Local News Archives

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

Police National Night Out August 6

Preparations are underway for the next National Night Out, the event where police agencies all over the country mingle with the public and offer demonstrations in order to foster better relationships with the people they serve. In St. Joseph, the Night Out will be August 6 at Maiden Lane Community Park in the township. The gathering will include several local police and fire departments, a Jaws of Life demonstration, fire trucks and police cars, stations where parents can get the fingerprints of their kids taken, hot dogs, soda, chips, and ice cream, this year from Culver’s. The National Night Out will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 on the 6th and everyone’s invited.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County K-9 Nellie Finds Missing Woman

A 46-year-old woman is recovering thanks to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department Bloodhound K9 officer Nellie. The woman was reported missing at 9 Tuesday night in Howard Township by family members after she took a walk in the woods near her home around Pine Lake Street and M-60 and hadn’t returned. The woman rarely leaves home because of medical issues, and police were called after family and friends were unable to find her. Concerned over her medical condition, how long she’d been gone and cooling temperatures, they called 9-1-1. K9 Nellie led deputies to her location about a mile from home in a thickly wooded area. She was cold and disorientated, but alive and was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital Niles for treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Fruit Market Reopening After 20 Years

Opening Friday will be a new way for the public to buy fresh produce from local growers. The Benton Harbor Fruit Market at 1891 Territorial Road will reopen its retail area for the first time in about 20 years. Director Matt McManus tells WSJM News he started operating the place in June, and it’s been doing business with commercial buyers who come for local produce.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Approves Its Own Turnaround Proposal

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has a proposal of its own for turning around the district. At a Tuesday meeting, the board unanimously approved what it says is a comprehensive plan that would continue the cooperative agreement that was ended when the state School Reform Office went away at the start of July. The district’s attorney said the state ending the cooperative agreement was tantamount to ending a contract early. Therefore, the board seeks a commitment to keep the high school open for at least four years while several performance benchmarks are met. Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson spoke with us about the board’s proposal after the meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Relieved To Hear About Budget Deal

Congressman Fred Upton is relieved to learn House and Senate leadership have reached a deal with President Trump on the federal budget. Last week, Upton was one of more than 30 House members who signed a letter calling for leadership to prioritize budgeting. He says on Monday, the president announced a spending deal.. ...Read Full Story

“Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale” Set For Next Month

Set for August 9 through August 11 is Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale all along US-12 from New Buffalo to Detroit. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Kris Martin tells WSJM News the event is a chance for people and businesses along the historic road to clean out their attics and stake out their front yards. You can find items for sale all along US-12’s 180 miles in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Summer STEM Camps All Sold Out

Southwestern Michigan College’s summer STEM camps have been proving popular this year. In fact, they’re so popular, they’re full. SMC says the camps for fourth graders are all about teaching science, technology, engineering, and math in a way that will be fun for kids. Last summer, participants rotated from the William P.D. O’Leary Building chemistry lab — where they concocted colorful slime from baking soda, glue, contact solution, glitter, and food coloring — to the Barbara Wood Building computer lab to learn about 3D printing and drones. This summer’s camps have 80 students per day, with 24 on a waitlist. Each camp is just one day, set for August 6, 7, and 8.. ...Read Full Story

Watson Returning To Work For Benton Harbor

Former Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson is returning to work for the city, this time as the director of public works and chief of staff. Less than a day after the Benton Harbor City Commission fired Watson, Mayor Marcus Muhammad held a press conference Tuesday to announce he’s using his new powers to bring Watson back on board. When the city commission fired Watson, it handed city manager duties temporarily to the mayor because there was no assistant city manager.. ...Read Full Story

Hearing Held On Farm Worker Conditions

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was in Hartford Monday for a public hearing on the challenges facing migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the state. In 2010 the civil rights commission released a report called A Report on the Conditions of Seasonal and Migrant Farmworkers in Michigan. Monday’s hearing was to take another look at Michigan’s migrant workers and the conditions they work under. Dr. Agustin Arbulu directs the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Seeks To Save Threatened Species

A new bill sponsored by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell would put almost $1.4 billion a year toward pulling at-risk animal and plant species back from the brink, with about 27-million of that for Michigan. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would allow states and tribes to better implement their wildlife action plans to help save 12,000 species of concern, mostly by preserving habitat. It has bipartisan support, and Representative Dingell says now is the time to act.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph School Board Selects New Superintendent

St. Joseph Public Schools has their new leader. Dr. Thomas Bruce was selected to be the new district superintendent at Monday night’s board of education meeting. Bruce was one of two candidates interviewed during the meeting Monday along with Oakridge Schools Superintendent Thomas Livezy. The vote to hire Bruce was unanimous and details of his contract still have to be negotiated. Bruce has spent the last dozen years as the director of curriculum and instruction at the Arcadia Unified School District in California. He’s originally from Howell Michigan, and has a wife and two daughters. Bruce takes over from Ann Cardon, who will be the new superintendent at Traverse City Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Advises Residents About Power Outage Rebate

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reminding those affected by power outages from the most recent round of storms they may be eligible for a $25 credit if they were without power for more than 16 hours. Nessel’s office says Michigan customers are eligible for a credit under “normal conditions” if the utility fails to restore service within 16 hours after an outage resulting from somthing other than catastrophic conditions. Catastrophic conditions are defined as an event that results in an official state of emergency or an event that results in interruption of 10% or more of the utility’s customers and the utility fails to restore power within 120 hours. Any customer of an electric utility regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission is eligible for the $25 credit. Customers must contact their utility to determine whether they can receive it.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Event Coming Up At Grand Mere

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is planning a volunteer stewardship day at Grand Mere State Park near Stevensville. It’s this coming Saturday, the 27th, and those who take part will be pulling out spotted knapweed and Canada thistle from the open areas. The DNR says those two invasive plants prevent native plants from thriving. Volunteers are encouraged to wear long sleeves and long pants as some may be sensitive to the vegetation. They’re also asked to bring gardening gloves, a hat, and plenty of water since everyone will be working in the sun. The volunteers are invited to meet at the end of Willow Road at 10 a.m. From the main park entrance, just continue south on Thornton Drive, and then turn right on Willow. The event will run through 1 p.m.. ...Read Full Story