Local News Archives

Jobs For MI Graduates Conference This Week

As Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates marks ten years, the program will hold its annual Career Development Conference in Lansing this week. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News JMG has grown to serve around 3,000 at-risk students across Michigan since it started in Benton Harbor a decade ago. Around 300 students will be at Thursday’s conference to take part in career skills competitions, showing off things they have learned.. ...Read Full Story

No Plea Deals Offered In Murder Of Army Sergeant

No plea deals are on the table for the couple accused of the murder of Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III. His wife, Kemia Hassel, and alleged gunman Jeremy Cuellar were both in court on Monday. They’re accused of using Snapchat to plan the killing, which happened New Year’s Eve at the home of Sergeant Hassel’s parents in St. Joseph Township. Defense attorneys for both and the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office have told the judge they all need more time to prepare their cases, meaning the scheduled April 30 start for the trial might be delayed. Authorities say Kemia Hassel and Cuellar were having an affair and she came up with the idea to kill her husband to get insurance money rather than file for divorce.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged For 1986 Murder In Bangor

Michigan State Police believe they’ve solved a 1986 cold case murder in Bangor. One of the daughters of 51-year-old Wilda Wilkinson found her body, but investigators got nowhere in their investigation. State police detectives reopened the case nine years ago and narrowed down several suspects before starting to work full-time on the investigation last year. A man who was a neighbor of Wilkinson was never ruled out as a suspect, and was arrested last week in California. Michael Curry was arraigned Monday after waiving extradition and being brought back to Michigan. Investigators say several interviews and physical evidence led them to Curry, but have not disclosed exactly what cracked the case.. ...Read Full Story

Antwan Mims Sentenced For Double Murder

In reality, it was just a formality as Antwan Mims of Benton Harbor was sent away to prison for the rest of his life for a double murder a year ago this month outside a house party. Mims was convicted of first degree murder for the deaths of Michael Johnson and Cortez Miller, and was captured in suburban Atlanta, Georgia last year after being placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. He made no statement at today’s sentencing hearing. It took a jury just three hours to find Mims guilty of all charges in February. Johnson and Miller were shot in front of roughly 100 witnesses at the home of a friend of Mims on Lavette Avenue on March 25, 2018.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Survey: Gas Prices Up 7¢ To $2.59

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are up about 7¢ from a week ago to about $2.59 per gallon. The Dearborn-based auto club says Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded is about 3¢ more than a year ago. AAA says the statewide average rose to a new 2019 high of $2.62 per gallon last Wednesday before easing later in the week, and prices are likely to keep going higher. The state’s highest average was about $2.65 a gallon in the Traverse City area. The lowest average was about $2.53 in the Flint area, while the average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is the second-lowest in the state at $2.56. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s average is $2.47, but that area is not part of the Triple-A survey.. ...Read Full Story

Vehicle Break-Ins At Governor’s Residence Investigated

An investigation is underway after someone broke into two vehicles at Governor Whitmer’s home. Michigan State Police arrested one person this weekend, and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office will determine charges. No information about what was stolen was released. State police wouldn’t say if the governor or her family were home when the thefts occurred. The governor’s residence is gated and has armed security. The “Lansing State Journal” reports part of the investigation involves how the suspect got onto the property.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Day Approaching

The clock is ticking towards tax day. Tax refunds are due in less than a month on April 15th if you don’t file for an extension. It’s expected that 30 million people will get a tax bill this year, not a refund as they usually do because of changes to tax laws and reform. Some people who say they have never had to pay before have received word they owe the IRS hundreds of dollars. If you have to pay, but don’t have the money, experts say you should talk to the IRS about a monthly payment plan.. ...Read Full Story

One Hurt In Cass County Crash

The impact was hard enough cause a vehicle to split into pieces in Cass County’s Porter Township Sunday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies say 63-year-old Randy Riley was headed north on M-40 when he lost control and slammed into a tree. He’s being treated at Elkhart General Hospital, but authorities have not released his condition. Investigators don’t yet know what caused Riley to go off the road.. ...Read Full Story

Student Jobs Program Facing Funding Loss

A program that connects Michigan students with job skills and employment could be on the chopping block. State Representative Beth Griffin tells WSJM News that when she got a look at Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, she noticed it contained no funding for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Grants Approved By State House

