Local News Archives

Commission Updates Rules

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have updated the rules that govern their meetings. At a Monday session, the body updated its rules on the recommendation of the legislative committee. Commissioner Sharon Henderson said the amendments have been in the works for several months. In fact, they were tabled by the commission a few months ago before being brought back Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Second-Degree Murder Charges Filed In Deadly Buchanan Crash

A Buchanan man is facing four charges of second-degree murder for a crash this month that killed four people. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic says in addition to those, 54-year-old Dub Collins is also facing drunk driving charges and a charge of driving on a suspended license. Collins is accused of blowing through a stop sign at a high speed at the intersection of Miller Road and Main Street on Friday, August 2 and plowing into a 2000 Honda Accord driven by 66-year-old Robert Klint of Sawyer. Along with Klint, his three passengers were all pronounced dead at the scene. They were his 60-year-old wife, Melissa, their 22-year-old daughter, Landyn, and Melissa’s 52-year-old brother, Kent Williamson of Virginia.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Expected To Start Work On I-196 BL Road Diet This Fall

The I-196 Business Loop in South Haven, also known as Broadway and LaGrange avenues, has been the topic of a proposed road diet by city officials for about two years. The road is owned and maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which means the city can’t do anything with it until getting the state’s approval. South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says they’re about to get the green light.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Group Officials Praise State’s Going Pro Job Training Program

You may have seen billboards featuring the phrase “Going Pro” and wondered what it is. It’s the rebranding by the Whitmer administration of the job training program launched by the state under former Governor Rick Snyder seeking to help companies hire and train new workers. It’s worked very well under both administrations according to officials with Kinexus in Benton Harbor. Kinexus Group vice president of public relations and government affairs Al Pscholka says last year, almost four dozen companies in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties received $2.1 million in awards from the program.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Council Approves Plan To Address Dunkley Ave Flooding

Those living along Dunkley Avenue or who have to drive along it in South Haven will be getting some relief fairly soon. The City Council this week was given four options to deal with the flooding issue due to high water levels in Lake Michigan and the Black River, the most expensive costing more than $400,000. The City Council will go with a $20,000 remedy according to City Manager Brian Dissette.. ...Read Full Story

After Amash Dumped Trump, His District May Do Same To Him

From the Associated Press — Justin Amash has left the Republican Party over his opposition to President Donald Trump, and Democrats are celebrating. The Michigan congressman’s departure means a three-way race in his politically shifting Grand Rapids-area district, giving Democrats fresh hope for picking up his a seat. Amash is also flirting with another way to wound Trump – by running for president as a Libertarian. More than 200,000 Michigan voters supported a third-party candidate in 2016, when Trump won the state by just over 10,000 votes Amash was the first Republican on Capitol Hill to say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Amash’s is another cautionary tale for GOP lawmakers who consider opposing Trump. Those who do quickly find it’s a lonely place to be, and may mean the end of a political career.. ...Read Full Story

City Gives Final Approval To Street Repairs

The Benton Harbor City Commission has given final approval to nearly $1 million in street repairs for this year. At a Monday meeting, a bid of $990,000 was approved for Kalin Construction to do the 2019 street resurfacing project. The work is possible thanks to the city’s new income tax. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this is why the voters approved the tax.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Launches Marijuana Campaign

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

Whitmer Names Former Homeland Security Official To Lead Michigan On Immigration

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed a former U.S. homeland security official to oversee the state’s efforts related to immigration. Fayrouz Saad worked at the Department of Homeland Security during Barack Obama’s presidency and later served as the city of Detroit’s first immigrant affairs director. Whitmer this past week named her as executive director of the Office of Global Michigan, which advises the governor on matters related to new Americans, immigration policy and immigration enforcement. Saad says she looks forward to “building a home of opportunity for everyone.” Saad unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University
of Michigan and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Of Southwestern Michigan To Hold Mortgage Paper Burning Ceremony In September

