Local News Archives

Senator Peters Celebrates Election Win

Senator Gary Peters celebrated his re-election victory in style by rolling up to a cider mill in Rochester on his Harley. He addressed his supporters, with his staff and family beside him. Peters said one of his top priorities is to pass additional federal funding to address the COVID crisis.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters Wins Reelection

From the Associated Press — Democratic Michigan Senator Gary Peters has won reelection, defeating Republican challenger John James in a tight race. The 61-year-old Peters continued Democrats’ dominance of Senate elections in the battleground presidential state. Republicans have won just once there since the 1970s, despite having spent heavily to try to unseat Peters in one of their few pickup opportunities. Peters is a former congressman, state lawmaker, lottery commissioner and investment adviser who served in the Navy Reserve. He ran by emphasizing his bipartisan work, his ranking as one of the most effective senators and James’ support for President Donald Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Race Between Peters, James Remains Close

From the Associated Press — Democratic Senator Gary Peters and Republican rival John James are locked in razor-tight race for Michigan’s Senate seat, with the incumbent clinging to a 5,600-vote lead while absentee votes were still being tallied in Democratic-heavy cities. More than 5.3 million ballots had been counted as of mid-afternoon. It was too early to call the race. Ballots are being counted in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Kalamazoo. James retweeted his campaign consultant’s claim that he had “won this race.” But Democrats say there are a number of votes left to be counted in areas that favor Peters.. ...Read Full Story

Local School Board Races Decided Tuesday

Several local school board races were decided this week. In the Benton Harbor Area Schools district, four trustee were selected out of seven candidates. The winners are former Benton Harbor High School Principal Reinaldo Tripplett, Angel Clark Crayton, Trenton Bowens, and Stephanie Rockette-Martin. Dashuna Robinson was also elected to a partial term. In Lakeshore Public Schools, elected to the board of education were Tonya Jahnke, Griffin Ott, and Kevin Bushu. St. Joseph Public Schools had an election, but it was not contested with Chris Cook and Amy Marohn being reelected. You can find results for all of Berrien County elections at ElectionReporting.com.. ...Read Full Story

New LMC Trustee Selected By Voters

The Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees will look a little different come next year following this week’s election. Current Trustee Paul Bergan was retired by voters, who were asked to pick three LMC Board members Tuesday. Winning the race were incumbents Mary Jo Tomasini and Debra Johnson and newcomer Vicki Burghdoff. She had the edge over Bergan, 21,665 to 20,164.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Race A Tie

One Berrien County race that still hasn’t been decided from Tuesday is the race for county commission in District 5. As of  Wednesday afternoon, Bruce Gorenflo and Rayonte Bell were tied, each with 3,934 votes. This means the result won’t be known for sure at least until the Berrien County Board of Canvassers has met. If the race is still a tie after that, the candidates would have to draw lots. Gorenflo and Bell were running for a seat left open with the retirement of Berrien County Commissioner Bill Chickering. County board incumbents who were challenged all cruise to re-election. As of Wednesday afternoon, 97% of the precincts were reporting in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Voters Approve Marijuana Question

Voters in the village of Three Oaks said yes to allowing marijuana establishments in town this week. The proposed ordinance would permit a limited number and type of marijuana related establishments within the village limits and also charge a non-refundable application fee for such permits. Voters approved the question 436 to 251. A marijuana proposal in Three Oaks Township was approved 315 to 253.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Home Destroyed By Fire

A house fire in the city of Bangor drew the response of four fire departments. South Haven Area Emergency Services says they, the Bangor Community Fire Department, and the Columbia Township and Hartford fire departments were called to Morrison Avenue just before 8 a.m. When they arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. No cause has yet been determined, and no one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Killed In Overnight Crash

A crash in Benton Township just after midnight Wednesday morning killed a 63-year-old Benton Harbor man. Township police say he was the driver of a Ford Explorer that was hit by an Audi at M-139 and Highland Avenue. The Audi took off after the wreck, and one of its passengers was later taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for her injuries. The Ford driver was pronounced dead at Spectrum Health Lakeland, and his 51-year-old female passenger remains hospitalized. Police are still seeking the Audi.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Claims Victory In 79th District

State Representative Pauline Wendzel is claiming victory in her reelection bid. Her campaign issued a statement late Tuesday, saying she had defeated Democrat Chokwe Pitchford in Michigan’s 79th House District. Wendzel thanked supporters, adding, “when this term started in 2019, I don’t think anybody could have predicted how it would go.  Unprecedented challenges have been met with unparalleled successes, but there is still so much more work to do to recover from this pandemic and build a healthy community and a healthy economy.” As of about 2 a.m. Berrien County was reporting about 60% of its precincts with Wendzel leading Pitchford 14,429 to 10,034.
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Upton Declares Victory

