Local News Archives

Opioid Prescriptions Going Down

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in Michigan is going down. LARA says the rate was down 15% in 2018 from 2017. It credits the drop with the recently-overhauled Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, which tracks controlled substance prescriptions. LARA Director Orlene Hawks says in a promotional video for MAPS that it’s useful to prescribers and pharmacists.. ...Read Full Story

Overdose Prevention Training Planned At Niles-Buchanan YMCA

Anyone who would like to learn how they could help someone experiencing a drug overdose will have a chance to do so next week in Niles. Denise Peters with the Niles-Buchanan branch of the YMCA of Southwest Michigan tells WSJM News they’re hosting a training session next Wednesday. She says the session will demonstrate how to administer anti-overdose drug Naloxone, and also go over the overall opioid epidemic and related topics.. ...Read Full Story

Granholm To Speak In South Haven In September

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will be the next guest of the South Haven Speaker Series. She’s set to present “Top Trends Affecting Michigan” at South Haven High School’s Listiak Auditorium on September 19. Granholm resumes the speaker series season after it took a break for the summer. Tickets to attend are $10. Coming up next after Granholm will be Hope College psychology professor David Myers on October 17 with “Smart Thinking in the Post-Truth Age.” You can find out more at SouthHavenSpeakerSeries.org.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Reviewing School Board’s Plan For Benton Harbor Schools

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she and her team are reviewing the plan put together by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education for turning the school district around. Last Friday, the school board turned down the governor’s proposal to close Benton Harbor High School so the district could receive substantial debt relief. In a letter dated Tuesday, Whitmer writes she looks forward to “working in partnership toward a solution that includes clear benchmarks, accountability, and more serious measures if these benchmarks are not satisfied” when addressing the district’s problems. The governor adds she and her team are carefully reviewing documents submitted by the school board. She adds her office will contact the school board by the end of the week to schedule another meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Double Murder-Suicide Under Investigation In Kalamazoo

A double murder-suicide is under investigation in Kalamazoo. Authorities say a 44-year-old woman intentionally drove a vehicle carrying her twin 9-year-old daughters into the Kalamazoo River Monday night, and searchers have found all three. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says officers late Monday found two upset girls at a drug store who had been let out of the car before the woman drove into the water. Police found the submerged vehicle along with the bodies of the woman and one child. The other child’s body was found in the river. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Start Work On US-12 Bridge Over St. Joseph River In Niles Monday

Expect a few delays in the Niles area for the next few months on US-12. The Michigan Department of Transportation will start repairing the US-12 bridge over the St. Joseph River between Bond Street and West River Road on Monday. The work is expected to last until the start of November. The $3.8 million project will include patches to the bridge deck, replacing joints, making repairs to the steel, and painting. MDOT will keep a lane open in each direction through the duration of the work, but there will be an 11-foot width restriction on vehicles going over the bridge during the construction.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Forms Task Force To Support Women, Girls In Sports

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has created a task force to support and promote opportunities for girls and women in sports. The group formed Monday by an executive order must make initial findings and recommendations before March 2021. The 15-member task force will be chaired by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who formerly led a nonprofit dedicated to advancing equality through sports. Whitmer says girls and women deserve the same opportunities as male athletes. She says even with the enactment of Title IX nearly 50 years ago, sports opportunities for girls and women remain limited, and more work remains to even the playing field. Whitmer says just one Division 1 collegiate athletic program in Michigan is led by a woman. Benson says Michigan has a chance to become a “national model.”. ...Read Full Story

City Commissioners S/how Support For High School

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have stated their unanimous support for keeping Benton Harbor High School open and for forgiving the school district’s debt. At a Monday meeting, the commission approved the Fresh Start Resolution, which has been promoted by Elnora Gavin, a former member of the local school board. She told the commission it’s state policies that have failed Benton Harbor Area Schools, and it should be given relief.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Approves Property Tax Freezes For UFCU, Fiskars

After a week delay, Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificates are now in place for two developments in the city of St. Joseph. The city commission tabled the requests by United Federal Credit Union for its future headquarters at 150 Hilltop and to allow Fiskars to renovate one of its office buildings in the Edgewater district last week to allow commissioners more time to go through the details. Fiskars president Erik Fiskars said the renovations are needed because the property was designed to the specifications of TransAmerica in the 1990s and is now outdated.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Urges Congress To Open Banks To Marijuana Industry

