Local News Archives

Covert Police Investigating Possible Drug Overdose Death


Police in Covert are looking for two men who dropped off an Illinois man at South Haven Hospital’s emergency room last week. That man, 36-year-old Jayson Piper of Brookfield, was pronounced dead at the hospital. His death is under investigation as a possible drug overdose, but autopsy results are still pending. Police have released surveillance photos from the entrance of the emergency department of the two men who brought in Piper on October 12 at 6:30 p.m. They are not calling the men suspects, and say they think the two might have information about what led to Piper’s death. Police believe the man had been at a party in the Covert or South Haven area right before being brought to the hospital.. ...Read Full Story

Road Commission: “Shake Your Mailbox”


As the winter approaches, the Van Buren County Road Commission is asking homeowners to secure their mailboxes. It says you can prepare your mailbox for winter by tightening screws and ensuring the post and box are secure enough to endure large amounts of thrown snow. The road department’s policy states the agency will only replace mailboxes or posts if it is determined its own equipment made direct contact with the mailbox, and not when the box is knocked over by snow or slush that is thrown by the plow. Therefore, it’s urging everyone to shake their mailbox this October to avoid a bigger headache later on.. ...Read Full Story

Retired Fighter Pilot Nicole Malachowski Addresses Economic Club


Using setbacks as opportunities was a theme of Wednesday night’s presentation of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan as retired U.S. fighter pilot Nicole Malachowski spoke in Benton Township. Malachowski served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, becoming the first woman Thunderbird and rising to the rating of command pilot. She served as a White House Fellow and advised First Lady Michelle Obama on issues related to service members.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Urges Whitmer On State Budget


Congressman Fred Upton has teamed up with several of his Michigan colleagues to send a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer asking her to reconsider some line item vetoes she put into the most recent state budget. Upton tells WSJM News Whitmer cut funding to several important programs.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Community Foundation Promotes U.S. Census


The Berrien Community Foundation is working to get the word out about the importance of taking part in the next U.S. Census. President Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News count day will be April 1 of next year. She says critical state and federal funding for communities is calculated based off population numbers obtained through the census.. ...Read Full Story

Couple Convicted In Meth Case


A Cass County man faces up to 30 years in prison after being convicted in a meth case on Wednesday. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says Richard Williams was found guilty by a jury of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to deliver, of conspiring with girlfriend Ashley Friske to do the same, and of maintaining a drug house. Police say they raided the Calvin Township home of Williams in May and found meth along with items used in the use and sale of meth. Friske pleaded guilty in September to possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, conspiring with Williams to possess with intent to deliver methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house. Williams will be sentenced on December 13 as a habitual offender.. ...Read Full Story

Suit Challenges Michigan Regulator Over $250,000 Benefit Cap


From the Associated Press — The administrator of a plan that covers the medical expenses of uninsured non-drivers who are injured in car crashes sued a top Michigan regulator, alleging that her recent orders conflict with an auto insurance overhaul. The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Court of Claims by the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility. The organization is run by insurers and administers the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, which provides medical benefits for passengers and pedestrians who are injured in accidents and have no auto insurance. The suit accuses the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services and its director, Anita Fox, of forcing the plan to violate the law by not implementing a new $250,000 cap on benefits until July 2020. The suit says the limit took immediate effect this past June.. ...Read Full Story

Medical Issue Leads To Police Chase


A Michigan City man is recovering after he was in a brief chase with police on Tuesday night as a result of a medical issue he was having. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says a call came in around 7:45 p.m. about a vehicle driving erratically on U.S. 12 in New Buffalo Township. A sheriff’s deputy found the vehicle and tried to pull it over, but it kept going at a rate of 25 to 30 miles per hour erratically. The vehicle eventually crashed into a New Buffalo Police Department vehicle at the intersection of US-12 near Whittaker Street in New Buffalo. Officers learned the man behind the wheel was suffering from low blood sugar. He was taken by ambulance to Spectrum Health Lakeland in St Joseph for treatment. No arrest was made in the incident. The sheriff’s department will forward its report to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office for review.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Man Killed In Arlington Township Crash


