Local News Archives

City Seeks Low-Interest Loan For Water, Sewer Work


More than $14 million in water and sewer work will be done in Benton Harbor in the coming years following action Monday night by the Benton Harbor City Commission. The body approved securing a low-interest state loan to do improvements at the water tower and replace water and sewer lines. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the project may cost $14.5 million, but it’s necessary.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Union Program Helps Employees Donate To Communities


Employees of United Federal Credit Union have been able to donate more than $16,000 around their communities in the past year thanks to the organization’s Pay it Forward program. With Pay it Forward, UFCU gives each employee $15 to donate to those in need. They get to pick who they support. Many times, departments and branches combine their funds to create a more substantial donation. United CEO Terry O’Rourke tells WSJM News Pay it Forward was created at the request of employees.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Removing Brush, Planting Trees Along I-94


Drivers in Van Buren County are being advised to watch out for intermittent lane and shoulder closures along I-94 for the next few years. Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News crews will be doing tree and shrub removal along the highway starting this Tuesday. They will also be planting new pine trees. There’s a reason for that.. ...Read Full Story

Students To Take Part In Driver Safety Campaign


Students at 57 Michigan high schools will take part in the state’s Strive for a Safer Drive program this year. Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Kari Arend tells WSJM News the program is a partnership between the state and Ford Driving Skills for Life. It encourages students to create their own safety campaigns.. ...Read Full Story

K9 Helps Catch Domestic Violence Suspect


The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says one of its K9s was able to track a domestic violence suspect over the weekend. Deputies were called out to a home in the village of Lawrence shortly after midnight Sunday on a report of a man who had assaulted his ex-girlfriend and her mother. While one of the victims was on the phone with 911, the 24-year-old suspect grabbed her phone and broke it, ending the call. By the time sheriff’s deputies arrived, the man had run off. However, thanks to a search by a deputy and K9 Kuno, the suspect was found a short distance away from the house and taken into custody. He was found to be on probation out of Van Buren County and had a personal protection order against him filed by one of the victims. He’s now in the Van Buren County Jail on charges of domestic assault, interfering with 911 communication, and violating a PPO.. ...Read Full Story

New Warning To Lock Vehicles Following Five Break-Ins In Bloomingdale


There’s a common message from law enforcement all over southwest Michigan to people: lock the doors of your vehicle. The latest comes from Bloomingdale, as the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says five vehicles were broken into overnight between Saturday and Sunday. There’s no specific location in the village that was targeted other than “in and around” according to deputies. Investigators have also not released details about what was taken from the vehicles, but do say that in every case, the doors had not been locked. The issue has popped up all over Berrien County in recent months as well, even leading to some cars being stolen because the keys were inside.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Federal Credit Union Reports Fake Charges To British Televangelist Group


An official with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union says 2,300 cards were charged with false transactions to an international televangelist network. Officials with the Lansing-area credit union say it’s unclear who was behind the fraudulent charges to Britain’s LoveWorld TV. Each charge was under $100 and will be refunded. The credit union says it is also issuing new cards to members who were affected. Chief Marketing Officer Deidre Davis says the credit union’s security and fraud management teams are investigating, as are officials from Visa. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel last week put out a warning to MSUFCU members to keep a close eye on their accounts after the breach was found.. ...Read Full Story

OK2SAY Goes To The Big Screen


Michigan’s OK2SAY tipline is now appearing on the big screen. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says OK2SAY advertisements are running in movie theaters throughout the state this season. Three different OK2SAY messages began airing on 372 screens in 48 different movie theaters earlier this month and are expected to be seen by more than 1.1 million students and their families. AG Dana Nessel says reaching students when they are outside of the classroom is an important part of the OK2SAY message, and her office wants to remind them they can step up and speak out when they learn of something potentially harmful. She adds, “whether it’s a bully or a friend contemplating self-harm,” it really is OK2SAY. The OK2SAY tipline was launched in 2014 as a way for students to speak up anonymously. To date, more than 22,000 tips have been received, more than 5,500 in 2019 alone. The top tip categories include suicide threats, bullying, drugs, self-harm, anxiety, stress, depression, and harassment. To send a tip, all you have to do is text OK2SAY.. ...Read Full Story