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is among 18 governors to sign a letter urging Congress to open the U.S. banking system to the legal marijuana industry. In the letter written Friday and released Monday, the governors say the cash-only environment is a threat to public safety and a burden for governments that tax and regulate marijuana businesses. Whitmer, a Democrat, says in a written statement that states are seeking a “real solution to a real problem.” Most banks will not do business with the industry because the federal government still considers marijuana illegal. Michigan voters legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes last fall, a decade after approving medical marijuana. Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel was among 33 attorneys
general to sign a similar letter to Congress last month.. ...Read Full Story

Upgrades To Start In July At Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

The next phase of construction at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area in South Haven Township will get underway at the start of July. Abonmarche will be paving the existing gravel parking lot and putting in two new pit toilets, new walkways and benches, building a new rain garden, and putting in a kayak rack for the Lake Michigan Water Trail, which runs adjacent to Pilgrim Haven. It’s expected the work will be done in the first week of August.. ...Read Full Story

Police Dive Teams Recover Sunken Boat In Van Buren County

A 16-foot Duffy Cat pontoon boat that sank in Lake Brownwood in Van Buren County in May is now back on land. The owner of the boat was out on the water with friends when it began to sink on May 25 and went down in about 36 feet of water. The Van Buren County and Allegan County dive teams pulled the boat up last week using lift bags during a training dive. After floating it to the surface and towing it to shore, it was turned back over to the owner. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says the pontoon floats had leaks which had been filling with water before it was taken out and sank over Memorial Day weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Bicyclist Busted For Meth Possession In Dowagiac

Meth possession busts have become so common in recent years that they almost don’t warrant news coverage, but a weekend arrest in Dowagiac was a bit on the unusual side. An officer spotted a man on a bicycle in the middle/left turn lane of M-51 without any lights or reflective clothing just after midnight Saturday morning, and stopped him in the parking lot of the Family Fare grocery store. The officer recognized the man as someone he’d previously dealt with, and found he had four bench warrants for his arrest. His K9 Officer Tole alerted the officer to narcotics in the man’s backpack, and meth, meth smoking pipes, and other drug items were found. The 31-year-old is in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on the drug charges along with the outstanding warrants.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department: Avoid Ticks This Summer

The Berrien County Health Department wants everyone to be aware of the dangers of ticks, and how to avoid them this summer. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News ticks spread Lyme disease, which typically appears with a tell-tale “bull’s eye rash.” She says if you’re outdoors this summer, you should check yourself for ticks when you get home. Know where ticks are likely to grab on to you.. ...Read Full Story

Planners Seek Input On Proposed Road Projects

Public input is being sought on a multi-year transportation plan for the Niles, Buchanan, and Edwardsburg areas. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission associate planner Brandon Kovnat tells WSJM News the Niles-Buchanan-Cass Area Transportation Study, or NATS,  put together the plan laying out how federal road dollars will be spent.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County To Collect Pesticides This Month

This month will bring a chance for anyone in Berrien County to rid themselves of unneeded pesticides. Berrien County Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells WSJM News a Clean Sweep pesticide collection day will be Wednesday, June 26. You have to register at least two weeks in advance. She says it’s a free way for anyone to get rid of old pesticides so they don’t wind up in the environment. Last year’s two summer events collected more than 27,000 pounds of pesticides.. ...Read Full Story

Police Find Body In Niles Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says it believes it has found the body of a Niles area man who was reported missing this month. Police say they started looking for 47-year-old Garen Patrick Collins on June 9 when he was reported missing from the Riverfront Park Campground along the Dowagiac River in Niles Township. On Saturday, a team of first responders were searching a wooded area along the Dowagiac River when they found a body they believe to be Collins. It was found about 100 yards from the river with no obvious signs of foul play. The body has been taken to Western Michigan University for an autopsy on Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Promoting Beach Smoking Ban

The city of South Haven is stepping up publicity for its smoking ban at parks and beaches. Public Works Director Bill Hunter tells WSJM News the city council approved the ban last July, and it took effect ten days later. This year, the city is increasing efforts to make sure people know there’s no smoking allowed on it beaches and in parks.. ...Read Full Story

Toll Road Study Possible In Michigan

There are just 15 states in the U.S. without toll roads, with Michigan being one of them. It was considered in the 1950s for the routes that became I-94 and I-75, but the idea was shelved because any highways that are federally-funded are not eligible to be toll roads. Now, there’s a state representative from Brighton who is proposing a study to see if money raised in that form would be more than the federal dollars, with the goal of putting that money into road repairs.. ...Read Full Story