A two-car crash on M-43 in Arlington Township about four miles east of Bangor has claimed the life of one of the drivers. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says 54-year-old Santiago Gallegos-Saucedo of Bangor was killed in the crash, which happened Wednesday morning a little after 7. Deputies say he ignored a stop sign while heading north on County Road 673 at the intersection with M-43 and his Saturn sedan was hit by a GMC pickup. Both vehicles rolled, and both drivers had to be pulled from the wreckage. The GMC driver suffered minor injuries and was buckled up. She had her 10 and seven-year-old kids in the car, and they were not hurt. Gallegos-Saucedo, however, was not wearing a seat belt. He died at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested For Armed Robbery At Benton Harbor Subway Restaurant


A 21-year-old Benton Harbor man is in jail, accused of an armed robbery at the Subway restaurant on Main Street across from Whirlpool’s Riverview Campus. Public safety officers were nearby when the robbery happened just before 9 p.m. Tuesday and caught the suspect quickly. A pistol was also found during the arrest along with the money taken from the register. No one was hurt in the robbery, and the Subway opened at its normal time today. The suspect’s name is being withheld until he’s arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors, UAW Reach Tentative Agreement To End Strike


General Motors and the United Auto Workers union have reached tentative deal that could end month-long strike by more than 49,000 workers. The deal comes a day before local union presidents are to meet with United Auto Workers union leaders in Detroit and follows yesterday’s bargaining session that included CEO Mary Barra for a second time in a week. GM has lost over $1 billion since the strike began in mid-September.. ...Read Full Story

State Grants Mean Big Money For SWM Courts


Grants totaling nearly $1.6 million have been announced for the specialty courts in Van Buren County. The county court administrator says the money comes in three grants. First, a State Court Administrative Office grant of $716,000 for the Van Buren County Drug Treatment Court, the Family Reunification Court, the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, the Adult and Family Recovery Courts, and the Sobriety Court. Second is a $750,000 enhancement grant from the Office of Justice Programs for the Adult Recovery Court. Lastly, the State Community Corrections Board has awarded the Van Buren Office of Community Corrections $128,000 to support pretrial supervisions. Meanwhile, the Berrien County Trial Court also announced this week it’s received a $433,000 grant for its specialty courts through the State Court Administrator’s Office. Those specialty court programs in both counties aim to reduce the rate of re-offences by giving offenders special attention and help.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Advisory Committee Vote Slightly Delayed


There’s been another slight delay in the creation of a new Community Engagement and Advisory Committee for Benton Harbor Area Schools. The board of education was scheduled to approve a memorandum of understanding for the body at a Tuesday meeting, but it was pulled from the agenda. Board President Joseph Taylor told us the reason is that State Superintendent Michael Rice wants to be included in the memorandum, but he has yet to read it.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer To Appeal Judge’s Decision On Flavored E-Cigarettes


From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will appeal a judge’s decision to block enforcement of the state’s new ban on flavored electronic cigarettes. The Democrat issued a statement Tuesday calling the ruling “wrong” and saying
it “sets a dangerous precedent” of a court second-guessing the expert judgment of public health officials. Whitmer last month ordered the issuance of emergency rules after her chief medical executive found that youth vaping is a public health emergency. Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled Tuesday that vaping shops that sued are likely to prevail on their contention that the rules are procedurally invalid. Whitmer wants the Michigan Supreme Court to issue a “quick and final” ruling on the dispute.. ...Read Full Story

Former City Manager Appointed To School Board


Former Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson is the newest member of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. At a Tuesday meeting, the board selected Watson to fill a vacancy created by the death of Stephen Mitchell last month. Board President Joseph Taylor told us Watson seemed to have the qualities the school board needs.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Syria: “It’s A Mess”


Congressman Fred Upton is disturbed to see what’s been happening in northern Syria since President Trump ordered the removal of American troops stationed there. Upton told us last week pulling U.S. troops out of Syria would result in Turkey attacking Kurdish allies of the U.S. That is just what has happened. Upton says this undoes a great deal of progress.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Getting Splash Pad


Coming soon to the city of South Haven will be a splash pad near South Beach. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News it’s taken a four year effort to collect the $612,000 needed for the attraction, which will be similar to the Whirlpool Centennial Fountain in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Donates Fire Alarm System For Historic Building


The historic Scott Club building in South Haven is now a bit safer thanks to the local Rotary club. The Rotary Club of South Haven has funded the installation of a fire detection system at the attraction. Constructed in 1893, the Queen Anne-style Scott Club building is a Michigan historic site. The Rotary says the new fire detection system is wired directly to the local fire department and will notify them immediately if a fire is detected. This is the second installation of a fire detection system in a historically important building funded by the Rotarians. The first was at the Historical Association of South Haven, formerly the Hartman School, in 2017.. ...Read Full Story

