Local News Archives

Upton: Help Available For Farmers

Congressman Fred Upton is welcoming news 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 last week, it came.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Men Convicted By Federal Jury In Crystal Meth Operation

Four Benton Harbor men who were part of a 24-member crystal meth ring are facing up to life in prison when sentenced next year. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge says a federal jury in Grand Rapids found Darrell Summers the Second, Daryl Cannon, Timothy Mason, and Tremain Braxton guilty of multiple drug charges after a 10-day trial. Of the 24 people involved in bringing in meth from California and Arizona to southwest Michigan, 19 pleaded guilty and five were convicted by a jury. Birge says the operation sold meth all over the region from 2016 to 2018. During the investigation, police intercepted three shipments with a total of 14 pounds of crystal meth that was between 96% and 99% pure, with a street value of almost $100,000. Summers, Cannon, and Mason face minimum sentences of 10 years, while Braxton’s minimum sentence will be 15 years due to a previous drug conviction.. ...Read Full Story

Staircase At Harbert Beach To Remain Closed Pending Repairs Or Replacement

Harbert Beach in Chikaming Township could be closed indefinitely as the Chikaming Township Parks Board has decided the staircase leading down to Lake Michigan should remain closed until repairs can be made or a replacement can be built. The township shut down the staircase last month because its foundations were damaged by the high waves and high water level. The Chikaming Township Parks, Preserves, and Beaches Facebook page says the parks board met Saturday to discuss what to do about Harbert Beach, and decided the staircase is too dangerous to reopen at this time. On hand for the meeting was Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, who briefed the board on his efforts to get a disaster declaration for the coastal areas of the Great Lakes in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

1988’s I-196 Jane Identified As Missing Oklahoma City Woman

Genealogy DNA has led to the identification of the body of a young woman found more than 31 years ago in Covert Township. She’d been known as “I-196 Jane” since the October 12, 1988 discovery, and Michigan State Police say they’ve determined she was 28-year-old Marcia Kaylynn Bateman of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bateman was reported missing by her family in August 1988 and hadn’t been seen since May of that year.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge Completes Rock Sampling For Michigan Tunnel Project

From the Associated Press — Enbridge says it has completed sediment and rock sampling in preparation for building a Michigan oil pipeline tunnel that some state leaders and environmentalists hope to block. The Canadian company said Thursday its crews took core samples from 27 locations in the Straits of Mackinac area, where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. Project manager Amber Pastoor said geologists will study the samples. Results will be used to design the tunnel and a machine to drill through bedrock beneath the lake floor. Enbridge negotiated an agreement with former Republican Governor Rick Snyder to run an oil pipe through the tunnel and shut down its twin Line 5 pipes that traverse the lake bottom. His Democratic successor, Gretchen Whitmer, opposes the deal. Attorney General Dana Nessel is appealing a court ruling that upheld legislation authorizing the agreement. Nessel also has filed a lawsuit to decommission Line 5.. ...Read Full Story

Annual Holiday Sock Drive 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

Napier Road Diet Moved To 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 this week’s county board meeting 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

County Commission Seeks Disaster Declaration Over Coastal 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 Thursday meeting, 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

Upton Talks Violence Prevention Legislation

Following the most recent mass shootings around the United States, Congressman Fred Upton has thrown his support behind legislation intended to prevent such incidents, but not through gun control. He tells WSJM News the TAPS Act would help state and local police agencies use behavioral threat assessment and management tools.. ...Read Full Story

New Apartment Development Begets More Development In Downtown South Haven

For the first time in more than a decade, there has been new development in downtown South Haven. The ribbon will be cut Friday afternoon on the new South Haven Center, which includes retail space and 18 market rate apartments. City Manager Brian Dissette says they’ve heard some complaints about the prices for the apartments, which range from $1,400 to $1,850 per month, especially with the area experiencing a shortage of affordable housing.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Police Chief Releases Name Of Officer Killed In Ambush

