Local News Archives

New Supervisor Appointed In Benton Township

Kathy Yates is the new supervisor of Benton Township. The Benton Township Board of Trustees appointed her to the post on Tuesday night. Yates replaces Kevin White, who was killed in an accident while working along the side of I-94 for the Michigan Department of Transportation on October 24. Before she could be appointed supervisor, Yates submitted a letter of resignation from her post as a township trustee. She was first elected in 2012. Now that Yates has stepped down from the township board, there are two vacancies on the body because Trustee Carolyn Fowler died on November 24. The township is taking letters of interest from those who would like to be appointed to the vacancies. They will be taken through January 2 at the townshp hall.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Votes To End Ban On Deer Baiting

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature has given final approval to a bill that would lift a state ban on using bait to hunt deer, but it faces a veto from Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Baiting deer and elk is prohibited throughout the entire Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula under a ban that was initially approved by the state Natural Resources Commission in 2018 to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease.. ...Read Full Story

BH Seeks Garbage Hauler

Bids for garbage collection services are being sought by the city of Benton Harbor. The city this week put out a request for bids, or an RFP, looking for a trash hauler. That’s following last month’s problem with We-cycle Industrial Sanitation, the city’s current contractor. Trash was not picked up for several days last month when the city’s payment for that service was made to the wrong person. The situation was later resolved by the city commission, but the new RFP for solid waste collection, disposal, and yard waste processing for about 2,400 homes has been issued. The city will take bids through January 7, and then review them.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven City Council Reviews Busy 2019

The South Haven City Council spent part of its meeting on Monday night reviewing its accomplishments in 2019. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News housing development was the top priority. Accomplishments on that front have included the new mixed used development on Center Street with commercial space and 18 apartments, and a development at the site of the former Macdonald Drug on Phoenix Street. Dissette says more will come with the former Overton factory site on Elkenburg Street.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Considers Options To Relieve Street Flooding

This week opened up with part of Main Street in Benton Harbor closed to traffic again due to flooding, although it was opened back up on Tuesday morning. The problem area is near the roundabout by the Whirlpool Riverview campus, and Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Schirripa says there’s not much that can be done. Schirripa tells WSJM News the fundamental problem is the high water level in Lake Michigan, and that’s not something MDOT can fix. However, he says there may be one thing MDOT can do to respond.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Announces Text Support For Sex Assault Survivors

The office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced that, as of this week, survivors of sexual assault can seek help via text message. They can text 1-866-238-1454 to receive immediate help and support from trained professionals. The texting feature is an expansion to the 855-VOICES4 hotline, which offers confidential support to survivors of all kinds, along with help for their family and friends. The hotline launched in 2018 to help ensure the 40% of Michiganders without access to direct sexual assault services had somewhere to turn. The governor made the announcement about the new texting support service at Eastern Michigan University on Tuesday during the fifth annual “Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” summit. The “Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” initiative was started by former Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder with the goal of changing the culture surrounding campus sexual assault. You can find out more about the state hotline right here.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 100 Antique Snowmobiles Expected To Cross The Mackinac Bridge This Month

From the Associated Press — More than 100 antique snowmobiles are expected to cross the Mackinac Bridge as part of the fourth annual Snowmobile the Mac. MLive.com reports the event will be held December 14. Snowmobiles will cross the bridge from Mackinaw City in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce says the event started in 2016 with 38 antique snowmobiles. Snowmobiles must be at least 25 years old and have wheel kits to keep their treads off the bridge pavement. Operators must register their snowmobiles in advance and gather the day of the event in the Colonial Michilimackinac parking lot in Mackinaw City.. ...Read Full Story

Court Rejects Plan For Nestle Bottled Water Pump Building

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled against Nestle Waters North America’s proposal for a building needed to ratchet up a water bottling operation. A three-judge panel Tuesday sided with Osceola Township, which said the company’s plan violates a local zoning ordinance. The structure would house a booster pump along a pipeline carrying water from a Nestle groundwater well to a loading station in Evart, Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Sales Top $200,000 On First Day

From the Associated Press — Marijuana sales totaled more than $200,000 on the first day of business at a handful of Michigan shops. Adults 21 and older can buy marijuana. Doors opened Sunday at shops in Ann Arbor, and more will follow in other communities. The Detroit News reports the state will collect $36,000 in taxes from opening day sales. The newspaper cited statistics from the Marijuana
Regulatory Agency.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Missing Woman, Man

