Local News Archives

St. Joseph City Commission Awards Raise To City Manager With Glowing Evaluation

St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson is getting a raise. The city commission held a closed session Monday night to give Hodgson his fourth performance evaluation since he was hired, and Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News they didn’t score him in any particular categories, noting his excellent work ethic and “what he’s brought to the city.” Garey says the commission felt Hodgson’s starting pay, which hasn’t gone up since he was hired, was too low.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Residents Fed Up With Silver Beach Traffic Issues

The city of St. Joseph is being urged by those who live below the bluff to put pressure on the Berrien County Parks Department to make changes at Silver Beach County Park to cut down on traffic congestion in the summer. The issue dominated the public comment portion of Monday night’s city commission meeting. June Bowman noted in her comments that their issues from past years with lines of cars waiting to get into the park jamming things up for hours haven’t gone away, even with new summertime traffic patterns.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Program Stresses Importance Of Fathers

A new program is coming to Van Buren County for fathers to learn about how they can better prepare their children to make the right decisions growing up. Friend of the Court early intervention case manager Able Munoz tells WSJM News 24/7 Dad seeks to promote more fatherly engagement in the lives of kids so they have the right disciplinary and moral foundations.. ...Read Full Story

Three Potential Cases Of Eastern Equine Encephalitis In Berrien, Kalamazoo Counties

A potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness may have returned to Berrien County. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are three suspected cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in residents of both Berrien and Kalamazoo counties. Six horses have died from the disease in Barrry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties, and none were vaccinated. There is no vaccine for EEE available for people. A case of a similar mosquito-borne disease, California encephalitis virus, has been confirmed in a resident of Genesee County.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Association Announces Grant For New Buffalo Light Project

The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors has announced a $2,400 Placemaking Grant to the city of New Buffalo for a program intended to make the downtown area more vibrant. It says the city will use the funds to explore the viability of projecting artwork, moving images, and videos on to walls at night along the two block downtown streetscape. The idea is designed to bring light, movement, and excitement into the area year-round. The city’s Design Visual Impact Committee says an art and light show would have an economic impact by encouraging visitors to linger in the downtown area to shop, eat, and drink. The lights would be projected on to exterior walls starting with the intersection of Whittaker and Merchant streets, projecting from Brewster’s parking lot onto the Villager’s southeast wall. Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Placemaking Grants are the organization’s way of helping to better communities. In the past, they have helped to pay for a dog park in Baroda, a park and playground area next to Milton Township Hall, and a Victorian style exterior post clock in downtown Watervliet.. ...Read Full Story

Efforts Underway To Help Residents Of Burned Apartment Building

Following the destruction of an apartment building in Berrien Springs over the weekend, Andrews University is collecting funds to help some of the people who were displaced. Andrews put out a statement on Facebook Sunday saying the university was able to reach all of its students who lived at Park Manor Apartments, and they all had found alternative accommodations. It also says the most urgent need is for cash donations to address food and housing. Meanwhile, Andrews Services and Administration Director Teela Ruehle told our reporting partners at WSBT some affected students started classes this week and were facing hardship.. ...Read Full Story

Warrant Issued In Niles Shooting

A warrant has been issued in a weekend shooting in Niles. The Niles Police Department says it’s looking for 21-year-old Dayshawn Lavell Smith of Niles. It says the shooting happened around 7:50 p.m. Saturday in the 600 block of Wayne Street. Arriving officers found a vehicle in the middle of the street and a 21-year-old man lying on the boulevard with muliple gunshot wounds. Police performed first aid until an ambulance arrived, and it took him to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition. The investigation has determined at least two gunshots happened inside the vehicle, and that three suspects got out of the vehicle and ran. On Monday, a felony warrant for aggravated assault with intent to murder was issued for Smith. Police say they’re looking for two additional suspects. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the Niles Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Armed Robbery In Union Pier

The Chikaming Township Police Department is investigating a Friday armed robbery in Union Pier. It says officers were sent to the Whistle Stop Store on Red Arrow Highway just before 8 a.m. and learned a suspect had gone into the store, pointed a handgun at the clerk, and demanded money. The clerk complied, and the suspect ran out with cash. The suspect is described as a white male, very thin, with dark hair, standing between 5’8 and 5’11. He was wearing a mask over his jaw. He took off in a dark or navy blue Chrysler 300, model year between 2008 and 2010. Police ask anyone with information regarding the suspect to contact them. The Chikaming Township Police Department says the “armed robbery is being aggressively investigated by our staff.” Meanwhile, it also says it has arrested a suspect in a series of burglaries to unoccupied homes in the Harbert area. However, it has not released further details on that development.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Apartment Building

A Berrien Springs apartment building has been destroyed by fire. It happened Saturday night at Park Manor Apartments on Rosehill Road. The entire building, consisting of 20 units, was wrecked. Our partners at WSBT report crews had to tear down what was left of the building. There were no reported injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Record Year For Lighthouse Tours

The demand for lighthouse tours in St. Joseph has been up this year. In fact, the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center says there has been a record number of tours. The museum’s Kate Ulrey tells WSJM News there has been great demand from tourists and residents alike.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Launches Search For New President

