Local News Archives

Commission Discusses Moratorium On Recreational Marijuana Businesses

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are looking to establish some rules for recreational marijuana businesses when they begin operating in Michigan. At a Monday meeting, commissioners considered a resolution that would have prohibited recreational marijuana businesses in town until the city can get zoning rules in place. City attorney Richard Racht said as the state deadline approaches for prospective recreational marijuana businesses to put in applications, the city needs to take action.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Works Holding Hiring Events in Benton Harbor

A series of hiring events will be taking place at Michigan Works in Benton Harbor starting October 8 and continuing through the end of the year. Michigan Works says these events will be a bit different from the usual sorts of job fairs it holds. That’s because the employers will be tasked with introducing themselves and explaining why they are a good place to work. It says this “Shark Tank” method of looking for employees will eliminate the uncomfortable feelings job seekers face when they attend hiring events. Plus, it will allow the employers to offer more information about themselves. The hiring days will be at the Michigan Works office on West Main Street in Benton Harbor on October 8, October 22, November 1, November 26, and December 12. They’ll all run from 10 a.m. to noon. Those who want to attend are told to bring an updated resume and to be interview-ready.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Issues Statement On Impeachment Inquiry

Congressman Fred Upton isn’t saying whether he supports the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Upton issued a statement through his office that says he’ll “review the facts that emerge before making any conclusions.” Upton calls recent developments “disconcerting,” but says there “are some people who may want to use this to grind our entire government to a halt, but I’m not one of them. There’s no joy in Mudville.” He says he remains focused on the issues that matter to the people of southwest Michigan. We spoke to Upton last week before the announcement there would be an impeachment inquiry. At that time, he said he was waiting for a transcript of President Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine before weighing in.. ...Read Full Story

Jim Gifford Returning To WSJM

Coming soon to 94.9 WSJM in the morning will be a familar voice to many in the area. Jim Gifford is taking over the WSJM morning show at the end of October as Ray Gustafson moves on to be with family in Minnesota. Gifford will take the lead on WSJM mornings just as Ray departs. You may have heard Gifford over the years in his many roles with WSJM. Among other things, he served as a morning news anchor, morning show co-host, news director, and programming director before moving on to other ventures about four years ago. Now, he’s back to be our new morning host. You’ll be able to hear the G-Unit, as some have called him, weekday mornings on 94.9 WSJM starting in late October.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate After Explicit Video Shown On MI Billboard

From the Associated Press — Police are investigating after drivers traveling through a Detroit suburb were stunned to see a pornographic video playing on an electronic billboard. Auburn Hills police say the video played on the billboard along Interstate 75
near Michigan highway 59 for about a half-hour Saturday night before police contacted the company that owns the billboard and the images were removed. Police say multiple people called 911 after seeing the explicit video. Motorist Chuck McMahon tells WDIV-TV he saw the video and wondered if the billboard was advertising for a strip club. Police are investigating how the images ended up on a billboard, including whether someone hacked into the electronic sign’s system. Dr. Justin Kammo also saw the video. He tells WXYZ-TV he immediately assumed that “someone had hacked it.”. ...Read Full Story

Aerial Spraying For Mosquitoes Rescheduled For Tonight

The Berrien County Health Department says the rescheduled aerial spraying for mosquitoes will take place tonight. The state announced on Friday it would apply the spray to kill mosquitoes in areas that have been affected by Eastern Equine Encephalitis this year. The spraying was supposed to take place Sunday night, but weather forced its rescheduling. The Berrien County Health Department’s Nikki Britten told WSJM News last week that parts of Berrien and Pipestone townships, as well as in the village of Eau Claire, will be sprayed.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Drop 12¢ In Michigan

Gas prices statewide are on the decline. Triple-A Michigan says the average fell 12¢ a gallon over the past week to $2.62, and the auto club expects prices will continue moving lower with the transition to cheaper-to-produce winter blends of gasoline. The highest prices remain in Ann Arbor and Detroit at $2.70, and Saginaw now has the lowest in the state at $2.48. Traverse City had the lowest prices in Michigan for about the past 2 months.. ...Read Full Story