Detroit’s police chief says a gunman who fatally shot one officer and wounded another was trying “to bait” them as they searched a home for him. Chief James Craig said the 28-year-old man waited at the bottom of basement stairs, fired two shots from an assault-type rifle and ran past the fallen officers. Other officers shot him in the arm outside the home. He was arrested a block away. Craig said the gunman was “very target specific” and “knew what he planned to do.” Officer Rasheen McClain was shot in the neck and died. Officer Phillippe Batoum-Bisse is being treated for a leg wound. The shooting happened Wednesday evening as officers responded to a report of a man with a gun who was looking for an estranged girlfriend. The suspect is in custody.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist Makes Michigan History

History has been made at the state Capitol, as Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist has become the first black lieutenant governor to sign a bill into law in Michigan history. Gilchrist is currently serving as acting governor due to the trade mission in Israel by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In remarks in the Capitol Rotunda, he said the bill signing “symbolizes the opportunity that exists when we create a space for more participation from a more diverse set of voices and experiences.”. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Brings Back Pledge Of Allegiance At Meetings

From the Associated Press — After a backlash, student government at Grand Valley State University is reinstating the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings. Student Senate President Eric-John Szczepaniak says there were reports that families were reconsidering whether a son or daughter would enroll at the Michigan school. He tells The Grand Rapids Press that people were also threatening to pull donations. Szczepaniak says student leaders “want to regain the trust of all alumni and donors.” He says he’s unilaterally reinstating the pledge. The Senate voted to scratch the pledge last week. Supporters of dropping the pledge said it was an effort to be accepting of all students, especially international students and non-Christians. Republican State Representative Lynn Afendoulis says eliminating the pledge was “disgusting.”. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township home invasion leaves one suspect dead

A home invasion at the Briarwood Apartments in Benton Township late last night has resulted in one fatality. According to the Benton Township police department, just before 11:30 pm, two 2 men wearing masks forced their way into one of the apartments armed with a handgun. The two then ordered the occupants of the living room to get down. Another resident who was in one of the bedrooms overheard what was going on and grabbed a rifle. That’s when gun fire was exchanged. The masked men tried to flee, while still firing. After police arrived they found one of the masked men lying on the pavement with a gunshot wound to the chest. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, while police were unable to find the 2nd suspect, even bringing a K-9 to try to track him down. Police were able to identify the suspect that died on the pavement, but have not released his identity. They have not ID’d the second suspect. The four adults in the home and 3 children were not harmed. Police are asking anybody with information to contact the Benton Township Police department at 925-1135 or call Crimestoppers at 574-288-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man In Court Following Accidental Death Of Granddaughter

A preliminary hearing was held Wednesday for a Niles man charged with negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter. Salvatore Anello was aboard a cruise ship in Puerto Rico in July when he held Chloe Wiegand up to a wood railing near some windows. He didn’t realize the window was open, and the girl fell eleven stories. According to ABC News, the prosecution told the judge at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in Puerto Rico they have witnesses as well as discovery to hand off to the defense. The judge agreed to postpone further hearings until that happens. Anello is due back in court on December 16.. ...Read Full Story

Tree Planting Planned Thursday In Buchanan

There will be a ceremony to plant trees in downtown Buchanan Thursday. The Buchanan Tree Friends will plant ten trees, including sugar maples, a London plane tree, a frontier elm, and various oaks at the Buchanan Common. The trees are being planted to honor the memory of some local residents. The Buchanan Tree Friends seeks donations to help purchase trees appropriate for the landscape of the city through its Tribute Tree Program. A supporter for Thursday’s event is Krista Parin, who says her family wanted to help because planting trees is “a simple way to leave a legacy in our community for generations to come.” Thursday’s tree planting will start at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Christmas Celebration Set For 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

Former Priest From Coloma Guilty In Clergy Sex Abuse Case

A former priest from Coloma will be sentenced in January after pleading guilty in a clergy sex abuse case today in Allegan County. Attorney General Dana Nessel says 57-year-old Brian Stanley faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced. Stanley pleaded guilty to one felony county of attempted false imprisonment during a pretrial conference, and will also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years. He was charged in August after being accused of secreting away a teenaged boy and holding him against his will in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. Stanley reportedly immobilized the young man by wrapping him tightly in plastic wrap, then used masking tape as additional binding and to cover his eyes and mouth. Stanley left the victim, bound and alone, in the janitor’s room for an extended period of time before returning and eventually letting him go. His conviction came just hours after the first convicted defendant in Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Adoption Day Finds Homes For 32 Animals From Berrien County Animal Control Shelter

