Local News Archives

Retired Lakeshore Football Coach Gets Hall Of Fame

Retired Lakeshore football coach Denny Dock will be inducted in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on March 25th in Ann Arbor. Dock coached the Lancers from 1988-2013 also spent time as head coach at Hartford from 1981 to 1983 and Dowagiac from 1984 to 1987. Over his career, Dock compiled a record of 263 wins and 76 losses, going and 209-64 at Lakeshore. Dock continues to serve as the Lakeshore softball coach, leading the Lancers to six state championships, the most recent in 2011.. ...Read Full Story

State Drops Plan To Give Letter Grades To Schools

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s superintendent is dropping a plan to give a letter grade to every public school and instead will issue a report card showing indicators such as each school’s proficiency on the state exam. Superintendent Brian Whiston had intended to develop the A-F grading system as part of an effort to make Michigan a top state for education. But the concept, while supported by some Republicans in the GOP-led Legislature, is controversial and has been questioned by many in the education community. Two officials who were briefed by Whiston – State Board of Education member Tom McMillin and Michigan Association of School Administrators Executive Director Chris Wigent – told The Associated Press that the state Department of Education’s default accountability plan will be a “dashboard” format with no grades.. ...Read Full Story

Miss Watervliet Crowned Miss Blossomtime

Miss Blossomtime 2017 is Kaylee Chapin, of Watervliet. The annual pageant was held Monday night at the Mendel Center in Benton Township. Taking the position of first runner up was Miss Bridgman McKenna Smith, followed by Miss Edwardsburg Katelyn Boyer as second runner up. Miss Congeniality is Miss Lawrence Devin Gray. Hunter Ackerman, of Hartford, was named Mr. Blossomtime on Sunday night. The newly crowned Blossomtime royalty will be featured in the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade through Benton Harbor and St. Joseph on May 6.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commissioners: Second Street Will Remain Public

The question of what to do with Second Street near Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph appears to have been settled. At a Monday meeting, city commissioners voted to preserve Second Street as a public right of way, effectively rejecting a proposal from a local property owner to beautify the area and turn it into a walkway. Mayor Mike Garey told WSJM News he’s not comfortable taking private money to make changes to a public street.. ...Read Full Story

Little Free Library In Works For Benton Harbor

A Little Free Library is coming to Benton Harbor this weekend as part of National Reading Month. The Berrien County Democratic Party will hold an event on Sunday at the Wide Awake United Church of Christ at the corner of Bellview and Pipestone in Benton Harbor to put the finishing touches on the Little Free Library which will be installed in the city later this year.. ...Read Full Story

Winter Weather Advisory For SWMI

We are under a winter weather advisory until 11 tonight. The National Weather Service is predicting most areas will get two-to-three inches of snow today, with another inch tonight. Some more lake effect snow is possible tomorrow, and forecasters are predicting a total of 3 to 5 inches for the area by the time the system is done. Much more is expected along the East Coast, and that storm is going to impact anyone planning to fly today and tomorrow.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Fall 7¢ Statewide

Increased oil production in the U.S. is helping to put pressure on gas prices. We’re starting this week with prices averaging $2.32 in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph according to Triple-A Michigan, which is a drop of 8¢ a gallon. Statewide, we’re down 7¢ to $2.34. The auto club says the lowest average price is in Traverse City at $2.29, with the highest in Jackson at $2.41. Oil services company Baker Hughes tells AAA that seven oil rigs in the U.S. went into production last week, bringing the total to 609, which is the most since October 2015.. ...Read Full Story

Mr. Blossomtime Crowned

Mr. Blossomtime for this year is Hunter Ackerman of Hartford. This year’s Miss Blossomtime will be crowned tonight at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College starting at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it to LMC for the event, tune in to News/Talk 94.9 WSJM for coverage with Zack East, Sandie Lieberg, and Lindsay Kay Zvonar. Something new this year is a public vote for one of the queens in the top ten. The other nine will be selected by the judges.. ...Read Full Story

Governor’s Panel: Make Community College Free

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan should make community college free for all and give merit-based scholarships to high school graduates who attend the state’s public universities, says a commission formed by Governor Rick Snyder. The panel released a report Friday that calls for getting rid of grade levels and instead advancing students only once they master content.. ...Read Full Story

Mr., Miss Blossomtime To Be Crowned

Mr. and Miss Blossomtime will be crowned Sunday and Monday night. The pageant has been running for over 110 years in southwest Michigan and the public gets a say for the first time. One of the Queens will be elected to the top ten based on votes on the Internet, and the other nine will be selected by the judges. The poll can be found here, and this year’s Queens can be found by following this link. Tickets are available for $15 for Sunday and $20 for Monday night. If you can’t be there in person, News/Talk 94.9 WSJM will again broadcast Monday night’s event with Zack East, Sandie Lieberg, and Lindsday Kay Zvonar.. ...Read Full Story

