Local News Archives

Harbor Country Mission Aims To Help Working Poor, Homeless

It’s been about a year since Harbor Country Mission opened up its warehouse on Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman, and the place has taken off. The mission’s David Heyn tells WSJM News he was a pastor when he and his wife started collecting items for those in need. They just kept things like coffeemakers and clothing in a closet, but soon realized a lot of people needed help.. ...Read Full Story

Two Men Arrested In Cass County Meth Bust

Two southwest Michigan men are locked up in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust. The sheriff’s department says a 47-year-old Porter Township man and a 36-year-old Three Rivers man were arrested Thursday at the older suspect’s home on Hazel Street. Officers seized around 25 grams of meth along with drug paraphernalia inside the home. The two will be charged with possession with intent to deliver meth, and the homeowner is also facing a charge of maintaining a drug house. The investigation is ongoing.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Schools Finalize Contract With New Superintendent

It’s official. The new superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools is Dr. Thomas Bruce, as he and the school board have reached a contract. Outgoing superintendent Ann Cardon sent an email to parents last night confirming that move and to also release the calendar for the upcoming academic year, which was also approved Thursday evening at a special meeting of the school board. Cardon is headed north to become the superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools next week. Dr. Bruce is coming to St. Joseph from Arcadia, California, where he had been Arcadia Unified School District’s director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. He’s a native of Howell, located between Lansing and Detroit, and began his education career in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Court Throws Out DUI Evidence; Cop Had Wrong Speed Limit

From the Associated Press — A man convicted of drunk driving in western Michigan has won an appeal after it turned out that he was under the speed limit when stopped by police, not over it. Anthony Owen was told he was going 43 mph in a 25 mph zone in Saranac in Ionia County. But attorney Ed Sternisha argued that the speed limit actually was 55 mph by default because there was no sign on southbound Parsonage Road. The Michigan appeals court agreed, saying the traffic stop by a sheriff’s deputy in 2015 was illegal. As a result, the court threw out evidence of drunken driving that stemmed from the stop. The court says a “reasonably competent” officer should have known that he couldn’t stop Owen for speeding.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Appoints Interim Manager

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have appointed former City Manager Ellis Mitchell to serve as the new interim city manager. That’s after Darwin Watson was fired from the city manager position Monday. At a Thursday special meeting, the commission approved Mitchell to serve while a search is done for the next manager. Mitchell told us he served as city manager in Benton Harbor from 1983 to 1987. He also said he most recently worked as mobility manager at Dial a Ride. During Thursday’s session but after the vote, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the drama of the past week has created chaos.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Accepts Waterways Grant

A state grant to allow for new access points to be installed along the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph has been accepted by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. At this week’s meeting, the board accepted the $132,000 unanimously and without comment. Cornerstone Alliance and the Berrien County Community Development Department sought the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant in order to put in four access points, two in St. Joe and two in Benton Harbor. The goal is to have water taxis running between the points during the summer. Planners want to have the taxis working in time for the next Senior PGA Championship. Cornerstone Alliance has contributed $147,000 to the effort.. ...Read Full Story

County Looking At Parks Costs

Berrien County Commissioners are looking at the possibility of a small increase in the parks millage. At this week’s board of commissioners meeting, Commissioner Bill Chickering said there are big parks expenses on the way, and more money will be needed. He told WSJM News a committee heard from Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey that he’s been crunching some numbers.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Urges State To Make Power Outage Credit Automatic

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sent a letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission asking it to require utility companies with smart meters to automatically credit consumers’ bills for prolonged power outages. Nessel this week reminded utility customers in the state there is a law allowing them a $25 outage credit when they experience a power outage that lasts longer than 16 hours. The credit is available as long as there isn’t a general emergency taking place. Nessel’s office says customers can also receive the credit when there’s been a failure to restore electric service within 120 hours after an interruption that occurred during catastrophic conditions, or when there are repetitive interruptions of the same circuit more than seven times in a 12 month period. In her letter to the MPSC, Nessel noted electric service interruption rules were written years before the implementation of smart meters. She says the new tech should make the credit automatic. You can see Nessel’s letter to the MPSC right here.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Looks To Stabilize Enrollment

As leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools work to arrange a turnaround plan with the state, they’re also hoping to undo the damage done by recent talk of the high school closing. At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson noted enrollment has dropped since the governor proposed closing Benton Harbor High School. She says her team has been reaching out to parents to let them know the school district is a safe place for their kids.. ...Read Full Story

Suburban Detroit Mom Arrested With .306 BAC, Kids In Car

A suburban Detroit mother is facing some stiff penalties following her drunk driving arrest last month. Milford police have released the dash cam video of her arrest after crashing her car into a ditch at Fort Dearborn with her two young sons in the backseat of the car, and not properly restrained. While the sobriety test of the woman couldn’t be seen in the video due to an ambulance being in front of the police car, the audio was crystal clear with an arresting officer telling her to blow as hard as she could into the Breathalyzer. After the reading, the officer was amazed.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Honors Volunteer Of The Year

