Local News Archives

Dowagiac Hunters Rendezvous Today


Set for today is one of the biggest events for lovers of the outdoors held in southwest Michigan each year. It’s the 23rd annual Dowagiac Conservation Club’s Hunter’s Rendezvous at the club grounds in Dowagiac. Club Vice President Craig Lyons tells us the event is a fundraiser for the youth programs the organization runs. Everyone is welcome to come and display trophies.. ...Read Full Story

Taxpayers Urged Not To Miss Out On Credits


Filing tax returns can be tricky, and community organizations across the state are working to ensure Michigan taxpayers don’t lose out on the refunds they may be due. Ross Yednock with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan encourages anyone seeking assistance with their income tax returns to ensure their preparer is qualified. He explains that in Michigan, like many other states, there are no requirements or regulations for paid tax preparers.. ...Read Full Story

Discovery Channel Show To Study Lake Michigan Plane Crash


A plane crash into Lake Michigan nearly 70 years ago will be the subject of the Discovery Channel’s Expedition Unknown show this coming Wednesday. Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 disappeared somewhere over the lake on June 23, 1950. The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association’s Valerie van Heest tells WSJM News material from the crash started washing up from Benton Harbor to Glenn.. ...Read Full Story

Market Van Buren Holds Local Government Summit


Market Van Buren is looking at ways local officials can work together to help address some key needs of Van Buren County. Market Van Buren Director Zachary Morris tells WSJM News that’s why the group held its annual Local Unit of Government Summit Thursday. The guest speakers included former state budget director Al Pscholka, staff from the offices of state Senator Aric Nesbitt and state Representative Beth Griffin, and a representative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Addresses Detroit Economic Club


With her proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget now in the hands of state lawmakers, Governor Gretchen Whitmer spent some of her Friday in Detroit, speaking to the Detroit Economic Club at the TCF Center. The nearly $62 billion budget proposal increases education spending, puts more money into making sure all Michigan residents have healthcare, and spends money on road fixes.. ...Read Full Story

Secchia Memo: Political Donations At Risk Without Action On Erosion


A major figure in the Michigan Republican Party has suggested that political donations will diminish unless GOP lawmakers do something to help property owners being impacted by Lake Michigan erosion. Former Ambassador Peter Secchia sent a letter in November to Republican leaders in the Legislature noting a $6 million property loss in Ottawa County due to high lake levels. At the time, he said there seemed to be “little interest” among lawmakers and added donations would “diminish” as property values fall. He told “The Detroit News” that he isn’t threatening anybody. Secchia is a Grand Rapids businessman who has been a Republican donor and
activist for decades.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Shaking Up Management After Poor Fourth Quarter Performance


Ford Motor Company is shaking up its management after a poor fourth-quarter financial performance and the botched launch of the Explorer SUV. The company says automotive President Joe Hinrichs will retire. Jim Farley, president of new business and strategy, will become chief operating officer in charge of global markets and automotive operations. In addition, product development chief Hau Thai-Tang will take on an expanded role for products, services and customer experiences. Ford’s full-year profit plunged by more than $3.6 billion last year, and it lost $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $39.7 billion.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan House Approves Wendzel Package Updating Commercial Fishing Regulations


Bipartisan legislation to update the state’s commercial fishing laws and regulations is headed to the Michigan Senate. Representative Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet sponsored one of the bills in the package, and says this would be the first update in 60 years to the laws regarding commercial fishing operations. When the bills had a hearing in June before the House Natural Resources Committee, Wendzel testified they would create a list of all the species of fish available for commercial harvest.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Civility, Bipartisanship


With the impeachment of President Trump now over, Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to get to work on issues the public cares about. He tells WSJM News he continues his tour with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell talking about civility and bipartisanship. Last week, the two took part in a forum called “A More Perfect Union” hosted by The Hill. Upton says they have a message.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Hears Plenty About Second Amendment Resolution

It was a packed house Thursday morning as the Berrien County Board of Commissioners heard from residents both opposed to and in support of a resolution declaring Berrien a Second Amendment sanctuary county. The resolution was proposed by local gun rights advocates last month. At Thursday’s meeting, dozens of speakers appealed to the board. Jack Straszewski of Niles told WSJM News if the Second Amendment can prevent violence, then he favors respecting it.. ...Read Full Story