Thirteen months is all it took for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan to pay off its mortgage loan on the new Yeager Family Pet Shelter. The organization says on June 9, 2018, the debt was over $740,000, and it’s all been paid off due to extensive fundraising efforts and donors. The state-of-the-art, no-kill shelter opened on that date last summer after several years of work that started with the forming of a building committee in 2012 and the purchase of the land at 5400 Niles Road in June 2013. Pearson Construction was hired in December of that year, with ground being broken in June 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Only State With Gas Price Rise In Past Week

Gas prices are up over last week in just one state: Michigan. Triple-A says the statewide average rose 6¢ a gallon over the past week to $2.70, with Ann Arbor’s $2.79 being the highest and Traverse City’s $2.56 being the lowest. The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph average of $2.59 is the second-lowest in the state. GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan says prices nationwide have fallen for a “surprising” fifth straight week to $2.60 per gallon, the lowest level in almost five months. He noted as of Sunday afternoon, 49 of the 50 states had lower prices than a week before. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s average price is $2.49, but that market isn’t included in Triple-A’s survey. There is also a gas price war ongoing in Kalamazoo today, with prices down to $2.17 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Missing Grand Junction Man With Dementia

Police are asking for help trying to find a missing 84-year-old Grand Junction man with dementia. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says Chuck Hazard was last seen in the Hastings area between Kalamazoo and Lansing around 4:20 a.m. Saturday. Hazard admitted he was lost and was trying to find his way back home at the time. He is driving a red Ford Fusion with the Michigan plate ECQ-4591, and the car has American flags on both front windows. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says he most often visits the South Haven area. Hazard is about six-feet tall, 190 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes and was last seen in a red shirt and a black baseball cap. Police add he is in need of medication, and a neighbor is currently caring for his four pets until he returns.. ...Read Full Story

No Charges In Deadly 2018 Cosmo Extended Stay Fire

There will be no charges filed in the July 28, 2018 fire at the Cosmo Extended Stay motel in Benton Township that killed a woman and five of her children between the ages of 2 and 10. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic says the fire was caused by the careless use of a hotplate by a resident in room 135, which he says does not reach the level of gross negligence to result in criminal charges. Additionally, he says the investigation found some long-term residents of the motel had disabled their smoke detectors, which is not something the owner of the building, Sodus Hospitality, could be charged for. Sepic adds smoke was not a factor in room 212 where the six members of the Curtis family were killed, and the lack of an alarm in the room did not delay their attempts to get out. Because of when the motel was built, it was not required to have smoke alarms connected in series, which had it been a newer building with that requirement, the prosecutor says it might have resulted in the Curtis family trying to get out sooner than they did. A May 2016 inspection by the Michigan State Police Fire Marshall Division found several fire and life safety components had been fixed by the building owner.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Child Support System

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is bringing attention to the state’s child support system now that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared this to be Child Support Month. Department spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells us nearly $1.2 billion in child support went out to Michigan families in 2018. 71.4% of those payments were made on time, usually via paycheck withholdings.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Reopening This Week For Chapin Mansion

A grand reopening of the historic Chapin Mansion in Niles will be held this coming week now that a rehabilitation project for the landmark is complete. Niles History Center Director Christina Arseneau tells WSJM News improvements have been planned at the site for about three years, and now they’re ready to reopen it to everyone.. ...Read Full Story

Three Arrested For Cass County Assault

Three people are in the Cass County Jail thanks to a sheriff’s department K-9. Faust tracked a 19-year-old man from Edwardsburg, a 30-year-old Niles woman, and a third suspect about four-and-a-half miles from a home in the 19-thousand block of Hoffman Road in Penn Township. Police had been called there around 5 p.m. Saturday on a report of an aggravated assault, during which the suspects got into the home, got into a fight with a home owner, and one of them pepper sprayed the home owners. The third suspect was arrested on outstanding warrants, and no information is available on that person. The other two are facing charges that include resisting and obstructing police and aggravated assault.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Supporting Kids Reading Program