Search Again Suspended For Missing Teen In Lake Michigan At Holland State Park


There is still no sign of a 16-year-old girl from Flushing who was swept off the pier at Holland State Park on New Year’s Day. Eliza Trainer is presumed drowned, and the search has been suspended due to rough conditions on Lake Michigan several times by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. Trainer was with a friend when they were swept off around 11 p.m. on January 1. He made it out of the water and ran for help. The two had made the long drive from the Flint area to Holland just to see Lake Michigan for the first time. On a GoFundMe page set up for her funeral expenses, it says Kade Goodrich and Trainer clung to each other in the water for about five minutes trying to get to rocks along the shore. As Goodrich was on a rock and holding her hand trying to pull her up, another wave hit and swept her away.. ...Read Full Story

City Of Bridgman Taking Public Input On Parks Plan


The city of Bridgman is taking public input on its next five year parks master plan. A draft is now online and will be available for public viewing through January 20. The five year plan outlines the work needed at area parks for the coming years. It’s necessary for a municipality to have such master plans in order to qualify for certain grants. In the case of Bridgman, much of the parks plan focuses on Weko Beach and the surrounding campgrounds, but it also covers Toth Park and Legion Park. The plan also features requests received through surveys of the public. People suggested things that include wifi at Weko Beach, a beach cam, and improved restrooms. Public comments will be taken on the draft plan at Bridgman City Hall through 6:30 p.m. on the 20th. They can also be emailed to the city parks director.. ...Read Full Story

Donations Being Taken For Foster Kid Scholarships


The Michigan Department of Treasury is inviting everyone to contribute to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund. The fund provides college scholarships to young adults who have experienced foster care and are enrolled at a Michigan college or university. Michigan Education Trust Director Robin Lott tells WSJM News kids in foster care face obstacles to higher education.. ...Read Full Story

Phone Scammers Posing As Utilities


The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan and Consumers Energy are warning business owners of the latest phone scam. Consumers spokesperson Roger Morgenstern tells WSJM News with this one, someone calls a business claiming to represent the utility and claiming a bill is past due. They say the business will have its service shut off if they don’t pay up, usually with a wire transfer or a pre-paid card, quickly. Morgenstern says Consumers Energy will not do that.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews U To Hold Documentary Screening Ahead Of MLK Day


Andrews University in Berrien Springs will host an award winning filmmaker and a screening of his documentary this month in preparation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It says Martin Doblmeier will be at the Howard Performing Arts Center at 11:30 a.m. on January 16 to discuss his documentary, “Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story.” Later that evening, he’ll participate in a screening and panel discussion of the film at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Chapel starting at 7. Born the grandson of slaves, Andrews says Thurman became a “spiritual foundation” for the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring many of its leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. He was a preacher and writer who authored more than 20 books. The discussion and film presentation featuring Martin Doblmeier will be free and open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Oak Ridge Boys To Perform At Berrien County Youth Fair


The Oak Ridge Boys are coming back to the Berrien County Youth Fair this summer. The fair tells us the country group will perform on the grandstand Wednesday, August 19 as the headliner for the festivities. The Oak Ridge Boys have played the Berrien County Youth Fair three times previously, in 1973, 1986, and 1988. The youth fair has not yet announced any of this year’s grandstand events apart from the Oak Ridge Boys. Tickets are already on sale for the performance, and you can get them online, at the fair office in Berrien Springs, or over the phone. This will be the 75th year for the Berrien County Youth Fair.. ...Read Full Story

FIRST Robotics Event At LMC Saturday


This Saturday brings the 2020 season kickoff event for FIRST Robotics at Lake Michigan College. Kickoff Program Planner Tim Dunaj tells WSJM News 23 FIRST Robotics teams from local high schools will be at the Grand Upton Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. to hear from some speakers and to talk with local business owners. At 10:30 there will be a livestream from FIRST Robotics leaders.. ...Read Full Story

Meeting Set For January 15 On Empire Avenue Portion Of I-94/US-31 Connection Project


