Local News Archives

Indiana Man Charged In Connection With Threat Against President In Grand Rapids

Posting anything on social media threatening the life of the President is bound to get you in trouble, and it did for a 20-year-old northwest Indiana man. Steffon Gonzalez of Hobart is accused of posting a photo of himself holding a rifle on his Facebook page from outside Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on March 28, writing he had a “bullet chambered to blow his head off.” President Trump was holding a rally at the downtown venue that evening. Gonzalez then tried to delete his Facebook account, thinking that would wipe out any evidence. Doing so has led to an obstruction of justice charge, carrying a potential 20-year sentence in federal prison. He’s also charged with two counts of making threats against the President’s life, which would put him away for five years. Gonzalez was arrested at his home in Hobart on March 30, and the federal grand jury indictment was just recently unsealed.. ...Read Full Story

NWS, DNR Warn Of Wildfire Danger In Lower Peninsula

The state Department of Natural Resources is warning about the danger of wildfires all over the state’s southern lower peninsula. The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has now issued a Red Flag Warning until 8 pm Monday, meaning that critical fire weather conditions are occurring now or will shortly. DNR wildfire prevention specialist Paul Rogers says dry weather has caused the warning to be extended to the entire Lower Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Woman Crashes Truck While Allegedly Trying To Run Over Ex

A 35-year-old Dowagiac woman is in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on a charges of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly trying to run over her ex-boyfriend with her pickup truck. He was walking along Main Street near Pennsylvania Avenue when he told police he saw the woman coming toward him, and he got behind a light pole. She crashed into and broke that, while the 39-year-old ex wasn’t hurt. The woman was treated and released into police custody from Ascension/Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital after complaining of wrist pain from the wreck. The man said the couple had just broken up on Saturday. The crash happened shortly after noon on Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Fall For First Time In Over Two Months

There is some easing of the pain at the pump to start the week, but Triple-A Michigan is cautioning that it could be short-lived due to supply and demand pressures as we get closer to Memorial Day next month. Average gas prices in Michigan are down a dime a gallon to $2.82, marking the first time that prices have fallen to start the week in more than two months. The average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is down 9¢, but still the third-most expensive average in Michigan at $2.85. The lowest prices are to our north in the Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon area along with Flint, where they’re down to an average of $2.75. The highest prices are in the U.P. in Marquette, where they’re paying $2.90 a gallon. GasBuddy says South Haven prices, which aren’t part of AAA’s survey, are as low as $2.67 as of Monday morning.. ...Read Full Story

Napier Shell Robbed In Benton Township

Benton Township police are looking for a man accused of robbing the Napier Shell gas station on Napier at I-94 early Monday morning. A search by a Michigan State Police K-9 was unable to track the man after he ran off from the station. The robbery happened around 3 a.m. when a six-foot-tall black man wearing all gray with a hoodie and a mask over his face entered the convenience store, pulled a gun, and demanded money. The clerk complied, no one was hurt, and the suspect made off with an undetermined amount of cash. Anyone with information is asked to call Benton Township Police or Crime Stoppers.. ...Read Full Story

Restoration Of Historic Building Completed

Work to renovate a historic building in downtown Lawton is finished, and the new owners plan to rent the place out for events. Rene Rodriguez is a representative for Jessica and Jeff Michael, who bought Red Brick Hall on Main Street and fixed it up. Rodriguez tells WSJM News the building was constructed in 1880 and played a role in local affairs.. ...Read Full Story

Talks Underway Regarding Fire Department Consolidation

Talks are underway regarding a possible consolidation of the fire departments in Baroda Township, Lake Township, and Bridgman. Baroda Township Supervisor Jim Brow tells WSJM News the idea came up a few months ago, and one meeting between local firefighters has been held so far. He says sharing resources, especially for taking calls, could have benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Marshal Steps Up Prevention Efforts