Major Damage At New Buffalo’s Harbor Grand Hotel From Fire, Storm

No word yet when the Harbor Grand Hotel in New Buffalo might be repaired and opened back up after a Friday evening fire. It started during the storms that ripped through southwest Michigan, and witnesses say it appears to have been started by lightning, though the fire department has not issued a cause as yet. Our partners at WSBT talked with Harbor Grand Hotel maintenance worker Jeff Stupar about the damage.. ...Read Full Story

Unit 2 Of Cook Nuclear Plant To Undergo Refueling Outage

The Cook Nuclear Plant will start its 24th refueling outage Tuesday night at 10 for Unit 2. Indiana Michigan Power began gradually reducing the power produced by the reactor on September 9 to prepare to take it offline for the work. Other projects set for the refueling outage include modifying the unit’s solid state protection system, heater drain pump mechanical seal replacements, fuse upgrades in the control room, and replacing the west motor driven auxiliary feed pump room cooling system. The length of the refueling outage is not released by Indiana Michigan Power for competitive reasons. The utility is bringing in about 1,150 contractors to supplement the 11-hundred person staff, and crews will work around the clock doing over 95-hundred maintenance, inspection, and equipment modification job activities.. ...Read Full Story

Weather Postpones Mosquito Spraying

Weather has postponed aerial spraying by the state in high risk areas for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The spraying was slated for last night to cover around 720,000 acres in parts of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties along with several others to kill off mosquitoes carrying the illness. In a conference call Friday, state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo said they were targeting areas where there have been EEE cases.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Launching New Pilot To Track Talent Pool

A new partnership between Kinexus Group in Benton Harbor and Irish firm Upskill Enterprise will be launched next month to help local employers better keep track of the skills of their workers. Kinexus Director of Innovation Duane Berger tells WSJM News Upskill has software called TalentSensus to create an inventory of local talent.. ...Read Full Story

Health Experts Examine Racial Disparities In Berrien

Spectrum Health Lakeland Director of Population Health Lynn Todman is working to help the community understand some of the factors that go into a person’s health outcomes, and a big focus is on race. Todman tells WSJM News her studies at Lakeland have shown major racial disparities when it comes to health in the region. She says part of her job is making sure doctors understand that things like the neighborhood where someone lives determines how healthy they are.. ...Read Full Story

Aerial Spraying For Mosquitoes Tonight

State health officials are going to conduct aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes in high risk areas for Eastern Equine Encephalitis this weekend. The spraying will take place in several southwest Michigan counties, covering a total of about 720,000 acres. This will include parts of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. In a conference call Friday, state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo said they’re targeting areas where there have been EEE cases.. ...Read Full Story

Major Grants, Awards From Berrien Community Foundation

Some grants and awards for 2019 have been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation as it held its 67th annual meeting this month in St. Joseph. BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News the new Alamar Non-Profit Sustainability Grant of $75,000 was announced for St. Joseph Today so it can provide retirement benefits to its employees.. ...Read Full Story

Harvest Could Last Into November

2019 has been challenging for Michigan farmers, from the polar vortex over the winter that wiped out the peach crop in southwest Michigan to historic rainfall in the spring delaying planting or preventing corn and soybeans from being planted. Tim Boring is the vice president of the Michigan Agribusiness Association and says it will be a long, drawn-out harvest.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Bucks Community College Enrollment Trend

Enrollment at Southwestern Michigan College is up this year. SMC says it’s managed to buck enrollment trends being seen at many other community colleges in Michigan. It’s one of just seven community colleges in the state with increased enrollment for the fall. After processing final drops and adds, SMC showed an overall head count of 2,171, up 1.2% versus the fall of 2018. The college this year welcomed 509 recent high school graduates to campus, an increase of 54, or almost 12%, and more students — 364 of them — now live in the residence halls than last fall. SMC says it’s been able to keep its numbers up because it has been proactive in identifying what makes it unique and clearly explaining to parents and students the value in starting a college journey there. The current freshman class has declared 42 different majors, with health services, business, biology, criminal justice, psychology, and education being the most popular.. ...Read Full Story

