Local News Archives

AAA: State Gas Price Average Falls 15¢

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide have dropped about 15¢ from a week ago at about $2.75 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for regular unleaded is about 27¢ less than a year ago as higher stock levels of gasoline make up for higher demand. AAA says the state’s highest average was in Marquette at around $2.83. The lowest price was in the Lansing area at roughly $2.69 per gallon. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area has the state’s second-highest average price at $2.78. South Haven’s prices according to GasBuddy average $2.56. That part of our area is not included in AAA’s weekly survey.. ...Read Full Story

$313,000 In Pokagon Fund Grants Announced

The Pokagon Fund has announced more than $300,000 in grants to organizations around southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana. In total, $313,000 was approved by the Pokagon Fund Board of Directors at the fund’s final quarterly meeting of the year. The grants are grouped into the categories of education, poverty reduction, and community vitality. They go to non-profits in Harbor Country as well as Dowagiac and Hartford, and South Bend. Among the grants are $100,000 in Pokagon Fund scholarships, $15,000 to Hartford Public Schools for second and third grade libraries, and $58,000 to the village of Grand Beach for the preservation of 42 acres of forest.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Bill Would Protect Scholarships For BHHS Students

State Senator Kim LaSata has introduced legislation designed to ensure students at Benton Harbor High School still receive their promise zone scholarships if circumstances cause them to graduate from another high school in the area. LaSata says “Benton Harbor students are facing an uncertain future in which their high school may close or the entire school district may be dissolved.” She adds regardless of what happens, it’s important to preserve the promise scholarship opportunity for eligible students in either scenario. Senate Bill 359 would ensure eligible Benton Harbor High School students get their scholarship through the Benton Harbor Promise regardless of which school in Berrien RESA’s service area they might graduate from. The plan is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Secretary Of State Office Moving For The Summer

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office in Dowagiac is being moved to another location while renovations are done this summer. The office on Front Street will shut down at the end of Tuesday, June 11, and the new temporary office will open on June 17 at the administrative offices of Lewis Cass Intermediate School District on Dailey Road in Cassopolis. That temporary location will be open for customers while a roof replacement and work on the exterior of the Dowagiac office is done. While the Dowagiac office is moved to the temporary Cassopolis location, it will be closed completely. That will be from June 12 to June 17. During that time, customers are encouraged to use Secretary of State online services, or go to the offices in Benton Harbor, Niles, or Paw Paw.. ...Read Full Story

Road Repair Grants Announced For Buchanan, Lawrence

The Michigan Department of Transportation has announced more road construction grants for communities around southwest Michigan. The money is going to Buchanan, Lawrence, and Cassopolis. MDOT’s Michael Leon tells WSJM News it comes from the Community Service Infrastructure Fund program, focused on road work in communities with less than 10,000 people.. ...Read Full Story

PGA Issues Statement Following Mayor’s Social Media Post

The PGA has issued a statement following controversial remarks made by Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad this week on social media. On Thursday, Muhammad wrote “No High School in the City of Benton Harbor, No Kitchen Aid Senior PGA Tournament in the City of Benton Harbor.” The post came a day after Governor Gretchen Whitmer defended her administration’s proposal to suspend operations at Benton Harbor High School. In response to the mayor’s comment, Senior PGA Championship Director Ryan Ogle has issued the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Strong Summer Job Market Predicted For Teens

Things are looking good for teenagers who want to find work this summer. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget has released its annual summer teen employment forecast, finding there will be significant opportunities this year for those teenagers who want to make some bucks. The agency estimates about 208,000 Michigan teens between 16 and 19 will find jobs this summer. In addition, another 38,000 teens will be actively seeking jobs but without success, making for a teen unemployment rate of 15%. The state advises teens who want to work this summer to start looking early, keep looking even if unsuccessful at first, visit local businesses, and tell friends and family about the search. The most common sectors of employment for teens are arts and entertainment, recreation, accommodations, and food services. Good Summer Employment Prospects For Teens This Year. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Announce Grant To South Haven

