Local News Archives

Body Washes Ashore Near Warren Dunes State Park

An autopsy will be done Monday on the body of a woman found washed ashore north of Warren Dunes State Park in Lake Township. Baroda/Lake Township police say a person walking on the Lake Michigan shore found the body shortly before 1 pm Sunday. Police say they have not been able to identify the remains, and the discovery remains under investigation. Several agencies are assisting with the investigation, including Department of Natural Resources park rangers from Warren Dunes, Lake Township Fire Department, Bridgman Police, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau.. ...Read Full Story

Transportation Forum Coming Up

The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan is planning a transportation forum for next month. Program Director Lewis Whalen tells WSJM News the event will be a chance for anyone to ask questions and express concerns to representatives of Berrien County transportation agencies.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Twp Police Department Getting K9

A new officer is about to start at the Lincoln Township Police Department. Echo is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois recruited to be the department’s K9, and she just arrived in the United States from Poland this month. Lincoln Township Police Chief Gary Soper tells WSJM News the department collected $30,000 from the public to get the K9. That support came in from businesses and individuals.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health First Aid Training To Be Offered

The Healthy Berrien Consortium in partnership with Riverwood Center is offering free mental health first aid training next month. The eight hour course will be on Thursday, April 18. Riverwood Center Mental Health First Aid Instructor Kimberly Sparkmon tells WSJM News the program has been in the community for several years, and as many as 1,000 people in Berrien County have received the training. She calls it “first aid for the brain.”. ...Read Full Story

Redistricting Website Launches

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced a new website that will track progress on the redistricting process in the state. She tells WSJM News her office is preparing to put out applications to serve on the new 13 member redistricting commission created by a ballot proposal last year. This commission will replace the old system of having state legislators set up voting districts. Benson says anyone interested can check RedistrictingMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Flight Student Essay Contest

A student essay contest has been launched by Talons Out Honor Flight. The organization takes veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to their memorials in Washington, D.C. for free, and the two winners of the essay contest will get to go along on the June 1 trip. Talons Out Honor Flight President Bobbie Bradley tells WSJM News the essays should be about the experiences of a World War II or Korean War vet from the student’s community. We asked her about some previous entries.. ...Read Full Story

Stretch Of State Highway Named For Slain Trooper

From the Associated Press — A stretch of mid-Michigan highway has been designated to honor a state trooper who was fatally shot during a 1982 traffic stop. The bill to name a portion of U.S. highway 127 between Leslie and the Jackson County line for 28-year-old Trooper Craig A. Scott was signed in December by then-Governor Rick Snyder, with the law taking effect Friday. The father of three was shot Feb. 9, 1982 along the highway. Jessica Misch, who was 8 when he died, tells the Lansing State Journal her father “sacrificed everything for the state.”
Two men were convicted in his death. Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who sponsored the bill, says: “The most important thing we can do is remember those who served us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Hails New PFAS Commission

State Representative Beth Griffin is praising Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s creation of a PFAS commission. The governor has set up the panel to develop drinking water standards for the chemicals. Griffin tells us Whitmer “took an important step to continue our state’s progress toward better protecting the health of all Michigan families.” She notes ever since elevated levels of PFAS were found in Parchment, the state has used the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limit as its cleanup standard. Griffin adds Michigan is “a national leader in protecting the health and safety of its residents from this contaminant. We’ve set the standard for action, and by creating this science advisory workgroup we can set a science-based standard for PFAS drinking water safety that Michigan families can trust.” Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to create the panel to set the new PFAS standards.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Mark International Education Week

This coming week will be all about developing a global perspective at Lake Michigan College. LMC Internationalization Committee member Amy Scrima tells WSJM News it’s International Education Week, a series of events featuring food and discussion. Tuesday brings a talk about food with a Mexico City-based chef, and then Wednesday will feature an international cuisine potluck at the Hawk’s Nest.. ...Read Full Story

Search Continues For Missing Man

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department continues to search for a man missing out of Dowagiac, and it has an update. 78-year-old Larry Waldschmidt has Alzheimer’s and needs insulin. He was reported missing Wednesday evening by family. Police say it appears he took off in the family vehicle, a white 2002 Ford Escape. When police initially reported the case, they said the Escape had a handicap plate, but they now say the family had applied for the handicap plate, but hadn’t yet received it. Police now say the Michigan Registration affixed to the vehicle is the old plate, ARW421. In addition, the sheriff’s department says it has received several tips from the Silver Alert sent out, and has followed up on every one of them with negative results. It asks anyone who sees Waldschmidt to contact authorities.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Advocacy Center Offers Free Abuse Awareness Training

