Local News Archives

Benton Harbor/St. Joseph Area Has State’s Highest Gas Prices

Michigan’s highest gas prices are here in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. The latest figures from AAA Michigan put the average locally at $2.92, with a statewide average of $2.87, which is up 7¢ from last week. The statewide average is lower than last year at this time, which was an even $3. The lowest prices are up north, with both Traverse City and Marquette posting averages of $2.84. As for South Haven, not included in the AAA report, GasBuddy has an average of $2.78.. ...Read Full Story

Asian Carp eDNA Found Just Miles From Lake Michigan

It appears Asian carp could be getting closer to Lake Michigan. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, environmental DNA from three bighead and three silver carp were found in Lake Calumet near the Illinois-Indiana border and just a few miles from Lake Michigan. eDNA does not necessarily mean the fish have migrated there, and could have come from boats, as it’s not clear if any of those fish were found in the lake. The discovery was announced on Friday by federal officials, just a few weeks after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers he’s willing to move ahead with preconstruction, engineering and design work for the project at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet. The location is a choke point where the invasive carp could be blocked from migrating toward the lake.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Memorial Day Travel Projection Released

More of us in Michigan than almost ever before are going to be taking a trip for Memorial Day. Triple-A is out with its travel projection, showing a 3.3% increase in vacationers from last year at 1.3 million. This is the seventh straight year of growth for Memorial Day travel, and the highest since 2005 when 1.5 million took a trip of at least 50 miles from home. Most will drive, at 1.1 million, but air travel is also projected to be higher by 5% compared to last year at over 70,000. The auto club says the increased number of people traveling is happening despite higher gas prices, as those are up over 30¢ in the past two months and have been flirting with the $3 per gallon mark in the state. If you’re heading toward Chicago, avoid the Windy City on Friday between 3:30 and 5:30 pm Central time, as AAA says that will be the peak of travel with three-times the number of cars on the road compared to normal.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Drug Prices

Reducing the cost of prescription drugs is the aim of legislation approved by the U.S. House last week. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the Orange Book Transparency Act and the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 are intended to require drug makers to submit information about their medications in a more timely fashion. He says the Orange Book contains detailed information about drugs as they’ve been tested and approved.. ...Read Full Story

Texting Service Offered By Berrien Treasurer

The Berrien County Treasurer’s office is starting a new text message service to let people know when their property tax payments are due. The treasurer tells us taxpayers will start getting those messages this month to remind them of their next payment. It’s in an effort to improve efficiency and reduce the use of paper for monthly invoicing. There are currently 891 Berrien County property owners in monthly payment plans to avoid foreclosure and to get caught up. The treasurer says those payment plans have a 92% success rate. Anyone who is in a payment plan is automatically enrolled in the text service.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Means New Turf For Lakeshore Stadium

Lakeshore Public Schools is receiving a sizable donation to pay for the installation of new synthetic turf at Al Stockman Stadium. The district announced this week it’s getting $410,000 from Bob and Betty Kohn of Royalton Township for the turf. Thanks to the donation, the district can get it a year earlier than planned. It had been planning to install the turf next year using sinking fund dollars. Lakeshore Athletic Director Greg Younger tells us the Kohns are big-time supporters of Lakeshore Schools. In the past, they have given the district money for the softball field, Rocket Football field, and soccer fields. In fact, the field at Al Stockman Stadium is named the Kohn-Lehmann Field in honor of the Kohns and other benefactors.. ...Read Full Story

Young Children Reading Events Coming Up

Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this coming week. RESA Director of Early Education Kerenda Applebey tells WSJM  News the Parents as Teachers Program and libraries of Berrien County are teaming up for Read Around the County. It’s for kids ages five and under. They can hear some of their favorite stories read by characters in costume on Tuesday, May 21 in Niles and Thursday, May 23 in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

US-31 Open House Set For Thursday

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning an open house this coming week for everyone to learn more about plans to finish the US-31 connection to I-94. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’ll get to work on the $111 million project starting next year. The plan is to make it possible to take US-31 to 94 without having to get off on Napier Avenue, as you do now.. ...Read Full Story

Three SWM communities Receiving Road Grants

Three southwest Michigan communities are receiving state grants to improve their roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the road funding grants through a new Community Service Infrastructure Fund program this month. 23 grants are going out statewide, and they are all for communities with populations of less than 10,000. Among the recipients are Bloomingdale and Breedsville in Van Buren County, and Marcellus in Cass County. Breedsville is getting $38,000 for work on East Main Street, Bloomingdale is getting $154,000 for work on Miller Road, and Marcellus is getting $46,000 for work on Maple, Reed, Woodland, Wordon, Jones, Centre, Burney, and Dibble. The governor’s office says the projects were picked because they’re shovel-ready, paired with infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, and focused on extending the useful life of the road. The state grants are intended to help the selected communities get to work this year. You can find out more about the projects right here.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Hurt In Crash With Semi

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash between a pick-up and a semi at US-12 and the US-31 bypass shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday. It says a 22-year-old Buchanan man was driving a Chevy Silverado and exiting the bypass southbound using the off ramp and driving on the edge of the gore. The pick-up hit two traffic signs and failed to stop at the intersection, striking the rear of a semi. The driver of the pick-up was ejected from the vehicle and taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He’s listed in stable condition. The driver of the semi, a 27-year-old man from Dowagiac, was treated for minor injuries at the scene. The Chevy had heavy front end damage, and the semi had damage to its rear axles.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Collecting School Supplies Today

