Local News Archives

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

LGBTQ Groups Praise Proposed Expansion Of Civil Rights Protections

LGBTQ state lawmakers and their supporters this week introduced an amendment to the state’s Civil Rights Act to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in Michigan. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, passed in 1976, makes it illegal to discriminate in matters of housing, public accommodation, and employment due to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age, height, weight or family status. Sam Inglot of the group Progress Michigan says LGBTQ Michiganders also should have legal recourse if they experience discrimination.. ...Read Full Story

More Than $300,000 In Pokagon Fund Grants Approved

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

New Staff At South Haven City Hall

The city of South Haven is welcoming a new assistant finance director and a new human resources director. It says Carol Stricklin is now the assistant finance director. She’s currently the lead accountant for South Haven Public Schools, and has experience in bookkeeping and payroll. Stricklin has also done volunteer work around the community. She will start the job with the city on June 30. Also, the city recently announced Kim Wise has been hired as human resources director. She was previously employed by Bronson Healthcare Group as the system employment and leave of absence supervisor. Prior to that, she did HR for South Haven Health System. Wise took up her new position on June 3.. ...Read Full Story

Lakes Erie, Superior Set Water Level Records

From the Associated Press — Wet spring weather has pushed Lake Erie’s water level to its highest point ever recorded. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday the shallowest of the Great Lakes hit the milestone in May, surpassing the previous peak set in 1986. Lake Superior also reached its highest known level for the month of May, although it has been even higher at other times of year. The Corps began measuring Great Lakes levels in 1918. Chief watershed hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz of the Corps district office in Detroit says precipitation in the region last month was 21% above normal. He says Lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario might also set records this summer. The Corps says flooding and coastal erosion threats will continue along Great Lakes coasts, especially during storms.. ...Read Full Story

Houston Astros Draft St. Joseph Native Jordan Brewer

St. Joseph’s Jordan Brewer is headed to the Houston Astros system. The University of Michigan baseball star was selected by Houston in the third round of the 2019 MLB amateur draft this week. Brewer graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2016 and played his first two years of college baseball at Lincoln Trails Community College in Illinois before transferring to Michigan. With the Wolverines, he was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. So far this season, he’s hitting .352 with 12 home runs, 52 runs batted in and 19 steals in 50 games. Michigan is still playing in the postseason and heads to UCLA on Friday for the Super Regionals, one step shy of the College World Series.. ...Read Full Story

Upton One Of Seven Republicans To Vote To Help Dreamers Get Pathway To Citizenship

A bill which would give as many as 2.5 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship is now headed to the U.S. Senate following passage this week by the House. The American Dream and Promise Act passed on a vote of 237-187, which included just seven Republicans joining Democrats to vote in favor. One of those being Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph. Upton has long been a supporter of the Dreamers as they’ve come to be called, who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived here for almost all of their lives. In a statement, he says DACA recipients are contributing to their communities and deserve the chance to be able to stay. Upton adds the resolution isn’t perfect, but he’s hoping it prompts bipartisan talks on the best solutions possible.. ...Read Full Story

Farmington Board Approves Contract With Herrera

Just as things come to a head for Benton Harbor Area Schools, its superintendent and CEO is leaving. The Farmington Public Schools Board of Education has approved a three-year contract with Robert Herrera to take over the position of superintendent in that district. The Farmington district writes on its Facebook page the board unanimously approved the contract this week. Board President Pamela Green says the “vote illustrates the board’s confidence in and support of Dr. Herrera.” He was chosen from among 29 applicants for the superintendent job there, and he’s slated to start on July 1. Herrera stepped into the leadership role at Benton Harbor Area Schools last July, working under the state as the district’s CEO through the cooperative agreement. That agreement expires at the end of June 30.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Michigan Power To Do Helicopter Inspections

Indiana Michigan Power is going to use helicopters to conduct some routine maintenance on its transmission lines around southwest Michigan. I&M says the work will be done between Lakeville, Indiana and Bridgman starting this week and continuing around the summer. The helicopters help crews reach wires and equipment between transmission structures. I&M says the choppers being used are black MD-500s. They’ll travel along the transmission line and hover for periods of time while crews perform the work. If you see the helicopters, don’t be alarmed. I&M adds customers will not experience outages as a result of the work, but some landowners may be contacted and asked for permission for ground support crews to access equipment.. ...Read Full Story

Man Robs Benton Township Chicken Coop At Gunpoint

Police are looking for a man who robbed the Chicken Coop restaurant on M-139 in Benton Township just after 8:30 Tuesday night. The Benton Township Police Department says the suspect is a black man, around five-feet-eight, who had his faced covered by a camouflage mask and pulled a gun after coming in through the back door. Employees say he ordered them to the front of the business and kept the gun pointed at them until all the cash was out of the registers and in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. He got away through the back door, and investigators weren’t able to track him. No one was hurt, and no shots were fired.. ...Read Full Story

Meeting Held To Address Future Of Benton Harbor High School

A Tuesday night meeting to talk about the fate of Benton Harbor High School took the form of a rally as the community did just that for its schools. Kicking things off was Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education President Steven Mitchell, who said the board is asking the state for a two-week extension to decide on a proposal to shut down the high school after the 2020-2021 academic year. The board currently has until this Friday to decide. The state has offered debt relief in exchange. Local Trustee Patricia Rush said at Tuesday’s meeting the district’s problems go back to Schools of Choice, telling the crowd it lost $22 million in funding this year to other districts. Other speakers included students who pushed the Fresh Start Resolution.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Vote Panned By OutCenter

Local advocates for the LGBTQ community are questioning Congressman Fred Upton’s vote on the Equality Act, which passed the House last month. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News the act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans in the public and private sectors.. ...Read Full Story

Chicago Activist Lends Support To BHAS

In town this week to show support to Benton Harbor Area Schools as the state offers to wipe out some of its debt in exchange for closure of the high school is Chicago-based activist Jitu Brown with the Journey for Justice Alliance. He tells WSJM News his own city has faced a round of school closures in primarily black communities, and sees similarities to Benton Harbor. Brown says the “land grab” claims have credibility.. ...Read Full Story