Report: More LMC Students Voting

The voter participation rate among Lake Michigan College students has doubled in the past four years. LMC says a report has found the voting rate among students was 17% for the 2014 midterm elections, and 35% in the 2018 midterms. LMC political science instructor Tiffany Bohm credits the LMC Votes campaign, which sought to increase voter registrations at the college. She spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Special Waiting Room For Kids Opens At Courthouse

The Berrien County Trial Court’s Family Division has opened a new waiting room just for children. The new kid-friendly waiting area for children attending their own Child Protective Services proceedings is located on the fourth floor of the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph. It’s decorated with a mural painted by artist Kathy Zerler and filled with donated toys, books, blankets, and other items of comfort. Trained volunteers will be staffing the waiting area during child protective hearings. The court says the goal of the project is to encourage participation of children in their own protective proceedings, which is a nationally recognized best practice. As part of that, the court wanted to have a quiet, supervised, child-friendly waiting area for those kids. There will be an open house for the new waiting room on October 10 from 4 to 5 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Judge Strikes Down State’s Ballot Drive Law

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A Michigan judge has struck down a new requirement that makes it harder to initiate ballot drives by limiting the number of signatures that can be counted from a single congressional district. Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled Friday, declaring that the plain language of Michigan’s constitution does not support the imposition of a geographic requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Congresswoman Tlaib’s Campaign Pushing Impeachment T-Shirts

The re-election campaign for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Detroit is promoting T-shirts with a slogan calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment that include a two-letter acronym for a profanity she used in reference to the president early this year. Campaign spokesman TJ Bucholz says the T-shirts went on sale Thursday as a gift for a $29 contribution to Tlaib’s re-election efforts. The T-shirts say: “Impeach the MF.”. ...Read Full Story

Fire At New Buffalo Hotel

Several fire departments responded to the scene of a hotel fire in New Buffalo Friday night. The fire broke out around 7 p.m at the Harbor Grand Hotel on West Water Street. The New Buffalo Fire Department told WNDU it appeared lightning struck the roof of the third floor. There were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Water Pollution Laws Poorly Enforced in Communities of Color

Low-income communities of color — like Flint, Michigan or Newark, New Jersey — are much more likely than white, more affluent towns to suffer with polluted water for years, according to a new report. The study, called Watered Down Justice, analyzed EPA data for 200,000 violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Report co-author Kristi Pullen Fedinick of the Natural Resources Defense Council says states are neglecting black and brown communities. ...Read Full Story

Two Wolf Pups At Zoo Die Of Mosquito-Borne Virus

From the Associated Press — Tests confirm two Mexican gray wolf pups at southern Michigan zoo have died of a rare mosquito-borne virus as health officials work to curb the spread of the virus in people and animals. Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek says results received this week confirm the pups that died in early September were killed by Eastern equine encephalitis. Separately, in Kent County, a necropsy revealed that a deer also had it. The state Department of Health and Human Services reports the virus has been
confirmed in humans or animals in at least 12 Michigan counties. Three people in southwestern Michigan have died. People are urged to guard against mosquito bites. The department is encouraging officials in affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or
cancelling outdoor activities including sports occurring at or after dusk until there’s a hard frost. Aerial spraying is being considered.. ...Read Full Story

Flash Flood Watch Issued For Berrien, Cass Counties

A flash flood watch is in effect for Berrien and Cass counties from the National Weather Service office in northern Indiana. Forecasters say widespread rainfall totals of 1.5 to 2″ with locally higher amounts in the watch area are expected throughout the evening. Intense downpours from thunderstorms will allow rain to quickly runoff and cause flash flooding of streets, fields, and lowland areas.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board Leadership Meets With Special Counsel Investigating Potential Conflicts Of Interest

