Local News Archives

Anti-Bullying Tour Coming To St. Joseph

Former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni will make a stop in St. Joseph Tuesday as part of his anti-bullying Relentless tour. Started by Ianni in 2013, Relentless is intended to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Ianna tells WSJM News he wants young people to be inspired.. ...Read Full Story

Florida Company May Open Eel Farm In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A Florida-based company may build a $30 million commercial eel farm in Michigan. The Lansing State Journal reports that Aqua Vida Aquaculture is considering land in an industrial park in St. Johns, near Lansing. The facility would occupy
up to 2 acres and could create about 25 jobs. Company founder Kit Munday says the facility would raise African longfin eel and American eel. He says the fish are a source of “high quality protein” and are often grilled, stewed or roasted. Stephen Hussey is the aquaculture and poultry program manager for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He says the facility would be the state’s first commercial farm that raises eel for food. Hussey says the company must acquire an aquaculture research permit to move forward.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Make Sharp Jump To $2.55

Gas prices have made a huge jump around the area to $2.55 a gallon. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan put out the warning about the unexpected increase late this morning, and prices started moving higher a short time later. Triple A Michigan had put the statewide average at $2.37 before the jump, which was an 8¢ increase from a week ago. Crude oil prices have hit three-month highs. The increase is a 20¢ jump in pump prices in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area since this morning. The national average as of this morning according to AAA was $2.31 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Teens Arrested For Stealing Car In Dowagiac

Charges are pending against several teenagers accused of stealing a car outside the Northside Liquor store in Dowagiac. A woman told police she left the car running while she went inside to make a purchase, and when she came out a few minutes later, it was gone. A Cass County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the car about five miles away a few minutes later and pulled it over after a short chase near the intersection of M-51 North and Elm Street. Two 17-year-old boys from Benton Harbor were sent to the Cass County Jail on charges of receiving and concealing a stolen car and the 15-year-old from Dowagiac who was driving was also arrested. Two other juveniles were released to their parents. The car wasn’t damaged and was given back to the victim.. ...Read Full Story

Several Arrested Following Cass County Standoff

The arrest of an Elkhart man by Cass County Sheriff’s deputies after a nearly hour-long standoff on Sunday is also resulting in drug charges for three people at the house near Edwardsburg where he sought shelter. That 34-year-old man led police in Elkhart and Cass counties on a chase yesterday in a stolen car and has been sent back to Indiana. During a search of the home, police found a gallon-size Ziploc bag full of marijuana, another bag full of cocaine, $4,000 cash, over an ounce of meth, and two vehicles reported stolen in Indiana. Police arrested two women, 30 and 18-years-old, and a 40-year-old man. A third woman at the home was questioned but not arrested.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Looks To Increase Broadband Access

A plan to help with the expansion of broadband internet in rural areas of Michigan is being worked on by state Representative Beth Griffin and state Senator Aric Nesbitt. Griffin tells WSJM News she’s reintroducing the legislation that would create a property tax exemption for companies that roll out broadband infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Supports Dental Program For Kids

A donation of $200,000 is being made to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dental program this year by the Delta Dental Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the non-profit insurer, Delta Dental. Executive Director Teri Battaglieri tells WSJM News the money will be used to provide sealants to elementary and middle school students through the state Oral Health Program’s SEAL Michigan initiative.. ...Read Full Story

State Clarification Sought Regarding BH Schools Agreement

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is waiting on word from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on what’s next for the district following a legal change last year that may eliminate its cooperative agreement with the state. Last week, Herrera told trustees the change may mean a restoration of school board control to the district come July. The Michigan Department of Education has told him to wait for those AG instructions. He can’t really answer anything until that’s ironed out.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Land Bank Report

2018 was a busy year for the Berrien County Land Bank. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells us the entity manages foreclosed properties that can’t be sold at auction. He notes a big deal in 2018 was the sale of the former Alreco property in Benton Harbor, which is going to a medical marijuana producer.. ...Read Full Story

Deficit Plan For Schools Being Revised

The five-year deficit elimination plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools is being reworked by district officials with the Michigan Department of Treasury. Following a meeting this week, district CEO Robert Herrera told WSJM News the preliminary deficit plan proved to be unworkable on a year-by-year basis.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Support Announced For YouthBuild

The YouthBuild program in Benton Harbor is receiving a grant of nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News YouthBuild is a chance for at-risk young people to earn their high school diploma or GED while also learning construction trade skills through the rebuilding of houses, playgrounds, and community centers. It’s run by Kinexus.. ...Read Full Story

It’s A Free Fishing Weekend

This weekend features free fishing all across Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us Saturday and Sunday are a chance for anyone to go fishing without a license. Also, throughout the weekend, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle access. The DNR says there are also several organized events planned in the spirit of outdoor recreation. You can find out about them at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. The DNR notes all other fishing regulations will remain in place this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

State Issuing Food Aid Early

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will issue March and April food assistance benefits early to reduce the gap between benefits payments that resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. The department tells us food assistance recipients can expect to get next month’s benefits on March 3, 4, or 5. April benefits will be issued between April 3 and 12, and May payments will be issued as normally scheduled. The department made the changes so families don’t have to go more than 45 days without food assistance. The department issued February benefits early beginning in January at the direction of the federal government due to the shutdown that was happening at the time. About 1.2 million Michiganders receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the state health department. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Sports Groups Back Asian Carp Plan

