Local News Archives

Pokagon Fund Teams Up With Hartford Library To Encourage Reading

The Pokagon Fund is teaming up with the Hartford Library to attract more kids and also offer them a little fun. It tells us they’re launching the Hartford Public Library Card campaign. Between now and August 7, any children or parents that gets a new library card and borrows a book can get a free trip to the Potawatomi Zoo. The trip will be August 15. The goal is to register more than 75 new children with library cards. Anyone looking for more information can contact the Hartford Library.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In Dowagiac

Three people are in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust in Dowagiac on Thursday. The sheriff’s department tells us they had a tip that someone was coming to the area from Kalamazoo and selling meth, and found that person’s car in a parking lot on North Front Street in Dowagiac. Surveillance video from inside a nearby store showed a Kalamazoo woman running into the bathroom when police got to her car, and she and two men were arrested when they walked out of the store. Detectives were called back to the store Friday along with the Dowagiac Department of Public Works when the toilet in the women’s bathroom stopped working, and they found a bag of meth and syringes clogging it up. That discovery is bringing extra charges of possession with intent to distribute meth against the 32-year-old woman. One of the other men was arrested on unrelated warrants. Police have not detailed the charges against the third person.. ...Read Full Story

Niles-Buchanan Relay For Life Today

The Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life is today. From 10 a.m. to midnight, teams will take it in turns to either walk or run around the track at Niles High School to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Relay organizer Mike Megyesy tells WSJM News there will be more than 20 teams.. ...Read Full Story

Advocacy Groups Praise State Budget

Governor Rick Snyder signed the new state budget on Friday. It’s a plan some analysts describe as both promising and concerning. Rachel Richards, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us the $56.5 half billion state budget includes several measures to help the state’s most vulnerable residents. They include extending the “heat and eat” program and more funding for the “Double Up Food Bucks” program, both of which increase access to healthy foods. Richards adds the budget also improves child-care assistance, by increasing eligibility and raising payments to providers.. ...Read Full Story

One Charged In Child Porn Case

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in a child pornography case. It tells us it searched a home in the 13,000 block of US 12 in Union on Monday and found a computer containing pictures it believes are child porn. The search was conducted after the department got a tip. Police also say they also found methamphetamine in the home. A 44-year-old man has been arrested and faces charges of possession of child pornography, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of meth with intent to deliver. His name has not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Deaths Continue To Rise In Michigan

The number of drug overdose deaths skyrocketed in Michigan last year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 1,689 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, up from 1,275 in 2015. Health Department spokeswoman Jennifer Eisner told Michigan News Network there is one key factor in the increase.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Gets In Full Swing Monday

The 62nd annual Van Buren Youth Fair gets truly underway on Monday. Fair secretary Iris Swift tells WSJM News Monday’s events will include animal shows and a talent show. It’s also Armed Forces Day when veterans and military personnel get in for free. Tuesday brings the tractor pull. The fun doesn’t end there.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In Benton Twp Drug Bust

One person is facing charges following a drug bust in Benton Township this week. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the Southwest Enforcement Team searched a home in the 1,200 block of Parkway Drive on Thursday. It was the culmination of an eight month investigation into the distribution of marijuana and cocaine. Officers say they seized more than six ounces of marijuana, ammunition, several prescription opioid medications, a vehicle, and $500 in cash. Information on the suspect has not been released. The Southwest Enforcement Team is made up of law enforcement agencies from all over southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Former West MI Golf Course Turns Into Hilly Grassland

From the Associated Press — A former golf course in western Michigan has transformed into hilly grassland for hikers to walk through and for nature to thrive. The Grand Rapids Press reports that the Blandford Nature Center officially opened The Highlands to the public in Grand Rapids Thursday. The trail was formerly known as the Highlands Golf Club and is now considered an extension to the nature center.
The nature center acquired the more than 120-acre former golf course in February in partnership with Land Conservancy of West Michigan and has nearly doubled the size of the center. Blandford President Jason Meyer says that The Highlands’ hilly terrain is different from the original nature center and allows for more access to winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs State Budget

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $56.5 billion budget, capping months of work with lawmakers on the state’s next spending plan. The Republican governor signed the bills Friday in Grand Rapids, at a career tech center run by the Kent Intermediate School District. He says the budget includes record spending on K-12 schools, including a big boost for at-risk students and to buy equipment for career and technical education programs. Snyder says the budget “will make a difference” in people’s lives. The plan includes a $35 million deposit into a state infrastructure fund, more spending on roads and bridges, and extra debt payments as part of an agreement to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement plan.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Steer New School Workers Into 401(k)-Only Plan

Governor Snyder has signed into law a plan to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit instead of one with a pension. Republicans say Thursday’s move will prevent future underfunding, while teachers unions worry the measure could ultimately lead to closing the pension system entirely to new hires. Starting February 1, new school workers will be automatically enrolled in a 401(k)-only plan like what state employees receive. They could opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current school workers do, assuming more of the risk of underfunding. New school employees have qualified for both a pension and a small 401(k)-type plan since 2010. It’s unknown how many new hires will take just the 401(k). Currently, 20% do.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Center Applauds Teacher Pension Reforms

