Local News Archives

Upton Backing PFAS Legislation

Congressman Fred Upon on Wednesday addressed the House Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change as it discussed ways the federal government can respond to PFAS contamination in water systems around the county. Upton tells WSJM News recent experiences in Michigan have put the state at the forefront of the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Tire Collection Event This Week

There will be a free tire collection event this Friday in Benton Harbor. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us city residents only can drop off unwanted tires at at Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Staff will be there to check IDs to be sure everyone dropping off tires really lives in the city. Tires will only accepted by residents, and not businesses. There is a ten tire per resident limit, and the drive is only taking passenger tires, and not large commercial vehicle tires. Police note cameras will be set up at the park to detect after hours dumpers, and violators will be ticketed. This is for city residents only.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Superintendent Interviewing For New Position

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera isn’t the only southwest Michigan school leader pursuing another job. St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon is interviewing for a superintendent position in Traverse City. Cardon is one of six candidates selected for the interview at Traverse City Area Public Schools. The interview is set for Saturday, May 18, according to The Traverse City Ticker. The school board in Traverse City will pick its finalists for superintendent on May 20. Cardon has been with St. Joe since 2012.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall Focuses On Gun Violence

A town hall meeting was held Tuesday in Lansing to talk gun violence. It was part of a nationwide tour hosted by a group called Guns Down America, which also stopped in Flint Monday night. Topics of discussion included two bills. The first, House Bill 4283, a “red flag” bill, would allow police to remove guns from a person who threatens violence if family or friends petition a judge. Linda Brundage with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence says it would prevent many tragedies.. ...Read Full Story

Senator LaSata Introduces Bill To Honor County Court Officers Killed In 2016

A bill is pending in the state Senate to update Michigan law to allow the names of the two Berrien County Courthouse officers killed in July 2016 to be added to the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument. Currently, the names of security supervisor Joseph Zangaro and court officer Ron Kienzle are not allowed to be added because while they were killed in the line of duty, they had retired from Michigan State Police and the Benton Charter Township Police Department, respectively. Senator Kim LaSata has introduced the bill, doing so on Peace Officers Memorial Day. Zangaro and Kienzle are both included on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. They were killed when an inmate tried to escape custody outside the courtroom of the senator’s husband, Judge Charles LaSata, in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien RESA Superintendent Rated Highly Effective, Gets Contract Extension

Berrien RESA Superintendent Dr. Kevin Ivers is getting another year added to his contract until June 30, 2022 following an exceptional performance review. The board of education rated Dr. Ivers’ “highly effective” in all five areas of governance and board relations, stakeholder relations, employee relations, educational leadership, and operations and finance. Board president Sharon Kalling adds the “highly effective” evaluation doesn’t adequately express how highly they feel about the superintendent. The board complimented Dr. Ivers on his management of the district’s budget, his innovative thinking relative to shared business, technology and human resources services, as well as his successful implementation of a multi-year renovation project at Blossomland Learning Center. He has led Berrien RESA since the fall of 2010 after spending nine years as the superintendent of Bridgman Public Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs Legislation Intended To Reduce Drug Prices

Reducing the cost of prescription drugs is the aim of legislation approved by the U.S. House last week. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the Orange Book Transparency Act and the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 are intended to require drug makers to submit information about their medications in a more timely fashion. He says the Orange Book contains detailed information about drugs as they’ve been tested and approved.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools CEO Addresses Interview With Other District

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera has apologized to the board of education for a communication breakdown involving his pursuit of a position with another district. At Tuesday’s district CEO meeting, Herrera said he was surprised to learn his interview this week for the superintendent position at Farmington Public Schools was news to Benton Harbor board trustees. He told WSJM News he had informed the board’s legal counsel, and thought the word would be passed along.. ...Read Full Story

