Local News Archives

Berrien County Golf Course Sold

From the Associated Press — A Berrien County golf course has been sold and could be turned into a residential development. Signal Point Golf Club near Niles has been around since the 1960s. The South Bend Tribune reports that it was recently sold to local real estate broker Jim Ringler and partners. Ringler says it might remain a golf club. But he noted that Signal Point’s previous owners at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend decided to get out.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Employee Named To Better Business Bureau Board

A member of the Whirlpool team will now be part of the board of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. The BBB says Adam Aukerman is among six new members picked to begin serving three year terms in January. Aukerman has been with Whirlpool for nearly 14 years, and is currently part of the company’s extended service plan business unit. He’s worked at several other levels at Whirlpool after starting out in sales with Maytag. The six new board member names were submitted in early December to all accredited businesses within the 38 counties covered by the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. Organization President Phil Catlett says the “board of directors plays an important part in guiding the Better Business Bureau as we seek to make Western Michigan the most trusted place in America to do business.”. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In Hotel Room

A woman is recovering after shooting herself in the foot while in a Benton Township hotel room this week. The Benton Township Police Department says its officers were called to the Red Roof Inn on Mall Drive around 8:30 a.m. Monday on a report of a woman who had been shot. They spoke to the victim and learned she had shot herself in the foot while in her room. She was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Detectives found a semi-automatic handgun in the room. Police say once the investigation is finished, a report will be sent over to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Twp Police Working To Identify Suspects In Blossom Acres Shooting

No suspects have yet been identified in the shooting of a 24-year-old man at the end of a party at an apartment in the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township around 6:30 Sunday morning. Lakwanta Griffin is recovering at Spectrum Health Lakeland with gunshot wounds to his hip and right arm, and those injuries are not life-threatening. Griffin told investigators as everyone was leaving the party, people came up and started to argue outside before someone pulled out a gun and started to shoot. He was being rushed to the hospital by a group of friends when their car rolled in the city of St. Joseph near the county courthouse, killing 23-yer-old Jhuone Fonder of Benton Harbor. The driver of the car, 27-year-old Larry Carter of Benton Harbor, was also ejected along with Fonder and a fourth man was hurt in the wreck. Carter’s car was the only one involved.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Celebrates Graduation Of 23 Nursing Students

Southwestern Michigan College is celebrating the graduation of 23 new nurses. The SMC nursing program held a ceremony for the graduates last Thursday as the students now head into the country’s largest healthcare profession. SMC Vice President of Instruction David Fleming tells WSJM News the college has graduated more than 3,000 nurses over the years.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Scream Park Hands Out Over $116,000 To Charity

More than 70 area children’s organizations, civic groups, and other charities will share over $116,000 from the Niles Scream Park. That’s the amount being donated from this year’s proceeds from the 46th year of the project. Four local high school seniors will also be receiving scholarships from the Scream Park. Other groups benefiting include the Make A Wish Foundation and the Niles High School Band Boosters. The Scream Park is recognized nationally in the haunted attraction industry. It was voted #4 Haunted Attraction in the nation by voters on the Coaster Nation annual Halloween poll.. ...Read Full Story

Teens Charged For Niles Armed Robbery, Shootings

Two teens are in the Berrien County Jail for an armed robbery and a shooting at the scene of the robbery several days later. Police accuse 19-year-old Caleb Alkire of Niles and 18-year-old Brandon Jordan of Edwardsburg of robbing a man of marijuana and cash just before 12:30 pm on December 5 at a home in the 10 block of South 7th Street in Niles, with one of the two firing shots at the victim. No one was hurt, but a bullet went into a neighbor’s house and came just a few feet from hitting someone inside.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Safety Releases New Info In Rollover-Shooting Investigation

Police say the shooting at the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township and a deadly rollover crash yesterday morning in the city of St. Joseph are connected, but the man who died in the crash was not the shooting victim. St. Joseph Public Safety identifies him as 23-year-old Jhuone Fonder of Benton Harbor, and the autopsy at Western Michigan University determined he died from injuries sustained in the crash when he was one of two people thrown from the car.. ...Read Full Story