MI House OKs Keeping Expelled Lawmakers From Filling Own Seats

The Michigan House has approved legislation to prohibit a lawmaker who resigns or who has been expelled from office from running in the special election to fill the seat. The bill which passed 72-36 Thursday is a response to former Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat running in special elections to finish the remainder of their terms in 2015. Representative Aaron Miller of Sturgis sponsored the bill.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Deputy Crashes

Exactly what caused an Allegan County Sheriff’s deputy to lose control and crash on M-40 in Valley Township early Friday morning is under investigation. Extensive damage was done to the police car when it went into a ditch and hit several trees. The deputy was not hurt thanks to the airbags deploying and his seat belt. He was treated and released from a hospital, and the department is waiting to figure out just what happened before any action is taken. The crash happened just before 4 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Coho Salmon Season Expected To Be Good

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is anticipating a good year for coho salmon fishing in Lake Michigan. The lake’s coho season is open year round, but the DNR says activity normally starts picking up in March. The fish have a consistent migration pattern, moving north into New Buffalo, St. Joseph, and South Haven before moving away from the shore for the summer. Coho harvest on Lake Michigan was up 25% last year compared to 2015, and the DNR expects this year to be just as good – if not better. More than 20,000 mature fish returned last year for spawning, indicating this year will be a good one. The DNR also plans to stock 1.5 million coho salmon in Lake Michigan this spring.. ...Read Full Story

Realtor Of The Year Named

A realtor from Buchanan is this year’s Realtor of the Year for the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors has honored Linda Johnson of Integrity Real Estate Professionals in Niles with the award this year. She has been licensed as a realtor for the past 14 years and serves on the association’s Standard Forms Committee and Finance Committee. Johnson has previously won several MLS Production Awards, winning Silver Awards in 2008, 2014 and 2014 and the Gold Award in 2013.. ...Read Full Story

Criminal Justice Reforms Set For State Senate Passage

Michigan lawmakers have approved legislation that aims to keep 100,000 criminals who are under state supervision from breaking the law again. The 20-bill package passed by the House Wednesday limits the length of incarceration for offenders who violate their probation and creates a more intensive parole program. Senator John Proos sponsored several of the bills.. ...Read Full Story

Winds Blamed For Power Outages

The high winds throughout Michigan are causing problems keeping the lights on in some areas. Indiana Michigan Power is reporting about 9,000 customers early this afternoon without electricity, most in an area north of Paw Paw. By 3:30, that number had been cut to just under 5,500. Consumers Energy says statewide, more than 180,000 of its customers have lost power. Consumers says some might not get it back until Sunday due to the widespread damage from the winds.. ...Read Full Story

Accused Kalamazoo Mass Murderer Gets Trial Date

Suspected mass murderer Jason Dalton is now scheduled to go on trial June 13 in Kalamazoo County. Dalton faces 16 charges, six of them murder counts, for a shooting spree around Kalamazoo last February. Among his victims were a father and son from Mattawan and a Baroda woman. Dalton is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and told police the app for his job with Uber took control of his mind that day. Two people survived the shootings, which happened in three different locations, hours apart. In between, he kept picking up people for Uber, with several police calls made about his reckless driving. Dalton had originally been set to go on trial last fall, but the court date was pushed back.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Lead Pipe Replacement Project Could Be Finished In 2019

From the Associated Press — The head of Flint’s water pipe replacement program says the city hopes to finish the project in 2019. Retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael McDaniel coordinates the FAST Start initiative to replace lines that leached lead into homes and businesses. He made his comments during the first day of a three-day water infrastructure conference in Flint. He says they hope to replace pipes to 6,000 homes this year. The city has said at least 30,000 homes may have service lines that need replacement. Residents still are being urged to use water filters. Flint was under state control when it switched in 2014 from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. The river water was not properly treated to prevent pipe corrosion. Elevated levels of lead later were found in some children.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Mandate Paid Sick Time For MI Workers

A plan that would guarantee all Michigan workers paid sick time has been introduced in the state legislature. A bill in the Senate would mandate employers give an hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. Democratic State Representative Stephanie Chang has introduced a similar House measure, and says it would solve a big problem for low-income workers.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises GOP Healthcare Plan

Congressman Fred Upton is among the Republican rank and file supporting the House GOP’s American Health Care Act, designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. The plan released this week would keep in place the ACA’s prohibition on insurers denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions. It would also keep in place a provision letting people to stay on their parents’ insurance through the age of 26. Upton in a statement Tuesday called the GOP plan responsible, adding it gives low income Americans who receive insurance through the ACA a “stable transition period” so “the rug won’t be pulled out from under them.” Below is Upton’s entire statement.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Officials To Work Out Details Of State Partnership Agreement This Month

Leaders from Benton Harbor Area Schools will soon learn details of the district’s new partnership agreement with the state, buying three buildings targeted for closure 18 months of extra time. Last week, the governor’s office announced it’s giving the opportunity to buildings on a School Reform Office list of the state’s lowest performing schools. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News stakeholders will meet with state officials on March 23 to establish how the district can use the new partnership to show the state that the three schools are improving.. ...Read Full Story