Berrien County Board of Commissioners chairman Mac Elliott says Special Counsel John Dewane will have the freedom to “follow the arrow wherever it points” in his investigation into allegations Commissioner Terri Sue Freehling failed to fully disclose a conflict of interest regarding county drain commission contracts. The appointment of Dewane followed the announcement by Prosecutor Michael Sepic that no criminal charges would be filed against Freehling, noting it would be “too great” a task to prove any criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Public Schools Board VP Mike Welch Passes Away

Lakeshore Public Schools Board of Education vice president Mike Welch has died. Superintendent Philip Freeman says Welch passed after battling a long illness. In a statement, Freeman says the district “will be forever grateful for the leadership, commitment, spirit, and inspiration Mike Welch provided to our schools and community.” Board president Jason Beckrow called Welch a “wonderful board colleague, student champion and consummate exemplar of servant leadership.”. ...Read Full Story

Aerial Spraying To Prevent Mosquito Borne Illness Set For This Weekend

State health officials are going to conduct aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes in high risk areas for Eastern Equine Encephalitis this weekend. The spraying will take place in several southwest Michigan counties, covering a total of about 720,000 acre. This will include parts of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. In a conference call Friday, state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo said they’re targeting areas where there have been EEE cases.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Senior High School Among 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education is out with the list of the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, and New Buffalo Senior High School is among those being honored. It is one of 13 schools in the state and one of just four Michigan high schools to receive the designation. New Buffalo Area Schools superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie tells WSJM News it’s a great honor, but it’s also a refection of the entire district.. ...Read Full Story

Precautions Still Urged Against Mosquito Bites To Prevent EEE

There is a new case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Berrien County, bringing the total of confirmed human cases to two. A deer has also tested positive for EEE according to the Berrien County Health Department. Carrie Brunson is the supervisor for the Elkhart County environmental health division in Indiana and talked to our partners at WSBT about what’s behind the large crop of mosquitoes carrying the disease.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michiganders Have New Favorite Halloween Candy

Michigan has a new favorite Halloween candy. The website candystore.com tracks candy purchases by state, and says Starburst has taken over in Michigan for candy corn, which had been at the top for the past several years. In the state, we bought nearly 120,000 pounds of Starburst in 2018, compared to 106,000 pounds of candy corn and 86,000 pounds of Skittles. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend $2.6 billion on Halloween candy this year, which is unchanged from a year ago. The national favorite? Skittles, followed by Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, Snickers and Starburst making up the top five. Candystore.com notes nearly 25% of all Halloween purchases are now made online, and people spend $25 on average to stock the house for trick-or-treaters… or themselves.. ...Read Full Story

Veteran Walking Around Lake Michigan Arrives In St. Joseph

A Marine Corps veteran who is walking all the way around Lake Michigan to raise money for fighting suicides among veterans is now in southwest Michigan. Travis Snyder arrived in St. Joseph Thursday. He started his journey about a month ago in Manistee, went around the U.P. and Wisconsin, passed through Illinois and Indiana, and then hiked into Michigan this week. He told WSJM News he’s passionate about helping struggling veterans.. ...Read Full Story

County Administrator Calls For State Review

Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf is calling for a state investigation into the conduct of local elected officials. Following the Berrien County Board of Commissioners vote Thursday to appoint a special counsel to look into disclosure and conflict of interest questions among commissioners, Wolf spoke out during public comments. He commended the board for retaining the special counsel to examine the matter following the Berrien County Prosecutor’s investigation into Commissioner Teri Freehling. Then…. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Appoints Special Counsel

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has appointed former Judge John Dewane as a special counsel to look into disclosure and conflict of interest issues surrounding commissioners following a recent investigation into Commissioner Teri Freehling. On Wednesday, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office announced there would be no charges filed out of an investigation regarding Freehling’s late husband renting out equipment to a contractor working on county drain projects. However, on Thursday Board of Commissioners Chair Mac Elliot told WSJM News the former circuit judge will examine the board’s bylaws to see if their disclosure rules should be fortified.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks Work On Drug Prices

