Local News Archives

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

Lawmaker Talks House Auto Insurance Plan

The auto insurance reform plan approved this week by the Michigan House will now be reconciled with the plan approved by the Michigan Senate as state lawmakers work to reduce rates for drivers. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News that work will likely continue throughout the week. We asked her what she thought of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s non-so-positive response to the plans.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Man Hurt In ATV Crash In South Haven

An ATV crash has a 40-year-old Mattawan man hospitalized in Kalamazoo. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says he was riding the vehicle on trails owned by KGC ATV Rental in South Haven when he crashed. The man was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital, and the extent of his injuries has not been released. The South Haven Fire Department brought out a side-by-side UTV to allow first responders to reach the injured man. Police say no charges are being sought, and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Twp To MDOT: Rethink US-12 Plans Without Michigan Left Turns

Rethink the plans. That’s the message from the Niles Township board to the Michigan Department of Transportation when it comes to changes to the intersection of US 12 and Third Street. MDOT is planning to install indirect left turns, better known around here as Michigan Lefts, saying their studies show they cut down on the number of crashes where they’re built. The township board isn’t buying the explanation and our partners at WSBT report they’ve passed a resolution asking MDOT to come up with a different solution. Their main worry is over gas tanker trucks that go through the area and are concerned about potentially catastrophic crashes involving those trucks.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Driver Killed In US-31 Crash

A crash between a semi and a Jeep towing a trailer on US 31 in Oronoko Township has resulted in the death of the semi driver. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police say he was 58-year-old David Schultz of Florida and had hit the Jeep and the trailer from behind just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Both were headed south on the highway. Schultz was pronounced dead at the scene. The Jeep driver, 55-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Sr. of Mishawaka, is being treated at Spectrum Health Lakeland, while his son, 26-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Jr., was treated and released. Police say both vehicles hit several trees after going off the road, and Shepley-Minner Jr. was ejected from the Jeep. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Marks 150 Years

The city of South Haven will mark 150 years today. It was on May 10, 1869 that Village President George Hannahs gaveled to order the first meeting of the South Haven Village Council. Exactly 150 years later, South Haven Mayor Scott Smith will lead a celebration at the historic Johnston Park to kick off a full year of activities to mark 150 years. There will be a community picnic from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring free food, entertainment, activities for the kids, and historical information. At 6 p.m. there will be the unveiling of a commemorative plaque from the Historical Society of Michigan. The South Haven History Club and Historical Association of South Haven will also present videos of South Haven’s past.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Graduation Projection Up

It looks like the number of Benton Harbor High School seniors who will graduate this year is dramatically up from a projection made in March. At that time, Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera said only 38 seniors were on track to graduate. According to our reporting partners at WSBT, district officials on Thursday revealed the number is now up to 95 for graduation in June, while another 26 are on track to graduate by August. That’s 121 out of 133 seniors. Benton Harbor Area Schools Assistant Superintendent of Transformation LaWanna Shelton says a combination of human error and problems with the district’s online database led to it appearing as if far more students were off track than really were. She also says students who were behind have been helped with credit recovery programs. Some classes that students had completed weren’t reflected in their transcripts, and computers hadn’t correctly calculated some grades. Much work has been done since March to get everything straight. Now, Benton Harbor High School’s seniors are looking forward to graduation.. ...Read Full Story

Letter Carriers Food Drive Saturday

This Saturday is everyone’s chance to help make a difference for those in need with the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Mark White is a letter carrier in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area who tells WSJM News local food pantries see a need for more donations in the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Wilson Chandler Teaming Up With Cornerstone Alliance For Building Improvements

NBA star Wilson Chandler is teaming up with Cornerstone Alliance to pursue the renovation of the facade of the historic Farmers and Merchants Bank building in downtown Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the building at 92 West Main was first opened in 1888, and it’s hoped a renovation of its front will make way for a new occupant.. ...Read Full Story