State Ends Pension Contract Over Investor Comments

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan’s retirement systems have ended a contract with an investment company that managed more than $600 million in pension funds after the CEO made “completely unacceptable” comments at a conference.
The Michigan Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Investments fired Fisher Investments last week. The decision came two days after the Camas, Washington-based company’s founder and CEO Ken Fisher spoke at the Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco.
CNBC obtained audio of Fisher referencing genitalia. The Washington Post reported that he spoke of doing acid and his belief that charities are immoral. The retirement system’s chief investment officer, Jon Braeutigam, notified Michigan’s investment board of the move Thursday. He said, “There is no excuse to not treat everyone with dignity and respect.” Michigan’s retirement systems have more than $70 billion in assets.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Blocks Michigan’s Ban On Flavored E-Cigarettes


From the Associated Press — A Michigan judge is blocking the state’s two-week-old ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday. She says Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration’s delay in implementing the ban undercut its position that emergency rules were needed. Stephens also says there is evidence that if flavored vaping products are prohibited, adults will return to using more harmful combustible tobacco products. The lawsuit was filed by vaping businesses that say they will go out of business due to the ban. Whitmer has said the ban is necessary to combat an epidemic of teens vaping.. ...Read Full Story

Four Hurt In Cass County Crash


Four people are hospitalized after a crash in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says 18-year-old Daquan Brown of Elkhart blew through a stop sign at Dailey Road and M-60 in Jefferson Township just after 5 Monday evening and hit two other cars. The other four who were hurt were the drivers and one passenger each in the two cars involved in the wreck. Deputies say it does not appear alcohol or drugs played roles in the crash, and everyone was buckled up. The extent of the injuries has not been disclosed.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Weighing Future Of Lighthouse Keeper’s Dwelling


The St. Joseph City Commission has an expensive decision to make by the end of November as to if it wants to purchase the former lighthouse keeper’s dwelling from the federal government. City Manager John Hodgson updated the city commission this week that they’ve received the asking price from Washington for the building and the land. He says restoring the building would cost around $1 million.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Opens Pumpkin House


To get into the spirit of the fall, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles has constructed a house made of pumpkins. It says the life-sized garden attraction will provide a good backdrop for photos this season. The pumpkin house was made possible by funding from the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, which says Fernwood’s educational and preservation efforts fit nicely into the organization’s mission. Support was also received from The Whirlpool Foundation. Fernwood says anyone who visits Tuesdays through Sundays now through Thanksgiving can check out the pumpkin house.. ...Read Full Story

EEE Claims Fifth Victim In Michigan


A fifth person has died in Michigan from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. While the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has not released details other than the victim was a Cass County resident, family members have told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids he was 72-year-old Henry Hess. He fell ill before the area was sprayed for mosquitoes over the past several weeks. So far, there have been 10 human cases of Triple-E in the state, and half of them have died, with two deaths in Cass County. Typically, health officials say a third of those who contract it will die, and survivors are often left with mental and physical disabilities. This is the worst outbreak of Triple-E in the state in over a decade. Health officials say the number of animals with the disease has risen to 40 with the confirmation of a horse in Allegan County this month, and that animal was showing symptoms before the state sprayed parts of that county on October 3 and 6.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board To Interview Candidates For Board Vacancy


There will be a special meeting of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education this Tuesday, and they will be interviewing the candidates for an open seat on the body. Among the names in the running are a couple you may know. Former Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson and former school board trustee Elnora Gavin are on the list. Also on the list are Nicholas Morgan Magee and Shaquille Turner. The board must appoint someone to fill a vacancy created by the passing of Stephen Mitchell last month. Also on the agenda is consideration of the new advisory committee to work on a plan for a district turnaround. The committee was proposed by the Michigan Department of Treasury as school leaders work to avoid the potential closure of Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Prepares For New Soo Lock


The Michigan Department of Transportation is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an effort is underway to build a new Soo Lock. Congress this year approved more than $75 million for the initial construction and design of a lock to complement the Poe Lock. MDOT contract manager Ryan Mitchell, speaking on the latest MDOT “Talking Michigan Transportation” podcast, says it is important to have a second lock in case the Poe Lock fails.. ...Read Full Story

