Local News Archives

BH Schools Advisory Committee Releases Public Survey

Members of the Benton Harbor community are being invited to take a survey that has been put online by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Community Engagement and Advisory Committee. The Michigan Department of Treasury says the committee wants input as it continues assessing the district and drafting a turnaround plan. The state and Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education created the 12 member committee to draft that plan by next spring. The 12 question survey takes around five minutes to complete, and asks residents for their ideas about improving the school district and attracting and retaining students. It also asks them to advise the committee on the school district’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Michigan Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker says the Advisory Committee wants to be sure the “Benton Harbor community has a voice at our table.” You can find the survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation, Contract Extension For Bridgman Superintendent

Bridgman Public Schools Superintendent Shane Peters has received another positive performance evaluation. His annual review conducted by the Bridgman Board of Education has led to him receiving a three year extension on his contract. Peters is now set to remain the district superintendent through June of 2022. The school board was unanimous. It says the students “continue to improve and excel in Berrien County and state of Michigan averages in English language arts and math,” adding Bridgman Public Schools has a graduation rate of more than 95% with daily student attendance across all three buildings above 90%. The board also credits Peters for being an active member of the community.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Remains Hot

The housing market in the area for the year remains hot. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says November set records in the year-over-year comparison dating back to 2006 for average and median selling prices and total dollar volume. Sales were up 4% from November 2018, with 277 homes sold last month. The year-to-date average sales price was up 3% at the end of November to a record high of $239,617 and the median price so far for the year jumped 9% over 2018 to $179,210. The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price, and 50% were below. For the first 11 months of the year, the total dollar volume for the region rose 3% from last year and now stands at $803.4 million.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hails Passage Of Migrant Worker Legislation

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping legislation intended to ease the labor shortage faced by farmers each year could eventually lead to immigration reform. He tells WSJM News the House last week passed his Farm Workforce Modernization Act. It establishes a program that enables migrant farm workers to get legal status in the U.S. if they commit to five years of farm work and pass background checks.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Asked For Help Getting Road Paved

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has been asked for help in getting part of a road in Pipestone Township paved. A resident of the township addressed the board about Tabor Road between Evans and South Pipestone at its Thursday meeting. He noted the township did approve its own roads millage in 2015. Indeed, Berrien County Commissioner Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the residents have done their part.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Creates Poverty Task Force

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced the creation of the Michigan Poverty Task Force. Housed within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, or LEO, the task force will bring together representatives of 19 state agencies to study the issue of getting people out of poverty from several angles. LEO Director Jeff Donofrio tells WSJM News no single agency could solve the issue, and they’re looking at those below the poverty line as well as those just above it.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rotary To Ring The Bell For The Salvation Army This Weekend

A holiday tradition will continue in Van Buren County this weekend as members of the Rotary Club of South Haven will ring the bell to raise money for the Salvation Army. The South Haven Rotarians have collected money via the red kettle since 1982. Last year, more than $2,000 was raised for the Salvation Army in South Haven. The bell ringing will commence this Saturday at 7 a.m. outside the Golden Brown Bakery on Phoenix Street and at both entrances of the South Haven Walmart. Everyone’s invited to drop a little money into the kettles.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Trooper Recruit School To Graduate Friday

The 136th Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School will graduate this Friday in Lansing. 43 new Michigan State Police troopers will have officially completed the program, and after the ceremony, they’ll head off to their new posts. MSP Lieutenant Jeremy Carlisle out of Niles tells WSJM News the academy involves both classroom work and physical training.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Introduced To Restore Pure Michigan Funding

Governor Whitmer this week expressed her desire to have the Pure Michigan advertising campaign continue after the current funding runs out at the end of 2019, and now there’s a bill in the state House to do just that. Representative Jack O’Malley, whose district includes the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, has put forth legislation to put the $37.5 million cut from Pure Michigan back into the budget.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Pitches In To Help Bridgman Cares Provide Holiday Meals