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is asking everyone to pitch in to help make sure kids have backpacks and the supplies they need for the next school year. The organization’s Julee Laurent tells WSJM News they’ll be at the Benton Harbor Walmart today looking to stuff a school bus. They’re working with Honor Credit Union and local police so the items can be distributed this summer. Laurent says you can go to the Walmart and look for the volunteers near the gardening section.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Renaissance Faire This Weekend

The second annual Niles Renaissance Faire is this weekend. It will be Saturday and Sunday at Riverfront Park South from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. The event will feature food, games, sword fighting, live music, comedians, and activities for the kids. You can also throw your friends in jail. It’s $5 for adults to get in, and $3 for kids ages 5 to 12. Younger than that get in free. Everyone is invited to join the merriment and revelry.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Protect Student Athletes From Sexual Abuse

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan testified this week before the House Judiciary Committee in support of legislation intended to help prevent sexual assaults on college campuses and in schools. She tells WSJM News the plan would increase the number of authority figures who are required to report evidence of child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. It would add athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physical therapist assistants who work with K-12 and college athletes to the list.. ...Read Full Story

Buttigieg Says Roe v Wade Should Be Codified Into Law

South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is speaking out about the wave of anti-abortion laws being passed by state legislatures around the country. At the City Club in Chicago, he said writing into law the Roe v Wade landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion is an idea “that deserves to be taken seriously.”. ...Read Full Story

Trail Summit Next Month In Van Buren County

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission will hold a summit on trails in Van Buren County next month. Senior Planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the commission is putting together a seven-county trail plan for the Michigan Department of Transportation. It’s holding meetings throughout the region to get input from the public on what is needed in each county so there can be a robust, connected trail system.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backing Red Flag Bill

Congressman Fred Upton has joined some colleagues in re-introducing legislation that would encourage states to adopt what are commonly known as “red flag” gun laws. On Thursday, Upton and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell were among the representatives to announce another attempt at the Jake Laird Act. Named after an Indianapolis, Indiana, police officer who was shot and killed in 2004 in the line of duty by a man who with mental illness, the bill provides grants to states to adopt laws similar to Indiana’s 2005 Jake Laird Law. It enables local police, with probable cause, to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. Upton calls the Jake Laird Act a common sense piece of legislation that gives police “another tool in their tool box” to help protect communities.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance Reform Negotiations To Continue Over Weekend

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she is open to letting drivers forgo mandatory, unlimited medical benefits covered by their auto insurance premiums but only if they are still required to buy some level of coverage. The Democrat’s change in position is seen as a potentially significant development as the Republican-led Legislature considers bills to cut the country’s highest car insurance rates.. ...Read Full Story

Two People Reported Missing In South Haven

South Haven Police are asking for help finding two people who have been missing since Tuesday night. Fifty-five-year-old Charles Morrison and 26-year-old Jasmine Morrison left their home in South Haven Township around 9:30 that night. Police say he uses a mobility scooter, is in poor health, and does not have any of his medication. They add it’s out of character for the two to leave home without contacting any family members for extended periods. They are in his tan 2005 Mercury Monterey van with a Michigan license plate of 3MBK4, which is an Army veteran plate. The van is in bad shape with a dent in the rear bumper. The two are also believed to be traveling with a small beagle/terrier mix. Anyone who knows where the two may be is urged to call South Haven Police at 269-637-5151.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Pow Wow Memorial Day Weekend

Set for this Memorial Day weekend is the tenth annual Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Pow Wow next weekend. The gathering in Dowagiac will feature traditional singing, dancing, and culture, and everyone is invited. The Pokagon name for the event literally translates as “we are honoring the ones we’re tied to through generations.” The grand entries for the pow wow will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, and 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 27. On both mornings, vendors will set up before the dancing starts, and the gates will open at 10 a.m. The event is considered a traditional pow wow where dancers compete before judges in different categories. The pow wow will take place at the Sink Road campus of the Pokagon band in Dowagiac.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Opposes Zero Medical Coverage Option For Drivers

From the Associated Press — Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she opposes Republicans’ proposal to let people fully opt out of mandatory medical benefits covered by their auto insurance premiums. She said Thursday that “everyone needs to buy into the system at a certain level.” She made the comments after touring an East Lansing rehabilitation facility for people with brain injuries, and as the Republican-led Legislature considers whether to send a car insurance overhaul to her desk. Whitmer says she is open to allowing motorists to forgo unlimited coverage and choose a lesser amount, but “the zero coverage option is where I have to draw the line.” She warns that could “bankrupt people,” shift cost to taxpayers and undermine hospitals’ trauma centers. Michigan is the only state to require mandatory personal injury protection, or PIP.. ...Read Full Story

Click It Or Ticket Campaign Coming Up

This coming Monday will bring the start of another Click It or Ticket campaign to make sure Michigan drivers and their passengers are using their seat belts. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning’s Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News officers from more than 100 police agencies will be putting in overtime starting Monday through June 2 to make sure people are being safe out on the roads. The campaign coincides with the Memorial Day weekend.. ...Read Full Story

State House Approves Paquette Resolution Declaring STEM Awareness Week

A resolution declaring this week as STEM Awareness Week in Michigan has been approved by the state House. It was introduced by Representative Brad Paquette of Niles, a former Niles High School teacher. STEM, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, stands for science, technology, engineering, and math and Paquette calls those four subjects “critical drivers” of today’s economy. STEM jobs are among the highest paying, fastest growing, and most influential for economic growth and innovation. Paquette says if students get inspired by those subjects at an early age, they’re more likely to get into those fields when they graduate. He serves as vice chair of the House Education Committee and recently voted in support of legislation to update Michigan’s curriculum standards allowing students the opportunity to learn computer science or coding.. ...Read Full Story