A list of recreation and parks projects recommended for state grants by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has been approved by the state House. Among the 60 projects statewide that are included in the list is $2.4 million to acquire 42 acres for the Grand Beach Nature Preserve in Berrien County. It will be used to develop a trail system. State Representative Brad Paquette says “Grand Beach Nature Preserve is already a great part of our community,” and the acquisition will make it better for tourism. Also included in the latest list of grants is $534,000 to add another 126 acres to the Cornish State Game Area in Van Buren County. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is made up of money acquired by the development of minerals on state land. Each year, those dollars go to recreation projects all over the state.. ...Read Full Story

Funding Sought For New Soo Lock

President Trump is seeking more than $75 million for work on the new Soo Lock project in Sault Ste. Marie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the money would be used to start construction of the upstream approach walls, continue the design of the New Soo Lock chamber, and finish construction of the upstream channel deepening. The Corps tells us the upstream approach walls will stabilize the existing approach walls to allow for modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock. It’s anticipated the wall designs will be finished in late 2019, and the construction contract will be awarded in summer 2020. Army Corp Lieutenant Colonel Greg Turner says the appropriation keeps the project on track for completion in seven to ten years from the start of construction. You can find out more about the new Soo Lock project right here.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Free College Program

The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development is highlighting an early college program in Allegan County as a model for how more students could receive a college education, and for free. The Early College Allegan County program gives high school students a chance to earn an associate’s degree from Lake Michigan College before they even finish high school, says TED spokesperson Erica Quealey.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Rule Updates For Bridgman Beach

Weko Beach in Bridgman could be seeing some changes this year. For one, Bridgman Parks and Recreation Director Joan Guilfoyle tells WSJM News the beach could be going back to the policy stating dogs are not allowed on part of the beach while on their way to Warren Dunes State Park next door.. ...Read Full Story

BH Seniors Not On Track To Graduate

Of 138 seniors at Benton Harbor High School this year, only 38 are currently on track to graduate. That was one of many things Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera told the community at a meeting this past week. He said a recent audit of the graduation numbers of this year and last year found many students far off track. Herrera told WSJM News when they can be helped, they will be.. ...Read Full Story

Weight Restrictions In Place On MI Roads

The Berrien County Road Department and the Van Buren County Road Commission have implemented seasonal weight restrictions to try to protect the roads from damage as the spring arrives. Van Buren County Road Commission Engineer-Manager Larry Hummel tells WSJM News when there has been an extended period of freezing weather, frost builds up under the road. As it thaws from surface on down, the road up top is in danger.. ...Read Full Story

Increased Drunk Driving Enforcement This Weekend

Michigan State Police are increasing patrols this weekend to watch out for drunk drivers around St. Patrick’s Day. This Sunday, troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation C.A.R.E. — or Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. The enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 17, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. State police advise drivers not to rely on luck this St. Patty’s Day and to arrange for a ride if drinking. In addition to drunk driving, police will be looking out for aggressive driving and failure to use a seat belt.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Prison Healthcare Cost Plan

Legislation designed to save money on prison costs by moving medically-frail inmates into healthcare facilities has been approved by the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News the four-bill package would let non-violent inmates with severe and chronic physical or mental disabilities complete their sentences at a medical facility rather than inside a prison. And that’s only if approved by a parole board.. ...Read Full Story

Gray Wolves Could Lose Protections

U.S. wildlife officials want to strip gray wolves of their remaining federal protections and declare them recovered after a decades-long restoration effort. Michigan Technological University wildlife ecology professor John Vucetich doesn’t support the move. He spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Details Rescue Of Kidnapped Child This Week

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has revealed more information about a kidnapping in the Upper Peninsula that resulted in a statewide Amber Alert this week. Skip Hagy with the DNR in Newberry tells WSJM News 53-year-old George Cunningham and 68-year-old Jon Stygler on Wednesday night attacked multiple people at a home where Cunningham’s 5-year-old son lived. They then took the boy. The two men ditched a vehicle near Paradise, in Chippewa County, and went walking out on Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Hearing On Marina Grant Next Week

The city of South Haven will hold a public hearing on Monday to allow comment on the proposed application to seek a grant for the purchase of the All Seasons Marine sit on Black River Street. The city already operates several marinas. Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier told WSJM News why the city is interested in the All Seasons Marine site.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor To Close Part Of Paw Paw Avenue

