Local News Archives

South Haven Public Schools Approve WAY Program For Alternative High School

A new alternative high school is being launched by South Haven Public Schools. It’s called the WAY program, which stands for Widening Achievement for Youth, and will be just the seventh program of its kind in the state according to the district. WAY will be on the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College and will be open to second semester freshmen through 12th graders. They will be working on project-based courses both online and in-person. The district says entrance to WAY South Haven will be limited, and placement will be granted through an application process. There will be openings for non-resident students outside of the district as well, and that will done through Schools of Choice. Superintendent Kevin Schooley says he’s seen the program work in other areas for kids who aren’t buying into the traditional high school experience and then flourish and reengage in their education using WAY.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance Reform Signed By Governor Whitmer

Governor Whitmer has put pen to paper and made it official. After years of trying by lawmakers, the no-fault auto insurance system in Michigan has been overhauled. She signed Senate Bill 1 into law this morning on Mackinac Island, a bipartisan reform of the system which lawmakers say will result in lower prices for insurance premiums. The bill was sponsored by Lawton Republican Aric Nesbitt.. ...Read Full Story

Contract Being Extended To Herrera for Superintendent Post In Farmington

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is the pick of the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education for the position of superintendent in that district. After a lengthy session Wednesday night that included interviews with Herrera and the superintendent of the Redford Union School District, the Farmington board came back with Herrera as its choice out of the two. The board voted four to three to extend a contract to Herrera. Members of the Farmington board said they got overwhelmingly positive references for him. Herrera is a former superintendent for South Haven Public Schools who came to Benton Harbor last year as the district’s CEO with oversight from the state under its cooperative agreement with the district. If Herrera takes the job in Farmington, which is in the Detroit area, it happens just as that cooperative agreement ends late next month. At this point, a negotiation period between Farmington and Herrera begins.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Dingell Discuss Overcoming Partisan Divides

Partisan divides can be overcome by putting in the effort to get to know people. That’s the bottom line from a panel discussion at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference between Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and Republican Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph. Dingell says she tells students to stop texting and call people or talk to them face-to-face. She adds when it comes to next year’s election, she’s told the Democratic National Committee they’re wrong to exclude Fox News from their 2020 presidential debates.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Deputies Receive Corrections Training

Two Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies have graduated from a corrections officer training academy at Olivet College. The sheriff’s department says Deputies John Wiggs and Cody Lange are now trained in custody and security, defensive tactics, first aid, suicide awareness, fire safety, and communications following the four-week course. The department tells us the program helps to ensure it can maintain a safe and secure jail environment for the staff, inmates, and county residents. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says the “training helps our deputies develop and practice the tools necessary to be successful in this high stress environment.”. ...Read Full Story

SJPS Superintendent Ann Cardon Picked For Traverse City Job

St. Joseph Public Schools will be looking for a new superintendent. Ann Cardon has been selected as the next superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools at a special meeting on May 29 by a 7-0 vote of the board of education. Cardon was the only finalist for the job, and final terms of her contract will be up for a vote on June 10. She’s moving north to a significantly larger district, as TCAPS has 10,152 students compared to 2,950 in St. Joseph. Two dozen candidates applied for the job, with six interviewed on May 18. Cardon returned to Traverse City on Wednesday to meet with staff and tour each building in the district prior to the vote by the board. She is expected to take over on August 1 for Paul Soma, who is retiring. Cardon has been superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools since 2012 and has 10 years experience as a superintendent and another 14 years as a central office administrator, principal, and teacher.. ...Read Full Story

Man From Benton Harbor Convicted In Meth Case

A man from Benton Harbor has been convicted of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and ecstasy as part of a federal dug case. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids says 44-year-old Richard Farmer, Sr. is one of 24 defendants in the multi-jurisdictional takedown of a meth ring. Farmer was accused of serving as an adviser to the leader of the organization, Raymond Stovall. The U.S. Attorney says Farmer told Stovall how to transport money and drugs, sought to invest money in drug packages, and plotted to help Stovall obtain additional methamphetamine from a source in Benton Harbor, Farmer’s hometown. The case was developed thanks to wiretapping over two months in 2018. The U.S. Attorney says Farmer also harbored Antwan Mims, a murder fugitive from Benton Harbor who had been hiding out in Atlanta, where Farmer was based. Farmer faces up to thirty years in prison when sentenced on October 9.. ...Read Full Story