Police are looking for a missing Benton Harbor woman after investigating a shooting on Monday. The Benton Township Police Department says officers were called to a home in the 300 block of South Crystal in Benton Harbor for a welfare check on 38-year-old Willie Lark, Jr. around 1:15 a.m. When officers arrived at the scene, they spoke to a family member of Lark who had found suspected blood in the doorway. Police also found ammunition and spent shell casings in the home. Lark was not on scene and has not been found. Meanwhile, the Benton Township Police Department was also contacted by family of 30-year-old Jessica Gray, who had received information that Jessica had been at that home on Crystal and may have been shot. She has not been seen since around 8 p.m. on Sunday and is currently reported as a missing person who is potentially in danger and in need of medical attention. Police are looking for both Lark and Gray and ask anyone with information on their location to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: No Progress On Budget

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says no progress was made on resolving a budget impasse over the Legislature’s multi-week break, and critical comments directed at her by a top Republican leader were a “disservice” to finding common ground. Whitmer spoke Monday for about Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s remarks, in which he used an expletive to call her and Democratic legislators “crazy.” She says he texted her an apology while she was on a trade trip.. ...Read Full Story

“Trees For The Troops” Sends 465 Christmas Trees To Military Bases

465 Christmas trees are now on their way to two U.S. military bases thanks to Wahmhoff Farms in Gobles and nearly 100 volunteers who turned out on Monday as part of the annual Trees for the Troops effort. The trees collected from Michigan farms were loaded on to FedEx trailers by the volunteers and then shipped out to Fort Knox and Fort Hood so soldiers can have a more merry Christmas. Among those to help load the trees were local dignitaries that included state Senator Aric Nesbitt. Wahmhoff Farms thanked all of those who helped for showing their kindness and love of country. The farm says the efforts of those who came out will ensure hundreds of military families can celebrate around a real tree knowing someone cares.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Airport Kicks Off Bears In The Air This Week

South Bend International Airport on Tuesday will receive the first teddy bears to be donated to its annual Bears in the Air campaign. For the past eight years, the airport has collected and given out bears to kids in hospitals around South Bend and southwest Michigan as part of the program. On Tuesday, there will be a reception at the airport’s atrium at 10 a.m. as community stakeholders donate the first batch of bears. On hand will be St. Joseph County Airport Authority Board President Jay Asdell along with representatives of the Center for the Homeless and the South Bend Cubs. Also, there will be South Bend’s largest and most lovable bear, Stu D. Baker. South Bend International Airport says over the past eight years, Bears in the Air has donated more than 9,000 teddy bears to children in area hospitals and $46,000 to the Veteran’s Center in downtown South Bend. While the first donations will be made Tuesday, the official kickoff for the campaign will be on Friday.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Children Poster Contest Underway

Fifth grade students from all across Michigan are invited to enter the 2020 Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse analyst Jolene Hardesty tells WSJM News there are around 800 missing kids in Michigan right now, and the annual poster contest asks students to draw attention to them.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Suburb Bans Leaving Guns In Unlocked Cars

From the Associated Press — It’s illegal in a Detroit suburb to leave a gun in an unlocked vehicle. The ordinance in Eastpointe took effect in October after police noticed more people reporting gun thefts from their cars. Public Safety Director George Rouhib says 60 guns have been stolen in the last three years. Rouhib says storing a gun in a car isn’t a good idea. But if people are going to do it, he wants the vehicle locked. Violators can be fined up to $350. Critics say gun owners are being unfairly penalized.. ...Read Full Story

Three Officers Shot In Kalamazoo County

An intruder shot and wounded three police officers at a Kalamazoo County home, and the body of a homeowner who had been taken hostage was found inside. Sheriff Richard Fuller says his deputies responded along with the city of Kalamazoo’s public safety department and Michigan State Police Sunday night.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland To Require Visitors To Get ID Badges

A new policy is going into effect at Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph requiring visitors to wear ID badges. Starting December 2, anyone age 12 or older visiting someone at the in-patient area of the hospital will have to get a badge. Visitors will be required to present a valid photo ID to the front desk which will be scanned into the system to create the badge. Photos can also be taken on-site for those too young to have an ID. The new badges will be color coded for each individual floor and will self-expire after 24 hours. If a visitor plans to be at the hospital longer than 24 hours, they will need to go back to the front desk to have another badge issued to them. Spectrum Health Lakeland Safety Director Rich Matthews says studies have shown healthcare is the second most violent profession in the country, and this new requirement can help ensure everyone is protected. Plans are also in the works to begin issuing badges in the emergency department. ...Read Full Story