The long-awaited connection of I-94 and US-31 is slated to get underway next year after decades of delays. The Michigan Department of Transportation says the work will involve building several new bridges, but one street won’t go over the soon-to-be extended section of US-31. MDOT instead is planning a cul-de-sac for Empire Avenue on either side of the highway. The department will hold an open house at the Benton Charter Township office on Territorial Road on Wednesday, January 15 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. The I-94 interchange at Exit 33 will also be rebuilt as part of the connection of the highways. In order to accommodate the change in traffic patterns, MDOT is planning to resurface Britain Avenue from Benton Center Road to Hillandale Road, Hillandale Road from Britain Avenue to Empire Avenue, and Benton Center Road from Empire Avenue to Britain Avenue.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Congressional Delegation Reacts To U.S. Killing Top Iranian General


The reaction from Michigan’s congressional delegation to the killing by the U.S. of Iran’s top general is generally supportive, but also measured. Congressman Fred Upton’s response is that Qassem Soleimani “was the ringleader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military officials and was likely planning more. I look forward to learning more in briefings when I return to Washington from Michigan next week, but I support the President’s reaction thus far in taking Soleimani out,” and ended that tweet with an American flag emoji. Fellow west Michigan Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga says Iran has killed American troops for years, and the action will “demonstrate that the United States will hold Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, accountable.” Independent Justin Amash wrote “Soleimani was evil. But our system demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress.” Suburban Detroit Democrat Andy Levin wrote “There is no question that Qasem Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. I feel no sadness at the news of his death. But I have serious concerns about this President’s execution of a potential act of war without authorization of Congress.”. ...Read Full Story

$75,000 Donation To Spectrum Health Lakeland Pavilion Project


Spectrum Health Lakeland’s new pavilion project has received another boost. Spectrum says Southwestern Medical Clinic providers have donated $75,000 to the atrium dining areas on the basement level of the pavilion. The contribution will help allow for new food stations, modern decor, natural light, and digital menu screens. The cafeteria and new dining area are already open to the public. Southwestern Medical Clinic Physicians Incorporated President Dan Hayward says the group is honored to be able to help support the Lakeland project. So far, community members have donated nearly $7 million in support of the Spectrum Health Lakeland Pavilion. Phase I of project will be finished next month. Phase II, which includes 80,000 square feet of renovated space, is expected to be completed late this year.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Commission Holds First 2020 Meeting


Mac Elliott remains the chair of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners after the body held a brief meeting Thursday to start out the new year. Elliott tells us not much has changed with the structure of the county board. Commissioner Ezra Scott has been named the vice chair for a one year term. Elliott says he was the only nominee for the post. There have been no changes to the committee structures, with Elliott saying all of the same members remain on the same committees as last year. After some discussion, the board opted to schedule five night meetings in 2020. Elliott says some were suggesting four night meetings and some were suggesting six, and so he proposed five as a compromise. Last year, the county commission held seven night meetings. The night meetings will be held between May and September in different locations around Berrien County. The exact dates and locations will be decided later.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Officials Get To Root Of Odor: Rotting Radishes


From the Associated Press — A mid-Michigan community has solved an olfactory mystery that could be dubbed “The Case of the Rancid Radishes.” Residents called officials in Delta Township last month, concerned about a smell they thought might be natural gas or sewer leaks. The Lansing State Journal reports township Manager Brian Reed and his staff got to the, well, root of the problem: rotting radishes. It was the unseemly smell of decomposing daikon radishes, a Japanese root vegetable. They had been planted in fields in the township and surrounding areas as a cover crop after a wet spring. The soil effort appears to be successful, albeit odorous. Consistently colder weather should nip the stench in the bud.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Police Identify St. Joseph River Kayak Accident Victim


Niles Police say the man who died in a kayak accident on the St. Joseph River on New Year’s Day was 40-year-old Jean Claude Mutabazi of South Bend. The three surviving kayakers have been identified as 37-year-old Pierre Celestin of Berkeley, California, 81-year-old Ted Knudson of South Bend, and 72-year-old Tom Lehman of South Bend. Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb says rescue crews spent about four hours looking for Mutabazi.. ...Read Full Story