The Pokagon Fund has awarded a $5,000 grant to the United Way of Southwest Michigan to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Harbor Country. The United Way says this means more kids under the age of five living in Harbert, Lakeside, New Buffalo, Sawyer, Three Oaks, and Union Pier will get a jump start on school-readiness with books mailed each month to their homes. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails books to the homes of enrolled young people from birth until they turn five years old. The United Way of Southwest Michigan offers Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to preschool children in Berrien and Cass counties for free. There are currently 195 children enrolled in the program in the Pokagon Fund service area.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driving Crackdown Underway

Michigan State Police have begun Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign for Labor Day. It started Wednesday, and now extra police patrols are out on the roads watching out for drunk drivers. The three week Labor Day enforcement period will run through September 2. While the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Kari Arend told WSJM News this summer the state has a zero-tolerance drugged driving law.. ...Read Full Story

Wednesday Meeting On Parks Plan

The Berrien County Parks Department is planning its next meeting to hear from the public on its five year parks plan. The department says the plan covers the developments planned at all county parks from 2020 through 2024. The included parks are Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River, as well as the Red Arrow Linear Trail. The plan is needed for the county to qualify for state recreation grants. An open house will be held prior to the Berrien County Parks Commission Meeting at the New Buffalo Township Hall on August 21. The open house will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Everyone is also invited to submit comments directly to the Berrien County Parks Department. You can send an email to Parks@BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

“Veggie Van” Coming To St. Joseph This Week

Rolling into St. Joseph this coming week will be the YMCA’s Veggie Van, courtesy of Spectrum Health Lakeland. Spectrum’s Kelsey Haynes tells WSJM News the Veggie Van is a mobile farmer’s market loaded up with fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers. The green machine will be at the YMCA of Southwest Michigan office on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21. Haynes says the van is based out of Grand Rapids, and is intended to help bring fresh produce to areas where it may be difficult to get. Benton Harbor qualifies as one of those locations. To find out more about the Veggie Van, click this link.. ...Read Full Story

State Proposes Advisory Committee To Make Recommendations For Benton Harbor Schools

State officials are proposing the creation of a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee to be tasked with assessing problems at Benton Harbor Area Schools and then coming up with recommendations to fix them. At a Friday meeting of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education, State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks laid out a plan designed to maintain “a viable K-12 education system for Benton Harbor families.” She said the committee would consist of the school board, district staff, Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker, residents, and businesses. Parker told us the goal is to get community input and be transparent as an assessment of the district’s problems is done.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Gives $3.7 Million To Protect Endangered Lake Superior Reef

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is spending $3.7 million to remove copper mining waste rock from a Lake Superior harbor where it threatens an important fish spawning area. Waste known as stamp sands was dumped along the lakefront during the early 20th century. It covers 1,400 acres of shoreline and lake bottom and is drifting toward Buffalo Reef, where trout and whitefish reproduce. A dredging operation is expected to continue through this year. About 157,000 cubic yards of rock will be removed from Grand Traverse Harbor and a trough will be dug to create a sediment trap near the reef. The EPA funding was awarded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that focuses on longstanding environmental problems in the region. The state of Michigan is contributing $3 million.. ...Read Full Story

Immigration Groups Concerned About Rule Changes

Local experts say the latest changes to federal immigration laws would have damaging ripple effects on Michigan’s immigrant families. Under the new rule, legal immigrants who are applying for green card status would be denied if they’ve used federal assistance programs, like Medicaid or SNAP. At the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, attorney Tania Morris Diaz says it’s important for families to understand what the changes could mean, and seek counseling or legal help if needed.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Deputy Receives Award

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Laesch has received an award for her work on behalf of the community as the sheriff’s department crime prevention coordinator. The department says Laesch got the Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award at the Elder Law of Michigan Award Ceremony in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. The awards are given to those who advocate for, educate, and assist individuals in need, with a focus on older adults and those with disabilities. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says he’s proud to support Deputy Laesch, adding she continues to advocate for those who are the most vulnerable and works to share information with the public.. ...Read Full Story