Saturday Murder At Blossom Acres Under Investigation

Benton Township police are investigating a Saturday night murder at the Blossom Acres Housing Project. A 19-year-old woman was found shot on the ground in front of 206 Concord just after 6 p.m. and died after being taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. Police are now trying to find 22-year-old Marion Perry of Benton Harbor, who was the woman’s boyfriend and is believed to be the last person to see her alive. They’re not calling him a suspect at this point, but want to find out if he knows anything about the shooting. Anyone with information on the shooting or where Perry might be is urged to call Benton Township Police Detective Bureau at (269) 925-1135 or Crime Stoppers at (574) 288-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Sock Drive For Those In Need Now Underway

While you’re out and about shopping this holiday season, the St. Joseph lodge of the Masons is asking that you grab a package of socks to be given to those in need. Jerry Sirk says he’s started the group’s fifth annual sock drive. They’re collecting socks for the Salvation Army, the guardianship program at Avenue Family Network, the emergency women’s shelter, and the foster kids program at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Sirk tells WSJM News there’s a surprising need for socks.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Working With Other Groups To Help Manufacturers

Benton Harbor-based Kinexus this month announced the creation of a new manufacturing support group. The Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Association is a partnership between several industry groups around the state to provide expertise to manufacturing companies looking to grow. MMTA Director Duane Berger tells WSJM News they’ll work with mostly smaller manufacturers.. ...Read Full Story

“Road Diet” For Napier Avenue Next Year

The road diet being planned by the Berrien County Road Department for Napier Avenue has been delayed. Work on the first phase of the project to reduce the number of travel lanes to make room for a center turn lane, and possibly sidewalks, was supposed to start this fall. However, Berrien County Commissioner Bill Chickering reported at a county board meeting this month the project has been bumped back to next year. The reason is a strike held this year by road builders trained to operate heavy machinery, which caused several delays for MDOT and other road agencies. Now, Chickering says the plan is to do both phases of the Napier road diet in 2020, rather than spreading them out over two years.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Seeks Help For Displaced Condo Residents

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski and Benton Harbor Interim City Manager Ellis Mitchell are putting out an appeal for help to be found for the residents of the New Harbor Condominium complex on Riverview Drive now that the complex has been condemned. News cam this week everyone who lives at the complex will have to leave. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office foreclosed on 43 of the 90 units this year, and problems with the facility have grown.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Brickley To Serve Another Term As Van Buren County Chief Judge

Kathleen Brickley will serve another two-year term as the Chief Judge of the Van Buren County Courts. The Michigan Supreme Court appointed her for the fourth term, which will run from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021. This will be Judge Brickley’s fourth appointment. She will oversee the 36th Circuit Court, the 7th District Court, and the Van Buren County Probate Court. Judge Brickley is also actively involved with several initiatives around the state and region, serving as a member of the Drug Treatment Court Policy Council, the chairwoman of the Van Buren Community Corrections Advisory Board, a member of South Haven Rotary, and is president of the Van Buren County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics.. ...Read Full Story

Help Available To Farmers Hurt By Weather

Congressman Fred Upton welcomed news this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that farmers in southwest Michigan can now apply for help to recover from poor weather this year that’s damaged their crops. Upton says he and other members of the Michigan delegation sent a letter to U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for a disaster designation, and it came.. ...Read Full Story

County Hopes For Action On Erosion

A disaster declaration for the entire Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan — more than 3,000 miles — is being sought by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners from the governor and the Michigan Legislature. At a meeting this month, the board approved a resolution from Commissioner Ezra Scott asking the state to consider such a move. Scott tells WSJM News large areas of coast are being lost due to high water levels and wind. He’s been talking to commissioners in the Upper Peninsula about the problem.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs To Kindle Its Christmas Spirit December 12

Preparations are underway for the next Kindle Your Christmas Spirit in Downtown Berrien Springs celebration. The village says the party will be Thursday, December 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. The downtown streets will be closed to traffic so everyone can walk around checking out all of the attractions. Those will include live music, ice carving, horse-drawn carriages, a live nativity, the lighting of the town Christmas tree, and Santa and Mrs. Claus at the village hall. The historic 1839 courthouse will also be open for tours. All are welcome to come and celebrate the holiday.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Launches Smart 911 System