From the Associated Press — Hunting and fishing groups have teamed up to support a plan for preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. They have formed the Great Lakes Conservation Coalition, which will push for funding of a strategy proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The $778 million plan calls for installing technologies such as noisemakers and a water-flushing lock at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, to prevent the carp from migrating upstream to Lake Michigan. Scientists say the invasive fish could out-compete native species if they become established in the lake. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is a member of the new coalition. Director Amy Trotter says a carp invasion could harm an outdoor sports industry that pumps $11.2 billion into the state’s economy annually.. ...Read Full Story

Peters Pushes Great Lakes Legislation

New legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Mims Found Guilty On All Counts

A man charged with two murders in Benton Harbor has been found guilty on all charges. Antwan Mims of Benton Harbor was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list at one point for the shooting deaths of Cortez Miller and Michael Johnson in front of about 100 witnesses in March of last year. Police say Mims shot the two at a party and then fled to Georgia where he was eventually apprehended. Mims claimed self-defense in court, but the jury came back with guilty verdicts on charges that include two counts of first-degree murder Friday afternoon. Sentencing will be March 18, according to WNDU.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Charges In Fatal Crash

A Benton Harbor man is charged with murder in the deaths of a 6-year-old girl and 73-year-old woman in a January crash. It happened on January 12 in Hartford Township. Police say a vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jose Canedo crossed the center line on Red Arrow Highway and struck another vehicle head-on. Killed were 73-year-old Mary Ann Fender of Paw Paw and 6-year-old Skylinn Salinas of Coloma. Canedo was found to be intoxicated at the time. He was arraigned on Friday on a variety of charges that include two counts of second degree murder, drunk driving causing death with a prior conviction, and driving on a suspended license causing death. Bond has been denied. Also injured in the crash were a 1-year-old Benton Harbor boy and a 57-year-old Paw Paw woman.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Business Awards Held

Cornerstone Alliance and Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce have held their annual Business Recognition Breakfast, saluting businesses around Berrien County who have made a difference. At the ceremony on Thursday, Red Rabbit Automation received the Manufacturing Large Business Award. Cornerstone says it specializes in automation integration solutions for small and medium sized manufacturers. Getting the Economic Growth Award was DeGroot out of Coloma. Cornerstone says it’s one of the largest packaged plant suppliers in the country. The Microenterprise Award went to Lazy Ballerina Winery, which produces wine in St. Joseph, and the always prestigious Pat Moody Award went to Anna Murphy, the president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. The Small Business Award went to Competetive Edge, the Excellence in Customer Service Award went to Starks Family Funeral Home, the Economic Impact Award went to Pearson Construction, the Green Business of the Year is Michigan Energy Business solutions, and Bob Rogers of Servpro was named Ambassador of the Year.. ...Read Full Story

Sensible Bond Project Coming To Five MI Courts

From the Associated Press — Five Michigan courts, from the Detroit area to the Upper Peninsula, will participate in a program to try to reduce jail costs by setting reasonable bonds for people awaiting trial. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says no one should sit in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail. She wants judges to set bail amounts that protect rights and public safety as well as save money for local governments. Courts in Hamtramck, Clinton Township, Mount Pleasant, Flint and Escanaba will participate in the program. Judges will set bonds based on statistical models of risk. The state Supreme Court says more than 7,500 jail inmates are awaiting trial, and many have been charged with non-violent crimes.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Opposes Snow Day Bill

Many school districts around the state have used up all 6 of their allowable snow days for the year and have gone over due to some nasty weather the past month and a half. 175 have so far requested a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education for three additional days that don’t have to be made up, and legislation is being proposed at the Capitol to forgive a total of five days. However, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey doesn’t like it, saying more school days shouldn’t be taken away from kids.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation For County Admin

A one-year contract extension and a 2% raise will be going to Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf following his annual performance evaluation by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Personnel Committee Chair Bill Chickering said at this week’s meeting Wolf was given a score of 3.7 out of 5 when rated by the 12 commissioners in several different categories.. ...Read Full Story

$250,000 Grant For Water Filters

The Berrien County Health Department is receiving a state grant of $250,000 to pay for the water filters it’s giving out to residents of Benton Harbor. Following the discovery of elevated lead levels in some homes last year, health department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the filters for lead are now available to all city residents for free. The grant program was made available by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services following the Flint water crisis.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Criticizes TV Station Story Featuring Comments About Her During Speech

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is criticizing a Detroit TV station’s decision to broadcast a segment and publish an online story that features people’s unflattering and sexist comments on social media about her dress and body during the State of the State speech. Whitmer tweeted Thursday that the story “was way out of line,” before adding “I’m tough, I can take it.” Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) aired the story Wednesday night about reaction to Whitmer’s blue dress. The Democrat says boys have teased her “about my curves” since fifth grade. She says at a time when women are leading, she hopes people “focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance.” The station is defending the story. News director Kevin Roseborough says the station was “taken aback” by the number and nature of many inappropriate Facebook comments on Whitmer’s appearance during the speech and decided to “examine them through person-on-the-street interviews and an expert’s opinion on the double standard faced by female leaders.”. ...Read Full Story