Michigan State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer has announced a statewide campaign to put more smoke detectors into homes. A FEMA grant of $525,000 is helping to fund MI Prevention, the statewide campaign to promote the alarms and fire safety awareness. Sehlmeyer spoke with WSJM News about the effort.. ...Read Full Story

School Board To Hear Updated Graduation Projections

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera says an update on the high school graduation numbers for this year will be given to the board of education next month. At this past week’s CEO Meeting, Herrera said board members will get a presentation on what’s been done since last month when he announced only 38 high school seniors out of 138 were on track to graduate this year.. ...Read Full Story

School Safety Grants For Van Buren County

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is applauding news that Michigan State Police school safety grants are going to the Van Buren Intermediate School District and Mattawan Consolidated Schools. She tells us Michigan State Police recently announced $25 million in safety grants for schools around the state. The Van Buren ISD is receiving $380,000, and Mattawan Consolidated Schools will receive $43,000.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Pushing For Branch Updates

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says you should be able to do more things with her department’s website and also with the self-service kiosks in its branch offices. Benson this week released a list of recommendations for how services at branch offices could be improved. She tells WSJM News she thinks the kiosks should be revamped so they break down less often, and she wants more of them.. ...Read Full Story

Empty The Shelters Pet Adoption Event Coming Up

Another Empty the Shelters pet adoption event is coming up, thanks to the Bissell Pet Foundation. It tells us on Saturday, May 4, you can adopt an animal at a participating shelter for just $25. Bissell will pay the rest. All adoptable pets available during Empty the Shelters will be microchipped and spayed or neutered. Shelters taking part in the Empty the Shelters event include Berrien County Animal Control, Van Buren County Animal Control, and the Al-Van Humane Society. Anyone who wants to provide a forever home to a critter as part of the Empty the Shelters Day is advised to contact their shelter in advance as many shelters require that someone go through an application process. You can find out more about the big event right here.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Announce Major Green Initiative

A new green initiative has been announced by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Tribal leaders say they’ve eliminated Styrofoam and single-use plastics like straws, cups, and cutlery at Pokagon offices, and are stepping up conservation efforts at all Four Winds Casinos. They will replace all plastic straws with biodegradable straws at the casinos starting on May 1, and the kitchens are also implementing recycling programs. Additionally, Pokagon-owned hotels are now using a recycling program for used amenities like soaps, shampoos, body washes, and plastic packaging.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Spreads Awareness About Addiction Recovery Services

The Berrien County Health Department wants everyone to know there are resources available in the community for those who may be struggling with a drug addiction. News came last week from the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office that overdose deaths have gone up recently, possibly because of fentanyl mixed into heroin. Berrien County Health Department Communications Manager Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News fentanyl is an extremely potent painkiller.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Project Getting $750,000 Grant

A development project in South Haven is getting a $750,000 state grant. The office of state Representative Beth Griffin tells us South Haven Center, LLC is getting the Michigan Community Revitalization Program grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund for a mixed-use development planned downtown. The plan includes 18 residential units, retail or commercial space, and parking. It’s expected to generate total investment of $4.5 million. The goal is to add density and promote walkability in the downtown area of South Haven while increasing the tax base. Griffin says she appreciates “the Michigan Strategic Fund recognizing South Haven as a place worth investing.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton Speaks At Global Leadership Conference

Congressman Fred Upton was the keynote speaker at a gathering of 125 Kalamazoo area leaders on Thursday. They were there to discuss the global leadership role of the United States, and Upton talked about why it’s important to national security and Michigan’s economy. Panelists were concerned about the Trump administration’s plan to slash funding for international affairs by 24%.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Warns About Phone Scam

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is sounding the alarm about a new phone scam. It says this latest one involves a caller who claims to be a sheriff’s deputy. The caller will tell you there is a warrant out for your arrest, but you can avoid jail by posting bond with the use of a pre-paid debit card. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says there is no such program. The caller will claim it’s new, but it simply doesn’t exist. Don’t fall for such calls, and report them to your local police department. The sheriff’s department says it’s gotten reports of this phone scam over the past few days.. ...Read Full Story

