Local News Archives

Viticulture Field Day Next 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

Commission Updates Animal Ordinance

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved an update to the animal ordinance. At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson explained the ordinance amendment was intended to establish that certain kinds of farm animals aren’t allowed in city limits if they’re not being used for agriculture. However, he told commissioners this doesn’t mean the city would be going around checking homes to see what animals people have. The amendment is intended to make enforcement possible when someone complains about a disturbance.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Ring Lardner Middle School Selected For DON’T QUIT Fitness Center

Ring Lardner Middle School in Niles is one of three schools in the state picked to receive a DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. Governor Whitmer and National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils chairman Jake Steinfeld made the announcement Wednesday, selecting the state’s most outstanding schools for demonstrating leadership in getting and keeping students fit. Along with Lardner, Burton’s Atherton Elementary and Lincoln Park Middle School in suburban Detroit were selected for the $100,000 fitness centers. Each fitness center is paid for by a public/private partnership with companies like Coca-Cola, Anthem Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. TuffStuff Fitness International provides all the fitness equipment, which is manufactured in the United States.. ...Read Full Story

Gop Frowns On, But Doesn’t Punish Amash Impeachment Call

From the Associated Press — Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy says Representative Justin Amash, the lone Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is an outlier. But neither he nor the most conservative House members are punishing the
Michigan Republican. And Amash isn’t backing down. Amash told The Associated Press Tuesday that “their pressure doesn’t have
influence” on him, adding, “I really am not concerned about what Kevin McCarthy thinks about it.” McCarthy told the AP that Amash has long voted in conflict with Republicans, including on Trump’s failed attempt to declare a national emergency to build his border wall.
Amash, a libertarian, is a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and remains a member of the group. The caucus voted to condemn his comments on impeachment, but did not oust him.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Preparing For Lake Effect Pride Event

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is gearing up for its annual Lake Effect Pride event. Set for Saturday, June 8 at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Lake Effect Pride is a chance for the OutCenter to celebrate its accomplishments of the past year and also recognize allies. Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News they’ll give out their annual Ally of the Year Award, and the winner is the St. Joseph City Commission.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Local And County Road Needs

The County Road Association of Michigan has released a plan for getting roads under the jurisdiction of counties back into good condition. Its “Michigan County Road Investment Plan” concludes another $2 billion in annual funding is needed for the state’s county road and bridge network. Association Director Denise Donahue tells WSJM News there isn’t often an assessment of local road needs.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Decommissioning Might Be Sped Up Pending NRC Review Of Holtec Plans

There’s a chance the Palisades nuclear plant in Covert will be decommissioned much sooner than planned. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing plans by Entergy to sell its retiring nuclear plants to Holtec, which would wrap up the cleanup and demolition of the facilities in eight years instead of 60. Entergy has already agreed to sell Palisades to Holtec after it shuts down for good in 2022. The expedited decommissioning is supported by environmental groups, nuclear watchdogs, and officials in some states, but they’re also not convinced Holtec can make good on those promises.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Benson Announces New Motorcycle Safety Initiative

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is calling on drivers to be aware of motorcycles. At an event in Grand Rapids today, says they’ve added strategies including knowing motorcyclist hand signals for turning and stopping, being on high alert on local streets and turning left and double checking blind spots to their driver education program for teens. She says they’ll be sharing those tips for everyone in a variety of ways.. ...Read Full Story

Another Area Grocery Chain Launches Home Delivery Service

Grocery delivery options are expanding in the area. Martin’s Super Market is now partnering with Instacart to offer same-day delivery from both the St. Joseph and Stevensville stores for a $3.99 fee for orders of at least $35. The grocery chain is also offering a monthly membership of $9.99 or $99 for an entire year for free and unlimited deliveries for all orders over $35. An Instacart personal shopper will pick, pack and deliver the order within the customer’s designated time frame, which can be as soon as one hour or as many as five days in advance. The ordering is done through Instacart’s app on mobile phones and tablets. Instacart also offers deliveries from Meijer, CVS, and Aldi in the area, and Roger’s Foodland offers their own delivery service. Martin’s store in Niles is not yet delivering, but the company says more stores will be added throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance Issues Request For Proposals To Redevelop Farmers & Merchants Bank Bldg