The Berrien County Animal Control shelter was able to adopt out 32 dogs and cats on Saturday thanks to a partnership with Honor Credit Union. They co-hosted Honor’s Adoption Day this past weekend, dramatically increasing the number of pets that found new homes from a normal Saturday. Animal Control says on average, fewer than three pets are adopted on a Saturday. The event with Honor brought 150 people to the shelter over a three-hour period. The credit union covered the adoption costs, leaving just things like supplies and dog licenses to be paid for by the people taking home their new pets. Some of the adopted animals had been at the shelter for more than a year.. ...Read Full Story

Man Confesses To 1986 Bangor Cold Case Murder

New DNA evidence in the 1986 cold case murder of Wilda Wilkinson of Bangor is resulting in a murder charge and a confession from one of the initial suspects. Michigan State Police say Robert Waite was linked to the murder in March. When interviewed in a Florida prison by MSP detectives, he gave a full confession and was arraigned today in Van Buren County District Court. Authorities had charged Michael Curry with her murder in March of this year, but the DNA evidence against Waite ruled him out and resulted in those charges being dropped. Wilkinson was found dead in her Bangor home 33 years ago, and investigators say her two daughters and two sons remained in constant contact with them during the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Alcohol Likely To Blame For Cass County Crash

Two people are being treated at Elkhart General Hospital in Indiana as the result of a crash in Cass County late Tuesday night. The sheriff’s department says alcohol was likely among the reasons for the head-on crash in Mason Township at the intersection of Old M-205 and Cassopolis Road just after 9 p.m. Investigators say 32-year-old Matthew Degraff of Union crossed the center line and hit the vehicle of 65-year-old William Thorley of Cassopolis, knocking Thorley’s car into a third vehicle. Both Degraff and Thorley are hospitalized, though the extent and nature of their injuries hasn’t been disclosed. Thorley’s passenger and the driver of the third vehicle weren’t hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Ex-Lawmakers Sue To Block Michigan’s Legislative Term Limits

Eight former Michigan lawmakers are suing to challenge the state’s legislative term limits, alleging they are unconstitutional and ensure that the Legislature lacks experience. Those filing suit in Grand Rapids federal court Wednesday include three Republicans and five Democrats. They say Michigan’s term limits law has increased the power of lobbyists, unelected “bureaucrats” in the executive branch and political dynasties.. ...Read Full Story

State to Mail Redistricting Panel Applications To 250,000

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan will mail 250,000 applications encouraging voters to apply to serve on a new commission responsible for drawing congressional and legislative maps. An independent accounting firm, Rehmann, randomly selected the 250,000 registered voters Tuesday. The applications will be mailed before year’s end. The 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment creating the panel requires that at least 10,000 applications be mailed. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
says she decided to send 250,000 to ensure enough people respond. Registered voters who don’t receive an application in the mail are still free to apply at www.RedistrictingMichigan.org. Applications are due June 1. The 13-member commission will start meeting in the fall of 2020 and will adopt congressional and legislative district lines in 2021. The once-a-decade process was previously controlled by the partisan Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

School Trustees Hear Audit Report

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has heard some good news out of the district’s latest audit. At a Tuesday meeting, trustees heard from CPA firm Hungerford Nichols the general fund, or operating deficit, has been reduced from $4.4 million to $3.7 million since last year. District Chief Financial Officer Scott Johnson spoke with WSJM News about the findings.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Police Bust Theft Suspects After Two-Hour Search

Three people are facing charges after fleeing police in South Haven on Tuesday. The South Haven Police Department says officers were called out to the area of the Ravines mobile home park on a report of three men with arm loads of suspected stolen property. Officers found the vehicle the suspects were in, and two of them took off running into some woods. After a two-hour search, police found the two suspects, partly thanks to the nose of K9 Ryker. The first suspect is a 40-year-old from Holland, who was also a wanted parole absconder. He’s now facing charges of felony retail fraud and resisting and obstructing. The second suspect is a 33-year-old from Benton Harbor, to be charged with felony retail fraud, and the third suspect is a 25-year-old from South Haven, charges of misdemeanor retail fraud and resisting and obstructing. All three were taken to the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Board Approves Faculty Contract

