Local News Archives

Volunteer Event This Sunday At Warren Dunes State Park

Volunteers are invited out to Warren Dunes State Park this Sunday to help with the removal of invasive plants. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us those who come out will be removing garlic mustard, a pesky invasive that threatens habitat. Volunteers will pull invasive plants from areas off-trail, sometimes in hard to reach locations. Therefore, they are urged to wear hiking shoes, long sleeves, and pants. Everyone will meet at 1 p.m. at the organizational campground parking area on Floral Lane. The event will run through 4 p.m. You can find out more at the DNR’s volunteer event calendar.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Woman Killed In Crash Identified

A 28-year-old woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. She has been identified as Ashley Rae Grubb of Berrien Springs. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

Disaster Drill Planned In Lawrence

A mock disaster drill is planned for Lawrence tomorrow. Emergency service agencies from Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties will be helping students from the fire academy, emergency medical technician and law enforcement classes. This is the 19th year for the mock disaster drill, which is the capstone project for students. Instructors have a special disaster being planned, with realistic surprises awaiting those taking part. An Air Care helicopter will be on hand helping the students load the victims to be airlifted to Bronson and Borgess hospitals in Kalamazoo. Cosmetology students are also involved to make the injuries look as realistic as possible. The drill will be on the grounds of Van Buren Tech tomorrow, but the precise location and full nature of the disaster are not being revealed.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Early Morning Crash In St. Joseph

A 28-year-old Berrien Springs woman has died after crashing her vehicle into a tree in downtown St. Joseph. The crash happened just before 4:40 Tuesday morning at Port and Wayne streets near the Berrien County Courthouse. St. Joseph public safety officers had to cut her out of the wreckage, and she died at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is working with public safety by handling the accident reconstruction, and the crash is still being investigated. The woman’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Rejects Claim Over Rosa Parks Coat

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a dispute over a coat that belonged to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. The court rejected an appeal Monday. A lawyer for the trustee of Parks’ estate says relatives reneged on a deal to turn over a wool coat that Parks wore when she was arrested on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955. But a niece insists she doesn’t have the coat.
Steven Cohen turned to the Supreme Court after exhausting appeals in Michigan courts. Despite the loss, he predicts the “controversy will continue.” In 2014, the foundation of philanthropist Howard Buffett purchased hundreds of Parks’ personal belongings for $4.5 million, without the coat. Cohen says Buffett subsequently donated them to the Library of Congress. Parks died in 2005.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commissioners Get Tax Abatement Tutorial

Tax abatements have been a bit of a hot topic at St. Joseph City Commission meetings in the past few months, with some commissioners expressing concern about whether offering such incentives for companies to expand or locate here is a good long-term move. To explain it further, the city brought in Cornerstone Alliance president and CEO Rob Cleveland for a lesson. Commissioners said they understand the pros, but wanted his take on the cons of incentives.. ...Read Full Story

Open House Next Week For US-31 Completion Project

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning an open house next week for everyone to learn more about plans to finish the US-31 connection to I-94. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’ll get to work on the $111 million project starting next year. The plan is to make it possible to take US-31 to 94 without having to get off on Napier Avenue, as you do now.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Pick Up Trash In Benton Harbor

A community cleanup in Benton Harbor this weekend has resulted in a whole lot of trash being collected. Mayor Marcus Muhammad writes on his Facebook page items including “boats, toilets, couches, mattresses, plywood, tires, refrigerators, stoves, chairs” and more were brought to Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. City staff tell us they are working to remove all of the debris. The mayor says some people have complained about how it looks, but he has learned “you cannot please everyone.” Muhammad said he’s been assured everything would be picked up quickly, and he asked that no further items be dropped off.. ...Read Full Story

4H Cleanup Of Lake Michigan Beach This Month

The Van Buren Voyagers 4-H Club is planning a beach cleanup along Lake Michigan for this month, and everyone’s invited to help. The club’s Envirothon Teams will be at the Casco Township Nature Preserve in South Haven on May 28 starting at 4 p.m. They’ll be picking up trash and logging it for research purposes. The Great Lakes Water Alliance estimates 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year. Right now, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary hosts the only National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fresh water debris assessment. They’ll collect and study the amount and types of trash that wash up on the shore at the Casco Township Nature Preserve beach. Volunteers of all ages are invited to go and help with the 4H cleanup. You can register at GreatLakes.org.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools CEO Interviewing For Superintendent Post In Farmington This Week

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is looking for employment elsewhere. He’s scheduled to be interviewed for the position of superintendent of Farmington Public Schools in the Detroit area on Wednesday night. Herrera is one of seven candidates being interviewed for that post this week. Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education Trustee Joseph Taylor told our newsgathering partners at WSBT the news is shocking, given that Herrera still has three years on his contract.. ...Read Full Story

Report: 3M Covered Up PFAS Information For Decades

Accusations of decades of a cover-up are being thrown at Minnesota-based 3M over PFAS. Attorney Nicholas Coulson is representing the city of Parchment in its class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia Pacific, and says a “Detroit Free Press” investigation has found internal documents showing 3M covered up the health and environmental effects from the chemicals dating back to the 1950s.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Resurface M-43 In Van Buren County Between Bangor & Waverly Township

Orange barrels will line M-43 in Van Buren County for 13-and-a-half miles starting next Monday. The Michigan Department of Transportation will start a resurfacing project between Bangor and Waverly Township on May 20, and it’s expected to wrap up on Friday, June 28. Crews will be doing $2.3 million worth of work to repave the highway and work on sidewalk ramps, pavement markings and make curb and gutter improvements. One lane will remain open in each direction during construction.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Take Unexpected Dip