Donation For Turf At Lakeshore High School

A major donation to Lakeshore Public Schools will make it possible for the district to install new synthetic turf at Al Stockman Stadium this year. The Herald Palladium reports the district announced this week $410,000 is being given to it by Bob and Betty Kohn of Royalton Township. The district will now be able to put in the new turf this year instead of next year, which had been the plan. According to The Herald Palladium, this isn’t the first time the Kohns have made a sizable donation to Lakeshore schools. They previously gave more than $1 million to the district for the softball field at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Seeking To Stuff A Bus With School Supplies

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is asking everyone to pitch in to help make sure kids have backpacks and the supplies they need for the next school year. The organization’s Julee Laurent tells WSJM News they’ll be at the Benton Harbor Walmart this Friday and Saturday looking to stuff a school bus. They’re working with Honor Credit Union and local police so the items can be distributed this summer. Laurent says you can go to the Walmart and look for the volunteers near the gardening section.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Event This Sunday At Warren Dunes State Park

Volunteers are invited out to Warren Dunes State Park this Sunday to help with the removal of invasive plants. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us those who come out will be removing garlic mustard, a pesky invasive that threatens habitat. Volunteers will pull invasive plants from areas off-trail, sometimes in hard to reach locations. Therefore, they are urged to wear hiking shoes, long sleeves, and pants. Everyone will meet at 1 p.m. at the organizational campground parking area on Floral Lane. The event will run through 4 p.m. You can find out more at the DNR’s volunteer event calendar.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Woman Killed In Crash Identified

A 28-year-old woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. She has been identified as Ashley Rae Grubb of Berrien Springs. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

Disaster Drill Planned In Lawrence

A mock disaster drill is planned for Lawrence tomorrow. Emergency service agencies from Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties will be helping students from the fire academy, emergency medical technician and law enforcement classes. This is the 19th year for the mock disaster drill, which is the capstone project for students. Instructors have a special disaster being planned, with realistic surprises awaiting those taking part. An Air Care helicopter will be on hand helping the students load the victims to be airlifted to Bronson and Borgess hospitals in Kalamazoo. Cosmetology students are also involved to make the injuries look as realistic as possible. The drill will be on the grounds of Van Buren Tech tomorrow, but the precise location and full nature of the disaster are not being revealed.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Early Morning Crash In St. Joseph

A 28-year-old Berrien Springs woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated. The woman’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Rejects Claim Over Rosa Parks Coat

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a dispute over a coat that belonged to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. The court rejected an appeal Monday. A lawyer for the trustee of Parks’ estate says relatives reneged on a deal to turn over a wool coat that Parks wore when she was arrested on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955. But a niece insists she doesn’t have the coat.
Steven Cohen turned to the Supreme Court after exhausting appeals in Michigan courts. Despite the loss, he predicts the “controversy will continue.” In 2014, the foundation of philanthropist Howard Buffett purchased hundreds of Parks’ personal belongings for $4.5 million, without the coat. Cohen says Buffett subsequently donated them to the Library of Congress. Parks died in 2005.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commissioners Get Tax Abatement Tutorial

Tax abatements have been a bit of a hot topic at St. Joseph City Commission meetings in the past few months, with some commissioners expressing concern about whether offering such incentives for companies to expand or locate here is a good long-term move. To explain it further, the city brought in Cornerstone Alliance president and CEO Rob Cleveland for a lesson. Commissioners said they understand the pros, but wanted his take on the cons of incentives.. ...Read Full Story

Open House Next Week For US-31 Completion Project

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning an open house next week for everyone to learn more about plans to finish the US-31 connection to I-94. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’ll get to work on the $111 million project starting next year. The plan is to make it possible to take US-31 to 94 without having to get off on Napier Avenue, as you do now.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Pick Up Trash In Benton Harbor