The city of Benton Harbor is closing a failing section of Paw Paw Avenue until further notice. The city says Paw Paw Avenue from north of Waukonda to the Public Works maintenance garage will be shut down starting on Monday at 8 a.m. The section will stay that way while the city investigates and then fixes it. During the closure, traffic will be re-routed to North Shore Avenue.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel To Hold “Pints With Pauline” Next Week

This is a little different than holding a coffee hour. State Representative Pauline Wendzel’s office tells us she’s planning to hold a “Pints with Pauline” event this month at Arclight Brewing Company in Watervliet. She’ll be there on Monday, March 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to talk with residents about any concerns they may have. Wendzel says she’s holding the event in the evening so those who work during the usual morning coffee hours have the opportunity to share their thoughts about state government and hear about what’s going on in Lansing. No appointment will be necessary. Anyone who wants to talk with Wendzel can just go to Arclight Brewing Company on Monday from 5 to 6:30 and have a chat.. ...Read Full Story

LMC conducting Community Survey

Lake Michigan College is seeking the community’s help in setting its goals for the future. It’s launched an online survey to ask everyone what they think should be LMC’s priorities. LMC tells us the first part of the survey asks for five key words or phrases that describe what the college should strive to achieve. The second part asks for feedback about the college’s current goals, which are academic excellence, student success, and community impact. The college’s 2019-2024 Strategic Planning Committee says it will use information collected through the survey to “hopefully end up with a statement that is shorter and more memorable, as well as more specific to our region and culture.” You can find the survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s Unity Walk This Saturday

A women’s unity march is planned for this weekend in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Berrien County Democratic Women Chair Kim Jorgensen Gane tells WSJM News the event is to learn about challenges women face, to amplify the voices of women in Berrien County, and to foster coalitions. On hand will be a variety of speakers.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Commissioners Signal Support For Trail Project

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has given the green light to the Berrien County Road Department to seek a $1.5 million grant for a trail project near New Buffalo. County Administrator Bill Wolf tells WSJM News the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is working with the city of New Buffalo, New Buffalo Township, the Pokagon Fund, and others as it seeks the Transportation Alternative Program grant.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Announces Record Fundraising Year

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is marking a record fundraising year. At its annual celebration at Lake Michigan College Thursday, the organization announced it raised more than $4.2 million with its 2018 campaign. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy tells WSJM News the region cares.. ...Read Full Story

Group Asks Court For Decision On Minimum Wage Legislation

The Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is filing an amicus brief urging the state Supreme Court to issue an opinion on the GOP lame-duck legislature’s gutting of the state minimum wage law. Supporters of a higher minimum wage say the action was an unconstitutional gutting of a ballot proposal that the legislature blocked from reaching voters. That raises the possibility of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the action. NFIB’s Charlie Owens.. ...Read Full Story

Energy Rebate For Benton Harbor Schools

A recent project to increase energy efficiency at Benton Harbor Area Schools has resulted in a rebate of just under $5,000 being awarded to the district by Indiana Michigan Power. At this week’s district CEO meeting, I&M’s Jason Whitman said the schools replaced 250 light fixtures to house efficient LED lighting.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested Following Overnight AMBER Alert Out Of Upper Peninsula

The alerts in the middle of the night likely woke up thousands of Michiganders regarding an AMBER Alert in the Upper Peninsula town of Paradise. There is a happy ending to that situation. Michigan State Police canceled the alert a little after 1 a.m. once they found five-year-old Zephaniau Cunningham alive and safe and arrested two adults, including abduction suspect George Cunningham. Troopers had found his pickup truck within a half-hour of the AMBER Alert buzzing phones and triggering broadcast alerts throughout Michigan, and then found all three people a short time later.. ...Read Full Story

Five Governors Opposing Trump Plan To Cut Great Lakes Spending

From the Associated Press — Governors of five states oppose President Donald Trump’s call for a 90 percent spending cut for a Great Lakes cleanup program. The president’s 2020 budget offers $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which gets $300 million most years. It removes toxic pollution, prevents algae blooms and species invasions, and restores wildlife habitat. The governors said Wednesday the cut would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. They urged Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, to fully fund the program. Issuing the statement were Democratic Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, along with Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said numerous states, local governments and others also support the program and that more details on the federal role will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

State Promotes Early College Program

The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development is highlighting an early college program in Allegan County as a model for how more students could receive a college education, and for free. The Early College Allegan County program gives high school students a chance to earn an associate’s degree from Lake Michigan College before they even finish high school, says TED spokesperson Erica Quealey.. ...Read Full Story