Congressman Fred Upton is claiming victory over Democratic challenger Jon Hoadley in Michigan’s Sixth District. Speaking late Tuesday from his home, Upton told WSJM News he was feeling good, and the staff in his corner were “happy campers.” Moving into another term in Washington, Upton said the obvious top priority is COVID, telling us the nation needs support for businesses and schools, better testing, and a vaccine. He also said he expects the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to grow in the next term.. ...Read Full Story

Program Offers Free Health Services To Cass County Veterans

Veterans in Cass County can now receive some free health services thanks to a new program of the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department. It’s teamed up with Cass County and the Cass County Veterans Services Office provide dental care, vaccinations, and hearing and vision screenings to local veterans. The program offers up to $1,000 in services, either after or without insurance. To receive the services, a veteran just has to show proof of residency, discharge papers, and insurance cards, if any. Any veterans interested in signing up for the free health services can call the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.. ...Read Full Story

Parents Witness Child’s Sex Assault Online At Preschool

A Hartford man is charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting a preschooler in Portage. The parents actually saw it take place in a livestream from Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool. They called the school, and the school called police. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department arrested 19-year-old Aaron Bryant on October 29. Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool fired Bryant prior to his arrest. They and police are trying to determine if he assaulted anyone else in the year he worked there.. ...Read Full Story

Pro-Trump Messages Painted On Headstones At Jewish Cemetery

From the Associated Press — Police are investigating vandalism that left several headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids spray-painted with “TRUMP” and “MAGA” before President Donald Trump held his final campaign rally in the western Michigan city. Grand Rapids police spokesman Sgt. John Wittkowski says officers found six headstones spray-painted with “relatively new” red paint on Monday. “TRUMP” was spray-painted on the back of four headstones, and “MAGA” was spray-painted on two others. The vandalized graves were discovered at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery hours before Trump visited Grand Rapids late Monday in his final
campaign rally before Election Day.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect In Custody After Fatal Shooting In Allegan County

A suspect is in custody following a shooting death in Allegan County on Monday night. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were called to a home near 130th Avenue and 30th Street in Monterey Township just before midnight. They were told someone had been visiting the home when they shot one of the residents. Deputies arrived to find the victim in the driveway with “obvious fatal injuries.” Information was collected about the suspect, and he was later found in the Grand Rapids area after crashing his vehicle. The victim in the shooting has been identified as 35-year-old Cody Cline. The name of the suspect has not yet been released, but he is in the Allegan County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Restaurants Now Taking Contact Information Of Customers

From the Associated Press — Meals at Michigan restaurants came with a new side dish Monday: What’s your name and phone number? The latest order kicked in from Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s health department. Restaurants must be able to contact
customers if there’s a virus case linked to the business. The Michigan Restaurants and Lodging Association insists COVID-19 transmission doesn’t occur much at restaurants. The group predicts job losses and more financial strife. Michigan’s coronavirus cases have risen significantly, setting a new daily high Saturday at nearly 3,800.. ...Read Full Story

48 Acres Of Dune Area Acquired By Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, South Haven Area Recreation Authority

48 acres of nature along Lake Michigan will soon be open to the public now that the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and the South Haven Area Recreation Authority have completed their acquisition of the Porter Legacy Dunes. Conservancy President Peter Ter Louw tells WSJM News the dunes are located directly south of Pilgrim Haven Natural Area near South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Host Post Election Discussion

Lake Michigan College is planning a community discussion about this week’s election. Set for Wednesday at 4 p.m., the virtual panel will take place over Zoom and feature LMC political science professor Tiffany Bohm and psychology professors Mya Hernandez and Amy Scrima. Bohm tells WSJM News there will be plenty to talk about.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Triple Fatal Benton Harbor Fire

Benton Harbor Public Safety says the fire Sunday morning at 185 Bellview killed 30-year-old Amanda Hackney, her 15-year-old son Markese Dortch and 12-year-old daughter Sha’tari Razor. They are survived by her husband and the kids’ stepfather, 38-year-old Mark Hackney. Authorities say the cause of the fire is still undetermined, and they are waiting for the final report from the state Fire Marshal. BHDPS has connected the family with grief counseling and add their prayers continue to go out to the family in this extremely difficult time.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor/St. Joseph With State’s Lowest Gas Prices

Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are tied with Lansing for the lowest gas prices in Michigan at $1.97. Overall, Triple-A Michigan says prices statewide are down 6¢ a gallon from last week at $2.04. The price is down 40¢ from last year. While our prices are the lowest, Marquette in the Upper Peninsula has the highest at $2.23 followed by Detroit at $2.06. According to GasBuddy, South Haven is averaging $2.03.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren District Library Holding Reading Challenge This Month