Home Collapses Due To Lake Michigan Erosion In Muskegon County


Lake Michigan has claimed a Muskegon County home. Erosion from high waves, the high water level, and several storms churning up the lake in recent months ate away enough of the bluff under the cottage in White River Township that the home collapsed and fell to the shore around 11 p.m. Tuesday. The owner will have to pay for the cleanup and says it is her vacation cottage and it had been in the family for generations. When it was built, she says Lake Michigan couldn’t even be seen through the trees between the house and the bluff, which has since been completely washed away. No one was at the home when it happened. Muskegon County officials fear at least one other neighboring house could be falling in very soon.. ...Read Full Story

Crews Searching For Missing Flint-Area Girl In Lake Michigan At Holland State Park


The U.S. Coast Guard and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department are trying to find 16-year-old Eliza Trainer’s body in Lake Michigan. The Flint-area girl was washed off the pier at Holland State Park by a large wave last night along with an 18-year-old man, who was able to get back on shore and went for help. The search was suspended overnight due to high waves of around 12 feet. The sheriff’s office says they’re still not able to use everything they’d normally use in a recovery effort because the water remains too rough. The Coast Guard has brought down a helicopter from Traverse City to aid in the search.. ...Read Full Story

Groups Want Tougher Penalties For Indiana Lake Spill


From the Associated Press — The leaders of 18 environmental and civic groups want U.S. Steel to face tougher penalties over a spill of hazardous substances from a northwestern Indiana plant into Lake Michigan. The groups submitted a letter this month to a federal judge in Hammond arguing that the fine of about $600,000 included in a proposed settlement with the U.S. Justice Department is
inadequate. Federal officials reached the settlement with U.S. Steel in response to an April 2017 spill its Portage, Indiana, plant. That spill involved the release of 902 pounds of the toxic heavy metal hexavalent chromium.. ...Read Full Story

Kayaker Dies In Niles


A kayaker has died after being part of a group that had trouble on the St. Joseph River in Niles on New Year’s Day. Firefighters rescued two of the kayakers, and a third got himself out of the water. Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb says all were wearing life jackets. The fourth man, however, wasn’t able to get out of the river. Crews spent all morning starting around 8:30 looking for the man, and located him at 12:30 p.m. Niles Mayor Nick Shelton posted on Facebook just before 3 that the man had died. The victim’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Couple Has First Baby Born In 2020 In SWMI


The first baby born in southwest Michigan in 2020 didn’t wait too long after the new year began to make his appearance. Ryker Zavoral was born at 12:59 a.m. on January 1 at Lakeland Hospital Niles to Ashley Swisher and Austin Zavoral of Buchanan. The newborn was six pounds, four ounces, and measured 18 and a quarter inches long. As part of the tradition of celebrating the first baby of the new year, the family has been given a gift basket of baby items valued at $100 by the Lakeland Auxiliary.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Orders Review Of Inspections Regarding Highway Ooze


From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered Michigan’s environmental agency to review its pollution-inspection procedures and says her administration is reviewing if criminal charges can be filed after the discovery of a green substance along Interstate 696 in suburban Detroit. She called the ooze “very concerning” Monday. She says the situation shows the need for “broad reforms” to address underfunding and understaffing at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Whitmer is urging lawmakers to better fund the agency and to pass legislation ensuring polluters pay for cleanup. The substance is groundwater contaminated by industrial waste from a closed-down electroplating shop.. ...Read Full Story

Applications For Redistricting Commission Mailed Out


The Michigan Secretary of State’s office has mailed out 250,000 applications to the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to randomly selected voters. It’s the next step in a process to create Michigan’s first citizens redistricting commission, also one of the nation’s first, that voters approved in November 2018 as Proposal 2 to amend the Michigan Constitution. The 250,000 applications sent out in December went to voters who expressed an interest in serving on the commission, which will draw the state’s legislative districts for both the Michigan Legislature and Congress. When seated, the commission is supposed to consist of 13 members, four Democrats, four Republicans, and five unaffiliated voters. Applications for the commission can be found at RedistrictingMichigan.org and application workshops are being held across the state. In June of 2020, 200 semifinalists will be randomly selected from the pool of applicants. From there, the applicants will be further whittled down. The deadline for the commission to adopt a redistricting plan for Michigan’s districts is November 1, 2021.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Council To Interview Manager Applications