There’s a lot of money and incentives being offered to redevelop the old Farmers & Merchants Bank building in downtown Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance has put out a request for interested developers to submit proposals to revamp the iconic building, and the project chosen will be eligible for over $100,000 in cash an incentives. The building dates to the late 1800s, and a $250,000 facade renovation project is set to begin next month. Cornerstone Alliance recently purchased the building after it changed owners several times in recent years. The two-story building has over 12,500 square feet of available space, is zoned for commercial activity, and is just steps from both the Benton Harbor Arts District and the new mixed-use development at the Sheffield Building on Pipestone. Additionally, a $3 million renovation is planned nearby at the Harbor Center mixed-use building at the corner of Pipestone and Main streets. The deadline for developers to apply is 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14, and more information can be found here.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Man Named State’s Senior Citizen Of The Year

The state’s Senior Citizen of the Year award belongs to 76-year-old Bob Cooley of St. Joseph. He was honored last week on the lawn of the state Capitol during Older Michiganians Day by the state’s Aging and Adult Services Agency, the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging, and Consumers Energy. Cooley received a letter of congratulations from Governor Whitmer and a $1,000 check from Consumers Energy. He has been volunteering at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center since it opened in 2011 and was one of the first to sign u when Spectrum Health Lakeland put out the word of the need for people to help the nursing staff and greet patients at the information desk in the infusion center. Cooley takes three shifts a week and often fills in for others. He also volunteers at a soup kitchen, helps the Lions Club to set up an annual car show, mows public parks, and has researched and created directories to help people find their family members’ burial locations at cemeteries in Berrien County. He was nominated by Spectrum Health Lakeland’s volunteer coordinator for the award.. ...Read Full Story

Traverse City Area Public Schools Picks St. Joseph’s Ann Cardon As Superintendent

St. Joseph Public Schools superintendent Ann Cardon is the unanimous choice by the Traverse City Area Public Schools’ board to take the helm of their district. The board voted 7-0 Monday night to bring her in for the final step in the process, a “fit the district” tour on May 29. A total of 24 candidates applied for the Traverse City job, and she is the last one standing. Cardon has been superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools since being selected to succeed Al Skibbe upon his retirement in 2012. She holds an Education Specialist degree from Grand Valley State University and has 10 years of experience as a superintendent. Cardon also has an additional 14 years of experience as a central office administrator, principal and teacher.. ...Read Full Story

Tire Clean-Up Makes A Difference

An effort to clean up tires around the city of Benton Harbor made a splash last week. At Monday’s city commission meeting, Benton Harbor Director of Public Safety Dan McGinnis said the Friday event at Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park resulted in a lot of tires being dropped off.. ...Read Full Story

Billionaire Starting Petition Drive To Reform MI Auto Insurance

From the Associated Press — Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert is starting a ballot drive as a “failsafe” in case Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer don’t enact legislation to cut the country’s highest auto insurance premiums.
Quicken Loans vice president of government affairs Jared Fleisher said Monday that a ballot committee, Citizens for Lower Auto Insurance Rates, will be created this week. If Gilbert’s group gathers enough voter signatures, the Legislature could approve the initiative and sidestep a veto. The House and Senate have passed differing bills that Whitmer has criticized, though negotiations are ongoing. Fleisher says it’d be best if legislators and Whitmer enact a law to reduce rates by letting people opt out of mandatory unlimited medical benefits. But he
says signature-gathering must begin soon as a backup.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Preparing For Weekend Pow Wow

There will be a party this weekend at the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi campus in Dowagiac. Tribal council member Andy Jackson tells WSJM News they’re holding their tenth annual Memorial Day weekend pow wow. It’s smaller than the Labor Day pow pow, where the dancing is competitive. Jackson says this weekend gives the young and old a chance to learn traditional dancing.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Talk Road Funding

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan says the budget process this year is going a little slower than usual. She tells WSJM News the Michigan Senate is ahead of the House on putting together next year’s spending plan. The reason things are dragging? Roads.. ...Read Full Story

