Local News Archives

Vigil For Detained Migrants This Week

There will be a vigil this Friday in South Haven to bring attention to the treatment of migrant and refugee families along the southern U.S. border. Pastor Ron VanLente of First United Methodist Church in South Haven tells WSJM News “Lights for Liberty” events are taking place all over the country at the same time.. ...Read Full Story

Two Charged In Vandalism To Gerald Ford Gravesite Could Have Records Cleared

From the Associated Press — Two young people who were charged after the gravesite of former President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford in western Michigan was defaced could see their records wiped clean. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said Tuesday that 19-year-old Christian Johnson and 18-year-old Alexis Brinkert would receive alternative sentences that will include visiting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids and learning about the legacy of the Fords. Becker says if they successfully complete the diversion program they won’t have convictions on their records. Johnson and Brinkert turned themselves in after the March incident . Johnson earlier apologized, saying he didn’t know what the gravesite was, and returned a letter that was broken off a wall at the memorial site. The Fords are buried outside the Ford Presidential Museum.. ...Read Full Story

Oronoko Township Looking To Demolish Vacant Apartment Building

Oronoko Township officials have had enough of a vacant and dilapidated apartment building on North Lemon Creek Road. Township Supervisor Mike Hildebrand tells us the township has sent a demolition notice to the owners of the building at 8822 Lemon Creek after the apartment’s owners missed multiple deadlines to fix up the eyesore. Hildebrand says the place is on its third roof tarp, and has issues with mold. It’s one of 34 properties the township identified in 2017 for cleanup. Out of those, the apartment building is one of two that still has issues. Hildebrand says the township will move forward with demolition within two weeks, and the cost will then be tacked on to the parcel’s tax bill. He couldn’t say what that amount will be.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan City Police Looking For Escaped Inmate

Police are looking for an escaped prison inmate in Michigan City, Indiana. Media in South Bend are reporting Travis Hornett escaped from a work detail on the prison grounds at the Indiana State Prison. He was wearing khaki prison clothing, but police say he could have changed. They describe Hornett as dangerous. Anyone who see the inmate is told to call 911. He’s described as a white male, about 5’4′ and 160 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 39 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Mayor To Be Honored By State Supreme Court Justice For Probation Success

Bangor Mayor Darren Williams will be honored Friday morning by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement for completing the Van Buren County Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program three years ago. Williams has struggled with drug addiction in the past and will be talking about the help he received to get clean through the court and Van Buren Community Mental Health on Friday in Paw Paw. Justice Clement will honor the mayor prior to the commencement ceremony of two graduates of the Van Buren County Women’s Drug Treatment Court Program.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Intervening In Utility Rate Increase Requests

A proposed rate increase from Indiana Michigan Power is getting pushback from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Her office says Nessel last week filed a notice of intervention as I&M seeks to raise electric rates by 18.9% in order to generate $58.5 million. I&M filed a request for the rate increase with the Michigan Public Service Commission after announcing its plans last month. Nessel issued a statement Wednesday, saying “On the heels of a 20-percent rate increase for customers just last year, I&M has no business looking for another exorbitant rate hike on the backs of our residents. This increase is simply unsupportable and unreasonable on its face.” Nessel is also intervening, or planning to intervene, in rate increase attempts being made by Consumers Energy, SEMCO, and DTE Electric Company.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Meets Again With BH School Leaders

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has met once again with members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Her office says a meeting took place between the administration and school trustees Tuesday. A joint statement was then issued by Whitmer Administration Press Secretary Tiffany Brown and local school board President Steve Mitchell. It says “Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Benton Harbor Area School Board leadership met to discuss next steps regarding the district. The lines of communication are open among all parties and we look forward to future discussions to identify a solution that puts Benton Harbor students first.” The statement could indicate the board and the administration are making up after local trustees last week slammed the administration’s proposed turnaround plan for the school district.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Signs Bill Providing Aid To Farmers

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation intended to help farmers affected by wet conditions this year. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells us the plan provides $15 million to private lenders so they can provide low-interest loans to qualified farmers. She notes the state does not provide the loans directly, so there is no financial risk or liability to the state with the program. Griffin says “Families across Southwest Michigan rely on agriculture for their livelihood, and they’re facing a terrible year for many crops.” Her office tells us Michigan has had few days suitable for field work this year, with May of 2018 to May of 2019 being the wettest 12-month period on record. Similar low-interest loan programs were approved for Michigan farmers in 2002 and 2012.. ...Read Full Story

Area Agency On Aging Holding Classes Throughout Summer

Taking place throughout the summer at the Region IV Area Agency on Aging are classes on managing different aspects of getting older. The agency’s Tara Gillette tells WSJM News one-time sessions, each focused on a different topic, are taking place as part of the larger Aging Mastery program. There will be a session on living arrangements on July 22, and then August 13 brings a class focused on bucket lists and aspirations.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Downtown Parking Loop Working

It’s been two weekends since the South Haven Downtown Parking Loop started. The trolley car looking busses have taken the anxiety of find a parking space in downtown away. Scott Reinert of the South Haven Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau says the service has gone over well so far.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Closing Southbound I-196 Thursday Night At Hagar Shore Road

Heads up if you need to travel from South Haven toward Benton Harbor and St. Joseph this week. The Michigan Department of Transportation will be completely closing southbound I-196 at Exit 7 for Hagar Shore Road to set bridge beams starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. The highway will stay closed until 7 a.m. Friday. Traffic will be detoured to the southbound off ramp and then back on to I-196.. ...Read Full Story