Holiday meals are being provided to 58 Bridgman-area families thanks to the combined efforts of Bridgman Cares and Honor Credit Union. Honor’s Community Assistant Vice President Thomas Newnum said when he heard Bridgman Cares had fallen short of its donation goal for holiday donations, the credit union “immediately put a plan into action” to get them the $1,600 they’d need. Bridgman Cares was launched in 2015 to create food pantries inside schools in the city after hearing about students who didn’t have snacks at the elementary level and high schoolers without backpacks and school supplies. The pantries were then stocked with food, school supplies, personal care products and so on, and distributed on a “no questions asked” basis to students in an effort to wipe away the stigma of having to ask for help. The mission of Bridgman Cares has grown beyond the school pantries to include holiday meals for the community along with supplying gym shoes, paying athletic fees, and helping with college deposits.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Administrator To Resign

Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf is resigning. At Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Wolf read a statement saying although the board in February extended his contract through the end of 2021, at “that time there existed an alignment of values and purpose between the Board and me as your Administrator that I can barely recognize today.” He goes on to say the county is in strong shape, but “a change is necessary.” Wolf said he is resigning as of June 12, 2020. After the meeting, Wolf told us he would let his letter speak for itself.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Sheriff: Don’t Be Worried About Police At Paw Paw Elementary Schools Friday

Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott is putting out word to the community to not be alarmed tomorrow by what’s going to be a heavy police presence at Paw Paw Early Elementary and Paw Paw Late Elementary schools. Abbott says the school district has notified parents, but he also wants the public to be aware “so folks don’t think the worst.” The sheriff and other officers and staffers will be at the school to talk to kids. Presentations will be given on the dive team, K-9 officers, drones, and uniform response. Abbott said the office was asked to come in and give the presentations to honor the students for completing an anger management program and “give our view on it as well about how controlling anger will help them throughout their life.” He says he’s been part of similar programs at other schools in the county, and says the districts have reached out to him to say it makes a difference for the students.. ...Read Full Story

3 Elk Illegally Shot In Michigan’s Pigeon River State Forest

From the Associated Press — Michigan conservation officers say three elk have been shot in Otsego County. It’s the elk third poaching case in northern Michigan in about a month. Lieutenant Jim Gorno of the Department of Natural Resources says this is the state’s worst year for illegal killings of the animals. Gorno says the three adult elk cows were found in the Pigeon River State Forest east
of Vanderbilt. They apparently were shot last weekend while bedded down near each other. Officials are appealing to the public for information. Anonymous tips can be left with the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.. ...Read Full Story

DNA Evidence Links Niles Man To Florida Rape

DNA evidence has linked a Niles man to a rape in Florida more than 20 years ago. According to an ABC News affiliate in Sarasota, Florida, 61-year-old Robert Thomas is the suspect in the rape of a woman in her home in January of 1998. He has been arrested and charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon. The Niles Police Department says it was contacted in late November by detectives out of the Venice Police Department in Florida. They arrived in the area on December 12 with a warrant for Thomas and he was taken into custody and lodged at the Berrien County Jail to await extradition. The Venice Police Department says it was able to match DNA taken from the scene of the 1998 rape to Thomas using cigarette butts collected in Niles.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulator Recalling Vaping Product

From the Associated Press — The agency overseeing Michigan’s marijuana business is recalling vaping products containing an additive that health officials have linked to injuries and deaths. The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency said Tuesday it’s recalling
the vaping cartridges sold at retailers in Bay City and Mount Morris, near Flint. The Detroit News reports many of the cartridges had levels of vitamin E acetate more than 500 times the limit at which the additive would be detected. Authorities have received reports of 2,409 people being hospitalized because of lung injuries and confirmed 52 deaths, including two in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Land Bank Ready To Get To Work

The Van Buren County Land Bank is finally getting ready to start working on revitalizing blighted areas of the county, roughly a decade after being created. County Treasurer Trisha Nesbitt heads up the panel and is excited to get to work next year now that the Board of Commissioners has appointed four members to the Land Bank Board of Directors.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Jury Needs Just Five Minutes To Convict Man On Gun Charge

An Indiana man will be sentenced in March in Cass County after being found guilty of a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon in an automobile. Jurors only needed about five minutes to return with the conviction of 36-year-old Ty Van Pav of Elkhart. He was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for having an expired license plate in August near Stateline Liquor Store in Edwardsburg. The officers who pulled over the Jeep testified that when they asked Pav to exit the vehicle, a loaded handgun fell out and landed at the feet of one of the officers. They then found a handgun under the driver’s seat and a machete between the front seats. Pav faces up to five years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Getting Federal Grant For Kids Corner Overhaul