Remains Found In Michigan Might Be Missing Girl From 1989


From the Associated Press — Investigators in western Michigan might have discovered the remains of a teenager who’s been missing since 1989. Aundria Bowman’s adoptive father was recently charged in an unrelated 1980 homicide in Virginia. Authorities say skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave under cement Wednesday in Allegan County’s Monterey Township. It could take weeks to get an identification. Undersheriff Mike Larsen says the search for Aundria gained momentum after the November arrest of her adoptive father, Dennis Bowman. He’s charged with killing the wife of a U.S. Navy pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1980.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Township Beach Closed Due To Erosion


The high water level of Lake Michigan has wiped out Lincoln Township Beach. The township has had to close the park off completely, as the beach has been washed away along with a good chunk of the parking lot. Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer talked to our newsgathering partners at WSBT-22 about the decision to lock up Lincoln Township Beach, maybe forever.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Sheriff Finalist For National Sheriff Of The Year


Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott is up for the award of 2019 National Sheriff of the Year. That honor will be handed out by the National Sheriff’s Association at its winter conference in Tampa, Florida this weekend. Abbott says in order to be considered, nominees needed to demonstrate accomplishments both in office and with community involvement. He says adding an additional K9 team is one of those, along with bringing in Forgotten Man Ministries into the jail to give inmates skills to succeed once they’re released. Abbott says that program has been “very successful.”. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College To Celebrate Renovations To Hanson Theatre


Renovations are complete on the Hanson Theatre on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Harbor. LMC will host a rededication ceremony next weekend at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 to celebrate. The Hanson Family Foundation and Merlin and Carolyn Hanson, for whom the theatre is named, helped to fund the over $600,000 in improvements to the facility. Those upgrades include new paint, carpet, seating and curtains along with a variety of acoustic and sound improvements. Work was also done to upgrade the theatre’s electrical and internet infrastructure, install new light and sound boards and new rigging and catwalks. LMC President Dr. Trevor Kubatzke and the LMC Board of Trustees will be joined by the Visual & Performing Arts Department to cut the ribbon on the newly-redone theatre. LMC’s acapella group, Soundwaves, will also perform.. ...Read Full Story

State Budget Proposal Includes Shoreline Protection Money

The Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal from Governor Whitmer is now in front of lawmakers. State Budget Director Chris Kolb laid out the governor’s spending plans before a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The budget includes $40 million for grants to go for shoreline erosion protection efforts. It also has a new $25 million dollar program to reimburse teachers up to $250 a year for classroom supplies purchased themselves. Additionally, the governor is also asking lawmakers to put money into the improvements in Illinois to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, seen as the last hope to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Ending Contracts With RESA


Benton Harbor Area Schools is ending some of its service contracts with Berrien RESA. RESA has handled facilities and operations, accounts payable, and payroll for the district since 2014. At a Tuesday meeting, Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education President Joseph Taylor said that’s coming to an end.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Financial Aid Night This Month


Lake Michigan College will hold a FAFSA Assistance Night this month. LMC staff will be available to answer questions and help students apply for financial aid. Students of all ages who plan to attend college in the next academic year are encouraged to attend, even if they’re undecided or planning to attend a school other than LMC. LMC Director of Admissions Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News understanding assistance options is an important part of enrolling in college.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Narrows Superintendent Search To Two


The search for a new superintendent at Berrien RESA has been narrowed down to two. The RESA Board of Education says it will interview the candidates next week. They are Berrien RESA Assistant Superintendent Eric Hoppstock and Lapeer Community Schools Superintendent Matthew Wandrie. The next interviews with the candidates will be on Monday, February 10 at 1:30 p.m. following the regularly-scheduled RESA Board of Education meeting. The candidates will each present a proposal outlining their first 90 days in office. The interviews will be held at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center in Oronoko Township. They will be open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Allies Launch TV Ads To Support Road Bonding Plan


From the Associated Press — Allies of Governor Gretchen Whitmer have launched $750,000 in TV ads to support her plan to borrow $3.5 billion to roughly double construction spending on state-owned roads and bridges over five years. The Road to Michigan’s Future, a social welfare nonprofit, began airing the ads across Michigan on Friday. The group doesn’t have to disclose its donors’ identities. A spokesman says the ads will educate the public about Whitmer’s plan and encourage lawmakers from both parties to tackle Michigan’s road-funding problem. Whitmer says Michigan can afford to issue bonds because payments on old debt will drop substantially in coming years.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Election Officials: Iowa Problems Won’t Happen Here