State Board Talks BHAS

Benton Harbor Area Schools was a topic of discussion this week for the Michigan State Board of Education. At a Tuesday meeting, Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said the School Reform Office has heard back from the Michigan Attorney General’s office regarding what happens to the school district’s cooperative agreement once the SRO ceases to exist on July 1. Alles said there will be three options.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Budget Includes Funding For New Soo Lock

President Trump is seeking more than $75 million for work on the new Soo Lock project in Sault Ste. Marie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the money would be used to start construction of the upstream approach walls, continue the design of the New Soo Lock chamber, and finish construction of the upstream channel deepening. The Corps tells us the upstream approach walls will stabilize the existing approach walls to allow for modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock. It’s anticipated the wall designs will be finished in late 2019, and the construction contract will be awarded in summer 2020. Army Corp Lieutenant Colonel Greg Turner says the appropriation keeps the project on track for completion in seven to ten years from the start of construction. You can find out more about the new Soo Lock project right here.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Of The US Calling On Public To Pressure Mattawan Lab To End Dog Testing

It’s legal, but the Humane Society of the United States says testing being done on 36 beagles in Mattawan at Charles River Labs is abhorrent and immoral. The nonprofit released video footage shot undercover at what used to be MPI Research of the dogs being force-fed a fungicide made by Dow AgroSciences that Dow has admitted wasn’t needed scientifically. The Humane Society is calling for the beagles to be released, and has launched an online petition to try to force Charles River Labs to end the tests. The videos were shot over the course of 100 days last year, with more than two dozen experiments being done on the dogs during that time. Several died as a result.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Police Investigating Weekend Shooting

Benton Township police are looking for suspects after a 30-year-old man was shot twice in the leg early Sunday morning. The department says the man told police from his bed at Spectrum Health Lakeland’s emergency room that he was in an argument with a man over a woman at the Rock Starz Rental Hall at the Orchards Mall around 4:30 in the morning when he heard gunshots and realized he’d been hit. The victim got a ride to the hospital with a friend and has since been released. Police have not released any description of the other man involved in the argument.. ...Read Full Story

BH CEO Talks About Charter Option

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera has spoken with the Michigan Department of Treasury about the possibility of the district going charter. At Tuesday’s CEO meeting, Herrera said the state came to him about the idea, and as he understands it, forming a charter would take care of the district’s $18 million debt.. ...Read Full Story

Many BH Seniors Not On Track To Graduate This Year

Of 138 seniors at Benton Harbor High School this year, only 38 are currently on track to graduate. That was one of many things Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera told the community at a Tuesday meeting. He said a recent audit of the graduation numbers of this year and last year found many students far off track. Herrera told WSJM News when they can be helped, they will be.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Helps Food Charity Expand

The charitable arm of drug maker Perrigo is donating $130,000 to a non-profit that provides food to kids in need in Allegan County. Kids’ Food Basket will receive the first ceremonial check this week in Holland. Perrigo tells us the first $30,000 will go toward programing in Ottawa County to sustain 900 students this academic year at six schools and sites. The additional $100,000 will be used for Kids’ Food Basket’s expansion into Allegan County, which will help reach more at-risk children. Allegan is where Perrigo’s North American Head of Operations is located. According to Kids’ Food Basket, nearly 12,000 Allegan County residents are food-insecure, with 24% of the population being children under the age of 18.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Seeking Input On Parks Plan

Public input is being sought by the Berrien County Parks Department for the next parks master plan. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the plan is needed to qualify for state grants. It outlines improvements planned at county parks. Bailey says meetings will be held throughout 2019 at different locations for residents to weigh in. He says the last meeting attracted plenty of interest.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Persons Of Interest In BH Shooting

Police are asking for help in finding two brothers who may have been present at the time of a fatal shooting in Benton Harbor last summer. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us officers responded to a call to clear a party in the early morning hours of July 1 when they heard gunshots in the area of the 900 block of Lavette. It was discovered 22-year-old Aundre J. Sanders had been shot and killed. The case remains unsolved. Benton Harbor Public Safety detectives would like to speak with Jamaal and William Roseburgh, who witnesses say were there at the shooting. On July 3, an absconder warrant was issued for Jamaal Roseburgh. Anyone who knows the location of either Roseburgh brother is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan OKs Medical Marijuana For Cerebral Palsy