Edwardsburg Woman Pleads Guilty In Deadly Motorcycle Crash

An Edwardsburg woman will be sentenced in January to prison in Indiana for a deadly crash involving a motorcycle in June. Our partners at WSBT-22 report Nicole Nelson entered guilty pleas to reckless homicide and to causing death while operating a vehicle on a controlled substance, as she admits to smoking marijuana the night before. The crash in Granger killed a 54-year-old man. According to police, Nelson was speeding and there was dense fog at the time of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Urges Canada Not To Store Nuclear Waste Near Lake Huron

Congressman Fred Upton is calling on Canada to pick a site away from the Great Lakes for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. Upton tells WSJM News Canada is in the process of choosing a site for the long term storage of that spent material. One of the locations under consideration is along the shore of Lake Huron. It’s the area of Huron-Kinloss-South Bruce, in Bruce County, Ontario. Upton says he and other concerned members of the House have reached out to the Canadian government.. ...Read Full Story

Better Business Bureau Urges Caution When Renting Property

A warning about rental scams has been put out by the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. It says an in depth investigation it’s done has found 43% of online shoppers have encountered a fake listing and more than five million consumers have lost money to such scams. The study — “Is That Rental Listing Real? A BBB Study of Rental Scams Involving Apartments, Houses and Vacation Properties” — notes 85% of consumers don’t fall for the fake listings, but the sheer number of them, the organization says, “is staggering.” The most common rental scam is when someone posts a rental property online using a picture of a property they don’t even own. When a prospective renter contacts them, the scammer may claim to be out of the country and unavailable to show the property. Or, they only will communicate using email. A victim sends a deposit on the property, and never hears from the scammer again. Those who are looking to rent are advised to use caution. Also, landlords are encouraged to use watermarked photos when posting a listing online.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Land Auction Underway

Now underway is the annual Michigan Department of Natural Resources land auction. DNR resources specialist Michael Michalek tells WSJM News the agency sells off properties obtained through tax reversion to help acquire other properties or to run recreational programs. There will be a wide variety of parcels available.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Seeking Alumni Award Nominations

Nominations are being sought by the Lake Michigan College Alumni Association Board of Directors for next year’s Alumni Awards. Since launching in 1986, more than 80 recipients have been honored. The deadline to put in a nomination is February 28. To be considered for the awards, nominees need to have attended Lake Michigan College or its predecessor, Benton Harbor Community College, and have earned at least 30 credit hours through the college. Three awards are up for grabs: The Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Achievement Award, and the Alumni Service Award. The first is named for LMC’s first president and is awarded to someone who has accomplished “significant success” in his or her professional life. The Alumni Achievement Award is for anyone who has graduated from LMC in the past 15 years, while the Alumni Service Award goes to a graduate who has “offered significant personal contributions to the college or community, with community being broadly interpreted as local, the state of Michigan, or the nation.” The awards will be handed out in mid-April at LMC’s 2020 Honors Convocation.. ...Read Full Story

“Shop With A Cop” Brings Eight Families Together With Police Saturday

Eight families from Berrien Springs, Benton Harbor, New Buffalo, and Niles are benefiting from this year’s Shop With A Cop outreach in Berrien County. The families, with a total of 22 kids, spent part of Saturday at the Niles Walmart with officers from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit and other agencies for the annual event. More than $6,000 in donations was secured by the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit. The families shopped for gifts for themselves, family members, and friends. The families were also taken to Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles after shopping to have snacks and wrap the gifts. Schools and civic organizations referred the families and their children to the Sheriff’s Office for the help.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Twp Shooting, SJ Rollover Likely Connected