Congressman Fred Upton is working with other members of the House to come up with a plan that could lower prescription drug costs. He tells WSJM News House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week issued a plan of her own without seeking input from Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Warrant Issued For Monday Night Benton Harbor Shooting Suspect

A two-count felony warrant is now active for the suspect in a shooting Monday night in the city of Benton Harbor. Public Safety officials say they’ve as yet been unable to find 23-year-old Uriah Beauford, who is believed to be in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, or Kalamazoo. Beauford is accused of shooting a 41-year-old Benton Harbor woman at a home in the 700 block of Vineyard just after 10 p.m. Monday. She was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland, and the last update from police indicated she was in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Wine Distributors Sold To Three Buyers

A long-time southwest Michigan company is changing hands. Paw Paw Wine Distributors is being sold to three buyers after being family-owned since 1943. The first products distributed by the firm were locally made wines from Paw Paw, including St. Julian, and continued to expand to bring in more wines like Kendall Jackson and E&J Gallo along with beer from Heineken and Kalamazoo Brewing Company, which is now Bell’s Brewing. Alliance Beverage of Grand Rapids, Great Lakes Wine and Spirits of Highland Park, and Vintage Wine Company of Roseville are buying the distribution rights to the company’s portfolio of beer and wine. Paw Paw Wine Distributors will continue operating, and says the transition is expected at the end of this year.. ...Read Full Story

One Shot, One Assaulted Overnight In Benton Harbor

A 24-year-old Benton Harbor woman is in stable condition at Spectrum Health Lakeland after being shot at a home in the 800 block of Lavette late Wednesday night around 11:30. Benton Harbor Public Safety detectives say a 27-year-old Benton Harbor man was also assaulted, and he’s been treated and released from the hospital. No information has been released on any suspects in the attack. Detectives are continuing to investigate and they’re asking any witnesses to come forward either by calling the department’s Tipline, Crime Stoppers, or using the Benton Harbor Public Safety app on their phone.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Pushing For Banking Changes For Marijuana Businesses As House Takes Action

Legal marijuana businesses in the 33 states that allow it, including Michigan, are cash-only. That’s because of the federal prohibition on marijuana, which makes it illegal for those establishments to use banks. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has signed on to an effort with 21 other attorneys general from both parties to call for a change in federal law as more states approve at least medicinal marijuana. Action has been taken in the U.S. House, with a 321-103 vote to approve a bill that would grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking.. ...Read Full Story

Vape Shop Sues To Stop State Ban

From the Associated press — The owner of a northern Michigan vape shop is suing to stop Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, contending the emergency rules are illegal and will force him to close his store. Marc Slis, who operates 906 Vapor in Houghton, filed the lawsuit in Houghton County Circuit Court on Wednesday. It is believed to be the first of what could
be several legal challenges against Whitmer’s ban. Stores are supposed to start complying with the ban on October 2. Slis says the emergency rules are invalid, arbitrary and capricious in part because tobacco products – the most prevalent source of nicotine – are
unaffected by the ban. Whitmer has said the e-cigarette industry is using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to target children.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Agency Teams Up With LinkedIn

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has announced a new partnership with job searching social network LinkedIn to help clients find new employment. Unemployment Insurance Agency Deputy Director Kimberly Berry tells WSJM News Michigan is part of a three-state pilot being launched by LinkedIn to have special portals for those who are unemployed and receiving benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Manufacturing Day Set For Next Month

Michigan Works is getting ready for the next Manufacturing Day in Berrien and Van Buren counties, and this year, they’re doing it a little bit differently. Michigan Works Sector Relations Coordinator Erin Venno tells WSJM News for the six previous Manufacturing Days, they took local high school students on tours of manufacturing businesses. This year, they’re taking the manufacturers to the students.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Official Talks Racial Health Disparities