The Three Oaks Village Council will interview three candidates for the job of village manager next week. The village says on its Facebook page Kevin Gillette, Patricia Rayl, and James Toth are the finalists out of more than 40 applications that came in for the manager job. The three will be interviewed at the regular meeting of the Three Oaks Village Council on Wednesday, January 8. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. In the meantime, the council is taking public input on topics to be discussed with the candidates. They can be emailed to the village or submitted via Facebook. Questions from the public will not be taken during Wednesday’s meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Getting A Biggby Coffee


A Biggby Coffee location is coming to Stevensville. Construction is underway now on the “B Cubed” Biggby, as it will be called. B Cubed locations are smaller Biggby establishments with no walk-in service. It will be drive-through only. The Biggby will be located on the same property as the Meijer store, behind the Meijer gas station. There is no word yet on when the Stevensville Biggby will open, but since the building has a pre-fab plan, it is not expected to take long. Biggby Coffee was first established nearly 25 years ago in East Lansing, and has since developed into a chain of more than 270 locations.. ...Read Full Story

State Distributing Food In Flint


To help residents of Flint offset the negative health effects of lead, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is distributing nutrient-rich food in the community. The department says the mobile food pantry sites distribute foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, and iron. Potatoes, carrots, and onions are among the produce the state is making available. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has provided the Flint mobile food pantries since February 2016 in partnership with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint. There are several pick up points throughout the city planned through mid-January.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw State Police Post Welcomes New Troopers


The Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw has welcomed two new troopers. State police say Troopers Chad Burnside and Larnell Hill graduated from the 136th Trooper Recruit School on December 20, and were assigned to Paw Paw. After leaving the 25 week recruit school, the two started in Paw Paw on December 26. From there, they were to go through a 17 week training period with a field training officer, after which they would go on solo patrols. Burnside is from Byron Center, while Hill is from Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Minimum Wage Increases January 1 In Michigan


Minimum wage in Michigan is going up tomorrow. Currently $9.45 an hour, it will rise to $9.65 on January 1 and up to $9.87 on New Year’s Day 2021. For tipped employees, the wage will go from $3.59 to $3.67 tomorrow and up to $3.75 in 2021. The changes were approved the Legislature during the lame duck session in 2018 after passing and later amending a citizen petition that would have boosted the minimum wage to $10 and to $12 in 2022. The $12 level won’t be reached until 2030 under the changes.. ...Read Full Story

Public Policy League: Much Left To Be Done With Budget

Michigan heads into 2020 with a months-long budget impasse behind it, but some analysts contend unresolved funding issues still need attention. Recently signed supplemental spending bills restored budget dollars from K-12 and higher education, public safety, and rural healthcare. Alex Rossman with the Michigan League for Public Policy says lawmakers did not act to save the 10 Cents a Meal Program, which pairs farms and schools to ensure kids have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s not all he says is lacking.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Collects Five Tons Of Food


More than 10,000 pounds of food was collected this year through the Michigan Secretary of State’s Harvest Gathering food drive. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the long-running program is just one way Michigan residents come together to fight hunger. The Sparta branch office of the Secretary of State ranked first in food collection, bringing in more than 7,000 pounds of donations. The Hastings office collected 541 pounds of food, and the Petoskey office collected 127 pounds. Harvest Gathering collection boxes were placed in Secretary of State offices and some other state office buildings throughout the fall food drive. The Harvest Gathering started in 1999. The drive this year also resulted in the collection of more than $1,600.. ...Read Full Story