A Sunday morning shooting at the Blossom Acres housing project in Benton Township and a rollover crash in St. Joseph near the courthouse are believed to be connected. St. Joseph Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker says four people were in the vehicle that rolled around 6:30 a.m. at Port and Wayne streets, with two people being ejected from the car. One died at the scene, and the other three were taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for non-life-threatening injuries. The man who was dead at the scene of the crash had been shot, and police are working to officially determine if he had been a shooting victim at the housing project in Benton Township and if the crash happened as people were trying to rush him to the hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Demographer Talks About Attracting New Residents

Economic development organizations and others are working on making southwest Michigan a more attractive place for young workers to live as they seek to increase the region’s population. Michigan State Demographer Eric Guthrie was in Benton Harbor this month to discuss population trends and demographics in the area. He tells WSJM News there is one thing that needs to be done to keep the southwest Michigan vibrant.. ...Read Full Story

Program At Michigan Works Aids Dislocated Retail Workers

As online shopping becomes more prevalent and physical stores continue to shut down, Michigan Works has launched a program to help retail workers who find themselves without a job. Michigan Works Talent Development Manager Samantha Gizzi tells WSJM News a state Dislocated Worker Grant is making it possible for the agency to get new training for both retail and banking workers. They’ve been in contact with employees of local stores that have shut down and bank branches that have been consolidated.. ...Read Full Story

Citizens Police Academy Starts Next Month

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is planning to hold a Citizens Academy next month. It holds the academies so residents can learn about what the sheriff’s department does and get to understand the court system a little better. The eleven week program covers topics including corrections, dispatch, police K9s, crash investigations, the use of force, patrol techniques, and the various divisions of the sheriff’s department. The classes are held in the lower level of the sheriff’s department office in Paw Paw in the evenings. The academy begins on January 8 and will finish March 18. Someone who’s interested in law enforcement might want to consider attending. You can find applications for the academy at the website of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. Go to the Services tab.. ...Read Full Story

Inauguration For BH Mayor On Monday

There will be a formal inauguration for Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad this month. Muhammad was re-elected in November, and now the city says his inaugural will be on December 16. There, he plans to talk about continuing development in Benton Harbor. The inauguration will be held at the Inn at Harbor Shores from 8 to 10 p.m. The city says all residents, business owners, and community stakeholders are welcome to attend.. ...Read Full Story

Education Department Investigating Paw Paw Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union is welcoming a decision by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate a complaint about racism at Paw Paw Public Schools. The ACLU sent a complaint to the department regarding what it calls “the pervasive racially hostile environment in the school district.” The Office of Civil Rights says its investigation will determine “whether the District effectively caused, encouraged, accepted, tolerated, or failed to correct a racially hostile environment for Native American persons at its high school.” If the OCR finds the school district’s practices violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the district could lose federal funding. Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo has released a statement saying, “Paw Paw Public Schools is fully cooperating with the Office of Civil Rights investigation. We will continue to focus on educating kids and try to avoid letting the ongoing debate over the school mascot distract us from our mission or impact the high-quality learning environment we strive to create each and every day.”. ...Read Full Story

Website Launched For Benton Harbor Schools Advisory Committee

A website has been launched for the Benton Harbor Area Schools Community Engagement and Advisory Committee. Michigan Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker tells us Michigan.gov/EngageComm will provide meeting agendas and minutes, committee member bios, outreach meeting dates, and other information as the 12 member committee creates a financial and academic assessment and operating plan for the school district.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Beach Project Secures Needed State Funding

After years of work, the Cherry Beach Project in Chikaming Township has ended in success. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board this week announced its next round of recreation grants to communities around the state, and included is a grant of $2.475 million for Chikaming Township to buy about three acres of land next to the current Cherry Beach along Lake Michigan. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte told WSJM News about the property.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard Begins Ice Breaking Work In Western Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Coast Guard says it has launched ice-breaking operations in the western Great Lakes. Officials announced Wednesday they have started what they call “Operation Taconite” in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, as well as northern Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, the Straits of Mackinac and St. Marys River. The effort responds to expanding ice in commercial ports. Ice-breaking is done for several reasons, including search and rescue, flood control or to serve vessels or communities in need. Operation Taconite is one of two ice-breaking operations on the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Getting New Chief Judge

