Local News Archives

Leco In St. Joseph Evacuated, Potential Suspect Later Found

A tense situation Wednesday afternoon at Leco Corporation in St. Joseph as the building was evacuated due to a possible threat that now appears to be resolved. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety issued an emergency alert around 1:30 p.m. asking everyone to avoid the area saying there may have been an armed individual there. Specifically, they asked people to avoid State Street near Hilltop Avenue in the south part of the city. The Berrien County Sheriff’s department tells us the potential suspect thought to have been seen at the building has now been located outside of the county. Police are conducting a search of the building as a precautionary measure. St. Joseph Public Safety says the lockdown order is “essentially” over.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Collecting Food For Local Pantries Wednesday

Volunteers from the United Way of Southwest Michigan are spending Wednesday helping eleven local food pantries stock up for the summer. The United Way’s Charlotte Rogers tells WSJM News it’s Christmas in June as they aim to beef up the donations given to the food pantries at a time when, usually, donations go down. Plus, the need is up right now.. ...Read Full Story

“Invasive Species Blitz” Planned For Next Month

An effort will be made around southwest Michigan early next month to fight invasive species. The Southwest by Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, or CISMA, is staging a public education blitz. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Eleanor Serocki tells WSJM News they’re going to hold events in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties to wash boats and remind boaters that’s the best way to stop invasive species.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Gets New Interim Director

There’s a new interim director in charge at the Berrien County Road Commission. Road Commission Board Chair August Zielke tells WSJM News they’ve picked current accounts payable specialist Lindie Delk to take over the leadership role. Zielke tells us Delk has been with the commission for several years, wearing a variety of hats. He says she’s the perfect person for the job. Delk is just the interim managing director, and the commission’s board is still taking applications for the permanent post. She could wind up with it. The board posted the position about three weeks ago. The Berrien County Road Commission has been without a director since Louis Csokasy retired in April.. ...Read Full Story

Two Injured When Car Leaves Road, Hits Tree In Oronoko Township

Two people are recovering after their vehicle crashed into a tree in Oronoko Township Monday morning. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township police tell WSJM News it happened about 4:30 a.m. on Shawnee Road near Hartline Road. An SUV driven by 43-year-old Gretchen Wessendorf, of Stevensville, was eastbound on Shawnee when it left the road because a westbound vehicle veered into its lane. The driver lost control and the SUV went airborne before hitting the tree. The woman was trapped inside, while her 10-year-old son was able to free himself. Both were taken to a hospital after the driver was freed with the Jaws of Life.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Woman Wins $300,000 In Michigan Lottery

A Berrien County woman is celebrating this week because she’s a big lottery winner. The 61-year-old from Bridgman, who wishes to remain anonymous, won $300,000 in the Double Bonus Cashword scratch off game Monday. The Michigan Lottery tells WSJM News she picked up the winning ticket at Midtown Liquor Store in Bridgman and cashed in her winnings Tuesday. The lucky winner decided to keep it a surprise from her husband until after getting the check. She plans to buy a new car, and the money will help her husband retire a little early. She told the Michigan Lotto she always felt like she’s win one day. It just took her a while.. ...Read Full Story

Fettig Stepping Down As Whirlpool CEO

There is a change at the top of the world’s largest home appliance maker. Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool says CEO Jeff Fettig is stepping down from his role as CEO effective October 1. He will remain the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Whirlpool’s new CEO will be Marc Bitzer, currently the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Fettig has been Chairman and CEO since 2004, and has worked for Whirlpool for 36 years. In a statement, he says his “primary role is to support Whirlpool, Marc and our leadership team in this planned CEO transition.” Bitzer joined the company 18 years ago, and Fettig says he “has a deep understanding of our business throughout the world and has personally led our operations and delivered strong results.” The incoming CEO was named to his current job in October 2015 and previously served as Vice Chairman, which included overall leadership of Whirlpool North America and Whirlpool Europe, Middle East, and Africa.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Teacher Pension Changes

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Legislature has given final approval to legislation to coax more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only benefit instead of one that includes a traditional pension. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill 55-51 Tuesday. It will go to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature after a procedural step in the GOP-led Senate. Republicans say the legislation will keep the state from accumulating more debt and modernize a major public-sector retirement system. Democrats say the bill is an attack on the teaching profession and will make it harder to recruit quality educators. The measure would automatically enroll employees hired on or after February 1, 2018, in a 401(k)-only plan unless they opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current workers do.. ...Read Full Story

State House Approves Budget

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has approved a $56.7 billion state budget after an agreement was finalized between Republican leaders and Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. The GOP-led chamber voted 64-43 for a general budget Tuesday and 72-35 for the education budget. The Senate is expected to take final votes Thursday before the legislature’s summer recess. Majority Republicans say the state would spend about 2 percent more in the fiscal year starting in October, if federal dollars are factored in. They emphasize that overall spending would rise no more than inflation and be down slightly in the general fund. Democrats say money should be diverted from savings to fix deteriorating roads because a GOP-passed 2015 transportation funding plan is being phased in too slowly.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Denies Effort To Block Funding For New Detroit Arena