Perrigo Employees To Make World Record Attempt


A team of scientists from Allegan-based Perrigo is going to attempt a world record this coming weekend. The drug maker says they’re constructing the world’s largest periodic table to inspire kids to pursue the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. The event is also in honor of the 150th anniversary of the periodic table. The big periodic table reveal will be 108 yards and will fill the football field at Grand Valley State University. All 118 elements are 18 by 14 feet. The record breaking periodic table will be unveiled on Saturday at the Kelly Family Sports Center at Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus. The event will be open to the public. Guinness Book of World Records officials will be in attendance.. ...Read Full Story

Groundbreaking For New Library This Week


A groundbreaking for the new public library in Hartford will be held this week. The Hartford Library has used its current space since 1925, and the new facility will be named the Art and Bonna VanDerlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library, after the owners of the local Harding’s. Bonna VanDerlyn has pledged big support for the effort to build a new library. The groundbreaking will be this Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the site between East and Church Streets. Bonna Vanderlyn will be attending. Library leaders say they want to show “our sincere appreciation for all that she has done for the Hartford community now and in the past.” The new library will include a 21st century humanities center with areas for literacy and teen involvement, a maker’s space, and a home for the Van Buren Genealogical Society. In addition to the support from Bonna Vanderlyn, the new library project has received a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.. ...Read Full Story

EEE Risk Remains, But Diminishing


With cooler weather upon us, is southwest Michigan in the clear yet for Eastern Equine Encephalitis? The short answer is probably, but not completely. Gillian Conrad is the spokeswoman for the Berrien County Health Department and says mosquito activity is declining.. ...Read Full Story

UFCU Releases Third Quarter Results


Earnings are up for St. Joseph-based United Federal Credit Union. The financial institution says net income for the third quarter was $9.3 million, up 11.2% from the second quarter and a rise of 12.8% from the same time last year. Net income for United through the third quarter is $24.7 million. Total assets rose by 5.3% over year-ago levels to $2.87 billion, and total deposits grew $26.8 million to $2.19 billion compared to the second quarter of 2019. Total loans came in largely unchanged at $2.46 billion, and membership for United grew by 1.8% over the third quarter of last year to 176,100.. ...Read Full Story

Traverse City School Board Issues Statement On Ann Cardon


The Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education says former St. Joseph Public Schools superintendent Ann Cardon remains at the helm of the northern Michigan school district. In a statement released this morning, the board says there “has been much speculation in the community about TCAPS and the future of the Superintendent,” calling the turmoil in the district “unfortunate.” Cardon has been on the job for just over two months in Traverse City and has had a few issues pop up with board members on things like how often she wants them to meet, how to handle the district’s budget, and the fact she’s yet to meet with the teachers’ union. Board member Erica Moon Mohr called out others on the panel on Friday, saying they’ve bullied the superintendent while roughly three dozen people spoke in support of Cardon during a raucous meeting that same day. The board held a closed session for about an hour and a half after taking the public comment, and emerged saying Cardon remained the superintendent. She is not doing any interviews, citing personal issues and asking for privacy.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Gas Price Average Falls 11¢


The state’s average gas price is down 11¢ a gallon according to the latest data from Triple-A Michigan. The auto club puts the average at $2.58, a drop of about 30¢ from this time last year. Traverse City continues to have the lowest prices of the area’s surveyed by Triple-A at $2.47, and Ann Arbor’s prices have been the highest for several months. This week, those are at $2.67. In Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, AAA says the average price is $2.55, down 6¢ over the past week. South Haven, which is not part of the AAA survey, is down to $2.30 according to GasBuddy, and that website notes prices in Niles are as low as $2.40 to start the week.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Industry Looks For Gains With New Trade Deal


Congressional leaders are still trying to hammer out a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and there’s a lot on the line for workers in Michigan. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, would replace NAFTA. Exports within North America account for some 180,000 Michigan jobs, and Michigan is second in the U.S. for trade with its neighbors. Ford Motor Company’s President of Automotive Joe Hinrichs explains the trade deal is especially crucial for the auto industry, which depends on the free flow of trade between the three countries.. ...Read Full Story

Free Smoke Detectors Available


This is Fire Prevention Month, and 1,000 free smoke detectors are being given away in Berrien County. Servpro of Berrien County’s Bob Rogers tells WSJM News the company has distributed smoke detectors to local fire departments for about 14 years now.. ...Read Full Story

