Local News Archives

Police Urge Preparedness Kits For Pets

Michigan State Police are encouraging everyone to make sure they have emergency kits for their pets. Spokesperson Dale George tells WSJM News while many families make sure to have those kits for themselves, the family pet is often forgotten. In the event you have to leave your home for a period of days, George suggests having a kit with pet food, water, and photos of your pet. That’s not all.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced In Crash That Killed Newlyweds

From the Associated Press — A man has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for a July 2018 crash that killed a newlywed couple in western Michigan near where they were married weeks earlier. The Holland Sentinel reports 22-year-old Jacob Scot Damron of Wayland was given his punishment Monday after earlier pleading no contest to two felony counts of operating while intoxicated causing death. His minimum sentence is just over 7 years. The newspaper says Damron had used medical marijuana and was speeding. Defense lawyer Matthew Antkoviak says Damron also was taking an antidepressant. The Allegan County sheriff’s office says 24-year-old Logan Thunderland Allbaugh and 22-year-old Hannah (Kwekel) Allbaugh died following the crash in Heath Township after a car drove through a stop sign and struck their vehicle .. ...Read Full Story

Schedule Announced For Lest We Forget Program

From the Associated Press — Lest We Forget has announced its war reenactment program for 2019. The St. Joseph-based organization says this year’s events will take place on June 22 and June 23 and feature guest speakers and a marine landing along the St. Joseph River. The marine assault on St. Joe will take place that Saturday, the 22nd, at the north side of the harbor at 11 a.m. There will also be World War II watercraft and helicopter rides throughout the day and presentations by veterans including Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan. Sunday will bring more presentations, and another marine landing at 11 a.m. The closing ceremony will be at 3 p.m. New this year for Lest We Forget will be the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, The Fortunate Sons. They’re performing free for everyone on Saturday at 7 p.m. The whole schedule for this year’s Lest We Forget program is up at LestWeForgetUSA.org.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Allow More Solar Panels On Farm Land

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials have decided to allow solar panels for larger commercial solar arrays to be built on more farmland around the state. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell announced Monday that the department has decided to allow land enrolled in the Farmland and Open Space Preservation
Program to be used for such solar power projects. McDowell says in a statement the change “will not result in a loss of usable farmland” and will provide a “new opportunity for Michigan’s farmers to diversify.” The land preservation program provides tax incentives to landowners who keep properties for agricultural use. Michigan says about 3.4 million acres (1.4 million hectares) of farmland currently are enrolled in the program and developers were having trouble finding farmland for large solar projects.. ...Read Full Story

Twin Cities Gas Prices Up Slightly; State Average Steady From Week Ago

Gas prices in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are up 3¢ from a week ago, while the statewide average is steady at $2.88. The Twin Cities average price is $2.90, a 13¢ drop from this time in 2018 when we were over the $3 per gallon mark. Triple-A Michigan says prices at the pump are being held in check by increased gasoline production that has helped keep up with an increase in demand post-Memorial Day. Marquette has the state’s highest average at $2.94, and metro Detroit has the lowest at $2.86. South Haven, which isn’t part of the Triple-A survey, has a $2.85 per gallon average according to GasBuddy.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Lawmaker And Former DPS Teacher Supporting Benton Harbor Schools In Fight

A former Detroit Public Schools teacher now in the Michigan House of Representatives is standing with Benton Harbor Area Schools in the effort to prevent the state from closing Benton Harbor High School. Democrat Sherry Gay-Dagnogo has issued a statement calling the proposal given to the school board by the departments of Education and Treasury “disheartening,” and she warns how the issue with BHAS is handled will sent a precedent for how other struggling districts will be handled by the state going forward.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Officially Launches Superintendent Search

The St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education is launching a search for the district’s next superintendent. The board has hired the Michigan Leadership Institute to provide consulting services. Focus groups will begin meeting June 10 to help develop a profile for candidate selection. The job is opening up with the hiring of St. Joseph superintendent Ann Cardon for the same job with Traverse City Area Public Schools, which she is expected to start on August 1 pending the contract negotiations. Cardon had been at the helm of St. Joseph Public Schools since 2012. The board anticipates the first round of interviews on July 16 and 17, with the final interviews and selection of a new superintendent on July 22. The new superintendent would start on or around September 1.. ...Read Full Story

Flags Lowered For Virginia Beach Shooting Victims

Flags in Michigan are flying at half-staff until sunset on Tuesday in honor of the victims of last week’s massacre in Virginia Beach. Governor Whitmer has issued the order for all state buildings. A dozen people were killed by a disgruntled employee at an office building, and two others were injured. The state is lowering the flags in solidarity with the residents of Virginia, and is encouraging businesses, residents, schools, and local governments to do the same.. ...Read Full Story

Inclusivity Training Offered To Businesses

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is marking the first time it’s provided inclusivity training to a southwest Michigan business. OutCenter Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News on May 2, staff provided the training to the Moersch Hospitality Group’s management team. Moersch owns Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant, Free Run Cellars, and Round Barn Winery. Schnell says OutCenter volunteer Caroline Jones worked on a scenario-based program for the group.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Branch Office In SWM This Week