Body Of Missing Indiana Kayaker Found Along Lake Michigan

From the Associated Press — Indiana conservation officers have recovered the body of a man who vanished during a kayaking trip on Lake Michigan. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says 23-year-old Jacob Sandy’s body was pulled from the lake Wednesday morning in Porter, Indiana, after an Indiana Dunes State Park employee spotted it along the shoreline. The South Bend man was last seen on May 18 , just before a strong storm swept the area. His kayak was found three days later along the lake in New Buffalo, Michigan.
Conservation Officer Tyler Brock says Sandy’s relatives identified his body, and it’s believed that he died from accidental drowning.
The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports that Sandy was originally from the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, Michigan, and he moved to South Bend after graduating from college.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Smoking Cessation Resources

This Friday is “World No Tobacco Day” as recognized by the World Health Organization. The annual campaign is used as a way to remind people of the dangers of smoking. The Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News those who have decided to quit have many resources available. First up, she recommends calling the Michigan Tobacco Quitline. The number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial Day Weekend Crash Deaths Fall From 2018

This Memorial Day weekend was considerably safer than 2018 according to preliminary data from Michigan State Police. Those reports indicate 10 people were killed in eight separate crashes between Friday evening and 11:59 p.m. Monday. Last year, 19 people were killed in 15 crashes in Michigan. Alcohol was a known factor in just one deadly crash, and one victim was a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet.. ...Read Full Story

Unattended Candles In Bathroom Spark Dowagiac House Fire

Officials with the Dowagiac Fire Department are reminding people to be careful using candles in their homes. That’s coming after a late night fire Tuesday in a home in the 300 block of West High Street that is believed to have been started by candles that were burning in the bathroom. Everyone had gone to bed when a man in the house woke up smelling smoke around 11:15 p.m. He woke everyone up and two adults, two small children and two dogs all got out onto the first story roof of the two-story home after calling 9-1-1. The fire was under control within a half hour, but firefighters stayed on the scene until a little after 1 a.m. The entire house had smoke damage, but was insured. One of the adults was treated and released from Borgess Lee Hospital for smoke inhalation. The Dowagiac Fire Department did not say if the house had working smoke detectors.. ...Read Full Story

Professor: State Should Work With BH Board

As the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education prepares for a fight to keep the district’s high school open, one observer is Thomas Pedroni, an associate professor in curriculum studies at Wayne State University. He tells WSJM News he has studied the struggles of Michigan school districts for 15 years, and is surprised the Whitmer administration is taking the same path as others in the past and so quickly. Pedroni points to Highland Park, where he says the high school was also closed. He talks regularly with people in that community.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Branch Coming To Van Buren County

The Mobile Office of the Michigan Secretary of State will roll into South Haven and Bangor next week. The Secretary of State says the unit will be at the South Haven Memorial Library on Monday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will also be at the Bangor branch of Van Buren District Library on Tuesday, June 4. during the same hours. It’s a fully functional Secretary of State branch office where customers can renew their license plate tabs and driver’s licenses, register to vote, change their address, and sign up for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. The mobile branch travels to towns all over the state each year to promote the Secretary of State and to help people conduct their business while on the go.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Trustee Talks State High School Proposal

Members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education say the state’s proposal last week to close Benton Harbor High School was sprung on them during what had been scheduled as a regular meeting with Treasury officials. Trustee Joseph Taylor tells WSJM NEws it was made clear at Friday’s meeting with representatives of the governor that, to them, only the administration’s proposal would be an option.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Care For Injured Drivers Will Still Be There