The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors has announced its latest Placemaking Grant, and it’s going to the city of South Haven. The grant of $2,600 will be used to provide four ADA-compliant swings in four city parks. They are Kids’ Corner, Tot Lot Optimist Park, South Beach, and North Beach. The swings will accommodate children and young adults with special needs. They include armrests and footrests, and park staff will be working with local realtors to install them. South Haven grant writer Deb Davidson says the new swings will provide an activity for special needs children in the parks that they currently don’t have. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Placemaking Grant program is designed to help communities transform unused spaces. Other Placemaking grants have allowed for a dog park in Baroda and a small park in St. Joseph Township.. ...Read Full Story

Reserve Deputy Running From Detroit To St. Joseph

To raise awareness about police officers who have been killed in the line of duty, a Kent County reserve sheriff’s deputy is running all the way from Detroit to St. Joseph. Matt Garbarino started his run on Friday, and plans to wrap it up Monday at the Berrien County Law Enforcement Memorial. He’s carrying a blue line flag representing fallen police. Updates on his progress are being posted online. Garbarino said Friday afternoon he was getting plenty of support from people waving at him. Garbarino is a St. Joseph High School graduate. He also did his Run Across Michigan for Fallen Officers last year. You can learn more at RunAcrossMI.com.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Reminds Everyone Of Summer Tick Dangers

The Berrien County Health Department wants everyone to be aware of the dangers of ticks, and how to avoid them this summer. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News ticks spread Lyme disease, which typically appears with a tell-tale “bull’s eye rash.” She says if you’re outdoors this summer, you should check yourself for ticks when you get home. Know where ticks are likely to grab on to you.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Promoting Beach Smoking Ban

The city of South Haven is stepping up enforcement of its smoking ban at city parks and beaches. The South Haven City Council approved the ban last July, and the city now says it’s installing signage this year, and also working to inform the public via social media and notices through other entities. The South Haven Parks Commission recommended the ban in October of 2017 after hearing too many complaints about smoking, which included butts littering the beaches. You can expect to hear more about the ban throughout the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Woman Killed In Crash

A 27-year-old Paw Paw woman has died after crashing her car into a tree late Thursday night in Pine Grove Township. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says the crash happened shortly before midnight in the 27-thousand block of 20th Avenue. The woman died after being taken to the hospital, and it’s not known if she was wearing a seat belt. She was believed to have been drinking prior to the wreck. Police don’t know what caused her to go off the road and hit the tree, and her name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Graduates 403

403 students were graduated from Southwestern Michigan College at its 52nd annual commencement last month. SMC says it awarded 158 associate in arts degrees, 35 associate in acience degrees, 171 associate in applied science degrees, and 39 certificates at the event at the Zollar Building. Additionally, Ferris State University conferred 42 bachelor’s degrees to students that day. SMC says among the grads were four students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. The latest class of graduates comes from all over Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.. ...Read Full Story

Graduation For West Michigan Veterans Court Monday

The West Michigan Regional Veterans Court will hold its 14th graduation ceremony on Monday, and presiding will be Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack. The West Michigan Regional Veterans Court covers Allegan, Ottawa, and Van Buren counties, and was set up about four years ago. That’s according to Van Buren County District Judge William Baillargeon, who spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Board Not Commenting On CEO Departure, State Offer

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education met on Thursday to take care of some housekeeping, but questions linger about what’s next for the school district. Speaking with us after the session where the board voted to seek its state aid anticipation note, Vice President Joseph Taylor couldn’t comment on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s offer of another week for the board to decide on a proposal to suspend operations at the high school in exchange for debt relief.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Deputy Chief Retiring

The deputy chief and fire marshal for South Haven Area Emergency Services will serve his final day on duty this Friday. SHAES says Tony Marsala is retiring after 34 years with the department. His career has taken him from Covert to South Haven Township, and then to the South Haven Fire Department, which is now SHAES, starting in 1985. Marsala decided to become a first responder at a young age, starting out as an EMT and training to be a firefighter while he was still in high school. He was the South Haven Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year in 1989, and promoted to captain in 2008. He’s been deputy chief and fire inspector since 2010.. ...Read Full Story

Pesticide Collection Event This Month

This month will bring a chance for anyone in Berrien County to rid themselves of unneeded pesticides. Berrien County Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells WSJM News a Clean Sweep pesticide collection day will be Wednesday, June 26. You have to register at least two weeks in advance. She says it’s a free way for anyone to get rid of old pesticides so they don’t wind up in the environment. Last year’s two summer events collected more than 27,000 pounds of pesticides.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs Program For Mentally Ill Showing Progress