LECO Announces Expansion In St. Joseph Township

LECO Corporation has announced a $19 million expansion in St. Joseph Township. It’s putting in a new 64,000 square foot applications lab and customer demonstration facility. According to Cornerstone Alliance, the additions will be right next to LECO’s current buildings on a south side of Hilltop. Cornerstone helped the company secure a tax abatement from the township for the project. The lab and demonstration space will also be the new home of LECO’s sales, marketing, and customer communications department. Construction is expected to be finished in late 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Work Gets Started To Replace Breedsville Bridge

The small Van Buren County village of Breedsville is finally getting its south side bridge replaced. The bridge on County Road 215 over the Black River partially collapsed in December of 2015, causing a big headache for anyone trying to get into town from the south. Village Clerk Linda Norton tells WSJM News drivers have had to take a multi-mile detour to get in. On Monday, though, work finally started on replacing the bridge. Norton was pleased.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Mayor Wants Education Program For Immigrants

From the Associated Press — Mayor Rosalynn Bliss wants to start an education program for immigrants who move to Grand Rapids. MLive.com reports Friday that Bliss announced her plan during Thursday’s State of the City address.Bliss told reporters that Grand Rapids needs “to provide  a safe place for people to come together to not only learn how to connect with local government, but how to receive services and also how to get engaged.” She hopes to launch the program within the next two months. President Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on immigrants living illegally in the United States. He also has threatened to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities that offer protections for immigrants living in the country illegally. MLive.com reports that Grand Rapids hasn’t fully declared itself a sanctuary city.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Plan To Pay More For Rape Victim Treatment

From the Associated Press — Bipartisan legislation that would increase payments to medical providers for treating sexual assault victims is advancing in Michigan’s legislature. The Senate unanimously sent the bills to the House Thursday. One measure would require the Crime Victim Services Commission to pay up to $1,200 to health providers for performing a sexual assault forensic examination and related services. The maximum now is $600. Another bill would expand which entities are eligible to receive compensation. The state spent $842,000 for 1,855 sexual assault exams in the last fiscal year. The legislation could triple spending to $2.4 million. A sponsor, Republican state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, of Lawton, says reimbursement rates currently do not cover providers’ costs and the measures “will allow more access and better care for the victims.”. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Woman Killed In Crash With Train

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has identified a Grand Junction woman killed in a Wednesday crash involving a train. It says 47-year-old Tiffany Glidden died in the crash with a CSX train. Glidden was driving an SUV through a railroad crossing on 16th Avenue south of Grand Junction when the train struck her vehicle. It dragged the SUV about 50 feet. Glidden’s son, 14-year-old Sammy Glidden, was in the back seat and suffered serious injuries. He’s now in stable condition at a Kalamazoo hospital. The crossing where the crash happened does not have a gate or flashing lights.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Settles Free Speech Lawsuit

From the Associated Press — Grand Valley State University has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit that said the university unfairly restricted free speech on campus. Student group “Turning Point USA at Grand Valley State University” was critical of the school’s Free Speech Zone Policy in its December lawsuit for limiting expressive activity to “speech zones” and requiring students to gain prior university permission. The Grand Rapids Press reports the university is adopting a revised policy and agreed to pay about $11,000 in legal fees and costs. The new “Grounds and Facility Use Policy” permits students to gather, express themselves and distribute literature throughout campus as long as they don’t block access to campus buildings or traffic and follow other rules. The school says the policy was written to clarify existing policies.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Students Charged With Sexual Assault (UPDATED)

Charges are in place against five South Haven High School students for allegedly having sex with an underage classmate. All are charged as adults, and have been identified as 18-year-old brothers DaMari and DeShaan Palmer, 18-year-old Darion Gist, and 17-year-olds Caskadara Smith and Cameron Watkins. South Haven Detective Kevin Wiley says some of the teens were surprised by the charges.. ...Read Full Story

Expert Offers Tips On Dealing With Coyotes

From the Associated Press — Having problems with coyotes? The resourceful species is turning up increasingly in urban neighborhoods as well as its traditional countryside habitat. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has advice for people who aren’t used to dealing with the wily predators. Wildlife technician Hanna Schauer says it’s important to remove access to food sources such as trash bins, bird feeders and pet foods. Fencing off gardens and fruit trees can help. Yelling, clapping and chasing the animals can help them retain their natural fear of humans.
If those steps don’t work, you can hire a specially permitted nuisance control company. Where hunting or trapping are allowed, coyotes may be taken all year on private property by the owner or designee when they’re doing damage or appear to about to start.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE — Grand Junction Woman Killed In Crash With Train

A crash between an SUV and a train in Van Buren County has resulted in a 47-year-old Grand Junction woman dead. It happened about 4 p.m. Wednesday in Columbia Township, south of Grand Junction at the 16th Avenue CSX Railroad crossing. The sheriff’s department tells us the woman did not follow the yield sign at the crossing and her vehicle was hit by the train as she drove across. Her passenger, a 14-year-old boy also from Grand Junction, was taken to South Haven Bronson Hospital. He’s now listed in critical condition after being transferred to Kalamazoo. There are no gates at that rural railroad crossing.. ...Read Full Story