The new contract for faculty at Southwestern Michigan College is in place. The SMC Board of Trustees approved the deal Monday night, and the union has already voted on it. The contract includes pay increases of 2% in the next academic year, and 3% in each of the following two years. That’s for the faculty who are at or above the minimum salary levels for their educational level and years of service. A new vision care program for all college employees will begin in January, and SMC says healthcare, dental, and retirement benefits remain consistent with those offered to other full-time employees. The contract was reached after a year and a half of negotiations.. ...Read Full Story

Permit For NIMBY Pond Under Review

An attraction in Baroda Township that often hosts events could lose its permission to do so. Baroda Township Planning Commission Chair David Schultz tells WSJM News the special use permit for NIMBY Pond is under its yearly review, and the property’s owner has a few things to work out with the township before it’s given approval. Schultz says the permit could be revoked or amended, depending on developments in the next two months. There have been some complaints about events held at the pond that may not have been allowed under its special use permit. Schultz didn’t want to get into specifics on the particular events, but said the planning commission is working with NIMBY Pond owner Mark Schutze on the issues in question. A hearing of the planning commission is set for January 13 where a decision could be made on whether to continue NIMBY Pond’s permit. Schultz tells us he thinks NIMBY Pond is a “good event for the community,” but the township ordinance must be followed. The final decision would rest with the township board once the planning commission makes its recommendation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes Pipeline Appeal

Congressman Fred Upton testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday in an attempt to save a pipeline safety bill. He said the new Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration re-authorization bill is not bipartisan, pointing to previous bills that sailed through with few problems.. ...Read Full Story

“Baby Box” Installed In Indiana Near Michigan Border

From the Associated Press — A fire station in northeastern Indiana is the latest place for parents to safely drop off a newborn child.
A Safe Haven Baby Box was unveiled Monday in Angola. The fire station is just minutes from the Michigan border, which was a factor in the location. Before leaving office, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder last year vetoed a bill that would have allowed baby boxes. The boxes allow someone to drop off a baby without fear of criminal prosecution. The box has an alarm that immediately alerts a local hospital or emergency responders. The Steuben County Community Foundation helped pay for the box, and others donated their services for the installation. When Snyder vetoed the Michigan bill, he said it was better to hand a baby to a person. That option is available under state law.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 2 Refueling Outage Complete

The latest refueling outage for the Cook Nuclear Plant’s Unit 2 is over. Indiana Michigan Power says the unit was reconnected to the grid at 1:51 p.m. today after a 48-day outage. Along with refueling the reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing, other projects included modifying the solid state protection system, replacing items including the reactor vessel hold down spring and the west motor driven auxiliary feed pump room cooling system. Cook plant chief nuclear officer and senior vice president Joel Gebbie said in a statement the work done inside the reactor was an “important milestone,” showing much of the work done during the past several refueling outages “has paid off and that the integrity of our reactor has been, and will remain, reliably sound going forward.” Plant officials brought in around 1,150 contractors to help the regular staff of 1,100 during the outage.. ...Read Full Story

Former Driving Instructor Facing Sexual Assault Charges

A former instructor for Mr. G’s Driving School in Berrien County is free on bond and awaiting a court date on December 26, accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. Peter Fleck was arraigned on November 14 according to Prosecutor Mike Sepic and is facing five felony counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Sepic says while his office believes there could be other victims because of the opportunity with Fleck’s former job, they have “no particular information leading us to believe there are other victims.” According to his Facebook profile, Fleck started the job as a driving instructor on July 22. The company works with Bridgman, Coloma, Lakeshore, and River Valley high schools.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Wings Set Guinness Record For Largest Lightsaber Battle

In case you’re in need of something more lighthearted in the news, the Kalamazoo Wings minor league hockey team now has a Guinness World Record. They’ve been certified to have held the largest lightsaber battle ever back on November 2 during the first intermission on Star Wars night. Fans were given a lightsaber when they entered the arena at Wings Event Center, and turned them on at the end of the first period. The team says 3,889 people took part and bashed the plastic swords against each other for three minutes and 45 seconds. As for the action on the ice, the Wings won the game, 7-2, over the Wheeling Nailers.. ...Read Full Story