Following a slew of grants announced last week by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund comes word that South Haven will receive $275,000 from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund in a development grant for Kids Corner. The money is coming from the National Park Service. The city will match the grant, with the intent to replace the existing wooden play structure with one made from composite material, which is more sustainable. The Parks Commission and city staff will collaborate on a final design, with a goal of staying as true to the original design from 1988 as possible. The city sought the grant after an inspection by the DNR, Abonmarche, and Leathers & Associates determined the current structure is both functionally obsolete and no longer conforms to National Safety Standards.. ...Read Full Story

State Grant Will Expand Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

Pilgrim Haven Natural Area near South Haven is about to get a lot bigger. A $2.2 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant announced last week will enable the South Haven Area Recreation Authority to purchase the Porter Legacy Dunes immediately south of the current Pilgrim Haven area. Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy President Peter Ter Louw tells WSJM News it will be combined with Pilgrim Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Ford To Add 3,000 Jobs In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Ford Motor Company is adding 3,000 jobs at two factories in the Detroit area. It’s also investing $1.45 billion to build new pickup trucks, SUVs, and electric and autonomous vehicles. The company says about $750 million will go the Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne. The factory will get 2,700 new jobs during the next three years. Another $700 million will be invested in the truck plant in Dearborn, where 300 new jobs will be added. Hiring will begin next year.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Doubles Bonus For State-Employed Dentists

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials have agreed to double hiring bonuses for dentists who choose to work in state hospitals and prisons in an effort to lure them into a practice that overwhelmingly pays less than the private sector. The Civil Service Commission voted Wednesday to add another $5,000 hiring bonus for newly hired dentists who complete a year-long probationary period, bringing the total bonus to $10,000. The Lansing State Journal reports that the positions pay between $38 and $60 hourly. As of Tuesday, the state government jobs website shows that most of the 15 available dentist positions in Michigan are in state
prisons.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Nesbitt Not Concerned About Lottery Revenue Losses With Gambling Expansion

State Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton used to head up the Michigan Lottery under former Governor Rick Snyder after he was term limited out of the state House. He was asked by the Michigan News Network if he’s concerned with the upcoming expansion of gambling to include internet gambling and sports betting if he’s worried that the Michigan Lottery’s internet play will take a hit.. ...Read Full Story

Northern Indiana Diocese Suspends Priest Accused Of Abuse

(Fort Wayne, IN – AP) – The Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has placed a priest on administrative leave after receiving what it calls a credible allegation of sexually abusing a minor more than 20 years ago. The diocese announced the action against the Rev. Joseph Gaughan over the weekend at parishes where he has served. He most recently served as the pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne. The diocese says the abuse is alleged to have occurred while he was the associate pastor at St. Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend. The diocese says it received the allegation last week and that it has shared it with civil authorities. Gaughan doesn’t have a published home telephone number and he could not be reached for comment.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Issues Reminder About Leaving Cars Running To Warm Up

A weekend vehicle theft in Cass County has prompted the sheriff to remind everyone to keep their cars locked. Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke says deputies were alerted to a stolen vehicle in the area of Vandalia around 6:40 a.m. Sunday. The vehicle had been stolen out of Elkhart, Indiana and police tracked in with GPS to Cass County. The driver fled from sheriff’s deputies through the village of Vandalia, going back to Indiana, and then returning to Michigan. The suspect eventually ran out of gas and surrendered to police on Calvin Center Road in Calvin Township. Behnke says the vehicle was stolen out of Elkhart when the owner had left it running to warm up. He reminds everyone of the risks of warming a vehicle and leaving it unattended.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Selects New Superintendent

Dr. Andrae Townsel will be the next superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools. At a Monday meeting, the board of education voted to hire Townsel for the post. He’s a Detroit native who currently works as assistant superintendent at Wayne-Westland Community Schools in that area. Townsel told WSJM News what he’ll do first when he starts the new job.. ...Read Full Story

