Local News Archives

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

Asphalt Work Approved For Napier

Some asphalt resurfacing is coming to Napier Avenue in Berrien County. At this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, the work in two areas was approved. First will be Napier from the Bainbridge and Benton Township line east to Morgan Road, and the second part will be from 625 feet east of Blue Creek to the Bainbridge and Benton Township line. The county board signed off on the asphalt resurfacing, traffic controls, and related work to be done by the Berrien County Road Department Thursday. The total cost of the project will be $620,000, although the county’s share will only be $22,000. Federal funds will contribute to the project, which has the approval of the Michigan Department of Transportation.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Testing Samples From Lake Michigan After Sighting Of Possible Algae Bloom

The Berrien County Health Department is working with the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to investigate a greenish patch that was reported on the surface of Lake Michigan off St. Joseph this week. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News while there were some concerns it could be an algae bloom, that’s not thought to be likely.. ...Read Full Story

Michiganders Urged to Fight For Lower Prescription Costs

The rising cost of prescription drug prices continues to make headlines, and Michiganders are encouraged to help find solutions. AARP Michigan is hosting two upcoming Prescription Drug Community Conversations next Monday. AARP Associate State Director for Communications Mark Hornbeck explains that the annual average cost of a brand-name drug has more than tripled over the past decade, outpacing inflation by roughly 400%.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Treasurer: County Speeding Ticket Money For Libraries Up 32%

If you’ve ever wondered where the money you pay for a speeding ticket goes, Cass County Treasurer Hope Anderson has the answer. She says county treasurers distribute the money collected to public libraries. This year, her office has distributed nearly $200,000, up 32% from last year. Anderson says most of the money has gone to the Cass County Public Library. Penal fines going to libraries has been part of the Michigan Constitution since Michigan became a state in 1835.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Priest Facing Charges For 2013 Binding Of Teen Boy

A Coloma priest is facing serious charges that would require him to be a registered sex offender if found guilty. Attorney General Dana Nessel is charging 57-year-old Father Brian Stanley with false imprisonment for allegedly holding a teenage boy against his will in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in Otsego in 2013. The teen was wrapped in Saran wrap and masking tape, with the tape going over his eyes and mouth, and left alone in the room for more than an hour before the priest let him go. Nessel says the charge comes from information seized from all seven Michigan diocese last October, and says Archdiocese records indicate Stanley had a history of similar conduct for decades with binding materials. She says that conduct is a sexually motivated crime. Nessel says her team is going through millions of pages of documents seized last year, and expects to charge more clergy members.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Donate More Than 800 Backpacks Filled With School Supplies

More than 800 backpacks filled with school supplies have been donated to schools around southwest Michigan and northern Indiana by the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi. The Pokagons tell us employees at the Four Winds Casinos contributed to the giveaway with a voluntary payroll deduction, raising more than $6,000. The casinos then chipped in another $5,000. In total, they gave out 816 backpacks, each stuffed with pencils, markers, pens, crayons, notebooks, and scissors. Four Winds Casinos COO Frank Freedman says the employees have always risen to the occasion when it comes to helping the community.. ...Read Full Story

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Holds Meeting On Palisades’ Decommissioning

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township only has about three years remaining to be producing electricity for west Michigan before Entergy shuts it down for good. With the upcoming decommissioning of the plant, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent several officials to Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center Wednesday night to discuss the procedure and get feedback from area residents. The NRC’s Bruce Watson explained to WSJM News that decommissioning is a lengthy process.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks NAFTA Replacement

With Vice President Mike Pence in Michigan this week to address the Economic Club of Detroit, he urged the state’s congressional delegation to support the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, intended to replace NAFTA. We asked Congressman Fred Upton what he thinks of the USMCA. He tells WSJM News he believes it’s a plus.. ...Read Full Story

Healthy Home Fair Coming Up In Hartford

The Van Buren Conservation District is planning the second annual Healthy Home Fair in Hartford for next month. The district’s Erin Fuller tells us last year’s event went well and they’re hoping to do even better this year. The fair will be held at Ely Park On September 12 from 3 to 6 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Library Put Out Survey

A survey has been put online by the St. Joseph Library as it seeks to improve services. Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library Director Stephanie Masin tells WSJM News they want to use the information obtained from the survey to better plan for the future as more varied services are offered.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Planning Variable Speed Signs For Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning to install new signs along I-94 in Van Buren County to warn drivers of conditions that should make them slow down. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the current MDOT five year plan calls for those variable speed signs in 2023. The signs will warn drivers about poor weather conditions, for example.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested After Roughly 20-Mile Wrong-Way Drive On I-94

Drivers heading east on I-94 in Van Buren County had some terrifying moments Tuesday night when an SUV was headed west in their lanes for just over 20 miles. Paw Paw and Mattawan police began chasing 47-year-old Ida King shortly before 10 p.m. after dispatch received several 911 calls of a wrong-way driver going west on the highway, starting at the Mattawan exit. King’s vehicle finally came to a stop after Pokagon Tribal Police put out stop sticks near Hartford, and three of her tires blew out. No other vehicles were hit according to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. King was found to be drunk and had several warrants for her arrest out of mid-Michigan, including one for child neglect in Eaton County. She is locked up in the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Nesbitt Wants To Wipe Out Michigan’s Income Tax

There is a proposal in the works in the state Senate to do away with Michigan’s income tax.  Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton is behind the idea to zero out the 4.25% income tax by reducing it by a tenth of a percent over the course of several decades. Nesbitt tells WSJM News the state functioned just fine without an income tax until it was enacted in the 1960s, and looks at other states such as Texas, Nevada and Florida where the state economies are growing and residents do not have an income tax.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven HS Principal Named Superintendent In Iron Mountain

Another area educator is moving on to a new post. South Haven High School principal Jerry Sardina has been selected as the new superintendent of the Iron Mountain School District in the Upper Peninsula. Sardina was selected Monday night in a unanimous vote by the school board after two interviews. Contract negotiations are underway. South Haven Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Schooley tells WSJM News they wish Sardina well and says he will remain on site for about the next two or three weeks, but acknowledges the timing for the district is “not ideal.” Schooley says assistant principal Ryan Williamson will take over for the time being.. ...Read Full Story