Local Police K9, Handler Finalists In Sweepstakes


The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department and one of its K9s are in the running to win a brand new Chevy Tahoe, fully outfitted for police K9 use. The department says Deputy Eric Calhoun and K9 Kuno are finalists in the Vested Interest K9 SUV sweepstakes. Vested Interest is a group that gives protective vests to police K9s around the country. It’s taking votes from the public for which K9 and handler should win the sweepstakes, and you can vote through October 31. Kuno has been with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department for about two years, and is trained in suspect apprehension, narcotics detection, and tracking. In 2018, Kuno and Deputy Calhoun located a missing three-year-old boy and reunited him with his family. Everyone’s welcome to go to the sweepstakes website and to put in a vote for Kuno. You can vote at www.vik9s.org/suvvote.. ...Read Full Story

Boys And Girls Club Opens At SJ High School


The Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor has opened a new location at St. Joseph High School. Director of Operations Liji Hanny tells WSJM News the organization ran a pilot last year at E.P. Clarke Elementary School that went well, and then administration at St. Joseph Public Schools inquired about having something similar for the high school. The Boys and Girls Club location opened in one classroom last week.. ...Read Full Story

Drama For Ann Cardon At Traverse City Public Schools


Only two months after starting her new job as superintendent at Traverse City Public Schools, former St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon has run into some problems. Interlochen Public Radio reports the board of education in Traverse City held a special meeting Friday, possibly to discuss Cardon. The outfit reports four of seven board members “allegedly want to remove Cardon from her post due to what has been described as differences in how to handle the school district’s budget.” There was big turnout for Friday’s meeting with IPR reporting nearly 30 members of the public speaking in favor of Cardon. Not one speaker supported removing her. Board member Erica Moon Mohr said Cardon is being bullied. The board went into a roughly 90 minute closed session, and after it emerged, one trustee told reporters Cardon is still the district’s superintendent.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crash In Berrien Township Saturday


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash that occurred on Saturday. It says deputies were sent to the scene on Hochberger Road near Hipps Hollow Road in Berrien Township just after 9:40 a.m. They learned Thomas Disterheft of Eau Claire had been northbound on Hochberger when his vehicle left the road and hit a large tree. He was taken by ambulance to Spectrum Health Lakeland, where he was pronounced dead. The sheriff’s department is still determining the cause of the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Heritage Museum And Cultural Center To Host Day Of The Dead Celebration


The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph will hold a fall celebration with an international twist just after Halloween this year. Director Brian Carroll tells WSJM News it’s the second annual Day of the Dead Celebration in partnership with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. He says the two team up to have a celebration all about the Mexican Dia de los Muertos.. ...Read Full Story

Meeting On Harbor Study Next Week


Set for Tuesday are two sessions in Benton Harbor for the public to offer its thoughts on how the harbor in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor should be improved for long-term stability. Morgan Beeler with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Office of the Great Lakes tells WSJM News the state was asked to help draft a plan for the harbor at the request of local leaders following a 2015 Andrews University report.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Holds Automotive Day


Nearly 300 high school students from around southwest Michigan and northern Indiana have had a chance to learn more about the automotive industry thanks to an event this month at Southwestern Michigan College. Automotive Technology Green Flag Day was held on October 4 as tips from automotive industry insiders were provided to the students. Representatives from NAPA Filters and Zolman Tire gave advice on getting hired and the technologies of tomorrow were discussed. SMC says the day hosted students from Van Buren Tech in Lawrence, the Elkhart Area Career Center, Lakeshore High School, Coloma High School, and Niles Brandywine High School.. ...Read Full Story

Line For Pot Licenses Forms Way Too Early In One Michigan Township


From the Associated Press — A line has formed outside a western Michigan government building more than a week before local officials start accepting applications for recreational marijuana licenses. Several people formed a line Wednesday outside the Muskegon Township Hall, bringing chairs and blankets with them. Township trustees approved an ordinance allowing recreational marijuana businesses to open there. But Muskegon Township Supervisor Jennifer Hodges tells WOOD-TV that only seven licenses are available and they’ll be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis for applicants meeting all requirements. Everyone in Wednesday’s line was getting paid by a business to hold their spot in line. Bill Gillikin says he spent his time sitting in the line just “getting caught
up on some things.” Michigan voters legalized marijuana for recreational purposes last fall, a decade after approving medical marijuana.. ...Read Full Story