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law some teacher pension reforms. The plan is expected to largely move new teachers in Michigan over to 401(k) style retirement plans, rather than being put into the old traditional pension system. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s James Homan tells WSJM News it’s better for teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Red Arrow Highway Dedicated In Honor Of Fallen State Troopers

Red Arrow Highway between US-12 and Union Pier has now officially been dedicated as the Trooper Charles Stark and Trooper Gary Rampy Memorial Highway. That’s after Berrien County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday stating as much. Commissioner Ezra Scott helped to usher through the move to honor the two Michigan State Police troopers who were shot and killed by a drunk driving suspect the night of December 31, 1971. He told WSJM News it took loo long.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Schools To Seek $21 Million Bond

Lakeshore Schools has locked in a date to ask voters for a 25 year, $21 million bond. The board of education has bene thinking for several months about asking voters for the improvement funds. They would be used for parking lot work, door and window replacements, electric upgrades, and improvements to the high school auditorium. Lakeshore Superintendent Philip Freeman has told us the work is the second half of what the district had in mind when it pursued a $36 million bond. District officials note this latest bond would not cause taxes to go up because it’s coming up right as another millage expires. The bond will appear on your ballot in November, according to The Herald Palladium.. ...Read Full Story

Borgess-Lee Hospital Donates $10,000 To SMC Nursing Expansion

Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac is helping Southwestern Michigan College with its big nursing program expansion. The hospital this week announced a $10,000 donation to SMC as it works to roughly double the number of nursing students it can accommodate. The college is awarding bids this month for the expansion of its nursing building to more than twice its current size. Borgess-Lee Hospital representatives say they’re contributing to the SMC effort because the hospital will directly benefit from the college’s nursing program. SMC is spending $9.6 million to expand the program, partly in response to a growing need for nurses in the region.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Chapters To Merge

Girls on the Run of Berrien County is merging with Girls on the Run of Van Buren-Cass-St. Joseph counties. Berrien Girls on the Run Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the national program wanted to consolidate some chapters, so essentially, Berrien is taking over the other regional county operations. This will not affect next spring’s Girls on the Run event in Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story

Cass Co. K9 Credited With Locating Missing Man

Cass County Sheriff’s Department K9 “Faust” is once again being saluted for his efforts to help law enforcement. The department tells our newsroom deputies were called out to the 69,000 Block of Hazel Road in Union around 10:30 a.m. Thursday on a report of a man who’d gone missing. Deputies were told the man had taken a large amount of prescription drugs following an argument with his wife before disappearing. The sheriff’s department called in its K9, “Faust.” The dog found the missing man unresponsive in a field a short time later. Deputies performed first aid and the man was taken to a hospital by ambulance. The sheriff’s department was assisted in the situation by Porter Township Ambulance and Medflight.. ...Read Full Story

Overdose Deaths Up Last Year, Many Involving Opioids

From the Associated Press — State officials say overdose deaths jumped by 18% last year in Michigan with the majority of cases involving opioid abuse. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 were opioid-related. There were 1,275 opioid-related deaths in 2015. Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl. The state’s Health and Human Services department has launched a media campaign to raise awareness about opioid use, treatment options and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs. Earlier this year, Michigan received more than $16 million in Opioid State
Targeted Response funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant is being used to promote prevention and increase access to treatment by funding state initiatives.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Starts Saturday

Fair season in southwest Michigan starts Saturday. The Van Buren Youth Fair will run from July 15-22. Monster trucks will be featured this year for the first time with the Michigan Monster Truck Shootout Wednesday night. Friday night will close with a fireworks show, and the last evening event next Saturday will be the demolition derby. This is the 62nd year for the Van Buren Youth Fair.. ...Read Full Story

Websites Push For Net Neutrality

Wednesday was Net Neutrality Day of Action as websites of all stripes posted messages to their visitors asking them to reach out to the FCC on the issue of maintaining an open internet. The agency is on the verge of repealing rules which require internet service providers to allow equal access to all sites. Industry consultant Amanda Lotz, with the University of Michigan, tells us consumers will pay the price if some websites receive a lower level of service because they can’t pay.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Police Body Camera Legislation

From the Associated Press — Beginning in January, Michigan will have rules in place for the disclosure and retention of audio or video recordings from body cameras worn by police officers. Legislation signed by Governor Rick Snyder Wednesday exempts the recordings from
public-records request under certain circumstances, including if the recordings were made in a “private place.” Recordings also will be kept private during ongoing criminal or internal investigations but only for listed reasons such as public disclosure interfering with law enforcement proceedings or invading personal privacy. Body camera recordings retained as part of civil lawsuits will not be considered public records.
The law also requires law enforcement agencies that use body-worn cameras to develop a written policy regarding their use by officers.. ...Read Full Story