Southwestern Michigan College needs a new president, and it’s going to start by looking within. At a meeting this past week of the SMC Board of Trustees, the vote was six to one to do an internal search for a new president. That’s as Dr. David Mathews plans to retire at the end of this year. Mathews has been SMC president since July of 2001. SMC Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Jerdon tells us he thinks they’ve already got some qualified candidates right there on campus, and the college knows them better than it could get to know anyone from a one hour interview. Also, he says SMC wants to be upwardly mobile. The board directed that the position of president be posted as soon as possible for internal candidates, with the application period closing in time for materials to be available to it by the September meeting. Jerdon also invited the public to come to the September 16 session to offer its input. Jerdon said hiring a firm to do a national search would be a good Plan B if the internal search doesn’t work out.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Dishes “The Dirt On Weed”

A new campaign to educate the public about marijuana has been launched by the Berrien County Health Department. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News The Dirt on Weed features a new website, billboards, radio ads, social media activity, and presentations regarding how marijuana affects different groups. She says the campaign is possible thanks to a $45,000 state grant that became available when marijuana was legalized for adults in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Public Comment Being Taken On Plan For Schools

A survey has been put online by Benton Harbor Area Schools asking the community for feedback regarding the state’s latest proposal to improve the district. This is following a presentation last week by the Michigan Department of Treasury to the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Treasury proposed that a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee consisting of various local stakeholders and education leaders be established to assess the school district and then draft a list of recommendations. The committee will have six months to put together its report. The board of education was asked to approve a resolution in support of the idea, perhaps at a meeting in September. In the meantime, the school district has put its survey and an electronic copy of the state proposal up at BHAS.org. The survey asks people for feedback and suggestions for improvement. The district asks everyone to have their input in by August 28.. ...Read Full Story

Paddlers Invited To Fight Invasive Species

Coming up on September 7 will be event for paddlers of all kinds to help fight invasive species in southwest Michigan. Michigan State University Extension Sea Grant educator Mary Bohling tells WSJM News kayakers and others are invited to come out to the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission office in Benton Harbor for a paddling session in the Paw Paw River.. ...Read Full Story

Guided Dune Tour Next Month

Preserve the Dunes and Chikaming Open Lands are inviting everyone who wants to learn about protecting the region’s environment to come out to a guided tour at Warren Dunes State Park next month. Set for September 14, the tour will feature information on protecting the dunes, says Preserve the Dunes President Marcy Hamilton, who spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Rare Form Of Gonorrhea

A rare form of gonorrhea has shown up in southwest Michigan. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News there have been four confirmed cases in Kalamazoo County, and one in St. Joseph County. It’s also investigating one possible case in Calhoun County. This form of the illness, commonly called DGI, is more serious than your standard gonorrhea.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hails Grant For WMU

Western Michigan University is getting a $1.35 million federal grant to fight the opioid epidemic, and it’s partly thanks to the help of Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News the funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration will go to WMU’s Youth Prevention and Recovery from Opioid Youth Disorders program, or MY-PROUD.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Mass Believed To Be Harmless Weed

What some people thought might be an algae bloom spotted in Lake Michigan off St. Joseph this week has turned out to be a harmless mass of duck weed. The Berrien County Health Department was contacted this week about the green patch. It brought in the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and samples were collected and tested. Health department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells us all indications, once officials got a close look at the material, is that it’s the harmless water plant, duck weed. That usually grows in rivers or streams, but Conrad says recent high levels of runoff could have caused some of the duck weed to wind up in the lake.. ...Read Full Story

School Designed With Features To Thwart Mass Shooters

He’d rather talk about anything else, but the superintendent of a west Michigan school district says their new high school, now under construction, is designed to protect against an active shooter. Bob Szymoniak, superintendent of Fruitport Community Schools, told Michigan News Network this week the school will have curved hallways to reduce a gunman’s range.. ...Read Full Story

Republican File 2nd Suit Challenging Redistricting Panel

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Republican Party and other Republicans have filed a lawsuit challenging the formation of a redistricting commission to draw congressional and legislative lines. Thursday’s suit is the second one brought in under a month.
The party, chairwoman Laura Cox, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and others say a 2018 ballot measure approved by voters violates the GOP’s fundamental right to associate or not associate. They fear people who do not represent Republicans’ interests will be selected as Republican commissioners. The constitutional amendment requires that a panel of four self-identified Democrats, four self-identified Republicans and five unaffiliated members draw political maps instead of the Legislature, starting in 2021.
Voters Not Politicians, which spearheaded the anti-gerrymandering change, says it is confident the law will withstand the latest challenge.. ...Read Full Story

State Rep Pleased With PFAS Testing Results

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is relieved to see the results of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team’s PFAS testing around Michigan. MPART, as it’s commonly known, released its screening results late last week, showing 90% of water supplies in the state tested for no PFAS. However, that still leaves 10%. That’s why Griffin tells WSJM News she’s introducing legislation to extend MPART.. ...Read Full Story