The employment rate is going up in Michigan for those suffering from a major mental illness and getting one form of state help. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin says the latest report shows in 2018 there was 30% employment among those who received Individual Placement and Support services, compared to an employment rate of 10% in 2016. Sutfin says Individual Placement and Support services, or IPS, is a state program that helps people living with behavioral health conditions find jobs.. ...Read Full Story

Mayor: No High School, No Senior PGA

A day after Governor Gretchen Whitmer came to Benton Harbor and defended her administration’s plans to close Benton Harbor High School, Mayor Marcus Muhammad has made an apparent call for the Senior PGA Championship to be disrupted. The PGA event is slated to be held at Harbor Shores next May. On his Facebook page Thursday, Muhammad wrote “No High School in the City of Benton Harbor, No Kitchen Aid Senior PGA Tournament in the City of Benton Harbor.” He also posted the hashtags WhitmerGetUp, redistribute the pain, and education 1st. Muhammad told The Herald Palladium, “The Facebook post is exactly what it says. If there’s no support to keep Benton Harbor High School in the city of Benton Harbor, then there’s no support for the Senior PGA, a Steelhead Triathlon or any other grand excursion where people want to come and turn Benton Harbor into a haven for the rich and powerful while the children in the community wallow in hell.” The Herald Palladium posted the mayor’s response on its own Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Republicans Want Sales Tax At Pump To Go To Roads

From the Associated Press — Republicans who control Michigan’s House are proposing to boost road spending by dedicating the state’s 6 percent sales tax at the pump to the transportation budget. Much of that money now goes to schools and municipalities. A House plan
unveiled Thursday and given initial approval by a subcommittee would gradually earmark all of the sales tax on motor fuel to road construction. It is House Republicans’ response to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s call to increase fuel taxes by 45-cents-a-gallon to raise roughly $2 billion more for roads. Republicans say the move would avoid a tax increase. They are pledging to not hurt schools and municipalities that depend on the sales tax revenue, but Democrats question how that is possible and say the plan would not raise nearly
enough for roads.. ...Read Full Story

John James Running For Senate

From the Associated Press — Republican businessman John James of Michigan says he will challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in 2020 in a key state for President Donald Trump’s re-election chances. James is the 37-year-old African American combat veteran and CEO of an automotive logistics company in Detroit. He lost to longtime Senator Debbie Stabenow last year but did better than expected, considering he started as a political unknown and the race was never prioritized as a battleground by the national GOP in a successful year for Michigan Democrats. James announced his candidacy Thursday. He tells The Associated Press he wants to “help people” because there’s much work to be done healing the country and unifying Michigan. He says he will donate a nickel of every dollar his campaign raises to charity.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Warning On Children And Heatstroke

With summer about here, Michigan State Police are reminding everyone of the dangers of leaving kids in cars, if even for just a few minutes. Police say 44 children died from heatstroke after being left in cars nationwide in 2013, noting the temperature in a parked vehicle can rise 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke, and so police say you should never leave one in a parked car for any length of time. The MSP recommends parents leave themselves a note in the car reminding them of this, to keep a bag or other item in the backseat so they’ll look back before walking away, and to ask their daycare providers to call if their child doesn’t arrive on time. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Gives BHAS Board Another Week Regarding High School Future

There is a slight reprieve for the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education regarding the future of Benton Harbor High School. During a two-plus hour town hall at the Brotherhood of All Nations Church Tuesday evening, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the board will get more time to either approve the state’s proposal to suspend the operation of Benton Harbor High School or deliver her a viable counter proposal.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Proposes Legislation to Protect Benton Harbor Promise Scholarships

State Senator Kim LaSata has introduced legislation designed to ensure students at Benton Harbor High School still receive their promise zone scholarships if circumstances cause them to graduate from another high school in the area. LaSata says “Benton Harbor students are facing an uncertain future in which their high school may close or the entire school district may be dissolved.” She adds regardless of what happens, it’s important to preserve the promise scholarship opportunity for eligible students in either scenario. Senate Bill 359 would ensure eligible Benton Harbor High School students get their scholarship through the Benton Harbor Promise regardless of which school in Berrien RESA’s service area they might graduate from. The plan is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.. ...Read Full Story