Two St. Joseph Residents Killed In Crash

Two St. Joseph residents are dead following a crash in Van Buren County on Monday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says it happened around 11:35 a.m. at the intersection of M-43 and County Road 665 in Waverly Township. An SUV being driven by an 88-year-old man turned off of CR 665 and on to M-43 into the path of an approaching tanker truck. The SUV’s driver and his 83-year-old female passenger were both killed. Their names have not been released. The tanker was being driven by a 61 year old man from Bloomingdale. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Man Rescued After Truck Crashes Into Water-Filled Ditch

A Baroda man is still alive after his pickup crashed upside down into a water-filled ditch on Saturday. The Baroda Lake Township Police Department says the 54-year-old driver swerved to avoid a deer at Date and Linco Roads around 3:45 p.m. First on scene were Baroda-Lake Township Police Chief Shawn Martin and Lake Township Fire Rescue Captain Michael Essig. They were able to break a window and pulled a man out of the vehicle enough so he could breathe. Other first responders got the man all the way out. He was treated and released at the scene. Please say the crash could have ended in tragedy if 911 dispatchers hadn’t been able to keep the driver calm.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw River County Park To Be Expanded

The Berrien County Parks Commission is expected to expand Paw Paw River County Park by 63 acres by the end of next summer thanks to a state grant. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended the $80,000 grant for the county last week. It will be used to buy land next to the current 3.6 acre Paw Paw River County Park, possibly creating new opportunities for the protection of the environment, enhancement of the Paw Paw River Water Trail, hiking, bird watching, and limited hunting. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey says the county is “very fortunate that the property owner is willing to work with us on the grant process and understands the importance of protecting river front property that is undeveloped for public use and enjoyment.” The grant recommended by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board still must be approved by the Michigan Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Golf Course Sold

From the Associated Press — A Berrien County golf course has been sold and could be turned into a residential development. Signal Point Golf Club near Niles has been around since the 1960s. The South Bend Tribune reports that it was recently sold to local real estate broker Jim Ringler and partners. Ringler says it might remain a golf club. But he noted that Signal Point’s previous owners at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend decided to get out.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Employee Named To Better Business Bureau Board

A member of the Whirlpool team will now be part of the board of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. The BBB says Adam Aukerman is among six new members picked to begin serving three year terms in January. Aukerman has been with Whirlpool for nearly 14 years, and is currently part of the company’s extended service plan business unit. He’s worked at several other levels at Whirlpool after starting out in sales with Maytag. The six new board member names were submitted in early December to all accredited businesses within the 38 counties covered by the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. Organization President Phil Catlett says the “board of directors plays an important part in guiding the Better Business Bureau as we seek to make Western Michigan the most trusted place in America to do business.”. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In Hotel Room

A woman is recovering after shooting herself in the foot while in a Benton Township hotel room this week. The Benton Township Police Department says its officers were called to the Red Roof Inn on Mall Drive around 8:30 a.m. Monday on a report of a woman who had been shot. They spoke to the victim and learned she had shot herself in the foot while in her room. She was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Detectives found a semi-automatic handgun in the room. Police say once the investigation is finished, a report will be sent over to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Twp Police Working To Identify Suspects In Blossom Acres Shooting

No suspects have yet been identified in the shooting of a 24-year-old man at the end of a party at an apartment in the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township around 6:30 Sunday morning. Lakwanta Griffin is recovering at Spectrum Health Lakeland with gunshot wounds to his hip and right arm, and those injuries are not life-threatening. Griffin told investigators as everyone was leaving the party, people came up and started to argue outside before someone pulled out a gun and started to shoot. He was being rushed to the hospital by a group of friends when their car rolled in the city of St. Joseph near the county courthouse, killing 23-yer-old Jhuone Fonder of Benton Harbor. The driver of the car, 27-year-old Larry Carter of Benton Harbor, was also ejected along with Fonder and a fourth man was hurt in the wreck. Carter’s car was the only one involved.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Celebrates Graduation Of 23 Nursing Students