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, and there will be several activities at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan. Prevention and Outreach Specialist Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News they’re planting a pinwheel garden outside the office on M-139 south of St. Joseph, and holding free training sessions throughout the month. She says each session includes a group discussion, a workbook to take home, an informational video, and a certificate of participation.. ...Read Full Story

Insurance Group Comments On Fee Hike

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered an audit of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association after the non-profit raised the annual fee included in auto insurance premiums by $28, bringing the total to $220 per vehicle. Insurance Alliance for Michigan Executive Director Tricia Kinley told Michigan News Network the $20 billion being held by the MCCA is for lifetime medical care.. ...Read Full Story

SBA Loans Available For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

Some businesses in Allegan and Van Buren counties will be able to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration due to heavy rains that soaked parts of the state between August 26 and September 6 of last year. The SBA says the loans are being made available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in aquaculture along with private nonprofit organizations. The program is for eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the disaster. Loan amounts are for up to $2 million with 2.5% interest for private nonprofits and 3.675% for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.. ...Read Full Story

Weight Restrictions Being Lifted Monday

In a sign of spring, the Berrien County Road Department is preparing to lift the annual frost rules. It says the seasonal weight restrictions went into effect on March 11. They’re implemented each year to help prevent damage to roads. When the ice under the road melts, the road bed becomes unstable, and it’s easy to damage the surface. The weight restrictions will be lifted on April 1 at 6 a.m. That’s no joke.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Department Truck Ceremony Interrupted By Fire Call

The Covert Township Fire Department held a ceremony this week to welcome its new fire engine, and wouldn’t you know it, the ceremony was interrupted by a fire. Firefighters were holding a “push-in” ceremony for new Engine 1921 when the call came in about a fire at a barbershop on 72nd Street near County Road 378. The ceremony had to be dropped while the firefighters rushed to the scene. They were able to protect a nearby home from the blaze, but found a shed engulfed when they arrived. The barbershop also suffered some damage. An hour later, firefighters returned to their station and conducted the “push-in” ceremony. It’s a tradition at many departments going back to the days when firefighters would push their fire wagons into the garage after unhooking them from horses. They still do push-ins on new trucks for good luck.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Hopes To Increase Broadband Access

Berrien County Commissioners are hoping to help spur the roll out of broadband internet in rural areas. Commissioner Teri Freehling tells WSJM News the Finance Committee will present a resolution of support next week for broadband development. She says she and other commissioners have been in talks about the need for reliable and fast internet.. ...Read Full Story

Public Defender Announced For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

A public defender has been named for Van Buren and Allegan counties. Chad Catalino of Grand Haven will lead the newly-created Allegan and Van Buren Counties Public Defender’s Office. It’s being set up as a joint venture of the two counties in response to a mandate from the state. Catlino brings 16 years of public defense experience to the new post having previously served as division director for the Muskegon County Public Defender’s Office. Funding for the Public Defender’s Office is shared by the state and the two counties. For this year, the state is paying $2.2 million, and the counties are paying $529,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Opposes Proposed National Institutes Of Health Cuts

Included in President Trump’s budget proposal for next year is a cut of $4.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health, something Congressman Fred Upton doesn’t support. He tells WSJM News this interferes with the intent of his 21st Century Cures legislation, which was signed into law by former President Obama and included a major funding increase for the NIH.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance Planning Spec Building

Cornerstone Alliance is planning to build a spec building that could be ready for a new employer to move into if it chooses to locate in Berrien County. Cornerstone tells us it’s put out a request for proposals, seeking bids for the 30,000 to 40,000 square foot facility. Cornerstone Alliance is looking at several possible locations, including the Cornerstone Industrial Park and other sites with interstate access. The organization says the building at minimum would allow for ten new jobs and $5 million in investment. It will be expandable and could be doubled in size, allowing for long-term growth. Building construction should start in the fall of 2019 and be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2020.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Seek $2 Million To Livestream Dashcams

From the Associated Press — Michigan State Police want to invest more than $2 million dollars in technology to livestream patrol car dashboard cameras. The Detroit Free Press reports that the agency believes the technology upgrade would allow supervisors to monitor pursuits in real time and help them make better decisions. The proposal comes almost two years after a white state trooper, Mark Bessner,
used a Taser on a black 15-year-old from the passenger seat of a moving patrol car. The teen, Damon Grimes, then crashed the all-terrain vehicle he was riding and died. State police didn’t specifically reference Grimes’ death in its budget request for the livestream technology.
Bessner was charged with second-degree murder in Grimes’ death, but the case ended in a mistrial last year. He’ll be retried on April 1.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested In Indiana After High-Speed Chase In Berrien County