With the final results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses from Monday still not official, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office says the same sort of problems can’t happen in the Great Lakes State. Communications director Jake Rollow is reminding voters Michigan uses traditional paper ballots and counting machines in all elections, does not hold caucuses, and especially does not entrust any votes to new and untested smartphone apps.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Fugitive Caught After TV Show Features Story


The Bridgman case featured on the TV show “In Pursuit with John Walsh” has resulted in the capture of 53-year-old fugitive William Stanson in Mexico. Michigan State Police say Stanson was arrested yesterday and has already been brought back to the U.S. He will be returned to Berrien County to face charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, first degree criminal sexual conduct, and failure to appear for sentencing on his original charge from 2015 of accosting a minor. Stanson fled southwest Michigan in 2015 just prior to being sentenced, and was last known to have been in Arizona.. ...Read Full Story

School: Dolls Of Black Figures On Tree-Like Racks Removed


From the Associated Press — Michigan State University officials say its performing arts center has removed a gift shop display featuring dolls depicting prominent black figures that were hanging from a tree-like rack. School spokeswoman Emily Gerkin Guerrant issued a statement apologizing for the display, which was intended to mark Black History Month along with programming
at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Black graduate student Krystal Rose Davis-Dunn tells the Lansing State Journal that the dolls recalled “lynching of black people from trees.” Guerrant says an internal investigation is underway. She added that officials will provide racial bias training for workers and volunteers.. ...Read Full Story

Board President Responds To Accusation Of Hostile Environment


Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education President Joseph Taylor has fired back against statements made by former Trustee Patricia Rush in her resignation letter. In her letter dated January 14, Rush said she was stepping down from the board due to the way Taylor treated her. She said he accused her of trespassing on school property when she went to district offices to work with finance staff. At this week’s school board meeting, Taylor said he had Michigan Association of School Boards attorney Brad Banasik review the situation, and Banasik said, in fact, board members are members of the public when going to a school building.. ...Read Full Story

Climate Change Group Welcomes New Members


The organizers of a new anti-climate change lobbying group in St. Joseph are hoping to strike a chord with residents and attract a robust membership. On Saturday, the first advocacy training event was held for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. CCL organizer Sandy Walker tells WSJM News she watched the CCL chapter in Kalamazoo grow to more than 900 members over the past few years, and decided to bring the idea to Berrien County. She thinks the group’s message resonates with a lot of people.. ...Read Full Story

Church Immigration Aide Gets Prison For Defrauding People


From the Associated Press — An immigrant who worked for the Roman Catholic Church in Kalamazoo has been sentenced to 33  months in federal prison for stealing fees from other immigrants. The government says Monica Mazei concealed the scheme by failing to open files for certain people and persuading them to give cash or blank checks. Mazei was ordered to pay $59,000 to her victims Monday, four months after pleading guilty to fraud. She worked in the Kalamazoo Diocese’s immigration assistance program. Mazei is a native of Ecuador who became a naturalized U.S. citizen.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Monitoring Coronavirus Response


The Berrien County Health Department is working to assure local residents that it’s on top of the unfolding situation with novel coronavirus, and that there is no need to worry. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News as of this Tuesday morning, there were still no confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Adds Second K9


Spectrum Health Lakeland has a new staff member, but this one is a little different. Hiro is a two-year-old German shepherd from Slovakia who is the second K9 working at the hospital. He’s paired with handler Chris Aungst, who retired from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department after nearly 30 years and joined the hospital’s security team.. ...Read Full Story

Group Makes Policy Recommendations To Help Low Income Residents

While Michigan’s economy is improving, a new report finds the state could be doing more to help its residents who are living paycheck to paycheck. Holden Weisman, the associate director of policy at Prosperity Now, says Michigan’s “income poverty rate” of 13.4% is higher than many states, and its “liquid-asset poverty rate” has been rising for the past seven years. He recommends the state at least prohibit discrimination for anyone using a Housing Choice voucher. Weisman adds legislation making its way through the Michigan House also could help by providing tax relief for some low-income homeowners.