Sturgis Middle Schooler Wins LaSata Essay Contest


State Senator Kim LaSata has announced the winner of her district-wide student essay contest. She says Kayden Jones, a sixth grader at Sturgis Middle School, has taken top honors. The theme of the contest was “What would you do if you were a senator to make Southwest Michigan better?” Jones wrote he would work to improve special education. He cited his own challenges at school as a reason for wanting to help other students in similar situations. As the contest winner, Jones now gets to spend a day with LaSata at the Capitol in Lansing as a junior senator. LaSata says picking a winner out of more than 80 submissions was difficult, but Kayden’s entry stood out the most.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Driver Killed In I-94 Crash In New Buffalo


An autopsy will be done at Western Michigan University to determine the cause of death of a semi truck driver who was killed in a crash on I-94 in New Buffalo. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department responded just before 9 Friday morning to the wreckage at mile marker 1 along westbound I-94. The semi was fully engulfed in flames when first responders arrived. Witnesses say the truck hit a guardrail before going off the highway and hitting a tree and then it burst into flames. It’s not yet known if the driver had a medical emergency or if a mechanical issue caused the crash. The truck was taking clothing to Meijer stores in Wisconsin. Police say the driver’s name and hometown are being withheld pending notification of his family.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Proposes Upping Lead Testing At Schools In Rule Overhaul


From the Associated Press — The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a major overhaul of rules on lead contamination in drinking water, including tightening testing requirements at the nation’s schools and day care centers. But critics say another change would give utilities decades more to fully replace lead pipes in water systems with high lead. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Thursday announced the proposed changes to controls on lead contamination in drinking water systems. The EPA called it the biggest rule overhaul since the 1990s for lead water pipes, which can leach toxins into water and poison children. The changes would follow lead crises in Flint, Michigan; Newark, New Jersey; and elsewhere. Proposals include requiring water suppliers to test for lead at schools and day care centers.. ...Read Full Story

Program Exploring Racial Health Disparities


The next engagement of the Community Grand Rounds program is set for October 22 in Berrien Springs. Spectrum Health Lakeland Director of Population Health Lynn Todman runs the group that invites guest speakers to come and explore health equity issues, often related to race. She tells WSJM News last week’s engagement on privilege with author Debbie Irving attracted a diverse crowd of about 300.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling Addresses Conflict Of Interest Issues, Thanks Colleagues


Berrien County Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling is speaking out to thank her colleagues on the commission for the kindness shown since the death of her husband earlier this year. In a statement to the board read at Thursday’s meeting, Freehling also addressed the issues that have led to both a police investigation and now an investigation by a special counsel hired by the commission into potential conflicts of interest with her late husband’s business. She noted she’s been on “a steep learning curve” since Patrick Freehling’s death, including “learning new information about requisitions for drain contracts presented to the Board for work done by Hartzler Excavating LLC in 2017-18 and REV Excavating LLC in 2018 and 2019.”. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE: YMCA Bomb Threat Suspect Was Employee


The bomb threat against the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA on Hollywood Road appears to have been an inside job. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has arrested 48-year-old Mario Cummings of Benton Harbor, who was an employee of the YMCA at the time the threat was called in just after 7 a.m. today. He is now in the Berrien County Jail on a charge of making a terrorist threat or a false report of terrorism, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Billy Joel To Play Notre Dame Stadium On June 20, 2020


Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel is slated to be the next artist to hold a concert at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. The university and LiveNation announced Joel as the just the second concert in the stadium’s history on Thursday, following Garth Brooks last October. WSJM News asked Notre Dame vice president for University enterprises and events Micki Kidder how they went about deciding who would be next to perform.. ...Read Full Story

Hoax Bomb Threat Results In Evacuation Of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA On Hollywood


Things are back to normal at the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA after a bomb threat this morning. A call was placed to the facility in Royalton Township around 7 a.m. from someone who claimed to have put a bomb inside. The building was evacuated as police were called. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office called in Spectrum Health Lakeland’s bomb-sniffing K-9 to help with the search, and the dog found no evidence of anything. The all-clear was given shortly before 9 a.m. Sheriff Paul Bailey says they’ve not yet identified any suspects.. ...Read Full Story