Improvements Being Made At Warren Dunes State Park

Visitors to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer may see occasional closures throughout the spring and summer as two renovation projects get underway at the area. Crews have already started a more than $1 million project to renovate Red Arrow Highway, which serves as the main entrance to the sand dunes and lakeshore beaches. The Michigan Department of Transportation is overseeing the road repairs, and a lane addition to reduce traffic buildup. The efforts should be completed by May 20. A more than $2 million project will also begin this month to replace toilets and bathhouse buildings in the park’s day-use area. Plans call for making more room for additional food truck vendors. The upgrades should be finished by November.. ...Read Full Story

LGBTQ Advocates Supporting New Legislation

LGBTQ advocates are speaking out in favor of three bills just introduced in the Michigan Legislature that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual orientation by state-funded adoption and foster-care agencies. They would reverse laws passed in 2015 that allowed such practices in the name of religious freedom. Erin Knott, with the group Equality Michigan, supports the bills.. ...Read Full Story

Local Celebrities To Be Dunked For Alex Mandarino Foundation

A fundraiser for the Alex Mandarino Foundation will be held this Saturday at North Pier Brewing Company in Benton Harbor, and on hand to be dunked will be state Representative Pauline Wendzel. She tells us North Pier sells a brew named for Alex Mandarino, who died at the age of 5 after a battle with cancer. The beer is called 415AM, and the brewery will donate $1 from each pint of the white IPA sold to the foundation.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Testimony Taken In Lansing

Testimony on the value of the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program was taken this week by a Michigan Senate subcommittee. As lawmakers put together the next budget, it’s hoped that funding for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates can be restored. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington was there for the hearing, and tells WSJM News Tamia Clay, a Benton Harbor High School senior active in FIRST Robotics, spoke about the difference Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates has made for her.. ...Read Full Story

911 Dispatcher Of The Year Award Announced

Berrien County’s 911 Dispatcher of the Year is Nikki Metz of the Niles Police Department. At Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Metz received the award for her role in helping to identify a counterfeiting suspect this past winter. She told us dispatchers often work by the side of police.. ...Read Full Story

Firm Awards Check To BH Marching Band

$500 has been awarded to the Benton Harbor High School Marching Band by Sudexo, the school district’s food service provider. At Tuesday’s Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO meeting, a Sudexo rep presented the ceremonial check to the band director. The award was for Benton Harbor High School’s participation in the Healthy High School Challenge. It encouraged students to understand the importance of healthy eating and to eat healthy snacks. The money will be used for the needs of students in the marching band.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools CEO To Interview Two For School Board Vacancy

Interviews will be held late Friday afternoon by Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent and CEO Robert Herrera of two candidates for a vacancy on the school board. The opening was created with the recent resignation of Angelika McGowan, though she is still listed as being a board member and the board treasurer on the district’s website. Herrera will interview Marian Tripplett and Michelle Crowder in a special meeting at 4 p.m., and will choose between the two at the end of the meeting. The interviews and the meeting are open to the public and will be held at Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board Not Looking Into LaSata Campaign Email Allegations

There continue to be plenty of rumors circulating regarding potential campaign law violations connected to state Senator Kim LaSata, but at this point WSJM News has learned there is no active investigation underway by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners or state elections officials. Following up on a tip that the commissioners may have been given emails similar to those which Lansing’s MIRS News has obtained that allegedly show Judge Charles LaSata using his county email account for his wife’s campaign, we are told those have not been provided to the county board. The judge’s email records are protected by law from being released through the Freedom of Information Act, as is anything sent or received by the legislative email account of Senator LaSata. One county commissioner told WSJM News regarding a decision on a county probe, “that’s above my pay grade.”. ...Read Full Story