Spectrum Health Lakeland Director of Population Health Lynn Todman is working to help the community understand some of the factors that go into a person’s health outcomes, and a big focus is on race. Todman tells WSJM News her studies at Lakeland have shown major racial disparities when it comes to health in the region. She says part of her job is making sure doctors understand that things like the neighborhood where someone lives determines how healthy they are.. ...Read Full Story

Court Opens Waiting Room For Children Going Through Protective Proceedings

There is a new waiting room just for children at the Berrien County Courthouse as the family division works to create a more welcoming environment. Berrien County Trial Court Family Division Intake Manager Jean Lawrence tells WSJM News an initiative to have more children directly involved in their own child protective proceedings made the waiting area necessary. She says it’s a best practice to have the kids there when their well-being is discussed.. ...Read Full Story

Man Faces Up To Life Following Meth Conviction

A Mishawaka man is facing up to life in prison after being convicted in Cass County of resisting and obstructing a police officer and possession of methamphetamine. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 26-year-old Danzig Weed was stopped by sheriff’s deputies on March 17 after leaving the scene of a vehicle fire in Pokagon Township. Officers held Weed at gunpoint after he moved his hand toward his back pocket and refused to comply with commands to get down on the ground. A search revealed that he had a syringe filled with methamphetamine in his back pocket. His trial this week included the showing of body cam footage from an arresting officer. The jury on Tuesday found Weed guilty on the two charges, but not guilty on a second count of resisting. Weed also has a pending criminal case in Indiana for stealing a vehicle. He faces up to life in prison as a habitual offender with three or more prior felony convictions when he’s sentenced on November 8.. ...Read Full Story

Fest In The Southwest Set For Saturday

Set for this Saturday is an event to raise money for the Cora Lamping Center for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Berrien County. It’s the third annual “Fest in the Southwest” at Watermark Brewing Company in Stevensville. Avenue Family Network board member Ryan Ogle tells WSJM News $20 will get you a beer stein, two drink tokens, and a brat ticket. 95% of the proceeds from the event will go to the safe shelter for survivors of domestic violence. The fundraiser comes as the center is seeking to expand.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven’s Second Lighthouse Keeper To Be Honored This Week

Water Street in South Haven will have an honorary name added to it this week. The city council recently gave the go-ahead to name the street Captain Donahue Drive for Civil War Captain James Donahue. After losing a leg in the war, he was hired as South Haven’s second lighthouse keeper at the age of 32 in 1874. Among the at least 15 lives he’s credited with saving were his two sons, and in some of those rescues, he dove into the water personally to pull someone to safety. The city will hold a ceremony at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the intersection of Water and Kalamazoo streets at the top of the hill to unveil the new signs. Donahue died in 1917 and is buried at South Haven’s Lakeview Cemetery. Friday’s ceremony is open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Special Counsel To Report Back To Berrien County Board In Three Weeks Regarding Conflicts Of Interest Case

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will be conducting its own investigation of potential conflicts of interest by Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling. The commission says in a statement released after Prosecutor Michael Sepic announced no charges would be filed against Freehling that it has retained a Special Counsel to “review the facts of this conflict of interest issue and to advise the Board concerning its appropriate course of action.” A report will be given to the Board within the next three weeks.. ...Read Full Story

Niles City Council Sets Special Meeting On Recreational Marijuana

The largest city in Berrien County could soon become the first to opt-in to the new state law allowing for recreational marijuana businesses serving people 21 and older. On October 7, the Niles City Council will vote on both a Zoning Ordinance amendment to add new definitions for those establishments and to opt-in to allowing them to set up shop. The council heard the first reading of the ordinances this week and then scheduled the special meeting for the votes. Most local governments in the state voted to opt-out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses under the new voter-approved law, with most citing the need to wait for state regulators to get the rules in place.. ...Read Full Story

Prosecutor: No Charges Against Berrien County Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling

No criminal charges will be filed against Berrien County Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling related to potential conflicts of interests with county drain commission contracts for which her late husband was renting out the equipment. Prosecutor Michael Sepic says he will not authorize misdemeanor charges in the case, saying that proving beyond a reasonable doubt that she knew the full extent of the money being paid to Patrick Freehling by Hartzler Excavating over a two-year period would be “too great.”. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Removing Invasive Plants At Warren Dunes Saturday