Allegan County has announced the launch of its new Smart 911 system. Allegan County Central Dispatch Director Jeremy Ludwig tells WSJM News Smart 911 allows residents to register themselves with central dispatch so if they ever call for assistance in an emergency, first responders already know key things about them.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Collecting Toys This Friday

Michigan State Police out of the Niles post will be doing their annual Stuff a Blue Goose toy drive on Friday. Troopers will be at the Niles Walmart on South Eleventh Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. taking donations. They’re working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass Counties to spread some holiday cheer to kids in need around the area. Everyone is invited to stop by the Walmart to make a contribution. In addition to toys, they’ll take food and clothing. Anyone who can’t make it out to the Walmart during the drive can also drop off items at the Michigan State Police post in Niles or at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Niles. The drive is called Stuff a Blue Goose because the troopers aim to stuff their cruisers full of items. This is the sixth year Michigan State Police have held the drive.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Works Launches Healthcare Worker Training Initiative

A new effort is being launched by Michigan Works to train more workers to be in the healthcare field in southwest Michigan. The goal is to train more than 100 certified nursing assistants and personal care assistants through July of next year via an apprenticeship program. Michigan Works Vocational Training Manager Rick VanIttersum tells WSJM News there is a great demand for new healthcare workers.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Homes With Tainted Wells To Get Municipal Water

From the Associated Press — A state grant will help connect 14 rural homes in northern Michigan to a municipal water system after their wells were found to be contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said Tuesday it had awarded the grant to Blair Township in Grand Traverse County. The state is paying $74,520 of the project’s cost, which totals $93,150. The township was required to match 20% of the state’s contribution. The residences’ well water is tainted with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS. Experts say high concentrations of PFAS may be harmful to human health.. ...Read Full Story

New Secretary Of State Self-Serve Kiosks Coming

New self-serve kiosks are coming to Secretary of State branch offices throughout Michigan. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says they’ve had a one-month pilot program with the new machines, and they’re more reliable and easier to use than the current kiosks. Along with being in the branch offices, she says they’ll be adding them in other locations like Meijer and Kroger grocery stores around the state. Additionally, new software means you won’t need to have your renewal paperwork with you, and the system can use your license plate number and the last four digits of the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, to find the information. For the first time, kiosk users will also be able to use cash. By the end of April, Benson says there will be 150 of the kiosks in place.. ...Read Full Story

SW Michigan Housing Market Stays Strong

The area’s housing market continues to show signs of strength. The latest numbers for October are out from the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, showing a 6% rise in sales over a year ago with 345 homes sold compared to 324. The average selling price was up 7% from last year to $262,720, while the median price was up 11% to $190,000. Association executive Alan Jeffries says inventory remains tight, down 4% year-over-year to 1,675 homes on the market, which is a 6.7 month supply. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions also set a new record low at 2% in October, marking the seventh straight month it’s been under 6%. For comparison during the recession, the highest percentage in October was 34% in 2009.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Loses Power

The city of South Haven has no electricity. City officials tell WSJM News both of their transmission lines from American Electric Power are down, with no estimate on when restoration will happen. The outage began around 9:45 a.m. The entire region is under a high wind warning today from the National Weather Service, and there are pockets of other power outages throughout the area.. ...Read Full Story

Lengthy Budget Impasse Taking Toll On Services In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A budget impasse in Michigan is starting to take a toll on government programs and services. Sheriff’s offices, jails, charter schools, private colleges, hospitals, local governments and nonprofits are casualties of the standoff that has dragged on much longer than expected. Nearly two months ago, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed an unprecedented $947 million in funding to restart broken-down budget talks. She and the Republican-led Legislature want to reverse some or many of her vetoes. But they remain at odds over Republicans’ push to curtail her powers after the first-year governor shifted funding within state departments. A popular school truancy program in rural northeastern Michigan has begun laying off staff. Sheriffs are worried about road safety. And college students are anxious that they might not get tuition assistance.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Aims To Stop Medicaid Work Requirement

Michigan lawmakers are being asked to put the brakes on the implementation of work requirements for Healthy Michigan enrollees. A coalition of healthcare and anti-poverty organizations filed a lawsuit last week challenging the Trump administration’s approval of the state’s Medicaid waiver project, which allows Michigan to begin work requirements for able-bodied Healthy Michigan enrollees on January 1. Health Policy Analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy Amber Bellazaire says Medicaid is a supportive health program that should not be altered in a way that makes it punitive or ineffective.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Talks Thanksgiving Food Safety