Senator LaSata Touts Success Of Coat Drive For Kids

State Senator Kim LaSata is thanking her district for helping kids in need this winter. Her office says “Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids” has wrapped up with 95 coats being donated at 13 collection sites in the region. The St. Joseph County Great Start Collaborative washed the jackets prior to them being given away. The coats were collected throughout October, with LaSata asking for new or gently used items in all children’s sizes for kids in the 21st Senate District.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Changes Transgender Policies For Driver’s Licenses

From the Associated Press — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says her department is making it easier for transgender people to get a driver’s license or state ID card. Starting Monday, those wanting to correct the sex designation on their license can go to a branch office to have their photo taken, fill out a form and pay $9. They no longer will need to provide a birth certificate, passport or court order. Benson announced the policy change at a news conference in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, where she was joined by LGBT advocates. Benson says studies show that about 80% of Michigan’s transgender population lacks proper identification. Benson, a Democrat, says the change returns to a policy that was in place before the issue was “politicized.”. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Tackles Garbage Crisis

It was a packed house at Benton Harbor City Hall Monday night as the city commission set out to address a trash crisis that began last week. The city’s trash hauler, We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation, didn’t pick up the garbage because its $39,000 monthly payment from the city was made not to We-Cycle’s current owner, Robert Edwards, but to Virginia Huddleston, a former employee. Huddleston is in a dispute with We-Cycle over correct ownership of the company. During Monday’s session, Mayor Marcus Muhammad and Pro Tem Duane Seats debated whether to just pay We-Cycle again, this time handing the money over to the person currently in charge, Mr. Edwards.. ...Read Full Story

Acorn Theater Secures Grant

The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks is raising money to meet a matching grant it’s been awarded by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts. The theater says the $15,000 grant will help it to offer entertainment that nurtures cultural experience, participation, and engagement in the community while bolstering the region’s economy. It’s asking supporters to step forward to help it meet the match. The Acorn Center for the Performing Arts is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit.. ...Read Full Story

$123,000 Raised For Hospital Project

Nearly $123,000 has been raised by the Spectrum Health Lakeland Foundation for the new pavilion at Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph. The money was raised at the latest foundation gala this month. It was held at the newly-unveiled atrium within the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion, and 370 people attended. The funds were raised through sponsorships, ticket sales, a silent auction, and a raffle, and the theme of the event was “Night at the Pavilion.” Spectrum Health Lakeland says, so far, the community has pledged $6.8 million for the new 260,000 square foot pavilion.. ...Read Full Story

State Working To Find More Adoptive Homes For Kids In Foster Care

November is national Adoption Month, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced two new initiatives to help children in the foster system find adoptive homes. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the first one will begin this month and involve the assigning of 21 child welfare staff to evaluate adoptions that have taken longer than six months. Their goal will be to resolve whatever issues are holding them up. The other initiative will be a partnership between the state and the Dave Thomas Foundation.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Farmer Dies As A Result Of EEE

An Eau Claire farmer who was stricken this summer with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne illness, has died. Jim Whitright, otherwise known as Tiny, died Saturday from apparent EEE complications. This brings the total deaths in Michigan to six out of the 10 confirmed human cases this year. The St. Joseph County, Indiana Coroner’s Office, along with a family friend, confimed the death. EEE has a 33% fatality rate and first appears as a high fever, quickly becoming worse. Whitright became sick on August 19, and spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at Spectrum Health Lakeland before being transferred to long-term care. He died at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Meanwhile, state health officials say the risk for EEE is now gone for the year as the weather has gotten cold enough.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT: I-196 Work Wraps Up

Drivers on I-196 who put up with seven miles of one traffic between Benton Harbor and the Hagar Shore Road exit will be glad to hear the construction is done for the year. Removal of traffic cones and barrels should happen soon, according to MDOT’s Nick Schirripa.. ...Read Full Story