There will soon be a new chief judge of the Berrien County Trial Court. At this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, current Chief Judge Gary Bruce said he’ll be stepping down from that post on January 1. He will remain a judge, and is just leaving the chief judge spot. Bruce thanked the county board for all its support in implementing new court programs over the years.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Issues Statement On Impeachment

Congressman Fred Upton has made it official. He’s against the impeachment of President Trump. Upton spoke with us this week and expressed reservations, and his office issued a statement Thursday with Upton’s official stance. He says “the impeachment process has become exactly what our great founding fathers warned us against. It has been highly partisan and clearly motivated by what I believe is an attempt to overturn the last election. I get it. Democrats aren’t happy with the result. But the time to vote on the next President is next November, not next week.” Upton goes on to say efforts to impeach Trump began within 24 hours of his election. He says, “We can’t have the impeachment process decided by political whim. It must be decided by the standard set by the founders of our democracy. The President’s behavior was wrongheaded, inappropriate, and ill-advised, but was it impeachable? My answer is no.”. ...Read Full Story

Very Busy Holiday Travel Predicted

If the holidays will be taking you over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, you’re going to have plenty of company. The holiday season travel forecast from Triple-A projects record numbers of people both in Michigan and nationally are planning trips of at least 50 miles from home. Across the country, the expectation is 115.6 million will travel, while over 3.6 million Michiganders will be hopping in planes, trains and automobiles. Those estimates are the highest ever by the auto club. Around 3.3 million in the state will be driving, and almost 202,000 plan to fly to their holiday destination. Triple-A Michigan says new record levels have been set for holiday travel every year since 2014.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Receives Special Counsel Report On Commissioner

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has received a report from special counsel John Dewane on an investigation into potential conflicts of interest involving Commissioner Teri Freehling. The investigation stemmed out of a lawsuit against Freehling, the estate of her late husband, and the Berrien County Drain Commissioner. It alleges Freehling voted to approve some drain projects that would be done by a contractor using equipment rented from an LLC owned by the late Patrick Freehling. A review of the case by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office found no basis for criminal charges, and Judge Dewane’s report, released Thursday, has found Freehling did not violate disclosure rules. However, the report also says “good policy may suggest [the] Board encourage a higher level of transparency.” Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair Mac Elliott agrees.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Township Moves To Abandon Unused Road

The Lincoln Township Board has voted to formally abandon an old, unused section of road near the Grand Mere area. Lincoln Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer tells us it’s a 55 foot long, 66 foot wide former piece of Ice Street. It was unofficially abandoned in 1958 and isn’t connected to any other road. Stauffer says it’s totally unused, and a nearby property owner asked the township to abandon it to un-complicate his own parcels. Now that the township has abandoned the section of Ice Street, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners will consider whether the county road department should take it over. From there, the fate of the non-road would be decided by the county.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks With U.S. Army Corps About Coastal Erosion

As Michigan lawmakers and county commissioners try to get an emergency declared over Great Lakes coastal erosion, Congressman Fred Upton has been looking into what he can do. He tells WSJM News he met Tuesday with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and was told the water level on Lake Michigan is expected to break its record in the coming months. So, did the Army Corps tell him they can do anything about it?. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Robotics Team Headed To Detroit Area This Weekend

A FIRST Robotics Team representing Benton Harbor Area Schools will be in West Bloomfield this weekend taking part in a statewide championship. At a meeting of the school board Tuesday, students in the FIRST Lego League and the FIRST Technical Challenge were honored by trustees for taking part in those programs. Board President Joseph Taylor told WSJM News the Mega Bots will compete in that Detroit area event on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Box Factory For The Arts Struggling With Funding Issues