As family cooks everywhere are getting ready to prepare their Thanksgiving meals this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding them of how to safely cook that bird. USDA technical information specialist Chrystal Okonta tells WSJM News you need to give a 20 pound turkey several days to thaw. If you haven’t got time to just leave it in the fridge, there are thawing techniques.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan City Commission Approves Marijuana Zoning

All that remains for legal recreational marijuana businesses to set up shop in Buchanan now is state and local licensing. The city commission this week approved a zoning ordinance amendment to allow for those companies. The state has so far issued eight licenses, with three of those in Ann Arbor to businesses already selling medical marijuana. As many as six retail sites and two consumption centers will be allowed in Buchanan. That city and Niles are the only local governments in Berrien County so far to allow recreational marijuana businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Claims $300,000 Instant Lottery Game Jackpot

A Van Buren County man has an additional 300,000 reasons to give thanks this week. The Michigan Lottery says the 62-year-old has chosen to remain anonymous after claiming his jackpot from the Super Bingo instant game. He bought the winning ticket at Halftime Food and Beverage in Lawton, and picked up his $300,000 winnings – before taxes – on Monday at Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing. He says he asked the clerk for a “big winner,” and she sold him three of the $5 Super Bingo tickets. Since the game launched in October 2018, more than $22 million has been won in the game with prizes ranging from $5 to $300,000. The Michigan Lottery says there are still two tickets out there with $10,000 prizes and a dozen good for $1,000.. ...Read Full Story

Benson Appoints New Elections Director

From the Associated Press — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has named Jonathan Brater to be the next director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections following the retirement of current director Sally Williams. Brater, who will take over January 2, has worked alongside Williams for the past 11 months while he focused on elections while serving as the Department of State’s Legal Policy Director. He previously served as counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, a non-partisan nonprofit, where his work focused on modernizing elections in partnership with secretaries of state around the country. Benson says in a statement, “Throughout his career Jonathan has demonstrated his commitment to secure, non-partisan election administration.” Brater, an Ann Arbor native, was selected after an open application process that began shortly after Williams announced her retirement earlier this month.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Addresses Residents On Plan To Fight Erosion

Public attention is growing about an effort to get a disaster declaration for the entire Great Lakes coast in Michigan. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners last week approved a resolution asking the governor and Michigan Legislature to consider such a declaration due to severe erosion caused by the high water level and high winds this year. At a Monday night gathering in St. Joseph, Commissioner Ezra Scott, who introduced last week’s resolution, explained his plan to a crowd of residents. He told WSJM News federal support to address the erosion would come if the governor takes action.. ...Read Full Story

“A Bridge Too Far” – St. Joseph Commission Won’t Buy Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters

The city of St. Joseph will not be purchasing the former Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters from the U.S. Coast Guard. The federal government needed a decision by the end of this month with an asking price of $445,000. The cost to move the duplex to the base of the north pier at Tiscornia Park and renovations would have been several hundred thousand dollars, and Mayor Mike Garey summed up the feelings of the commission.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Library Taking Food Donations In Place Of Late Fees

Anyone who owes late fees to the Bridgman Public Library has a chance to pay them off this month while helping those in need. The library tells us they will accept donations of unopened, non-perishable food items or toiletries in lieu of money to take care of late fees. All donations will go to two local food pantries. The library says the offer is good through December 6, and there’s no required amount for donations. The offer only applies to late fees and not to book replacement fees.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland To Require ID Badges For Visitors

A new policy is going into effect at Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph requiring visitors to wear ID badges. Starting December 2, anyone age 12 or older visiting someone at the in-patient area of the hospital will have to get a badge. Visitors will be required to present a valid photo ID to the front desk which will be scanned into the system to create the badge. Photos can also be taken on-site for those too young to have an ID. The new badges will be color coded for each individual floor and will self-expire after 24 hours. If a visitor plans to be at the hospital longer than 24 hours, they will need to go back to the front desk to have another badge issued to them. Spectrum Health Lakeland Safety Director Rich Matthews says studies have shown healthcare is the second most violent profession in the country, and this new requirement can help ensure everyone is protected. Plans are also in the works to begin issuing badges in the emergency department. ...Read Full Story

BH Condo Complex Condemned, Help Sought For Residents

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski and Benton Harbor Interim City Manager Ellis Mitchell are putting out an appeal for help to be found for the residents of the New Harbor Condominium complex on Riverview Drive now that the complex has been condemned. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office foreclosed on 43 of the 90 units this year, and problems with the facility have grown.. ...Read Full Story