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan has added cerebral palsy to a list conditions for which people can register to use medical marijuana. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced its decision Monday. It followed a unanimous recommendation from a review panel. The department also rejected adding chronic aggressive behavior to the list, after panel members unanimously recommended denial. Other medical conditions on Michigan’s list include cancer, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. Roughly 293,000 patients are registered with the state to grow their own marijuana or obtain it from 41,000 registered caregivers who can supply a limited number of people. Michigan voters last year legalized marijuana for recreational use, too.. ...Read Full Story

The Show Will Go On

Despite a few objections, the show will go on. The St. Joseph city commission this week unanimously approved the request of St. Joseph Today to hold the BBQ Blues & Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, May 18. June Bowman was among a couple of residents who have some issues with the annual concert.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Officer Shot Responding To Shooting

A Kalamazoo Public Safety officer is hospitalized after being shot responding to a report of a shooting at a plasma donation center. The officer’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. A former employee of the Biomat USA Plasma Center in downtown Kalamazoo is accused of entering the building Tuesday and opening fire. Employee Lisa Walterhouse tells the “Kalamazoo Gazette” the man told people to call 911, and then they took off running. A statement from Kalamazoo Public Safety does not say anything about an active shooter situation, and they say there is no current threat to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Royalton Twp Approves Vail Rubber Expansion And Tax Break

Vail Rubber’s expansion into Royalton Township is moving ahead. The township board has approved the creation of an Industrial Development District and granted the St. Joseph company a 12-year tax abatement for its new building that will be built at the southwest corner of Glenlord and Hollywood. Construction will start next month and be done in March 2020. Vail Rubber Works expects to create at least 10 new jobs with the expansion. The company was founded in 1892 to make rubber railroad ties, and had adapted ever since.. ...Read Full Story

River Valley High School Teacher On Leave, Under Investigation

A River Valley High School science teacher is on administrative leave while Michigan State Police investigate allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student. MSP Niles Post Assistant Commander Melinda Logan confirms to WSJM News that Chikaming Township Police contacted a detective to ask for a potential criminal investigation, as some of the alleged incidents did not occur in their jurisdiction. Logan adds the detective and Superintendent Will Kearney met Monday afternoon, and more interviews are being done to determine if any crime was committed. In a statement, Kearney identifies the teacher as Richard Jasso and reports he was placed on leave last week by the school district. He adds the district is fully cooperating with the police investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Says Panel Had Authority To Complete Oil Pipeline Deal

A judge has ruled that a Michigan panel’s approval of an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac should stay intact even though a state law set unconstitutionally long terms for the authority’s members. Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello issued his ruling Friday. The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority was created by lawmakers in December to complete a deal between the state and Canadian pipeline company Enbridge to drill a tunnel below the channel that links Lakes Huron and Michigan. It will encase a segment of the pipeline. The authority’s members were given six-year terms.. ...Read Full Story

Policy League Praises Budget Proposal

With Michigan’s budget process kicking into high gear, some policy groups are praising Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposals to improve the lives of state residents. Whitmer’s first executive budget recommendation totals $60.2 for Fiscal Year 2020, more than 3% higher than the last budget. With funding to improve roads, water quality, and education, the Michigan League for Public Policy’s Gilda Jacobs says the budget is embracing priorities outlined in the league’s “Owner’s Manual” for policymakers.. ...Read Full Story

Miss Bangor Olivia Ellis Wins Miss Blossomtime 2019

South Haven High School’s Olivia Ellis is this year’s Miss Blossomtime, crowned at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus Monday night. Ellis plans to attend Manchester University in Indiana to play softball and study exercise science with the goal of becoming an athletic trainer after graduation. The rest of the court include first runner-up Claudia Moore, who was Miss Three Oaks/River Valley, second runner-up Krystin Buist, who was Miss Bridgman, and Miss Spirit of Blossomtime, Maya Schuhknecht of Buchanan was crowned Miss Congeniality. Coloma’s Sin’cere Taylor was named Mr. Blossomtime on Sunday. The Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade will feature all the community queens and kings on Saturday, May 4 starting at 1 pm.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Slams Gas Tax Proposal

State Representative Beth Griffin says there’s zero chance the Michigan House will approve the 45 cent gas tax increase proposed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. We asked the Republican lawmaker from Mattawan what should be done to raise money for fixing the roads. Griffin says state leaders need to get creative instead of jacking up taxes.. ...Read Full Story