FEMA To Hold Coastal Flood Map Open House January 14


Berrien County residents are being invited to a Flood Map Information Open House in Benton Harbor on January 14 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the Benton Harbor Public Library and put on by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA representatives will be discussing the recently completed preliminary Flood Insurance Study, and its accompanying preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those designate areas that are subject to significant flood hazards along the shoreline areas of the county. Once the maps take effect, they’ll be used to base flood insurance ratings and as the basis for local flood protection regulations under the National Flood Insurance Program.. ...Read Full Story

Shoreline Protection Going In Along St. Joseph Shore


Work is underway along the coast in St. Joseph to install limestone boulders to protect several homes between Lions Park Beach and Silver Beach County Park. As high waves crashed along the beach and eroded more sand on Monday, crews were racing against the water to put in the stone. The city and two homeowners reached an agreement in mid-December allowing them to move forward with placing long-term shore protection on city property along the shore, just south of Park Street and the same agreement was made available to other property owners in the area. The property owners are footing the bill for the shoreline protection. The city commission also directed staff to obtain designs and work to install coordinating shore protection at the ends of First, Second and Third streets. The designs in these locations are meant to preserve public access to Lake Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Close Out 150th Year With Downtown NYE Party


South Haven is closing out its sesquicentennial celebration on New Year’s Eve. The party will start with an early evening Youth Celebration at the South Haven Center for the Arts and will close out the city’s commemoration of 150 years with a beach ball drop at the corner of Phoenix and Center streets. In between, the South Haven Ice Rink will be open with free admission to the first 250 skaters, and a DJ will start spinning tunes at 8 p.m. at Phoenix and Center. The winner of the South Haven 150 Photo Scavenger Photo Hunt will also be announced late in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

Extra Police Patrols Continue


Michigan State Police have stepped up patrols to make the roads safer this week and next week. Operation Care will mean additional highway enforcement through the end of the New Year’s period. The traffic initiative is a cooperative effort with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and hundreds of police agencies across the United States. That includes the Michigan State Police post in Niles. According to the NHTSA, 839 people were killed as a result of crashes involving a drunk driver in December of last year. During last year’s Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday period, there were more drunk driving-related fatalities — 285 — nationwide than during all other holiday periods. In addition to watching out for drunk drivers, police are keeping their eyes open for distracted drivers and those under the influence of marijuana. If you’re going out to a New Year’s celebration, remember to arrange for a ride or simply don’t drink.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition Praises Law Establishing New State Coalition

The Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition is cheering final approval this month of a new law that will set up a statewide Suicide Prevention Coalition. Governor Whitmer signed the bill on December 20. Efforts to set up the Commission and get it working will start after lawmakers return to Lansing in January. The Berrien County organization is encouraging people to contact them or other such organizations with ideas on who to nominate for the statewide group.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Seeks Input On BH Schools


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

County Commission Asked To Help Pave Section Of Road


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 a meeting this month. 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

City To Consider Tax Break For Development


Benton Harbor City Commissioners are slated to consider a tax break for a new development along Riverview Drive next month. The city commission will hold a public hearing on January 21 to talk about establishing a Commercial Rehabilitation District at 825 Riverview Drive. The developer is Chicago Industrial Real Estate, LLC, and the property is where All Phase electric used to be. It’s about six acres in total. If the city commission grants the Commercial Rehabilitation District for the parcel, its developer would have the taxes frozen on it for ten years. The Benton Harbor City Commission will review the matter during its regular meeting on January 21, and if commissioners agree, they would consider it again on February 3.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Create Incentive For Migrant Farm Workers


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 this month 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

New Poverty Task Force Launched By Governor


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

Court Affirms Conviction In Gas Station Clerk’s Murder


From the Associated Press — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the conviction of a man in the disappearance and death of a gas station clerk in western Michigan. The court says some evidence found at Jeffrey Willis’ home should have been excluded at trial. But the court says it doesn’t outweigh other “strong untainted evidence” that showed Willis was responsible for Jessica Heeringa’s death. Heeringa disappeared in 2013 while working at a gas station in Norton Shores in Muskegon County. Her body hasn’t been found. Willis also is serving a life sentence for the fatal shooting of Rebekah Bletsch, who was killed while jogging.. ...Read Full Story

