Local News Archives

Van Buren County Police Night Out Next Week

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is planning a National Night Out event for next week. Set for Tuesday, August 6, the event will be a chance for the public to mingle with the first responders who serve them. Van Buren County’s event will be held at the Lawrence Park Pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m. The sheriff’s department is expanding the Night Out this year, and it’s to feature police officers, K-9 units, the marine, dive, and SWAT teams, the reserve and mounted divisions, the Lawrence Fire Department, McGruff the Crime dog, neighborhood watch information, and free child fingerprinting. Plus, they’ll have a bounce house. Police will also provide safety information while displaying some of the equipment they use. Everyone is welcome to stop by.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs Legislation Designed To Decrease Robocalls

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping legislation approved last week by the U.S. House will help decrease the amount of robocalls going around. He tells WSJM News the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will direct the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules to protect consumers from calls they didn’t agree to receive. Upton says it’s about putting more tools in the FCC’s toolbox.. ...Read Full Story

Cardboard Boat Races Raise Record Amount For United Way

The latest Rock the Boat Cardboard Boat Races have raised a record amount of money for the United Way of Southwest Michigan. The United Way tells us the fourth annual event this month resulted in $110,000 being collected. The Rock the Boat races feature teams from different southwest Michigan businesses and non-profits racing in the St. Joseph River in boats of their own design and construction, all made of cardboard. The latest event was July 18th at The Inn at Harbor Shores. A total of 75 boats took part this year. The United Way says the event has grown each year since it was started. In its first year, just five boats took part. In the second year, there were 30, and the third year featured 64. The money raised from the July 18 event will all go to the United Way of Southwest Michigan through Whirlpool’s annual United Way campaign. You can learn more about the event right here.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Directive Favors State Companies For Contracts

From the Associated Press — Michigan companies bidding to do work for state government will get more of an edge under a change made by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She signed the “Michigan Jobs First” directive Monday at a power-line contractor in the Detroit suburb of Roseville. She says 70% of state contracts are awarded to Michigan businesses – a percentage she wants to increase.
Her directive expands the list of factors to determine if a bid from a potential supplier would provide the best value. State officials immediately will take into account the overall economic impact of a bid, workers’ wages and benefits, a company’s track record of labor and environmental compliance, and its commitment to economically disadvantaged areas. The state last year issued more than 8,800 contracts worth $2.1 billion.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Lands Grant For Waterfront Master Plan

The development of New Buffalo’s waterfront will be a hot topic later this year thanks to the city receiving a $51,000 grand from USDA Rural Development to cover nearly all the costs involved with developing a master plan and do preliminary engineering work. City Manager Dave Richards tells WSJM News the city wants to hear from as many residents as possible once they begin holding open houses and putting out online surveys.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Backing Impeachment Inquiry

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says she would back House Democrats if they launch an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The fourth-term Democrat said in a written statement Monday that former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about Russian interference in the 2016 election “describes extremely serious instances of the president of the United States trying to obstruct justice.” She says “no one is above the law.” Politico first reported Stabenow’s position. About 100 Democrats in the 435-member House now favor opening an impeachment inquiry. House committees have been investigating Trump and filing lawsuits to obtain information. Even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the Republican-run Senate would likely acquit him. Michigan’s other senator, Democrat Gary Peters, is up for re-election in 2020 and has not backed impeachment proceedings.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Bringing Back Former Finance Director

The St. Joseph City Commission is bringing back a city hall veteran for a few more years. Former city finance director Deb Koroch is returning to that position following her retirement in June 2016. Koroch had been brought back on an interim basis this year after her successor, Sara McCallum, left for a new job in Ann Arbor. The city commission search committee of Mayor Pro Tem Laura Goos and Commissioner Peggy Getty met with city staff on Friday to go over the applications for the job, and felt no one could stack up to the experience Koroch would bring with her 16 years with the city.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Offering Gift Cards With Blood Donations

As the Red Cross grapples with another emergency blood shortage, it’s teaming up with Amazon in the hope of enticing more people to donate. The Red Cross says those who give blood between now and August 29 will receive a $5 Amazon gift card via email. While a $5 gift card doesn’t sound like much, the gift from Amazon amounts to $1 million for the Red Cross. The organization says it’s down to a less than two day supply of type O blood as people donate less during the summer. Anyone who wants to give can check out the Red Cross Blood App, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or go to RedCrossBlood.org.. ...Read Full Story

Free Lunches For South Haven Students This Year

Students at South Haven Public Schools will be able to get free lunches this coming school year. South Haven Public Schools Child Nutrition Director June Altom tells WSJM News enough of the district’s students this year qualify for free lunches under federal guidelines, therefore opening the program to the whole district. She says this can help make sure more of the kids eat healthy.. ...Read Full Story