State Sees Progress On Employment For Those Receiving Mental Health Services

The employment rate is going up in Michigan for those suffering from a major mental illness and getting one form of state help. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin says the latest report shows in 2018 there was 30% employment among those who received Individual Placement and Support services, compared to an employment rate of 10% in 2016. Sutfin says Individual Placement and Support services, or IPS, is a state program that helps people living with behavioral health conditions find jobs.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Inmate’s Death Under Investigation

From the Associated Press — A sheriff’s office in western Michigan has reopened its investigation into the death of a jail inmate following a television station’s reports about the circumstances of the death. WOOD-TV ‘s review of surveillance video from the Muskegon County jail revealed a guard watched 39-year-old Paul Bulthouse suffer one of 17 seizures, then walked away. Sheriff Michael Poulin said Thursday his department’s internal investigation hadn’t uncovered that detail. The department had earlier closed its investigation into Bulthouse’s April 4 death, finding no wrongdoing. The TV station’s investigation was based on video from the inside and outside of Bulthouse’s cell that was the obtained from the jail through a public records request. Bulthouse’s doctor has said the jail cut off Bulthouse’s prescription of a medicine that’s used to manage panic attacks and seizures.. ...Read Full Story

Mountain Bikes Donated To Love Creek County Park

The Berrien County Parks Department has received a donation of eight adult and six child-sized mountain bikes for use at Love Creek County Park. The bikes come courtesy of Whirlpool Corporation and the Bike Michiana Coalition. They’ll be used on the mountain biking trails at Love Creek County Park, and the public will be able to rent the adult ones for the cost of $10 an hour. The children’s bikes will be complimentary with the rental of an adult bike. Love Creek County Park naturalist Derek Pelc says the donations create another recreational opportunity at the Berrien Center park, adding someone who is thinking about buying a mountain bike can now just rent one to check them out. Park staff remind everyone to ride safely, wear a helmet, and respect nature.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies After Falling Into Cass County Lake

An Illinois man has died after he was pulled out of Donnell Lake in Cass County this month. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says 50-year-old Parish Swanson was out on a dock in the 17,000 block of Donnell Lake Street the afternoon of June 8 when he was pushed into the water by his sons as they were playing around with him. After a short time underwater, Swanson was brought back to shore by his sons and CPR was given. Swanson was taken to Elkhart General Hospital and listed in critical condition. The sheriff’s department says he has died as a result of the injuries he sustained. It adds no foul play or suspicious intent are suspected, and the investigation has been closed out as an accidental death.. ...Read Full Story

AG Nessel: New Charges Will Be Filed From Flint Water Crisis

Millions of new documents never reviewed related to the Flint water crisis are now being scoured by the new prosecution team looking into what happened. Attorney General Dana Nessel says they have about 20-times more information that was was previously given to prosecutors under former AG Bill Schuette. The state dismissed all charges against eight people on Thursday, including former Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon, who had been accused of not informing people fast enough regarding a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed more than a dozen people.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Hopes To Continue Working With State, Administration Responds

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education wants to continue working with the state on finding a solution to the school district’s problems. At a meeting today, the board turned down a May 24 proposal from the governor’s office to suspend operations at the high school in order to resolve a large part of the district’s debt. Reading a motion, board Vice President Joseph Taylor said the board would prefer not to issue a response out of concern of dividing the community, but its attorney advised a response was needed.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Public Safety Launches Anonymous Tip App

Letting police in Benton Harbor know of crimes is now easier for smartphone users. The city has released its Tip411 mobile app called Benton Harbor DPS, which can be found in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It is a free download that lets people send in tips and photos anonymously. Deputy Public Safety Director Mike Clark talked to WSJM News in April when the city approved the app about the privacy of it.. ...Read Full Story

No Deal – Benton Harbor School Board Rejects State Plan To Suspend High School, Eliminate Debt

No deal. The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has voted to reject the proposal from the state to temporarily close Benton Harbor High School in exchange for wiping out $12 million of its $18 million in debt. The board vote came shortly before 1 this afternoon at a special meeting. Board members will send more detailed information about their proposal, given to the governor’s office along with the state departments of Treasury and Education on Wednesday. They are hopeful the state will be willing to negotiate an agreement that can help the district financially and academically while still keeping Benton Harbor High School open.. ...Read Full Story