The 2018-19 Volunteer of the Year for the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is Camille Sandel of Stevensville. She was recently recognized with the award at the Mendel Center’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner and reception this month. Sandel is among nearly 100 active volunteers, and has been involved for 24 years, normally helping with 25 or more shows a year. Those include Mainstage performances, Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Events, and LMC Performing Arts Department productions. Mendel Center Mainstage director Grace Kelmer called her “part of the backbone of the Mendel Center Volunteer Corps.”. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. Indiana Michigan Power brought it back online just before 1 a.m. today after a brief forced outage which began around 8:30 Sunday morning. The reactor was taken offline after operators noted a gradual decline in performance of both of the unit’s two non-essential service water pumps. That water is used to maintain cooling for the main turbine’s lube oil system and other non-nuclear and non-safety-related systems. A system inspection determined the problem was the pump strainers had become clogged by debris from Lake Michigan. Those parts were cleaned, inspected again, and put back into service. Officials say the decision to take the unit offline was “conservative” in order to ensure a safe and controlled shutdown. Unit 1 stayed at full power.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Opposes Dropping Wolf Protections

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is opposing a federal plan to drop gray wolves from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf has recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection. More than 5,000 live in the contiguous U.S., including roughly 660 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The service wants to turn management of the species over to the states. In comments submitted recently, Nessel says the Fish and Wildlife Service has tried repeatedly to remove wolves from the protected list without providing adequate justification. She says eliminating the federal shield would lead to renewed hunting and could imperil the species. Wolves in the Lower 48 were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction before legal protection was granted in the 1970s.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Dedicates Learning Center To Former Trustee

Southwestern Michigan College has dedicated a portion of its Fred L. Mathews Library to a former trustee who passed away in 2017. The Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center was officially dedicated on Tuesday. SMC says the center is located in the Mathews Library, one of SMC’s three original buildings. Carole Tate served on the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees for 18 years, and was the only trustee from the Van Buren County portion of SMC’s district. She died on October 7, 2017 in Arizona. SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Jerdon says “Carole was an exceptional trustee” who he had the privilege of serving with. Throughout her career, Tate worked as the Van Buren District Library children’s librarian and as a media specialist for Lakeshore, Marcellus, and Decatur public schools.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Land Auction Tuesday

Coming up Tuesday will be the next Berrien County Land Auction. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the land bank will auction off properties that were seized in foreclosure, and this year there is one that has attracted a huge amount of interest. It’s a house at 317 North Veronica Court in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

State: No Unusual Cancer Stats Near Medical Manufacturer

From the Associated Press — The Michigan health department says it didn’t find a significant increase in cancer among people near a medical-device manufacturer in Grand Rapids. The only exception over a 15-year period was a blood cancer, but the department says it was based on 25 cases and wasn’t significantly higher than the overall state rate. Viant Medical has been under scrutiny over its use of ethylene oxide, a colorless gas linked to cancer. In March, the company said it would stop sterilizing equipment at the facility by the end of the year. State regulators have issued at least four pollution violations over the past two years. The health department says there are a few caveats to its work. It’s possible that people have left the area. The department also says the state cancer registry doesn’t have information to make a link to environmental contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Gets Perfect Score On Disability Equality Index

Make it a perfect 100% for the third straight year for Whirlpool Corporation on the 2019 Disability Equality Index. The Benton Harbor-based appliance maker is ranked once again as one of the best places to work for people with disabilities. The DEI is regarded as the most comprehensive annual benchmarking tool for American companies to self-report their disability practices and procedures. In a statement, Whirlpool senior vice president and chief human resources officer Carey Martin says the company has “always taken great pride in creating an inclusive environment where all employees are empowered to succeed personally and professionally.” The DEI is a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities.. ...Read Full Story

Officials To Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors: Don’t Go Down Dune

First responders are warning visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan to not attempt walking down a 450-foot-tall dune to Lake Michigan. In recent years, it has become one of the most notorious rescue spots in the National Park system. Glen Lake Fire Chief Bryan Ferguson says visitors to the park’s Number 9 Overlook often underestimate the challenge of traversing the dune.. ...Read Full Story

Area Home Sales Flat In June, Prices Up

The number of existing home sales in southwest Michigan is leveling off, but the prices keep going up. The latest report from the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors shows 367 homes were sold in the region in June, the exact same number as last year following year-over-year increases of 20% in both April and May. Association executive Alan Jeffries says the average sales price last month jumped 14% from 2018 to $263,124 from $231,009. Existing home sales year-to-date are up 5% from last year. June’s median selling price was up 8% to $186,001 from $172,000 last year. The report covers Berrien and Cass counties along with the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren County.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested Following Long Heroin Trafficking Investigation

A long investigation into heroin trafficking in southwest Michigan has landed a 25-year-old Benton Harbor resident behind bars. Detectives from the multi-agency Southwest Enforcement Team arrested Mayquon Morrison on Tuesday at a home in the one-thousand block of Superior Street after executing a search warrant. Officers found a handgun reported stolen out of St. Joseph Township in late June along with an undisclosed amount of heroin. Morrison faces five charges, including four weapons counts along with possession with intent to deliver heroin.. ...Read Full Story

Environmentalists Want Candidates To Focus On Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Environmental groups in the Great Lakes region want the 2020 presidential candidates to talk more about clean water. Groups led by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition released a five-part platform Tuesday that they’ll ask the candidates to support. It seeks $475 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which deals with chronic problems such as toxic pollution and wetlands loss. Other proposals include upgrading drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, keeping invasive species such as Asian carp out of the lakes, reducing harmful algae blooms and upholding clean-water laws. Coalition executive director Laura Rubin said each candidate should offer plans for providing clean drinking water, calling it the campaign’s biggest issue. The groups released their proposals ahead of Democratic presidential debates scheduled for July 30-31 in Detroit.. ...Read Full Story