The Van Buren District Library is asking local book lovers to help it provide 200 books to young people this winter. The library is planning “Read to Give” for November 1 through November 30. It says the goal is for participants to log an overall total of 500 books on Beanstack, the online tracking system for VBDL reading activities. Once the goal is reached, the library’s Friends groups will purchase the books, which will then be distributed through United Christian Services, which serves anyone in Van Buren County through its partnerships with 11 churches, the United Way, and others. The Van Buren District Library says it wants to distribute the books to make the holidays better for local children. You can call to learn about taking part in Read to Give.. ...Read Full Story

Three Killed In Benton Harbor Fire

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says three people were killed in a fire early on Sunday. Firefighters responded to the scene at 185 Bellview just before 5 a.m. They attempted to gain entry to the duplex, but the heat and flames were too intense. Moments later, the second floor of the building collapsed. Three of the home’s occupants were killed. They are a 30-year-old woman, her 15-year-old son, and her 12-year-old daughter. The father is the lone survivor, and was treated for minor injuries. The names of the victims have not been released, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Planning Election Discussion For This Week

Lake Michigan College is planning a post election discussion this week with members of its faculty. Lake Michigan College has released the following:
Join Lake Michigan College Political Science and Psychology faculty for an online post-election panel and moderated discussion on Wednesday, November 4, at 4 p.m. 
This year’s election season has already been remarkable. After the vote, what’s next? Hear LMC experts provide analysis of the election results and discuss the implications for our political landscape moving forward.  
Panel members include Political Science Professor, Dr. Tiffany Bohm, and Psychology Professors, Dr. Mya Hernandez and Dr. Amy Scrima. They will share non-partisan insight and commentary into the national and local election results including a rundown of positions that have been filled, what we know and what we might expect.  
The event is free and open to the public and will be conducted online. The Zoom meeting link is https://LakeMichiganCollege.zoom.us/j/91785074213 or call (646) 876-9923. The Meeting ID is 917 8507 4213. 
Participants may submit their questions and comments during the discussion or email their questions prior to the event to tbohm@lakemichigancollege.edu. 
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Campaign Highlights Mental Health Hotline

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of a mental health helpline. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the Stay Well line launched in May. Calling 888-535-6136 and selecting the number 8 will connect you with a trained counselor.. ...Read Full Story

State Revenue Sharing Decline Affecting Cities

A new report reveals communities throughout Michigan are paying the price for decades of state revenue sharing cuts. Local revenue sharing payments are state taxes distributed to local governments, and according to the findings these payments decreased more than 35% for cities, villages, and townships between 1997 and 2019. Report author Brandon Betz with the Michigan League for Public Policy notes counties saw one fourth less during the same time period.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Officials End Gray Wolf Protections Across Most Of US

From the Associated Press – The Trump administration has removed gray wolves in most of the U.S. from the endangered species list. Thursday’s action ends longstanding federal safeguards for the predators in the Lower 48 states, except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. The announcement just days ahead of the election could allow hunting of the animals to resume in Great Lakes states — a battleground region in the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Gray wolves have recovered from near extinction in parts of the country but remain absent from much of their historical range. Biologists who reviewed the administration’s plan to strip protection from wolves say it lacked scientific justification.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors Hires New Chief Financial Officer From Delta Airlines

From the Associated Press – General Motors has hired away Delta Airlines’ CFO to fill the automaker’s top financial job. The company says that Paul Jacobson will start the new position on December 1. The 48-year-old Jacobson has been the airline’s CFO for the past eight years. He’ll replace Dhivya Suryadevara, who left GM in August for Silicon Valley payments startup Stripe. GM says in a statement that Jacobson joined Delta as a financial analyst in 1997 and also served as senior vice president and treasurer.. ...Read Full Story

Mid-Michigan Police Department Closed Due To COVID-19

A mid Michigan police department is shut down because of the coronavirus. The DeWitt Township Police Department, north of Lansing, is closed until November 11th. On the township Facebook page, it says if you’ve come in close contact with any member of the DeWitt Township police department between October 14th and 27th, monitor your health symptoms. Clinton County Sheriff Larry Jerue says they’ll pitch in to help cover calls.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Farm Gets Cider Making Shut Down

Pica Farms in Hartford has until next Thursday to fix sanitation problems in its cider brewing equipment. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development hit the farm with a cease-and-desist order because the cider wasn’t clean. They’re recommending everyone who bought cider there this year should throw it away. MDARD says food and mold residue were found on cider processing equipment. The farm also was not using food-grade containers for the cider making and was not properly cleaning all equipment to prevent problems with contamination and allergies. MDARD says if you drank the cider and got sick, call your doctor.. ...Read Full Story