New Poll Shows Former VP Biden Up 11% Over President Trump In Michigan

For what it’s worth, there’s a new poll of Michigan voters showing former Vice President Joe Biden with a wide lead over President Trump in the state. EPIC-MRA finds a double-digit lead for the Democrat at the top of the national polls for his party’s 2020 nomination. The survey gives Biden a 52-to-41-percent lead over the incumbent Republican, who in 2016 became the first in his party to win in Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988. For those who outright support either candidate, Biden leads 49% to 37%. In the head-to-head hypothetical matchup, Democrats support the former VP by a 92-to-2 percent margin, while 83-percent of Republicans favor re-electing President Trump. However, 12% of Michigan Republicans say they’d vote for Biden if the election were between the two right now.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Calls Special Meeting June 17

The St. Joseph City Commission won’t be putting off action on a pair of Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificates which were tabled earlier this week. They’ve called a special meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. to hold the public hearings for the requests by Untied Federal Credit Union to revamp the former Whirlpool building at 150 Hilltop and for Fiskars in the Edgewater district for an overhaul of its property at 500 Momany. Construction on the latter had been slated to start this past Tuesday, but the city commission voted to table both to allow commissioners more time to review the requests this past Monday night.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In Crack Cocaine Bust

Two 37-year-old men are in the Berrien County Jail on drug charges after the Southwest Enforcement Team carried out a narcotics raid in Benton Harbor this morning. Troy McClinton is facing a charge of possession with intent to deliver crack, while Ricky Coates was arrested for a second offense of possession of crack cocaine and possession of ammunition by a felon. Their arrests followed a three-month investigation into distribution of illegal narcotics. Detectives found crack cocaine, packaging material, scales, ammo, and other drug-related items during the raid.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Announces New Solar Facility

Indiana Michigan Power has announced its next solar farm, and this one will be its biggest. I&M spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News the facility in South Bend will be near the Indiana Toll Road and about 10 miles northeast of the University of Notre Dame.. ...Read Full Story

Juneteenth Celebration This Weekend In Benton Harbor

Set for Saturday is a Juneteenth celebration in Benton Harbor. Juneteenth is an annual event to mark the end of slavery in the United States. It started in 1865 on June 19. The local event will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a parade from Broadway Park to the Arts and Cultural Center at 275 Pipestone Road. Once the parade is finished, there will be music, youth groups, vendors, and action tables at the Arts and Cultural Center. Democratic candidate for Congress Jon Hoadley will also be present. All are welcome to take part in the festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit College Closing

From the Associated Press — A Catholic graduate college that has operated in Detroit for 92 years will close in December at the end of its upcoming fall semester. Marygrove College announced Wednesday it had informed staff and its 305 students of the decision due to financial reasons. It closed its undergraduate programs two years ago. Founded by the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Marygrove opened in 1905 as St. Mary’s College in Monroe and relocated to Detroit in 1927. Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns says the college has accumulated much debt. She said it has reached an agreement with Oakland University to accommodate students who are within a year of finishing their degrees and will make similar arrangements with other schools as needed.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Want Drivers To Be Cautious Around Farm Vehicles

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is cracking down on drivers who illegally pass farm vehicles moving large equipment on public roads. Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair Mac Elliot tells WSJM News he’s been hearing from farmers about people who recklessly go around them as they’re moving ag equipment. He says those drivers need a little patience.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Warn About Vigilante Actions

A growing number of Michigan residents are playing a version of To Catch a Predator, and police want it to stop. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Liz Rich says it’s happening across the country. It started here about six months ago. Vigilantes taking to the internet looking for those trolling for underage sex.. ...Read Full Story

Area Food Pantries Get Boost

Dozens of food pantries in Berrien and Cass counties have stocked shelves thanks to the efforts of 26 businesses that took part in the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s “Christmas in June” challenge. Over 20,000 items have been delivered to 32 pantries to help those who need it, as summer donations typically fall dramatically and leave people with limited options. The United Way says four companies competed to see which could collect more items: Indiana Michigan Power, Gast Manufacturing, Spectrum Health Lakeland, and Whirlpool. Indiana Michigan Power came out on top with 12,000 food items collected, and between the four accounted for 18,600 of the items donated. Christmas in June is part of a worldwide United Way “Day of Action” effort in June, during which tens of thousands of people across the globe volunteer with local United Ways to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.. ...Read Full Story

Flooding Again Closes Part Of Dunkley Avenue In South Haven

Flooding has part of Dunkley Avenue closed in South Haven. Waves on Lake Michigan today are between six and 10 feet, and the National Weather Service says flooding is likely from the Indiana border north to Grand Haven. For the second time this week, the city of South Haven has shut down Dunkley Avenue north of Dyckman Avenue to just past Black River Park, with a detour taking drivers along Broadway, Phoenix Street, Bailey Avenue, and Wells Street to get to Dunkley Avenue in order to go to the park.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Area Schools Board Of Education To Meet Friday On Whitmer Plan