Ribbon Cut On New South Haven Park, Ground Broken For Splash Pad

New attractions are getting ready to go in South Haven. On Friday, the city broke ground on a new splash pad that Mayor Scott Smith says has been in the planning stages “for a couple of years.” The project will create a safe place for kids to play instead of Lake Michigan when there are hazardous conditions on the water or elevated levels of E. coli. City officials plan to have it open next spring. The project elements include new walkways which create a seamless connection between the parking area and the riverfront, two seating areas with picnic tables, new landscape areas and a splash pad modeled after the Friends Good Will tall ship. Also on Friday, the city cut the ribbon on the new Baer Park, adding it to the public green space. The city council approved the agreement with the Central Lofts Condo Association for the easement for the park, which is on the northeast corner of Superior and Center streets.. ...Read Full Story

Mayor Muhammad Says Trash Issues Will Be Addressed By Benton Harbor City Commission

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad says the city commission will be talking about issues with trash pickup during tonight’s meeting. Wecycle Industrial Sanitation did not pick up the garbage last week after manager Willie Williams says the city paid a former employee the monthly $39,000 payment, which did not go to the company. He says they don’t have the money as a result of that for landfill fees or gas. Muhammad says it’s a “serious matter.” Wecycle has been the city’s trash contractor since 2017, and the city is the firm’s only customer.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Veteran Receives Purple Heart For Vietnam War

A Vietnam War veteran from Benton Harbor has been awarded a Purple Heart Medal 50 years after being wounded in action. Congressman Fred Upton presented the medal over the weekend to U.S. Army Specialist Philip Damico. Flanked by family members, Damico posed for a photo with Upton and said he’s “grateful” the congressman took the time to meet with him and his family, calling it a special day for all of them. He was drafted in 1967 and served in the Army in Vietnam until being hurt by an explosive. Upton called the Purple Heart Medal “a small token of appreciation compared to everything he did to defend our way of life.” The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to members of the armed forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy. Often described as the military’s oldest medal, George Washington created it in 1782.. ...Read Full Story

More Children In Michigan Going Uninsured

Over the past two years, the percentage of uninsured children has risen, in Michigan and nationwide. Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that 3.4% of Michigan’s kids, or about 79,000 children, have no health insurance. That’s a nearly 10% increase Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics President Sharon Swindell tells us is troubling.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Tracks STD Increases

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warned last month about increasing rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia around the nation and in the state. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the same trend is happening in Berrien. She says 2018 brought troubling numbers.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Attorney General Announces Plan To Crack Down On Robocalls

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general plans a crackdown on illegal robocalls. Dana Nessel on Friday announced a dozen initiatives aimed at putting a halt to the calls, many of which she says are scams. Her office plans to educate residents so they can protect themselves, step up enforcement, work with the Legislature to update state laws and be a model that other states can follow. Nessel is urging people to hang up if they get an illegal robocall and to report it to her office. In October, Americans received a record 5.7 billion automated from scammers, telemarketers, debt collectors and others.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes Legislation To Prevent Violent Crime

Congressman Fred Upton has co-sponsored legislation aiming to give states and local governments the resources to use behavioral threat assessment and management tools. Upton says the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act, or the TAPS Act, seeks to help police identify the warning signs that someone could be a danger. In a statement, Upton said for decades, “the U.S. Secret Services has used behavioral threat assessment and management to protect our national leaders and foreign dignitaries. It’s been proven to work, and now we should use it to protect our schools, families, and local communities.” He goes on to say the U.S. has witnessed too many violent crimes lately, including this week’s high school shooting in California. Upton’s office notes the TAPS Act is co-sponsored by 156 other members of the House, and has wide support from groups including the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.. ...Read Full Story

Courts Prepare To Mark Adoption Day

The courts in Berrien and Van Buren counties are preparing to celebrate the next Adoption Day. The Van Buren County Circuit Court plans its Adoption Day for Tuesday, November 26 with a ceremony to mark the official adoption of children by their caretakers. On hand will be Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman and both the Mattawan High School a cappella group and the Mattawan High School Master Singers will perform. Also taking place this month will be Berrien County’s Adoption Day. It’s set for November 19 at the courthouse in St. Joseph with several formal adoptions set to be completed throughout the day. November is National Adoption Month, as court representatives say adoptions provide a sense of belonging for children taken in by foster parents, single parents, relatives, guardians, stepparents, and even for adult adoptees.. ...Read Full Story