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are down about 11¢ from a week ago to about $2.80 per gallon. The auto club says the average price for regular is about 13¢ less than a year ago. AAA described the drop as a surprise and said it could be a result of unpredictable weather curbing demand. Typically, gas prices rise heading toward the Memorial Day holiday. The state’s highest average was about $2.85 a gallon in the Marquette area, the lowest is in Flint at $2.71. Prices locally in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are averaging $2.79, down 11¢ from last week. In South Haven, GasBuddy puts the average even lower, coming in at $2.69.. ...Read Full Story

LGBTQ Civil Rights Town Hall This Month

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is planning to host a town hall this month on discrimination faced by LGBTQ Michiganders and the protections they have. Set for May 16 at Lake Michigan College, the presentation will feature guest speaker Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Michigan. He’ll talk about case law and current policy developments, and also take questions. The event is being held as part of the OutCenter VOICES program. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell says she often hears from people who want to know about the protections in place for them, and this will be a chance for many to learn more. The town hall will be Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Todd Center.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Open House Coming Up In Niles

The public will have another chance next week to weigh in on the Berrien County Parks Department’s plans for the next few years with two open houses next week. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News earlier this spring the department is working on its master plan for 2020 through 2024. The plan outlines what developments could be coming to Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River County Parks.. ...Read Full Story

Program Helps Seniors Get Free Hearing Aids

A new program has been announced by the Berrien Community Foundation to give free hearing aids to low-income seniors. The foundation’s Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News the Starkey Hearing Foundation is expanding to Berrien County this year thanks to the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. As part of the Hear Now Mission, the BCF is working with Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph to get these hearing aids to those in need.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In New Buffalo Township Crash

One person is dead following a three-vehicle crash in New Buffalo Township Saturday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened just before 4 p.m. at M-239 just south of Wilson Road. Responding officers learned a Honda CRV crossed
the center line of M239 and struck two vehicles. There were no injuries in one of them. The second vehicle, which was struck head-one, had four passengers and one was killed. Three others are in critical condition. The driver of the Honda CRV, a 21-year-old Laporte, Indiana woman, and the driver of the vehicle she hit, a 40-year-old Elkhart man, were both listed as stable after receiving treatment for their injuries. All injured were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Accident Investigation Team was called to the scene and are assisting with the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Matching Grant For Watervliet Parcourse Announced

As renovations continue at the Watervliet Parcourse behind Lakeland Hospital Watervliet, a new matching grant for the project has been announced by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Lakeland Health Foundations Development Officer Mark Libs tells WSJM News the MEDC has offered a match of up to $35,000 for the parcourse’s crowdfunding campaign.. ...Read Full Story

Data Security Issue At Spectrum Health Lakeland

Spectrum Health Lakeland is notifying another 1,000 patients of a data security issue discovered with one of its vendors. Lakeland says the vendor is OS, Incorporated, a billing services company. It has confirmed to Lakeland an unauthorized individual accessed an email account of one of its employees. That could have exposed information about some Spectrum Health Lakeland patients. Lakeland learned of the issue on March 8, and says it’s been working with its own technology experts since. The information in question includes patient names and addresses, the type of health services provided, dates, diagnosis information, and health insurance providers. Spectrum Health has arranged for free identity theft protection services through Experian for affected patients for one year, and is also recommending those patients monitor their accounts closely. It’s in the process of reaching out to the patients who may have been affected.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs Program Employs Youth For Summer

Kinexus is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Transportation for a summer jobs program for young people. 60 youths will be hired for the Youth Development Mentoring Program, says its director, Don Marshall. He tells us the program is all about preparing young people for the jobs market, working on road projects while making real money.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Stresses Importance Of Vaccinations

With a measles outbreak going around the country this year, the Berrien County Health Department is reminding everyone to make sure they are vaccinated, and also to be sure their kids get all the vaccines they need. Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News some adults are unsure if they got all the measles vaccine. She suggests contacting the health department.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Casino Night Tonight

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is hoping people will come out to gamble their tails off tonight for the first ever Bets for Pets Casino Night. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the event will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Flags Going Up For Foster Kids

Throughout this month, flags will be displayed at locations around Michigan to raise awareness of the state’s foster children. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News there are about 13,500 foster kids in Michigan, most as a result of abuse and neglect. Volunteers are putting up blue and white flags all over the state to honor them.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Announces New Texting Service

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

Three SWM Communities Receive Road Improvement Grants

Three southwest Michigan communities are receiving state grants to improve their roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the road funding grants through a new Community Service Infrastructure Fund program on Thursday. 23 grants are going out statewide, and they are all for communities with populations of less than 10,000. Among the recipients are Bloomingdale and Breedsville in Van Buren County, and Marcellus in Cass County. Breedsville is getting $38,000 for work on East Main Street, Bloomingdale is getting $154,000 for work on Miller Road, and Marcellus is getting $46,000 for work on Maple, Reed, Woodland, Wordon, Jones, Centre, Burney, and Dibble. The governor’s office says the projects were picked because they’re shovel-ready, paired with infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, and focused on extending the useful life of the road. The state grants are intended to help the selected communities get to work this year. You can find out more about the projects right here.. ...Read Full Story

Young Children Reading Events This Month

Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this month. 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 May 21 in Niles and May 23 in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story