Facing a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Friday to make a decision on the future of Benton Harbor High School, the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will meet at noon tomorrow. The agenda includes discussion of the plan put forth by the Whitmer administration to suspend operations at the high school for at least a few years in order to get the district’s finances and academics in order. Board members met with members of the governor’s administration yesterday in Lansing to present their alternative that would keep the high school open, restructure the debt, and improve student achievement. Governor Whitmer was not at the meeting, but her office says she will be reviewing the plan. Whitmer told a crowd at a Benton Harbor church last week that she is open to any viable alternative that can be presented, adding she does not want to have the entire district dissolved by the Legislature. Her plan would wipe out 12-million of the district’s 18-million debt and turn BHAS into a K-8 district for several years.. ...Read Full Story

Group Slams Plan To Slash Transit Funding

Advocates for public transit are sounding the alarm about the Michigan House budget, which had a hearing Wednesday in the House Appropriations Committee. The budget proposal would trim $36 million from public-transit programs and related services, in order to preserve funding for road repairs and lower gas taxes. The cuts include 70% of the funding for senior dial-a-ride shuttle vans, which could lead to 350,000 fewer trips per year. Megan Owens, with the nonprofit community group Transportation Riders United or TRU, says the cuts would hit seniors, people with disabilities and lower-income families the hardest.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Try To Block Spending On Detroit To Canada Bridge

From the Associated Press — Republicans who control the Michigan House are proposing to prohibit the state from spending money on a new bridge between Detroit and Canada, even though Canada has been fully reimbursing the state for its expenses. The change was made by a committee Wednesday and sent to the House. Critics warn the move could halt work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge,
which Canada is paying for entirely. A Republican lawmaker who helped write the transportation budget denies work on the bridge would stop and says he just wants more transparency about spending. Budget plans proposed by the Republican-led Senate and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer would not include new restrictions against bridge work. The Canadian-financed span over the Detroit River linking Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit is expected to open in 2024.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Presents High School Plan In Lansing

Members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education met Wednesday with state officials in Lansing to discuss alternatives to closing the district’s high school. The proposed closure is a move that Governor Gretchen Whitmer is seeking to resolve the district’s $18 million in debt and poor academic outcomes. Whitmer told The Detroit News on Tuesday her plan to at least suspend the high school for a while and send the students to surrounding districts isn’t necessarily set in stone.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Talks Fundraiser For Stevensville Woman

A woman who was helped earlier this year by the Berrien County Treasurer’s Hopeful Home Fund could use some more help, and a weekend fundraiser seeks to do just that. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News Shannon O’Brien is battling cancer. She’s a working mom with five kids, three of them triplets, and sought a tax payment plan on her Stevensville property earlier this year. Witkowski says that’s when he thought she could benefit from the Hopeful Home Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. Wendzel Testifies On Bills To Modernize Commercial Fishing Laws

Commercial fishing is not a big business on the Great Lakes, with just six companies fishing in Lake Michigan, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the laws governing the industry need overhauling. Three bills are now before the state House Natural Resources Committee, with one sponsored by Representative Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet regarding nets used by commercial fishing operations.. ...Read Full Story

Search Underway For Missing Man In Niles Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is trying to find a 47-year-old man reported missing from the Riverfront Park Campground on the Dowagiac River in Niles Township. He is Garen Collins, who lives at the campground. Investigators say his car was found in the parking lot of the Pucker Street Dam, but he was nowhere to be seen. A search is underway by the sheriff’s office and the Niles Township Fire Department. Collins is 6’2″, 265 pounds with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a goatee.. ...Read Full Story

Verdict Reached In Case Against Nassar’s Ex-Boss At Michigan State University

A former dean who had oversight of now-imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University has been found guilty of neglect of duty but acquitted on a more serious criminal sexual conduct charge. William Strampel was also convicted Wednesday of misconduct in office. Jurors found the 71-year-old Strampel not guilty of felony criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. He had been accused of abusing his power to sexually harass female students. The ex-dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine was the first person charged after Michigan’s attorney general launched an investigation in 2017 into how Michigan State handled complaints against Nassar, who pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. Nassar is serving decades in federal prison for the child pornography conviction, and will spend the rest of his days in a Michigan prison if he lives to the end of his federal term.. ...Read Full Story