“There are a tremendous amount of people that are working hard but still not moving up the economic ladder. The EITC is extremely important as an anti-poverty measure, because it puts real cash in the pockets of people that truly need it.”. ...Read Full Story

High Water Could Cost South Haven Millions To Protect Critical Infrastructure


The city of South Haven is looking at some expensive repairs that need to be addressed soon due to erosion from, and high water levels on, Lake Michigan. The city council heard several reports this week, and Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier says the most critical need is to address issues with the wastewater treatment plant caused by the high water level. She says the treated water is returned to the Black River through a gravity-fed system.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer To Take National Stage To Rebut Trump


From the Associated Press — Democrats are putting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on the national stage Tuesday to rebut President Donald Trump’s State of the Union message. By elevating a fresh face and casting an election-year spotlight on the Midwest, the party looks to win back states Trump narrowly captured. The 48-year-old’s ascendance comes as Democrats hope to solidify gains with female voters and as two men in their late 70s, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, lead national primary polls. Whitmer’s selection has led to increased speculation that she could be a running mate pick, though she says she is not interested.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Approve Tax Abatement With A Limit


The Benton Harbor City Commission has approved a tax abatement for a developer seeking to turn the building at the corner of Riverview Drive and Empire Avenue into an events center. The action at a Monday meeting granted a Commercial Rehabilitation District exemption to Chicago Industrial Real Estate, LLC, allowing owner Matt Rogatz to have the property taxes frozen at this year’s level while he invests an estimated $1.5 million into the former All Phase electric building. However, there’s a slight catch. The commission granted Rogatz the abatement for seven years instead of the requested ten. The idea was pitched by mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats.. ...Read Full Story

Climate Change Lobbying Group Forms In St. Joseph


A citizens lobbying group to advocate for policies to reduce climate change has been formed in St. Joseph. Citizens’ Climate Lobby officially opened its St. Joe chapter on Saturday. CCL volunteers lobby Congress in support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would put a carbon tax on fossil fuels to be returned to the public in order to cushion higher energy costs as fossil fuels are phased out. CCL says fossil fuels are a major source of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. St. Joseph Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Goos, a member of the new CCL, says the signs of climate change are all around us here in southwest Michigan, pointing to coastal erosion and flooding along Main Street in Benton Harbor and at Riverview Park in St. Joseph. The CCL will hold meetings on the second Saturday of each month at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Lincoln Avenue. Each meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m. and run for two hours.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Hires New Director


The Pokagon Fund has announced the hiring of its new director. Dan Petersen started on Monday. The 38-year-old Petersen was previously the president of EightCAP, Incorporated, a community action agency in Ionia County. WSJM News asked him what attracted him to the Pokagon Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Steel Tank Announces Expansion


A Niles manufacturing company is celebrating the completion of an 85,000 square foot expansion. Niles Steel Tank has added that space for Alloy Works, which makes stainless steel products for several industries including hydronics, chemical and petrochemical, and dairy and food processing. In a statement, general manager Jeremy Waller calls Alloy Works “one more step in a journey that started in 1898, when Niles Steel Tank began offering America’s best tanks and pressure vessels.” He adds the industries they serve are constantly changing, and they also have to keep adapting and expanding to meet their customers’ changing needs.. ...Read Full Story

Stamp Farms Owner Michael Stamp Withdraws Guilty Plea


Trial will start in October for former Stamp Farms owner Michael Stamp. MLive reports he has withdrawn his guilty plea from April 2019 to charges of conspiracy to commit crop insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The plea was pulled after a federal judge rejected the sentencing agreement for Stamp on the day the Decatur farm owner was scheduled to be sentenced in late January to no more than five years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks To Prevent Wildfires


Congressman Fred Upton is urging leaders in Washington to discuss ways that wildfires can be prevented. He addressed a meeting of the House Energy Subcommittee this past week, telling members better forest management and electrical infrastructure improvements would prevent wildfires.. ...Read Full Story

Library Presentation To Focus On Researching Ancestry


Anyone interested in learning something about their ancestry is invited to attend a workshop at the Van Buren District Library’s Decatur branch this month. Local History Clerk Karen Jenson tells WSJM News the library can let visitors use its Ancestry.com service for free. Normally, an Ancestry account could run you $24 to $50 per month. At her February 8 workshop, Jenson will show everyone how it works. For example, you can look through immigration records.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Districts May Start School Year Before Labor Day This Year