A community cleanup in Benton Harbor this weekend has resulted in a whole lot of trash being collected. Mayor Marcus Muhammad writes on his Facebook page items including “boats, toilets, couches, mattresses, plywood, tires, refrigerators, stoves, chairs” and more were brought to Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. City staff tell us they are working to remove all of the debris. The mayor says some people have complained about how it looks, but he has learned “you cannot please everyone.” Muhammad said he’s been assured everything would be picked up quickly, and he asked that no further items be dropped off.. ...Read Full Story

4H Cleanup Of Lake Michigan Beach This Month

The Van Buren Voyagers 4-H Club is planning a beach cleanup along Lake Michigan for this month, and everyone’s invited to help. The club’s Envirothon Teams will be at the Casco Township Nature Preserve in South Haven on May 28 starting at 4 p.m. They’ll be picking up trash and logging it for research purposes. The Great Lakes Water Alliance estimates 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year. Right now, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary hosts the only National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fresh water debris assessment. They’ll collect and study the amount and types of trash that wash up on the shore at the Casco Township Nature Preserve beach. Volunteers of all ages are invited to go and help with the 4H cleanup. You can register at GreatLakes.org.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools CEO Interviewing For Superintendent Post In Farmington This Week

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is looking for employment elsewhere. He’s scheduled to be interviewed for the position of superintendent of Farmington Public Schools in the Detroit area on Wednesday night. Herrera is one of seven candidates being interviewed for that post this week. Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education Trustee Joseph Taylor told our newsgathering partners at WSBT the news is shocking, given that Herrera still has three years on his contract.. ...Read Full Story

Report: 3M Covered Up PFAS Information For Decades

Accusations of decades of a cover-up are being thrown at Minnesota-based 3M over PFAS. Attorney Nicholas Coulson is representing the city of Parchment in its class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia Pacific, and says a “Detroit Free Press” investigation has found internal documents showing 3M covered up the health and environmental effects from the chemicals dating back to the 1950s.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Resurface M-43 In Van Buren County Between Bangor & Waverly Township

Orange barrels will line M-43 in Van Buren County for 13-and-a-half miles starting next Monday. The Michigan Department of Transportation will start a resurfacing project between Bangor and Waverly Township on May 20, and it’s expected to wrap up on Friday, June 28. Crews will be doing $2.3 million worth of work to repave the highway and work on sidewalk ramps, pavement markings and make curb and gutter improvements. One lane will remain open in each direction during construction.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Take Unexpected Dip

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are down about 11¢ from a week ago to about $2.80 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for regular is about 13¢ less than a year ago. AAA described the drop as a surprise and said it could be a result of unpredictable weather curbing demand. Typically, gas prices rise heading toward the Memorial Day holiday. The state’s highest average was about $2.85 a gallon in the Marquette area, the lowest is in Flint at $2.71. Prices locally in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are averaging $2.79, down 11¢ from last week. In South Haven, GasBuddy puts the average even lower, coming in at $2.69.. ...Read Full Story

LGBTQ Civil Rights Town Hall This Month

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is planning to host a town hall this month on discrimination faced by LGBTQ Michiganders and the protections they have. Set for May 16 at Lake Michigan College, the presentation will feature guest speaker Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Michigan. He’ll talk about case law and current policy developments, and also take questions. The event is being held as part of the OutCenter VOICES program. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell says she often hears from people who want to know about the protections in place for them, and this will be a chance for many to learn more. The town hall will be Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Todd Center.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Open House Coming Up In Niles

The public will have another chance next week to weigh in on the Berrien County Parks Department’s plans for the next few years with two open houses next week. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News earlier this spring the department is working on its master plan for 2020 through 2024. The plan outlines what developments could be coming to Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River County Parks.. ...Read Full Story

Program Helps Seniors Get Free Hearing Aids

A new program has been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation to give free hearing aids to low-income seniors. The foundation’s Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News the Starkey Hearing Foundation is expanding to Berrien County this year thanks to the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. As part of the Hear Now Mission, the BCF is working with Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph to get these hearing aids to those in need.. ...Read Full Story