Southwestern Michigan College is celebrating the graduation of 23 new nurses. The SMC nursing program held a ceremony for the graduates last Thursday as the students now head into the country’s largest healthcare profession. SMC Vice President of Instruction David Fleming tells WSJM News the college has graduated more than 3,000 nurses over the years.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Scream Park Hands Out Over $116,000 To Charity

More than 70 area children’s organizations, civic groups, and other charities will share over $116,000 from the Niles Scream Park. That’s the amount being donated from this year’s proceeds from the 46th year of the project. Four local high school seniors will also be receiving scholarships from the Scream Park. Other groups benefiting include the Make A Wish Foundation and the Niles High School Band Boosters. The Scream Park is recognized nationally in the haunted attraction industry. It was voted #4 Haunted Attraction in the nation by voters on the Coaster Nation annual Halloween poll.. ...Read Full Story

Teens Charged For Niles Armed Robbery, Shootings

Two teens are in the Berrien County Jail for an armed robbery and a shooting at the scene of the robbery several days later. Police accuse 19-year-old Caleb Alkire of Niles and 18-year-old Brandon Jordan of Edwardsburg of robbing a man of marijuana and cash just before 12:30 pm on December 5 at a home in the 10 block of South 7th Street in Niles, with one of the two firing shots at the victim. No one was hurt, but a bullet went into a neighbor’s house and came just a few feet from hitting someone inside.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Safety Releases New Info In Rollover-Shooting Investigation

Police say the shooting at the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township and a deadly rollover crash yesterday morning in the city of St. Joseph are connected, but the man who died in the crash was not the shooting victim. St. Joseph Public Safety identifies him as 23-year-old Jhuone Fonder of Benton Harbor, and the autopsy at Western Michigan University determined he died from injuries sustained in the crash when he was one of two people thrown from the car.. ...Read Full Story

Edwardsburg Woman Pleads Guilty In Deadly Motorcycle Crash

An Edwardsburg woman will be sentenced in January to prison in Indiana for a deadly crash involving a motorcycle in June. Our partners at WSBT-22 report Nicole Nelson entered guilty pleas to reckless homicide and to causing death while operating a vehicle on a controlled substance, as she admits to smoking marijuana the night before. The crash in Granger killed a 54-year-old man. According to police, Nelson was speeding and there was dense fog at the time of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Urges Canada Not To Store Nuclear Waste Near Lake Huron

Congressman Fred Upton is calling on Canada to pick a site away from the Great Lakes for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. Upton tells WSJM News Canada is in the process of choosing a site for the long term storage of that spent material. One of the locations under consideration is along the shore of Lake Huron. It’s the area of Huron-Kinloss-South Bruce, in Bruce County, Ontario. Upton says he and other concerned members of the House have reached out to the Canadian government.. ...Read Full Story

Better Business Bureau Urges Caution When Renting Property

A warning about rental scams has been put out by the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. It says an in depth investigation it’s done has found 43% of online shoppers have encountered a fake listing and more than five million consumers have lost money to such scams. The study — “Is That Rental Listing Real? A BBB Study of Rental Scams Involving Apartments, Houses and Vacation Properties” — notes 85% of consumers don’t fall for the fake listings, but the sheer number of them, the organization says, “is staggering.” The most common rental scam is when someone posts a rental property online using a picture of a property they don’t even own. When a prospective renter contacts them, the scammer may claim to be out of the country and unavailable to show the property. Or, they only will communicate using email. A victim sends a deposit on the property, and never hears from the scammer again. Those who are looking to rent are advised to use caution. Also, landlords are encouraged to use watermarked photos when posting a listing online.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Land Auction Underway

Now underway is the annual Michigan Department of Natural Resources land auction. DNR resources specialist Michael Michalek tells WSJM News the agency sells off properties obtained through tax reversion to help acquire other properties or to run recreational programs. There will be a wide variety of parcels available.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Seeking Alumni Award Nominations