Industrial PFAS Site Identified In Hartford

The state of Michigan says a new PFAS contamination site has been found in Van Buren County. Specifically, it’s at the former Du-Wel Metal Products plating facility in the city of Hartford, and residents of Hartford and Hartford Township will be contacted by the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment soon to learn more. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells us no contamination has been found in residential wells, but testing of specific wells will begin in and around the former plating facility on Friday. Local officials are also planning a town hall for the next week for everyone to learn more. Griffin’s office tells us residents of the 50 or so properties with wells in the testing areas can pick up bottled water immediately at the Hartford Fire Department from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m to 1 p.m. on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Convicted In Shooting Incident

A Cass County man with a long criminal history has been found guilty in a shooting case. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us a jury on Wednesday convicted Justin Huffman of assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving and concealing a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, and two counts of felony firearm. He was accused of firing at least two shots outside his parents Vandalia home in August of last year. The prosecutor says trial testimony showed Hoffman was living with his parents when he stole a rifle from them. On August 8, he threatened his father with the gun during a dispute, and police say he also fired it off. Police later found him hiding at a nearby Buddhist Temple. The prosecutor says Hoffman’s criminal record includes convictions of custodial kidnapping and meth making. He could be sentenced to life in prison on May 31.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Signs Bill Limiting Civil Forfeitures

From the Associated Press — Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others. The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities. Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug
crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. Whitmer, a former prosecutor, says citizens have not been treated fairly nor given adequate legal protections, “and that changes today.”. ...Read Full Story

Nine-Year-Old Charged With Murder In Death Of Mother Near Sturgis

A nine-year-old boy is charged with open murder for allegedly shooting his adoptive mother at their home near Sturgis. Investigators say the boy, who came from a troubled home and had a history of mental issues, shot 63 year-old Pauline Randol with a rifle. She was found dead early Monday at their home in Fawn River Township near Sturgis. Randol’s daughter, Harley Martin, says her brother needs treatment, not jail.. ...Read Full Story

State House Passes No-Fault Reform In Middle Of Night

Under cover of the dead of night, the state House has passed its version of no-fault auto insurance reform. The vote shortly after 2 a.m. overhauls the system and lets drivers completely opt-out of the mandatory unlimited medical coverage for car crashes. The Senate passed a plan earlier in the week, setting up a potential showdown with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if a bill reaches her desk. She has vowed a veto of the Senate bill.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Program To Employ 60 Youths

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

Berrien County Parks Open House Next Week

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

Spectrum Health Lakeland Warns About Data Security Issue

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

Supporters Push Anti-Vaping Bills

Supporters are speaking out this week in favor of a pair of anti-vaping bills with opponents saying they don’t go far enough. Michigan Senate Bills 106 and 155 would ban the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors and impose fines of up to $2,500 on retailers who violate the law. State Representative Isaac Robinson is behind the ban, and notes the law applies to more than just liquid nicotine.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Trailer Burns Near South Haven

South Haven Area Emergency Services says no one was hurt on Wednesday when a semi that was hauling vegetables was destroyed by fire on I-196. The vehicle was bound for Grand Rapids when the fire broke out in the area of 109th Avenue in Casco Township around 11:45 a.m. The fire appeared to have started in the wheels of the trailer. The driver was able to disconnect his truck from the trailer after pulling onto the shoulder. The fire had engulfed the trailer of the truck by the time firefighters arrived, and a whole lot of produce was lost. The fire caused northbound traffic on I-196 to be snarled for several hours. Michigan State Police and MDOT assisted with traffic control.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Announces Baroda Investment

Baroda will be getting nearly a million dollars from the federal government to build a roadway through its industrial park. The U.S. Department of Agriculture loan of $983,000 is coming from the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. Village Clerk Tina Martin says they are hoping to begin construction of the road in July after the fireworks. It will connect Hills Road on the other side of the industrial park to 1st Street, and Martin says they’re hoping it will allow some heavy truck traffic to move off the main road. She adds most of the properties have been sold, and the village anticipates the others will sell once the road is complete. Baroda also received a $95,000 grant from the USDA for the work previously, and also secured another loan of over $500,000 from the USDA’s water program for the water and sewer part of the project. In all, the USDA announced $68 million in loans in 13 states and Puerto Rico this afternoon to fund 20 projects. The Village of Baroda will kick in $75,000 for the project.. ...Read Full Story