Some changes are being made at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph as it struggles to overcome funding challenges. Box Factory Board President Judy Sokolowski tells WSJM News after an emergency meeting of the board on December 3, the attraction is switching to winter hours and laying off its staff. As of January 1, the Box Factory’s two full-time and one part-time employees will be laid off, and the hours will change to noon through 4 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. The Box Factory will be closed on Sundays and Mondays. Businesses with offices inside, however, will continue to have 24/7 access. Sokolowski says the loss of a tenant on the top floor and building expenses have eaten into the Box Factory’s savings. Meanwhile, they continue to raise funds to match a grant and a donation. One is a challenge grant from the Gast family of $15,000, and the other is a $25,000 donation from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. Anyone who wants to help can go to the Box Factory for the Arts website. Also, businesses looking to rent that available space can call.. ...Read Full Story

Two Area Shelters Taking Part In Bissell Pet Foundation’s “Empty The Shelters – Holiday Hope”

The Bissell Pet Foundation wants to get forever homes for as many pets as possible this week with their latest “Empty The Shelters” event. Locally, Van Buren County Animal Control in Hartford and the Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven are taking part. Since the Grand Rapids-based foundation began the effort in collaboration with animal shelters in 2016, nearly 27,000 pets have been adopted. The foundation’s “Empty The Shelters – Holiday Hope” event will be Friday and Saturday at 45 shelters in Michigan and at more than 110 in 22 states across the country. A portion of the adoption costs are covered by the Bissell Pet Foundation to help make it easier for humans to find their new furry best friends.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect In Murder Of Quintina Jeffries Of Benton Harbor Takes Own Life

The suspect in the murder of 29-year-old Quintina Jeffries in Benton Harbor on Sunday is dead. Samuel Brown shot himself Tuesday night in St. Joseph after attending the Benton Harbor-Dowagiac basketball game. Brown had been actively posting on Facebook until just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, sharing pictures and video of the two of them and expressing his grief over the shooting death of his girlfriend.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Marijuana Sales Top $1.6 Million In First Week

From the Associated Press — Recreational marijuana sales totaled about $1.6 million in the inaugural week of business at the first retail shops in Michigan. The Detroit Free Press and MLive.com report sales during the December 1-8 period brought the state roughly $270,400 in revenue from the excise and sales taxes levied on pot. Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency has issued 10 retail licenses for recreational marijuana, five of which began selling last week. More than 1,400 of Michigan’s nearly 1,800 cities, townships and villages aren’t allowing pot shops. Illinois starts recreational sales in January.. ...Read Full Story

Road Funding, Pure Michigan Left Out Of Budget Solution

While the state budget impasse is about half-resolved with lawmakers passing supplemental budget bills restoring $573 million dollars cut from the current fiscal year’s budget by line item vetoes, the work isn’t yet done. They and the governor say they’ll continue working on a road funding solution next year, and the future of the popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign remains in limbo. The program’s funding was eliminated, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield would like to find a way to keep Pure Michigan going.. ...Read Full Story

Three SWMI Blueberry Growers Appointed To Michigan Blueberry Commission

Two people from South Haven and one from Bloomingdale will serve two-year terms on the Michigan Blueberry Commission. Governor Whitmer reappointed Creela Hamlin of South Haven to represent at-large growers. She owns Lake Michigan Berry LLC. Cornerstone Ag Enterprises owner Robert Bodtke of South Haven succeeds Steven Hunt, also of South Haven, and will represent District 2 growers. Also appointed was Brookside Farm LLC partner Carly Jo Parsley of Bloomingdale to represent District 2 farmers. She will succeed James Sumners. The Michigan Blueberry Commission is part of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and works to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the state’s blueberry industry through support of research, education, and promotion programs. The appointments are subject to state Senate approval.. ...Read Full Story

Group Praises Water Ruling

Despite a legal victory against a major corporation, some environmental and community groups are not letting their guard down when it comes to protecting Michigan’s water. The Michigan Court of Appeals last week ruled Osceola Township had the right to deny a zoning permit to Nestle for a booster station to increase water extraction. The company had argued that local zoning officials were improperly influenced by public opposition. However, Peggy Case with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says the court ruled that elected officials should be sensitive to residents’ concerns.. ...Read Full Story