From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer is defending a pending overhaul of Michigan’s auto insurance law, saying treatment for injured drivers will “still be there” if they forego what has been a mandatory unlimited personal injury protection benefit. The Democrat told The Associated Press in a Tuesday phone interview that people buying car insurance will have coverage, whether it’s through their auto
insurer, their health insurer or a government plan. Whitmer could sign the bill this week. It won overwhelmingly legislative support as a way to reduce high premiums but has come under criticism because injured motorists would likely hit caps on rehabilitation and other services through regular health insurance. Whitmer says providers may have to deliver care in “different mechanisms,” but she helped make the bill better than was proposed by Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

AAA: Gas Prices In Michigan Up 1¢ From Last Week, Down 22¢ From Last Year

Memorial Day is normally the high point of the year for gas prices, and Triple-A Michigan says the statewide average is up just a penny from last week. The post-holiday average in Michigan is $2.88 a gallon, and that’s down 22¢ a gallon from the same time a year ago. The auto club says for a 15-gallon fill-up, we’re saving $4 compared to 2018. Prices did spike last week just before the holiday weekend to an average of $2.93 on Friday, but have eased since then. AAA says while demand is “robust,” supply is on the upswing and that’s helping to keep any sharp price hikes at bay. The nation’s fuel inventories are up due to a drop in gas exports. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph is the third-lowest in the state at $2.87. Traverse City drivers are paying the lowest prices at $2.79, while in the U.P. Marquette, the average is $2.96 per gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Repaving Of M-51 South Of Niles Starts Monday

A two-mile project on M-51 south of Niles will get underway on Monday. The Michigan Department of Transportation will be repaving the highway between Chestnut Lane and the Indiana state line. The $3.4 million project is scheduled to be done by September 6. Crews will be installing new sidewalk ramps, curbs and gutters and making joint and crack repairs along with drainage fixes as part of the work. One lane will remain open in each direction, but there will be a traffic shift during the project. MDOT says the work is being done to improve safety and ride quality, and will extend the life of M-51.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Names New President

(East Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan State University has named a new president following the most extensive sexual abuse scandal in sports history. Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr., a medical researcher who has led Stony Brook University in New York for nearly a decade, was chosen by the board of trustees today. He will take charge of a 50,000-student university that has been led by a string of acting or interim presidents since the January 2018 resignation of Lou Anna Simon. She quit amid fallout over ex-campus sports doctor Larry Nassar’s molestation of hundreds of female gymnasts and other athletes under the guise of treatment. MSU board president Dianne Byrum says Stanley “is an empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader.” Stanley is president of Stony Brook, a part of the State University of New York.. ...Read Full Story

Former Benton Harbor Officer Acquitted On One Charge, Guilty Of Another

The verdict is in for a former Benton Harbor public safety officer charged with assault with a deadly weapon for hitting a suspect with his patrol car. Steven Johnson has been acquitted on that charge, but convicted of reckless driving. Our partners at WSBT-22 report prosecutors were unable to prove he intended to hurt Ron Glover Jr. according to Judge Arthur Cotter. The judge says Glover being hit was an avoidable accident, and hitting a suspect with a car, even if he’s trying to run away, doesn’t fall under the guidelines of reasonable force. Sentencing is happening today, and we will have updates on Johnson’s punishment later.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Closing New Buffalo Welcome Center For June

Tourists are still going to be welcome in southwest Michigan in June, but the state’s official Welcome Center in New Buffalo won’t be open. The Michigan Department of Transportation is closing the facility on I-94 just over the state line from June 3 until June 28 to rebuild the ramps in and out of the facility. The closure will start next Monday.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter To Award SJ City Commission

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is gearing up for its annual Lake Effect Pride event. Set for Saturday, June 8 at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Lake Effect Pride is a chance for the OutCenter to celebrate its accomplishments of the past year and also recognize allies. Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News they’ll give out their annual Ally of the Year Award, and the winner is the St. Joseph City Commission.. ...Read Full Story