The Mobile Office of the Michigan Secretary of State will roll into South Haven and Bangor this week. The Secretary of State says the unit will be at the South Haven Memorial Library on Monday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will also be at the Bangor branch of Van Buren District Library on Tuesday, June 4. during the same hours. It’s a fully functional Secretary of State branch office where customers can renew their license plate tabs and driver’s licenses, register to vote, change their address, and sign up for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. The mobile branch travels to towns all over the state each year to promote the Secretary of State and to help people conduct their business while on the go.. ...Read Full Story

Exhibit Looks At History Of South Haven

A new exhibit on the history of South Haven will take you on a trip through time. The Historical Association of South Haven’s Jim Ollgaard tells WSJM News they’re hosting “Coming Home — South Haven, 1956.” Ollgaard says iconic local photographer Richard Appleyard spent a week in 1956 going around town taking photographs to preserve the memory of South Haven before the post-World War II boom changed things.. ...Read Full Story

“Viticulture Field Day” This Month

Around 200 winemakers and grape growers will be in Benton Township on June 13 for the 2019 Viticulture Field Day. Organized by MSU Extension and the Lake Michigan College Viticulture Program, the event will be a full day for growers and makers to talk about improving their techniques. MSU Extension educator Michael Reinke tells WSJM News this comes after a damaging winter for southwest Michigan wine producers.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Announces Grants For Robotics Programs

Indiana Michigan Power has announced nearly $40,000 in grants for FIRST Robotics programs and teachers around its service area. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News 15 Michigan robotics programs will benefit with the awards that go as high as $6,000. She says as an electric utility, I&M wants to encourage programs like FIRST Robotics.. ...Read Full Story

Study Gives Failing Grades To Virtual Schools

Thousands of K-12 students in Michigan never set foot on campus as they take all their classes online via two virtual charter schools. However, some new policy briefs give virtual charter schools overall a failing grade. Researchers with the National Education Policy Center found that students at the virtual schools complete their courses less often, and have lower scores on standardized tests, compared to kids in brick-and-mortar schools. Professor Michael Barbour of Touro University, a co-author of the research, blames the for-profit model of these online charter schools.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Announces $100,000 In Scholarships

The Pokagon Fund has announced $100,000 in scholarships to students around Harbor Country. They’re going to students transitioning out of high school and into college or vocational school next year, and also to adults who are seeking better career and work opportunities. The Pokagon Fund notes that people who get a bachelor’s degree earn on average $1 million more over their lifetimes than a high school graduate. Since its inception, the fund has donated more than $5 million in scholarships. It says in 2020, it will increase its total funding of scholarships from $100,000 to $125,000. The Pokagon Fund is a non-profit foundation supported by revenue from the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.. ...Read Full Story

36 Wells Test For PFAS

36 residential wells in Hartford have tested positive for PFAS. The Van Buren Cass District Health Department announced the results of tests on 59 wells this week. The tests were conducted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy after high PFAS levels were found at former the Du-Wel Metal Products site in Hartford earlier this month. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory level for PFAS is 70 parts per trillion, and of the 59 residential wells tested this month in Hartford, 11 exceeded that level. 25 showed PFAS below the 70 parts per trillion mark. 23 of the residential wells showed no PFAS. The Van Buren Cass District Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have contacted residents whose wells were sampled, and filters have been provided to residents whose well water had any amount of PFAS. Also, the water station at the Hartford Fire Department will continue to distribute water to the affected well owners in the study area until their filters are installed. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is working with the local health department to expand the testing area. Affected residents will be contacted. The health department says the municipal water system in Hartford has been tested for the chemical, and it came back clear.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grants Announced

The latest Heart of Cook grants have been announced. The grants from the Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman total more than $65,000 in this round. They focus on supporting everything from education to public safety to recreation, and there are 38 organizations receiving them. Recipients include several fire departments, the Berrien Conservation District, the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, Gateway Incorporated, and the River Valley Senior Center. The grants were announced at a reception at the Cook plant on Thursday. The Heart of Cook program is administered by the Berrien Community Foundation, and a committee of Cook plant employees reviews all of the grant applications.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Recognizes Nursing Graduates

Southwestern Michigan College has recognized 18 graduates for earning their associate degrees in nursing, joining the ranks of 3,069 SMC nursing graduates since 1967. This latest group is also the first class to experience the expanded Nursing and Health Services Building that opened in January. SMC says they were able to train in its new simulation labs. At the spring pinning ceremony held in Dowagiac this month, SMC President David Mathews challenged the graduates to “think of this as a beginning” as they go on to interact with the next generation.. ...Read Full Story

Man Electrocuted In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a man was electrocuted on Friday. The department says it happened around 11:30 a.m. in the 2700 block of White Street in Howard Township at an American Electric Power substation. Emergency responders were called out to an area that’s under construction. They found 53-year-old Steven Smith of Michigan City, Indiana was electrocuted while working on the overhead power lines. First aid was administered to him, but he died of his injuries. Deputies were assisted at the scene by Pokagan Tribal Police, SMCAS Ambulance Service, and the Howard Township Fire Department.. ...Read Full Story