Volunteers are being sought for another environmental stewardship day this weekend at Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says volunteers will be removing invasive plants like the Japanese barberry and honeysuckle from the forested dunes to protect native habitat. No experience is needed, and those who attend will be given some training to recognize the targeted species. Those who go are advised to wear closed toe shoes, long sleeves, and long pants. You should also have insect repellent that contains DEET. The volunteers are told to meet at the organizational campground parking area on Floral Lane at 10 a.m. The DNR notes this stewardship day will be taking place on September 28, which happens to be National Public Lands Day.. ...Read Full Story

State Grant Announced For Apartment Development In Benton Harbor

A state grant has been announced for a housing development in Benton Harbor. The Michigan Strategic Fund is awarding $1.5 million to Benton Harbor Flats LCC to renovate a vacant, two-story building in a mixed-use development area of downtown Benton Harbor. When it’s finished, the project at Main and Pipestone is expected to results in 16 market-rate apartments and two office suites. They’re going to do interior renovations along with restoring the original brick facade of the building. State Representative Pauline Wendzel announced the grant this week, saying the project will create 22 jobs and serve as a catalyst for future development in the heart of Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Recruiting Officers

Anyone interested in becoming a conservation officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is being told to take a look at the DNR’s website. DNR First Lieutenant Jason Wicklund tells WSJM News the agency it’s planning a conservation officer training academy for next year. It’s seeking candidates from all backgrounds for the academy scheduled for July at the Michigan State Police training facility. DNR conservation officers are certified police officers with the authority to enforce all state laws. Wicklund says they also protect the state’s natural resources, and there’s never a dull moment for them.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago Men Jailed After Police Chase In Buchanan, Galien, Three Oaks, New Buffalo

Two Chicago men are in the Berrien County Jail after leading police on a chase through Buchanan, Galien, Three Oaks, and New Buffalo early this morning. A third managed to slip away when the suspects’ stolen Jeep came to a stop on US-12 near I-94 after stop sticks blew out the tires and they hit a sign post. A K-9 from the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana helped track two of the suspects hiding in the weeds. The 2015 Jeep had been reported stolen in Highland Park, Illinois, and deputies found burglary tools hidden under a blanket in the back of the vehicle. Jailed are 25-year-old Chamaine Davis and 20-year-old Calvin Edwards for outstanding felony warrants out of Cook County, Illinois. They are also expected to be charged here with fleeing and eluding police, possession of a stolen vehicle, and driving without a valid license.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Public Safety Looking For Shooting Suspect

Police are looking for 23-year-old man for a shooting in the 700 block of Vineyard in the city of Benton Harbor last night. Public safety officials have identified him as Uriah Beauford and say he is also wanted for unrelated charges and is believed to be in either Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, or Grand Rapids. A 41-year-old Benton Harbor woman is in stable condition at Spectrum Health Lakeland after being shot just after 10 p.m. Beauford is considered armed and dangerous, and Benton Harbor Public Safety is asking for tips on where he might be, but warning people to stay away from him. Those tips can be sent through the city’s public safety department app, by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-342-STOP, or by calling the Benton Harbor Public Safety Tipline at 269-927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Dunes Seeing More Visitors With National Park Status

From the Associated Press — The Indiana Dunes National Park saw its highest number of visitors this summer after receiving national park status. The 15,000-acre (6,070-hectare) park along the southern shore of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana became Indiana’s first national park in February. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center has tallied 131,662 visitors in the first eight months of 2019, breaking its all-time annual record. The park drew in over 42,000 July visitors, more than doubling totals from the same period last year. Park officials say the higher visitor numbers indicate the public has responded to the national park designation. The giant sand dunes were formed over 10,000 years ago and reach almost 200 feet (60 meters) tall in  some places.. ...Read Full Story