From the Associated Press — A federal judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause “catastrophic damage” to Detroit. The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit’s public schools. It said a vote from city residents was needed first. Activist Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon, who is running for City Clerk, had sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money. The arena, which will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons, opens this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Eliminate “False Fatherhood” Problems

An effort is underway in the state legislature to eliminate an old law that sometimes makes a man the legal father of a child when, in fact, he is not the child’s father. State Representative Jim Runestad, of Milford, tells us, in Michigan, any child born in a marriage is presumed to be the father’s. He’s talked with men who have been forced to pay nearly $30,000 for a child that’s not theirs. He says it’s a problem that some people just don’t understand.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Responders Train Off Silver Beach

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and the Berrien County Parks Department continue to hone their skills when it comes to water rescues. On Monday, lifeguards trained at Silver Beach by simulating a drowning. The Coast Guard’s Bridgette Baskin told WSJM News they’re there for you.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Police Investigate Reported Kidnapping Attempt

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating a reported attempted abduction on Monday morning. It tells WSJM News six women report they were walking along Ogden Avenue in the city around 2:15 a.m. when a black Chevy Impala and a silver truck pulled up to them. The Impala had out of state plates, possibly, Indiana, with the last four characters being OG43. The women report several men armed with handguns got out of the vehicles and tried to force them in. According to police, the women ran and the men chased after them, but the women were able to escape. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Experts To Discuss Tsunami Warning System For Great Lakes

Experts are meeting in Ann Arbor this week to discuss a tsunami warning system for the Great Lakes. Scientists say tsunamis happen on the lakes, although many are too small to notice. In fact, the lakes average 106 such events a year. In the oceans, tsunamis are caused by earthquakes. Great Lakes tsunamis result from rapid changes in barometric pressure associated with fast-moving weather systems. Scientists call them “meteotsunamis.” In some cases, people standing on piers or swimming along shorelines have been swept to their deaths.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Still Has Michigan’s Lowest Gas Prices

Make it two straight weeks that Benton Harbor and St. Joseph have the state’s lowest average gas prices of the markets surveyed by Triple-A Michigan. Our prices have dropped 11¢ to $2.20 a gallon, while the statewide average is $2.32, down 8¢. GasBuddy spotters are finding prices even lower in Van Buren County, with Bangor having gas as low as $2.13 and Paw Paw stations are down to $2.12. The website has the average in South Haven at $2.22. Triple A notes prices may be close to bottoming out, though refineries continue to produce record amounts of gasoline. The Midwest’s gasoline inventory is now 55 million barrels, up nearly two-million from last year and that’s leading to the lower prices we’re enjoying.. ...Read Full Story

Deadly Van Buren County Crash Under Investigation

A deadly crash in Antwerp Township on Saturday is under investigation. 30-year-old Alex Yeider of Paw Paw was killed when his vehicle was broadsided by another driven by an 18-year-old from Paw Paw shortly before 7 pm at the intersection of 32nd Street and 45th Avenue. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News it appears the teenager ignored a stop sign, and the collision sent both vehicles off the road into a horse pasture. The teenager was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, while Yeider was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the 18-year-old’s car was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation, and police do not believe alcohol was a factor.. ...Read Full Story

Thousands Say Goodbye To Lincoln Principal

Tears, hugs, and plenty of good memories were shared last night at Shadowland Pavilion at Silver Beach County Park as thousands gathered to say goodbye to St. Joseph Lincoln Elementary Principal Mike Wagner. The 53-year-old died unexpectedly last Wednesday, and his family held a sunset service for him Sunday as part of a Celebration of Life. Wagner had been principal at Lincoln since 2004, and started his education career with St. Joseph Public Schools as a teacher at Upton Middle School in 1987.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Response Training Planned For Silver Beach Tomorrow

If you see some emergency response vehicles out in Lake Michigan tomorrow off of Silver Beach, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the Berrien County Parks Department doing some water rescue training. They’ll be out there from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The county parks lifeguard team will be honing its skills with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division. The parks department also reminds everyone to be safe in the water this summer. Never swim alone, obey all posted signs, keep off the piers when there are high waves, and know what to do in the event of a rip current.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Create New Opioid Education Program

More legislation designed to help fight the epidemic of opioid abuse in Michigan has been approved by the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, tells WSJM News this latest six-bill package would lead to the creation of an opioid risks curriculum for Michigan students. She tells us the opioid epidemic affects everyone.. ...Read Full Story

Uber Arrives In Southwest Michigan

Uber has come to the area. The ride sharing company started operations Friday in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, New Buffalo and South Haven. Uber is also launching in Saugatuck, Holland, Muskegon, and Grand Haven. The company’s James Ondrey tells WSJM News there’s a demand for Uber in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story