Nominations are being sought by the Lake Michigan College Alumni Association Board of Directors for next year’s Alumni Awards. Since launching in 1986, more than 80 recipients have been honored. The deadline to put in a nomination is February 28. To be considered for the awards, nominees need to have attended Lake Michigan College or its predecessor, Benton Harbor Community College, and have earned at least 30 credit hours through the college. Three awards are up for grabs: The Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Achievement Award, and the Alumni Service Award. The first is named for LMC’s first president and is awarded to someone who has accomplished “significant success” in his or her professional life. The Alumni Achievement Award is for anyone who has graduated from LMC in the past 15 years, while the Alumni Service Award goes to a graduate who has “offered significant personal contributions to the college or community, with community being broadly interpreted as local, the state of Michigan, or the nation.” The awards will be handed out in mid-April at LMC’s 2020 Honors Convocation.. ...Read Full Story

“Shop With A Cop” Brings Eight Families Together With Police Saturday

Eight families from Berrien Springs, Benton Harbor, New Buffalo, and Niles are benefiting from this year’s Shop With A Cop outreach in Berrien County. The families, with a total of 22 kids, spent part of Saturday at the Niles Walmart with officers from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit and other agencies for the annual event. More than $6,000 in donations was secured by the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit. The families shopped for gifts for themselves, family members, and friends. The families were also taken to Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles after shopping to have snacks and wrap the gifts. Schools and civic organizations referred the families and their children to the Sheriff’s Office for the help.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Twp Shooting, SJ Rollover Likely Connected

A Sunday morning shooting at the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township and a rollover crash in St. Joseph near the courthouse are believed to be connected. St. Joseph Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker says four people were in the vehicle that rolled around 6:30 a.m. at Port and Wayne streets, with two people being ejected from the car. One died at the scene, and the other three were taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for non-life-threatening injuries. The man who was dead at the scene of the crash had been shot, and police are working to officially determine if he had been a shooting victim at the housing project in Benton Township and if the crash happened as people were trying to rush him to the hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Demographer Talks About Attracting New Residents

Economic development organizations and others are working on making southwest Michigan a more attractive place for young workers to live as they seek to increase the region’s population. Michigan State Demographer Eric Guthrie was in Benton Harbor this month to discuss population trends and demographics in the area. He tells WSJM News there is one thing that needs to be done to keep the southwest Michigan vibrant.. ...Read Full Story

Program At Michigan Works Aids Dislocated Retail Workers

As online shopping becomes more prevalent and physical stores continue to shut down, Michigan Works has launched a program to help retail workers who find themselves without a job. Michigan Works Talent Development Manager Samantha Gizzi tells WSJM News a state Dislocated Worker Grant is making it possible for the agency to get new training for both retail and banking workers. They’ve been in contact with employees of local stores that have shut down and bank branches that have been consolidated.. ...Read Full Story

Citizens Police Academy Starts Next Month

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is planning to hold a Citizens Academy next month. It holds the academies so residents can learn about what the sheriff’s department does and get to understand the court system a little better. The eleven week program covers topics including corrections, dispatch, police K9s, crash investigations, the use of force, patrol techniques, and the various divisions of the sheriff’s department. The classes are held in the lower level of the sheriff’s department office in Paw Paw in the evenings. The academy begins on January 8 and will finish March 18. Someone who’s interested in law enforcement might want to consider attending. You can find applications for the academy at the website of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. Go to the Services tab.. ...Read Full Story

Inauguration For BH Mayor On Monday

There will be a formal inauguration for Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad this month. Muhammad was re-elected in November, and now the city says his inaugural will be on December 16. There, he plans to talk about continuing development in Benton Harbor. The inauguration will be held at the Inn at Harbor Shores from 8 to 10 p.m. The city says all residents, business owners, and community stakeholders are welcome to attend.. ...Read Full Story

Education Department Investigating Paw Paw Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union is welcoming a decision by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate a complaint about racism at Paw Paw Public Schools. The ACLU sent a complaint to the department regarding what it calls “the pervasive racially hostile environment in the school district.” The Office of Civil Rights says its investigation will determine “whether the District effectively caused, encouraged, accepted, tolerated, or failed to correct a racially hostile environment for Native American persons at its high school.” If the OCR finds the school district’s practices violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the district could lose federal funding. Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo has released a statement saying, “Paw Paw Public Schools is fully cooperating with the Office of Civil Rights investigation. We will continue to focus on educating kids and try to avoid letting the ongoing debate over the school mascot distract us from our mission or impact the high-quality learning environment we strive to create each and every day.”. ...Read Full Story