US 31 Ramp Closure This Week

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers the US-31 exit to Niles-Buchanan Road in Berrien County will be closing this week. MDOT says the ramp will be shut down this Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for some repaving work. During the closure, drivers will be detoured to exit 7 at Walton Road. You can stay on top of all MDOT construction and maintenance projects at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor/St. Joseph Area Has State’s Highest Gas Prices

Michigan’s highest gas prices are here in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. The latest figures from AAA Michigan put the average locally at $2.92, with a statewide average of $2.87, which is up 7¢ from last week. The statewide average is lower than last year at this time, which was an even $3. The lowest prices are up north, with both Traverse City and Marquette posting averages of $2.84. As for South Haven, not included in the AAA report, GasBuddy has an average of $2.78.. ...Read Full Story

Asian Carp eDNA Found Just Miles From Lake Michigan

It appears Asian carp could be getting closer to Lake Michigan. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, environmental DNA from three bighead and three silver carp were found in Lake Calumet near the Illinois-Indiana border and just a few miles from Lake Michigan. eDNA does not necessarily mean the fish have migrated there, and could have come from boats, as it’s not clear if any of those fish were found in the lake. The discovery was announced on Friday by federal officials, just a few weeks after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers he’s willing to move ahead with preconstruction, engineering and design work for the project at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet. The location is a choke point where the invasive carp could be blocked from migrating toward the lake.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Memorial Day Travel Projection Released

More of us in Michigan than almost ever before are going to be taking a trip for Memorial Day. Triple-A is out with its travel projection, showing a 3.3% increase in vacationers from last year at 1.3 million. This is the seventh straight year of growth for Memorial Day travel, and the highest since 2005 when 1.5 million took a trip of at least 50 miles from home. Most will drive, at 1.1 million, but air travel is also projected to be higher by 5% compared to last year at over 70,000. The auto club says the increased number of people traveling is happening despite higher gas prices, as those are up over 30¢ in the past two months and have been flirting with the $3 per gallon mark in the state. If you’re heading toward Chicago, avoid the Windy City on Friday between 3:30 and 5:30 pm Central time, as AAA says that will be the peak of travel with three-times the number of cars on the road compared to normal.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Drug Prices

Reducing the cost of prescription drugs is the aim of legislation approved by the U.S. House last week. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the Orange Book Transparency Act and the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 are intended to require drug makers to submit information about their medications in a more timely fashion. He says the Orange Book contains detailed information about drugs as they’ve been tested and approved.. ...Read Full Story

Texting Service Offered By Berrien Treasurer

The Berrien County Treasurer’s office is starting a new text message service to let people know when their property tax payments are due. The treasurer tells us taxpayers will start getting those messages this month to remind them of their next payment. It’s in an effort to improve efficiency and reduce the use of paper for monthly invoicing. There are currently 891 Berrien County property owners in monthly payment plans to avoid foreclosure and to get caught up. The treasurer says those payment plans have a 92% success rate. Anyone who is in a payment plan is automatically enrolled in the text service.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Means New Turf For Lakeshore Stadium

Lakeshore Public Schools is receiving a sizable donation to pay for the installation of new synthetic turf at Al Stockman Stadium. The district announced this week it’s getting $410,000 from Bob and Betty Kohn of Royalton Township for the turf. Thanks to the donation, the district can get it a year earlier than planned. It had been planning to install the turf next year using sinking fund dollars. Lakeshore Athletic Director Greg Younger tells us the Kohns are big-time supporters of Lakeshore Schools. In the past, they have given the district money for the softball field, Rocket Football field, and soccer fields. In fact, the field at Al Stockman Stadium is named the Kohn-Lehmann Field in honor of the Kohns and other benefactors.. ...Read Full Story

Young Children Reading Events Coming Up

Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this coming week. RESA Director of Early Education Kerenda Applebey tells WSJM  News the Parents as Teachers Program and libraries of Berrien County are teaming up for Read Around the County. It’s for kids ages five and under. They can hear some of their favorite stories read by characters in costume on Tuesday, May 21 in Niles and Thursday, May 23 in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story