...Read Full Story