Berrien RESA this week filed a waiver with the Michigan Department of Education to ask if school districts in the county may start their school years before Labor Day for the next few years. RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers tells WSJM News they are not seeking a permanent change. The waiver would only be for three years. The reason has to do with when Labor Day will fall on the calendar for 2020 and 2021.. ...Read Full Story

Auction For Lakeshore Schools Starts Today


An online auction starts today to raise money for Lakeshore Public Schools. Lakeshore Excellence Foundation Chair J.C. Anderson tells WSJM News up for bids will be items including Disney passes, high-end Whirlpool appliances, spa treatments, gym memberships, destination golf vacations, restaurant certificates, and more.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Consider Shoreline Protection Efforts


State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is working with other west Michigan lawmakers to help address shoreline erosion issues along Lake Michigan. She tells WSJM News she took part in a round table discussion last week with several members of the state House. Griffin wants to help make it easier for property owners to respond.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Commission Wins Awards For Website, Video


The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has received some recognition for a couple of websites it created to educate the public on local resources and how they can be protected. The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals has honored the commission with a Gold Award for production of a website for BetterBeachesSWMI.org. It also gave the association a Gold Award for an animated video on the site. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Senior Planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News  BetterBeachesSWMI.org was launched to educate the public about how runoff contaminates local beaches.. ...Read Full Story

Fundraising Effort For Splash Pad Reaches $10,000


The Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation has passed the $10,000 mark in its effort to raise funds for the new splash pad being constructed near South Beach in South Haven. Foundation board member Roger Beglin tells WSJM News the group has a fundraising goal of $25,000 that it will then match, bringing its total contribution to the splash pad up to $50,000. Beglin says the Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation supports the splash pad project because of what it will mean to young people.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Urges Food Safety At Super Bowl Parties


Millions of American will get together this weekend in front of their televisions to watch Super Bowl 54, and that means a lot of food will be consumed. An estimated 1.8 billion chicken wings will be eaten as football fans watch the Big Game. USDA spokesperson Janell Goodwin tells WSJM News you should follow four rules of food safety. They are clean, separate, cook, and chill. Let’s start with cook.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien RESA Superintendent Finalists Announced


Three finalists will be interviewed Tuesday for the job of Berrien RESA superintendent. Dr. Kevin Ivers is retiring at the end of this school year, and 11 candidates applied to succeed him. The Berrien RESA Board of Education will interview Lapeer Public Schools superintendent Matthew Wandrie, Berrien RESA assistant superintendent Eric Hoppstock, and Lakeview Public Schools superintendent Blake Prewitt on February 4. The interviews will be at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center starting at 1 p.m. Board president Cathy Bair says they are planning to have Ivers’ successor hired by the middle of February “in order to provide a smooth transition of leadership for the new school year.”. ...Read Full Story

Register Of Deeds To Speak At Senior Centers


Berrien County Register of Deeds Lora Freehling will spend part of this year going around the county speaking at senior centers. She says her talks will focus on the role of the Register of Deeds and the importance of a properly-worded deed. Freehling says making sure your document is correct before filing it with the Register of Deeds can save a lot of time and money. She will first speak at the Buchanan Area Senior Center on March 4 at 11 a.m. After that, she’ll be at the Benton Harbor Senior Center on March 5 at 10:30, the North Berrien Senior Center on March 11 at 1, the Niles Senior Center on March 19 at 1, and the St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center on April 2 at 10 a.m. Anyone with questions can contact the Berrien County Register of Deeds.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Events Coming Up At Warren Dunes State Park


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is planning several volunteer stewardship days at Warren Dunes State Park throughout February. It says you don’t need experience when it comes to helping remove invasive plants from the park. This Sunday, volunteers are invited out to Warren Dunes from 1 to 4 p.m. for a match up against invasives. There will also be volunteer days on February 9, 16, and 23. The volunteers get training beforehand, and on various days they’ll be removing common privet, Japanese barberry, non-native honeysuckle, and other misfit plants. You can find out more about the volunteer opportunities right here.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Hunter’s Rendezvous Next Month


Coming up in February will be one of the biggest events for lovers of the outdoors held in southwest Michigan each year. It’s the 23rd annual Dowagiac Conservation Club’s Hunter’s Rendezvous on Saturday February 8 at the club grounds in Dowagiac. Club Vice President Craig Lyons tells us the event is a fundraiser for the youth programs the organization runs. Everyone is welcome to come and display trophies.. ...Read Full Story