Fuel Makers Launch Ad Criticizing Trump Ethanol Mandates

From the Associated Press — An association representing oil refineries is launching a television ad in four potential swing states criticizing President Donald Trump’s moves to expand the use of ethanol in gasoline. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers began running the ad statewide Monday in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. The ad says Trump promised a “win-win energy policy for all Americans” but unchecked ethanol mandates are “job killers.” The Trump administration has found itself caught between refineries and corn growers. Trump’s former environmental chief, Scott Pruitt, angered growers and ethanol processors by sparing refineries from a mandate that they mix ethanol into their fuel. This past May the administration lifted a summertime ban on gas mixed with 15% alcohol, removing a barrier to wider sales of the mixture and expanding the ethanol market.. ...Read Full Story

Pedal Pub Proposal Floated In St. Joseph

Pedal pubs are gaining in popularity across the country, and a pair of northern Indiana sisters have their eyes on St. Joseph as a possible location for a new franchise. Shellie Kermin and Julie McGinnis laid out the idea of Pedal Pub Michiana for the St. Joseph City Commission on Monday, explaining it’s a bike with space for 15 riders, 10 of which would pedal and steering and control of the alcohol people bring would be with the pilot of the bike, which would be one of them. Kermin said there are rules for the riders to follow.. ...Read Full Story

4th Of July Fireworks On The 3rd In St. Joseph Praised By Area Police

It was an extremely well-behaved Fourth of July celebration in St. Joseph last week. Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker says despite all the activity downtown, things from a law enforcement standpoint were calm. He was joined by City Manager John Hodgson for a time on July 3rd and says they could see the restrooms from Broad Street for the first time in his 25 years with the department.. ...Read Full Story

Calvin College Changing Name

From the Associated Press — A western Michigan Christian college is becoming a university. Calvin College officials say the Grand Rapids school will officially become Calvin University on Wednesday. The date coincides with the birthday of 16th-century theologian John Calvin, school namesake and key figure in the Protestant Reformation. Calvin officials say the 3,700-student institution founded in 1876 aims to extend its global reach and influence, as well as its commitment to Reformed Christianity. Goals over the next decade include expanding academic and extracurricular offerings, collaborating among disciplines and outside entities and updating its facilities. Officials say the name change better reflects its growth and expansion.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Caution At Summer Fairs

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is advising everyone how to be safe at fairs this summer. With so many county fairs taking place around the state, the department says swine flu becomes a concern. While swine influenza viruses do not usually infect humans, human infections have been reported. The disease can spread from pigs to humans in the same way flu spreads from person to person. The symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses. The state health department recommends washing your hands after being near livestock, not eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings, not touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying away from the pigs if you’re at high risk of serious flu complications. The department notes there is no human vaccine for swine influenza and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against it. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Wins 46th Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Champsionship

The results are in, and Kevin “Boomerang” Bartz of Niles is this year’s winner at the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship in Eau Claire. The contest was held Saturday at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm, and the 53-year-old Bartz captured his second championship win with a spit of more than 53 feet, three inches. Boomerang’s previous championship win was in 2015 with a spit of just under 49 feet. His 18-year-old daughter, Chloe, took home the winning title in the Women’s Division with a spit of more than 45 feet. Also winning glory at Saturday’s event was Eau Claire Village President John Glassman in the Dignitary Division and Joshua Hester in the Youth Division. This was the 46 the annual International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship. It was dedicated to its founder, Herb Teichman, who passed away in January.. ...Read Full Story

J.C. Penney Exits SWMI After 90+ Years

You’ve got to go back to the 1920s to find a time when J.C. Penney did not have a store in this area. The Orchards Mall location closed for good on Friday, despite efforts by the mall’s new owners to convince the retailer to stay. Those efforts included three years rent-free. J.C. Penney moved from downtown Benton Harbor to the mall about 40 years ago after operating in the city for roughly 55 years. The closure of the store is the latest setback for the Orchards Mall, which previously lost Carson’s as an anchor store when parent company Bon-Ton went out of business nationwide. The former Sears anchor store location has been empty for the last decade, save a Halloween store that has temporarily set up shop in that space.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Crash At Allegan-Van Buren County Border

A deadly crash at the border of Allegan and Van Buren counties is under investigation. South Haven Area Emergency Services sent a crew to assist sheriff’s deputies from both counties at 9:40 Sunday night on Baseline Road near 59th Street on the Allegan County side of Casco Township. One person was found dead inside a vehicle that had gone airborne when it hit the side of a bridge, landing upside down several hundred feet away. A passerby found the wreckage in a wooded area and called police. It’s not yet known how much time had passed between the crash and the discovery of the car. The name of the driver, who was the only one in the vehicle, has not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Lots Of Street Work Coming To Benton Harbor

There will soon be plenty of street work going on in Benton Harbor as the city commission this past week approved about $1 million in projects, all funded through the new city income tax. The road asset management plan the body considered is a way for immediate work to get underway to make the streets safer, said City Manager Darwin Watson. He told commissioners at a meeting on Monday the initial allocation will be spent to ensure roads with a PASER rating of poor would be made safe for travel in 2019. The work is focused 80% on local, neighborhood streets, and 20% on major streets. Mayor Marcus Muhammad called the vote to proceed historic.. ...Read Full Story