Lecture Series Coming To St. Joseph


Coming to the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library in St. Joseph this winter will be an award winning lecture series put on by Calvin University. From January 8 through January 28, the library will be one of 60 remote webcast locations worldwide to broadcast Calvin’s January Series. A few of the notable names in the 2020 lineup will include journalist Ann Compton, columnist Mitch Albom, and author Jonathan Haidt. The 15 speakers slated to be part of the January Series will discuss issues that include poverty and hunger, the global water crisis, immigration, mass incarceration, religious freedom, and big data. The January Series lectures will be video streamed live at Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The lectures will be free and open to the public. Everyone is invited to stop by and listen in.. ...Read Full Story

Ads For OK2SAY Tipline Running In Movie Theaters


Michigan’s OK2SAY tipline is now appearing on the big screen. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says OK2SAY advertisements are running in movie theaters throughout the state this season. Three different OK2SAY messages began airing on 372 screens in 48 different movie theaters earlier this month and are expected to be seen by more than 1.1 million students and their families. AG Dana Nessel says reaching students when they are outside of the classroom is an important part of the OK2SAY message, and her office wants to remind them they can step up and speak out when they learn of something potentially harmful. She adds, “whether it’s a bully or a friend contemplating self-harm,” it really is OK2SAY. The OK2SAY tipline was launched in 2014 as a way for students to speak up anonymously. To date, more than 22,000 tips have been received, more than 5,500 in 2019 alone. The top tip categories include suicide threats, bullying, drugs, self-harm, anxiety, stress, depression, and harassment. To send a tip, all you have to do is text OK2SAY.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Dunes National Park Eyes Erosion-Fighting Sand Traps


From the Associated Press — The National Park Service and a northwestern Indiana town will install sand traps along the Lake Michigan shoreline to combat beach erosion at the Indiana Dunes National Park. The federal agency was scheduled to begin working Friday with the town of Beverly Shores to fill 300 linear feet of sand traps at the national park. Officials are asking the public to steer clear of the area as heavy equipment is used to install and fill the sand traps. The park has 15 miles of shoreline. Park officials say Lake Michigan’s water level remains “well above the long-term average.”. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Missed Fewest Votes In 2019 Since Mackinac Center Began Tracking In 2001-02

Zero. That’s the number of votes missed in 2019 by state Representatives Beth Griffin, Brad Paquette, Pauline Wendzel, and Mary Whiteford along with area state Senators Kim LaSata and Aric Nesbitt. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganVotes.org tracks the voting record of all members of the state House and Senate, and says 2019 was a record year for the fewest number of votes that were missed with 768 between the two chambers. That’s down sharply from when the website was launched and 21,162 votes were missed by lawmakers in the 2001-2002 session.. ...Read Full Story

Tickets Available Next Week For 5th Annual St. Joe Winter Beer Fest


We’re less than a month away from the fifth annual St. Joe Winter Beer Fest. St. Joseph Today’s Danielle Crevier tells WSJM tickets will go on sale next Thursday, January 2 at 10 a.m. at their welcome center downtown and both over the phone and in person at the Mendel Center box office at Lake Michigan College. The fest will be held at the corner of Broad Street and Lake Boulevard.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw-Area Home Destroyed By Fire


A home in Antwerp Township near Paw Paw is a total loss after a fire last evening. Firefighters from Paw Paw, Lawton, and Mattawan battled the flames in the 5000 block of 30th Street starting just before 7. Flames were shooting through the roof when they arrived. No one was hurt, and firefighters were able to rescue three dogs that were inside the house. There’s no word yet on the cause of the fire.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Gets Kidney From Husband On Christmas Eve


From the Associated Press — Here’s a Christmas gift you’d never forget: a kidney. WOOD-TV reports that doctors in Detroit removed a kidney from Logan Bosselaar on Christmas Eve and transplanted it to his wife, Vanessa. They live in the Grand Rapids area. The surgery had been in the works for weeks. Doctors were surprised that Logan was a perfect transplant match for his 24-year-old wife, who has a serious kidney disease. Vanessa says her husband is “now a piece of me.”. ...Read Full Story