BH Superintendent Candidates To Meet With Students, Teachers Next Week

As the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education prepares to hold its final interviews with the two remaining candidates for superintendent next week, the community will also have a chance to meet the prospective hires. At a Tuesday meeting of the school board, President Joseph Taylor said Patricia Robinson and Andrae Townsel will talk with students, teachers, administrators, and the public prior to their interviews on Monday. The meetings at the school buildings will start at 1:30 p.m. with each group getting a half hour with each superintendent candidate. The community engagement time will begin at 5 p.m. Residents can meet with Robinson from 5 to 5:30 and then with Townsel from 5:30 to 6. The two will interview with the board of education starting at 6. The board could select the district’s new superintendent at that meeting. Robinson is the current interim superintendent at Benton Harbor Area Schools, while Townsel is the assistant superintendent at Wayne-Westland Community Schools in metro Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

BBB Warns About Rental Scams

A warning about rental scams has been put out by the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. It says an in depth investigation it’s done has found 43% of online shoppers have encountered a fake listing and more than five million consumers have lost money to such scams. The study — “Is That Rental Listing Real? A BBB Study of Rental Scams Involving Apartments, Houses and Vacation Properties” — notes 85% of consumers don’t fall for the fake listings, but the sheer number of them, the organization says, “is staggering.” The most common rental scam is when someone posts a rental property online using a picture of a property they don’t even own. When a prospective renter contacts them, the scammer may claim to be out of the country and unavailable to show the property. Or, they only will communicate using email. A victim sends a deposit on the property, and never hears from the scammer again. Those who are looking to rent are advised to use caution. Also, landlords are encouraged to use watermarked photos when posting a listing online.. ...Read Full Story

County Commissioner Seeks Erosion Help While In Washington

Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott is back home after spending some time in Washington, D.C. last week talking with federal officials about shoreline erosion. Scott introduced the county board resolution asking the governor and state Legislature to declare a state of emergency regarding Great Lakes coastal erosion. He tells WSJM News while in the nation’s capital he talked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Congressman Fred Upton, representatives of Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and the liaison office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Scott wasn’t exactly impressed with that last meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Weighs In On Articles Of Impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to debate and vote on two articles of impeachment of President Trump later this week. That could lead to an impeachment vote in the full House by Christmas. So what does Congressman Fred Upton think? He told us Tuesday afternoon he hadn’t yet read the articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but it seems to him as though the House is on the march to bring the articles to the floor.. ...Read Full Story

Group Of State Senators Seeks Emergency Declaration Over Coastal Erosion

Members of the Michigan Senate have sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer asking her to declare a state of emergency for the entire Lake Michigan shoreline because of the increasing problem of beach erosion. Among the senators to sign the letter are Kim LaSata and Aric Nesbitt. The group of senators writes to Whitmer that constituents “have been left to literally pick up the pieces of what was once their homes, businesses and infrastructure.” The letter also says if the governor were to declare an emergency, then additional state resources to deal with coastal erosion could be opened up, leading to the possibility of federal help. The action out of the Senate this week comes after a group of state House members sent the governor a similar letter last week.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Mayor To Be Honored

The city of Benton Harbor will honor a former mayor next week by naming the municipal building after him. A dedication ceremony for the Wilce L. Cooke Municipal Building will be on Monday. Wilce Cooke was Benton Harbor’s mayor from 1981 to 1987, and then again from 2004 to 2011. The dedication of the building will be at 7 p.m. in the Lula Lee Commission Chambers when the city commission meets. Everyone is invited.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, House Republicans Push For Substitute To Democrats’ Drug Cost Bill

Efforts are underway from both political parties to try to find ways to bring down the cost of prescription drugs across the country, with each side saying their plan is better than the other. Congressman Fred Upton says House Republicans have a bill called the “Lower Cost, More Cures Act” that they’re trying to get as a substitute for the Democrats’ “Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019” that’s before the House. Upton says their bill will build on the progress made over the last three years by his bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. On Tuesday, he talked about meeting with a girl last week with spinal muscular atrophy.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Authorities Release Name Of Woman Shot And Killed Sunday