Police in LaPorte County, Indiana have a man jailed following a high-speed chase overnight which began in Berrien County. The suspect has outstanding warrants out of Tennessee according to Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit. He crashed after leaving Michigan and was arrested while trying to walk away. According to police scanner chatter, the chase reached speeds of more than 105 miles an hour along Red Arrow Highway south of Bridgman and along I-94, and up to 80 on Niles and Washington in St. Joseph. The suspect’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Missing Man With Alzheimer’s

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a missing and endangered elderly man. It says 78-year-old Larry Waldschmidt was reported missing from the 2,400 block of Jefferson Street in Dowagiac by a family member around 6 p.m. Wednesday. He was last seen working in the yard around 5:30 p.m. and police say it appears he got into the family vehicle and left. They tell us Waldschmidt has some Alzheimer’s, and has a critical need for insulin. He left without his medications, identification, and money. He was driving a 2002 white Ford Escape with a Michigan handicap registration of H-1499. He was wearing gray sweat pants and a gray sweat shirt with black tennis shoes. A Silver Alert has been issued. Anyone with information on Waldschmidt’s location is asked to contact police.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Allegan County Mobile Home Fire

Authorities in Allegan County are investigating a fire in Valley Township that killed a 23-year-old man. A single wide trailer caught fire shortly after midnight Thursday, and a sheriff’s deputy noticed William Hedges laying about 15 feet from the home. He had been burned and was unable to move on his own. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The fire started in the kitchen, and the sheriff’s department says everyone who was home at the time suffered some degree of smoke inhalation. Hedges lived in the home on 117th Avenue near 43rd Street with his parents. The area is about 25 miles northeast of South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speakers Series About To Start For 2019

The South Haven Speakers Series had so many attendees at Lake Michigan College in 2018 that they outgrew the available space, according to Series Chairman Mark Odland. This season the Speakers Series will be located at South Haven High School’s Integrated Learning Center. The first presentation will be of interest to many. “Affordable Housing: Obstacles and Solutions in Lake Shore Communities”, with Ryan Kilpatrick who is an affordable housing expert and has worked the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The talk will be on April 11th at 7:30 with a reception at 6:45. More information is available at SouthHavenSpeakersSeries.org.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Police Warn About Scam

The Bridgman Police Department is warning everyone about a scam that has appeared in the community. It says a couple of residents were scammed by someone who randomly offered to do repairs on their property for a low price. After the job was finished, the fake contractor charged the couple more than $5,000. The couple was able to stop payment on the check once they realized what was happening. The Bridgman Police Department says the scammers target the elderly, and advises those who are approached by unknown contractors that make them uncomfortable to contact authorities.. ...Read Full Story

President Trump To Hold First Post-Mueller Report Rally In Grand Rapids

It’s likely to be a combination victory lap and campaign rally Thursday night at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. President Trump is returning to west Michigan to speak at the downtown stadium for his first public event after claiming full exoneration regarding accusations of Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Laura Cox is pumped.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Creates Election Security Commission

The new Michigan Election Security Commission created by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is expected to release a set of recommendations to improve the integrity of Michigan’s elections by the end of the year. Benson tells WSJM News she set up the body to get the input of elections and computer experts from around the country. We asked if she has any predictions for what the body will recommend.. ...Read Full Story

As Drivers Fume Over Fee Increase, Whitmer Orders Audit Of MCCA

A quick check of Facebook will show you Michigan drivers are livid by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association announcement that the annual fee charged per vehicle to pay for the unlimited medical coverage of people hurt in crashes is going up by $24 a year in July. Governor Whitmer is also questioning the increase, which comes amid what is believed to be the best chance to reform the auto insurance system to date in the Legislature. Whitmer is ordering an audit into the MCCA following the association’s announcement that the fee is going up to $220 per vehicle in July.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Auto Fee Rising To $220 Per Vehicle In July

Michigan’s mandatory fee to cover unlimited medical benefits for injured drivers is rising to $220 a year in July, which is a record high. When implemented, the fee will be more than double what it was 10 years ago. Currently, drivers pay $192 per vehicle every year, so the increase will be $2.33 per month on a monthly auto insurance bill.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Needs To Move Pipes From Under Hale Buildings

