Local News Archives

Busy Season For SJ Today, Heritage Museum

It’s been busy lately for St Joseph Today and the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. Both gave St. Joe City Commissioners their latest reports Monday, with the Heritage Museum’s Tracy Gierada saying this summer’s lighthouse tours went very well. She told WSJM News they more than doubled the number of people who took them.. ...Read Full Story

West MI School Cancels Bible Discussion Following Complaints

From the Associated Press — A western Michigan school district has ended a teacher’s faith-based discussions with elementary school students following complaints by a civil rights group. Hudsonville Public Schools’ assistant superintendent, Scott Smith, says the district didn’t know a fifth-grade teacher had been meeting with students for lunchtime Bible studies until the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists contacted the district on November 6. Smith says officials met with the Alward Elementary School teacher the same day and ended his talks. Smith tells MLive.com the teacher “thought it was okay because it was occurring during a non-instructional time.” Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists spokesman Mitch Kahle says “every public-school teacher, principal, and superintendent should know that they are prohibited from engaging in any activity with students that involves religious beliefs, rituals, or doctrines.”. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Twp Officer Undergoes Surgeries After Being Hit On I-94

Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor says Officer David Wyman has had to undergo several surgeries after being hit by a car around 9:30 Sunday night after a traffic stop on Interstate 94. It happened near the 12 mile marker in the eastbound lanes when a 67-year-old man hit Wyman and then hit the back end of his patrol car. Chief Taylor says Wyman is in stable condition at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph and is recovering. The extent of his injuries has not been released. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the crash, and Taylor notes details will be released later. Those are likely to include possible charges against the driver who hit the officer.. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Man Killed In Cass County Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has identified the man killed in a crash in Penn Township Monday morning. Authorities say 34-year-old Russell Jett Jr. of Kalamazoo died when his vehicle went off the road on Decatur Road near Shurte Street and hit a tree. Jett was on his way to Cassopolis at the time. He was wearing his seat belt, and police say alcohol and drugs did not play roles in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

New Poll Puts Upton 2nd In GOP Primary Field For U.S. Senate

New polling data shows almost half of the Republicans in Michigan haven’t yet made up their mind in a GOP primary for the U.S. Senate. They’ve still got plenty of time ahead of the primary next year, but polling by Target Insyght puts Congressman Fred Upton second in the race. Political newcomer John James, who is calling himself a “conservative outsider” has the lead with 24%, followed by Upton at 19% and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young at 7%. “Other” candidates are supported by 5% of those polled, while 45% are still undecided. James has been releasing daily videos to speak directly to voters, while Upton has not made a decision on whether to run for the U.S. Senate or seek re-election to the U.S. House. Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow is seeking re-election to the Senate. Singer Kid Rock said recently he was not serious when he teased a possible run against Stabenow as a Republican, and admitted that was a promotional stunt for his new album.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Bill Setting Requirements For Specialty Courts

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has signed bills to require that special problem-solving courts receive state certification to operate. The courts are designed to address criminals’ underlying substance abuse or mental health issues so they do not re-offend.
Supporters say the legislation is needed so Michigan has a more consistent and effective approach for the courts and defendants. Under legislation signed Monday, specialty courts – including drug, sobriety, mental health and veteran’s treatment courts – will have to be certified by the State Court Administrative Office starting in January. The office currently offers recommendations, but the courts are under no mandate to adopt them.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph’s Dickinson Stadium To Get Artificial Turf

When the St. Joe Bears step out on the field of Dickinson Stadium to open the 2018 regular season, the football team will not be playing on the normal natural grass that’s been in place since the stadium was redone in 2003. A gift from Steve and Elizabeth Upton will pay for artificial turf to be installed, and St. Joseph Superintendent Ann Cardon tells WSJM News it will be in place before the first football practice next summer. The high school boys and girls soccer teams will also be able to return to playing games at the high school with the new playing surface after spending more than a quarter-century at Upton Middle School. St. Joseph will become the fourth high school in Berrien County with artificial turf, and the sixth in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference. In a statement, Steve Upton said he and his wife are proud to help with the improvement and are “excited to improve the facilities at the high school and this will benefit all area student athletes for years to come.”. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Talks Retail Closings

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski sees a trend that will probably continue when he considers the upcoming closure of the Benton Harbor Target store. He tells us the store’s closing is the result of a general decline in shopping at brick and mortar retailers. As far as the Benton Harbor Target’s tax contribution to the county, Witkowski says not a whole lot is being lost. In 2007, the Target paid $131,000, but last year it paid $59,000. However, Witkowski can see a bigger problem being caused as more retailers close.. ...Read Full Story

Delay In SJ Blighted Property Decision

It could be a year before the battle over a blighted property on Niles Avenue in St. Joseph is resolved. St Joe City Commissioners Monday heard from City Attorney Laurie Schmidt that the owner of the home at 1015 Niles — the house with the tarp on its roof — has filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Berrien County Circuit Court last month ruled in favor of a city demolition order on the house, which inspectors have said is unlivable. However, the owner had one more place to turn and the state appeals court was it. The city attorney said that owner filed the appeal on the day of the deadline. Now, she says it could be as long as a year before the appeals court makes a decision. She told commissioners it might be quicker, but “realistically, the court of appeals does take a long time.” Meanwhile, some other properties the city has fought to clean up have seen progress. Schmidt said a home at 517 Archer was demolished last week, has a new owner, and there will be a new home built there in the spring. As for other homes on Hoyt Street and Wayne Street, she said they’re about halfway fixed.. ...Read Full Story