Two Shot, One Killed In Benton Township

One person is dead and another recovering at Spectrum Health Lakeland after an overnight shooting around 2 a.m. Friday. Benton Township police were called to the Baric Village at Fairplain Apartments at 777 East Napier for shots being fired. They found one victim who had been shot several times and was taken to the hospital by Medic 1. They also learned of the other victim, who was taken by friends to the hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival. A possible third victim is being sought by police and may have a head wound. The suspects came from behind buildings C and D and opened fire. No arrests have been made.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Receives College Readiness Award

St. Joseph Public Schools has received a College Success Award from GreatSchools.org, a non-profit that helps parents find educational opportunities for their children. The College Success Award aims to honor schools that excel in ensuring students prepare for college, go to college, and succeed once there. This year, St. Joseph Public Schools is among 2,158 award-winning schools from 29 states that have demonstrated a successful track record of graduating students who go on to college. During the pandemic, St. Joseph Public Schools says it’s continued to educate its students so they’re ready for college life. St. Joe Superintendent Thomas Bruce says the award “shows that many of our students are not only prepared for college level learning, but they also have high levels of persistence and resilience, enabling them to stay in school and attain their goals.” He added, “Go Bears!”. ...Read Full Story

Federal Support Sought For New Business Park In Cass County

Congressman Fred Upton is seeking a federal grant to help with the development of the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research and Technology, or SMART, Park in Cassopolis. The SMART Park is a project of the Midwest Energy and Communication Cooperative. Upton tells WSJM News it will be a 450 acre state-of-the-art rail and fiber served business venture accommodating commercial and industrial projects.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Urges Caution For Holidays

The Berrien County Health Department is urging everyone to plan for the holidays around COVID-19. Speaking Thursday, Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said with the cases and hospitalizations up in October, it becomes even more important to be cautious. That means wearing a mask when indoors and near people not from your household, frequent hand washing, and distancing.. ...Read Full Story

State Health Department Planning Virtual Town Hall On Opioids

A virtual town hall will be held next month regarding the opioid crisis and how it has affected west Michigan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Opioids Task Force are teaming up for the session, which follows others already held this year about other regions of the state. To be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, November 6, participants will be asked how they have been affected by opioids, what kinds of services might help, and how to fight the stigma of opioid addiction. During the town hall, MDHHS and the Michigan Opioids Task Force will share the 2020 strategy to turn the tide on the crisis. You can find out about attending the virtual town hall right here.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Admin Tightens Gathering Limits After Virus Spreads

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is tightening restrictions on indoor gatherings and shifting the Traverse City region backward in Michigan’s reopening plan. The state health department said Thursday coronavirus hospitalizations have doubled in three weeks and the death rate has risen for five straight weeks. Effective immediately, indoor venues without fixed seating must limit gatherings such as weddings and parties to no more than 50 people – down from a maximum of 500. Restaurants and bars must seat no more than six people at a table. All dine-in establishments must keep customers’ names and phone numbers for contact-tracing purposes, starting Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Group Working To End Homelessness

A group in Grand Rapids is working to help homeless people get off the streets. Community Rebuilders executive director Vera Beech says they’re working to reach out to the homeless in certain areas of the city – Rosa Parks Circle or Monroe Center – right now.. ...Read Full Story

Poll Shows Large Support For Capitol Gun Ban

A majority of Michigan voters support banning the open carrying guns at the polls and in the state Capitol, according to a Detroit News/WDIV poll. 76% of voters say guns should be banned at the state Capitol. The discussion has come about after dozens of protestors went into the Capitol last April and many were carrying firearms. 73% of voters, meanwhile, say openly carried guns should be banned at polling places while 22% say they should be allowed. House Minority Leader Christine Greig isn’t surprised.. ...Read Full Story

Cities See Declining Revenue Sharing From State

A new report reveals communities throughout Michigan are paying the price for decades of state revenue sharing cuts. Local revenue sharing payments are state taxes distributed to local governments, and according to the findings these payments decreased more than 35% for cities, villages, and townships between 1997 and 2019. Report author Brandon Betz with the Michigan League for Public Policy notes counties saw one fourth less during the same time period.. ...Read Full Story

State Promoting Mental Health Helpline

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of a mental health helpline. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the Stay Well line launched in May. Calling 888-535-6136 and selecting the number 8 will connect you with a trained counselor.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Planning Resolution To Reduce Voter Intimidation

There are concerns about voter intimidation on Election Day in Benton Harbor, and city commissioners will be asked next week to help. Members of the local SHARP Foundation say they were told by the ACLU during a recent call that there’s been social media chatter about the Proud Boys showing up to Benton Harbor High School, a polling location, next Tuesday. Commissioner Ron Singleton tells WSJM News this means a police presence could be needed, which he has discussed with SHARP.. ...Read Full Story