As the city of South Haven works on attracting new businesses downtown, some things the public doesn’t see or think about have to be changed. Those things include the sanitary sewer main that is underneath the Hale Building instead of under the street, and that dates back to the early 1900s. Progress is being made to sell the Hale Block and Mayor Scott Smith tells us grants will help rebuild the water and sewer lines.. ...Read Full Story

Elkhart Man Drives Into Pond While Having Medical Issue

An Elkhart man is recovering from a medical issue that caused him to go off the road and into a pond in Cass County this week. The sheriff’s department says 51-year-old Alfred Hooker told officers he felt dizzy while driving north on M-40 north of Bair Lake Street Wednesday morning and tried to pull off to the side. Hooker went right into a pond, and was helped to shore by a passerby after getting out of his vehicle. A tow truck pulled out the car, and he was taken to the hospital to be checked out. Police say they don’t believe alcohol or drugs were involved, and say Hooker was wearing his seat belt when he drove into the pond.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation District Holds Farming Conference

The Van Buren Conservation District has held its annual Farming for the Future conference. Nearly 170 southwest Michigan farmers attended the event last Wednesday in Lawrence. The conservation district holds the forums to teach local ag producers about ecologically-friendly ways of growing. The meeting was opened by Congressman Fred Upton, who discussed tariffs and immigration issues. The guest speaker was agricultural consultant Gary Zimmer. His keynote focused on carbon-based farming and how to incorporate biological practices into a farm. The Van Buren Conservation District’s Collen Foestieri says the discussions are “a good reminder to not be married to one system,” telling us she hopes the farmers “came away with inspiration to try something new on their farms this year”. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health First Aid Training Planned For Next Month

The Healthy Berrien Consortium in partnership with Riverwood Center is offering free mental health first aid training next month. The eight hour course will be on Thursday, April 18. Riverwood Center Mental Health First Aid Instructor Kimberly Sparkmon tells WSJM News the program has been in the community for several years, and as many as 1,000 people in Berrien County have received the training. She calls it “first aid for the brain.”. ...Read Full Story

Senator LaSata Sued By Campaign Consulting Firm For Breach Of Contract

State Senator Kim LaSata is being sued for breach of contract. MIRS News in Lansing is reporting Sterling Consulting Corporation filed the lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court last Wednesday, alleging LaSata has $37,600 in unpaid campaign bills with the firm. The lawsuit says the Berrien County senator agreed to pay Sterling $5,200 per month along with a 15% commission on the gross cost of media placement during the 2018 campaign but still owed $36,600 plus interest at the end of February. A statement from Senator LaSata to MIRS, which WSJM News has requested, says “A good faith effort was made by the campaign team and our legal counsel to resolve this dispute prior to a lawsuit being filed. We look forward to resolving this private business matter as quickly as possible.” MIRS also reports LaSata’s Senate campaign committee has 224 outstanding debts listed by the Secretary of State’s Michigan Campaign Statement Debts and Obligations site.. ...Read Full Story

More Measles Cases In Oakland County, One In Wayne County

The number of measles cases in southeast Michigan is now up to 22 since March 13. 21 are in Oakland County, and one is in Wayne County. It’s all because of an outbreak initially caused by one person who had traveled internationally. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Angela Minicuci tells WSJM News measles is so contagious that state health officials are telling people who may be infected to use caution when so much as seeking medical attention.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Tornado Drill Tomorrow

There will be a statewide tornado drill this Wednesday. Dale George with the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division tells WSJM News nearly all state offices will participate, and you’ll also hear the drill at 1 p.m. on weather radios, TV, and radio stations.. ...Read Full Story

Area Home Sales Emerge From January’s Deep Freeze With Strong February

The area’s housing market is beginning to thaw out after a snowy and slow January. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says existing home sales in February were up 34% from January with 235 homes sold. It was also the most active February, with the most sales for that month going back to 2006. The average sales price rose a modest 1% year-over-year to $199,433, while the median price was up 5% to $140,000. That’s the price at which 50% of home were sold above and below. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says inventory in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties was down 6% from a year ago, and the market has just four-point-eight months supply of homes for buyers. The area had just 1229 homes on the market compared to 1313 a year ago and almost 31-hundred a decade back in February 2009.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Twp Man Sentenced For Wife’s Murder In Marijuana Grow Room