The woman shot and killed on Sunday at a home on West May Street in Benton Harbor has been identified by public safety as 29-year-old Quintina Jeffries. No arrests have been made in her murder, but detectives say they’ve had “great cooperation” with several potential witnesses. They’re still looking for more information, and the case remains under investigation. Jeffries leaves behind an eight-year-old son and other relatives according to authorities. She was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot in the head, and police say the autopsy has confirmed the gunshot was the cause of her death.. ...Read Full Story

Person Of Interest In Disappearance Of Benton Harbor Woman Arrested Out Of State

The man called a person of interest in the disappearance of 30-year-old Jessica Gray is in custody in another state, but she is still missing. Benton Township police confirmed reports this morning that 38-year-old Willie Lark Jr. was arrested on a parole violation on Monday, but have not said where. Authorities had been called to a home in the 300 block of Crystal in Benton Township last Monday on a welfare check on Lark. One of his relatives had gone to the home early in the morning on December 2 and found the front door open and blood in the doorway. Police found spent shell casings in the home. Gray was last seen around 8 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, and police add she needs medical attention. Lark’s extradition to Michigan is pending the status of charges out of state.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lawmakers Seek Tariffs On Turkish Cherries

From the Associated Press — Michigan farmers and lawmakers want the federal government to impose a hefty tariff on dried tart cherries imported from Turkey, arguing that a subsidy on the fruit is impeding American farmers’ ability to compete. Cherry  companies from Michigan and Utah on Tuesday asked the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission for a nearly 650% in tariff hikes on tart cherries imported from Turkey. The petition request would increase the price of $1 worth of cherries to $6.48. The Detroit News reports the companies are asking the commission to determine that Turkey has injured their business or at least threatens to do so.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Narrows Down Superintendent Search

The next superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools could be chosen next week by the board of education. Trustees on Monday interviewed four candidates for the job, and then voted to bring back two for additional interviews next Monday. Now in the running for the position of district superintendent are current Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson and Wayne-Westland Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Andrae Townsel. Benton Harbor Area Schools Trustee Patricia Rush said Patricia Robinson has served the district well as a home grown acting superintendent.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Rejects 3% Pay Raise Recommendation

St. Joseph City Commissioners don’t want a pay raise. The city’s Municipal Officers Compensation Commission met on Friday for the first time in four years and recommended a 3% increase in what the commissioners are paid, noting they hadn’t had a bump in eight years. The recommendation gave three options: do nothing and the raise would take effect automatically in 30 days; vote to approve it; or reject it. Commissioner Jeff Richards made the motion to turn down the extra money.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Sentenced In Son’s Drug Death

From the Associated Press — A southwest Michigan man has been sentenced to a year in jail for his 16-year-old son’s fatal drug overdose. Prosecutors accused Gary Birkhead of knowingly allowing his son to use illicit drugs over two years. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in November. Birkhead, a Bangor resident, has been in the Van Buren County jail for months and will have roughly 100 days left on the sentence. Cole Birkhead died in 2017 at Bronson hospital in Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Notes Successful Year For Hopeful Home Fund

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski looking back on the first year of his office’s Hopeful Home Fund as a success. He says the fund was started after donations poured in to pay off the property taxes of an 88-year-old Niles woman who had faced foreclosure. When her story got around in the media, Witkowski says he heard from many people who would want to help in that kind of situation.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Pleased With Budget Negotiations

Michigan lawmakers and Governor Gretchen Whitmer are expected to approve some spending bills this week. That’s after the governor line item vetoed nearly $1 billion in funding included in the budget approved by the Legislature earlier this year. State Senator Kim LaSata tells WSJM News lawmakers last week restored funding for the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program, and also for student loans for those enrolled in private universities. That’s not all.. ...Read Full Story