A man convicted of killing his wife inside a marijuana grow room in their Niles Township home is now locked up in a Michigan prison for the rest of his life with no chance of parole. John Lewis was sentenced Monday in a Berrien County courtroom following his conviction in February. He killed his 55-year-old wife, Carla Lewis, in 2017. In his 9-1-1 call, Lewis told dispatchers two men broke into their home, shot her, and stole her car.. ...Read Full Story

Permits Available April 1 To Cut Firewood On State Lands

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan residents who heat their homes with wood can get permits to cut dead and fallen trees on designated state forest lands beginning April 1. The Department of Natural Resources says individuals can cut up to five standard cords of firewood for personal use. The DNR manages 4 million acres of state forest land in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Some wood also may be available in state game areas where forests are managed to create habitat. Fuelwood is for personal use only and cannot be re-sold or traded. Wood must be dead and down within 200 feet of a road. Permits cost $20 and are good for 90 days after they are issued.. ...Read Full Story

Officials: 18 Measles Cases In Detroit Area Since March 13

The number of measles cases in an outbreak in suburban Detroit continues to get larger. State health officials have confirmed 10 more cases, bringing to 18 the number of measles cases in Oakland County since March 13. The highly contagious disease has been linked to a person who was visiting from Israel and had stayed in New York, where there’s a measles outbreak.. ...Read Full Story

Better Business Bureau Warns About Check Scam

The Better Business Bureau of west Michigan is advising everyone of a scam that involves classified ads published in a newspaper. It says this is a car-wrapping scam that got a Hastings woman. The classified ad promises people can make $300 to $400 per week by simply driving their car. According to the victim, after responding to the email address in the ad, she was sent a check. The instructions were for her to cash the check, keep several hundred dollars, and then forward the rest to a third party. The Better Business Bureau says the check turned out to be fake, and the woman is now responsible for paying back the bank for the full amount withdrawn. Investigators have found the same email address used in the ad was used in others posted in newspapers around the country. Check scams were among the riskiest scams reported to the BBB ScamTracker in 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Owner Of St. Joseph’s “Tarp House” Trying Supreme Court Appeal

If you were among the area residents expecting to see bulldozers or other equipment knocking down the so-called “Tarp House” at the corner of Niles and Hoyt in the city of St. Joseph at the end of this week, set aside that expectation. The owner of the home is continuing to fight the city in court over the demolition order, as an appeals court ruling earlier this year in favor of the city set March 29 as the deadline for the demolition. St. Joseph City Attorney Laurie Schmidt says the homeowner and his attorney are petitioning the Michigan Supreme Court for yet another appeal.. ...Read Full Story

LECO Gets Industrial Development District Approval

LECO Corporation is planning an expansion on the south end of the city of St. Joseph. The company secured an Industrial Development District designation from the St. Joseph city commission Monday night for its headquarters on Lakeview in St. Joseph along with several adjoining properties. Cathy Tilley is the business development manager for Cornerstone Alliance, and spoke on behalf of the firm.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Addressing Snow Day Questions

Legislation to help Michigan schools recover from the large amount of snow days this year is being discussed in the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News the House Ways and Means Committee currently has the package. She says there are two parts to the discussion.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament In Round Two

Round two of state Senator Kim LaSata’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament has begun. LaSata is keeping alive the tradition started by her predecessor to have schools compete to show who has the most pride by submitting photos to her Facebook page. The bracket-style competition takes place alongside the March Madness basketball action. This year’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament started last week, and now advancing on to round two are 16 districts including Niles, Bridgman, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Berrien Springs. Also still in is last year’s winner, Coloma. Anyone looking for more information on the tournament can check out LaSata’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Launches Redistricting Website

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced a new website that will track progress on the redistricting process in the state. She tells WSJM News her office is preparing to put out applications to serve on the new 13 member redistricting commission created by a ballot proposal last year. This commission will replace the old system of having state legislators set up voting districts. Benson says anyone interested can check RedistrictingMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Task Force Aims To Stop Elder Abuse

From the Associated Press — A new task force has been formed to help stop physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse and neglect of elderly people in Michigan. The state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel joined with Michigan Supreme Court Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh and others Monday to announce the formation of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force. More than 30 organizations including law enforcement, state agencies and advocacy groups have committed to being part of the effort. Michigan residents are urged to report signs or concerns about elder abuse to Nessel’s office, which has established an elder abuse hotline for anonymous tips, 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873) or online. Past state efforts to curb elder abuse included a 1998 Supreme Court Task
Force on Guardianships and Conservatorships and a 2007 Governor’s Task Force on Elder Abuse.. ...Read Full Story