Glad Peach Fest In Coloma This Week

The Glad Peach Festival is set for this week in Coloma. It starts Friday at noon, and will run through Sunday evening. Peach Fest President Julie Pupedis tells WSJM News the festival started as a victory celebration following World War II. At first, it was just a flower show, but over the years it’s grown.. ...Read Full Story

State Offers Financial Aid Advice

With high school graduates across Michigan preparing to head off to college, the Michigan Department of Treasury is offering them some advice on seeking financial aid. Office of Post-Secondary Financial Planning Director Anne Wohlfert tells WSJM News students need to know about the the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. That’s the first step. But don’t just assume a loan is the only way to go.. ...Read Full Story

Five Governors Call On Candidates To Aid Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Five Democratic governors of states in the Great Lakes region want candidates in next year’s presidential election to support a plan for protecting their freshwater resources. Led by Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, the governors Monday proposed a six-point platform that seeks increases in federal spending on water treatment infrastructure and environmental cleanups.
Whitmer told The Associated Press the plan’s release was timed to draw attention to issues affecting the lakes ahead of this week’s Democratic presidential debates in Detroit. But she said the governors also hoped for support from Republican President Donald Trump. In addition to money for drinking water and wastewater system upgrades, the plan calls for battling invasive species, harmful algae blooms and pollution from toxic chemicals, as well as building another shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

State Representative Defends State Buildings Flag Bill

A state representative is defending her bill introduced last week to restrict what flags can be flown on state buildings to the U.S. flag, the state flag, and the official flag of the governor. Republican Lynn Afendoulis of Grand Rapids introduced the bill after hearing complaints after Governor Whitmer had a rainbow Pride flag on the Romney Building during Pride month in June. She told Michigan’s Big Show its about keeping state buildings from becoming special interest billboards and she’s not homophobic.. ...Read Full Story

Democrats Hit Detroit Ahead Of This Week’s Debates

Twenty of the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination will be on the Fox Theatre stage in Detroit over two nights this week for the second series of debates, broadcast on CNN. Several of them are already making the rounds in the Motor City, with Washington Governor Jay Inslee taking time Monday to unveil his plan to fight climate change at an appearance in southwest Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Residents Reminded To Take Steps To Keep Lead Out Of Water

Residents of the city of Benton Harbor are being reminded about the importance of installing filters in their homes to prevent against lead contamination. The city released information Friday afternoon that the water supply remains under a continuation of the Action Level Exceedance of 15 parts per billion, which took effect in October of last year. The Berrien County Health Department has partnered with the city to get the word out, and spokeswoman Gillian Conrad says the new reminders are being issued out of an abundance of caution.. ...Read Full Story

Dangerous Swimming Conditions On Lake Michigan North Of South Haven

Planning to go to a Lake Michigan beach Monday? The National Weather Service says you should think about another day. Dangerous swimming conditions are expected at beaches north of South Haven. Separately, swimming is discouraged south of South Haven down into Indiana along the shore. Waves could be 3 feet or higher. A 43-year-old man who was struggling in high waves and strong current Saturday drowned in Lake Michigan in Ottawa County. The sheriff’s department says Steven Davis of Holland Township was brought to shore after 4 p.m. in Park Township. A red flag was flying nearby at Holland State Park, a signal that conditions were dangerous at the time. The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says at least 27 people have drowned in Lake Michigan this year, up from 15 at this time last year.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Identify Man Who Died While Kayaking In Paw Paw River

Michigan State Police are identifying the man who died while kayaking with his wife in the Paw Paw River Sunday evening as 42-year-old Chad Whittington of Coloma. The couple had launched their kayak from Hayes Park in Watervliet and took a break to swim, and that’s when she told police he became distressed and struggled in the water. She got him partially to shore and called 9-1-1, but nothing could be done. First responders were unable to revive Whittington, who was pronounced dead at the scene on the banks of the river in the 71-hundred block of Red Arrow Highway. An autopsy is being done today at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo to determine the cause of death.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Weekend Cass County Crash

A Three Rivers man is dead after a crash involving his motorcycle and a car in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says it happened Saturday afternoon in Porter Township when Tyler Hershberger was on US-12 and collided with a car driven by a 16-year-old that was pulling out of a driveway. The impact sent Hershberger off his bike, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing a helmet, and the teen driver was also buckled up. Police are continuing to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies In Kayak Accident On Paw Paw River

There aren’t many details as yet, but Michigan State Police are investigating the death of a man on the Paw Paw River in Berrien County on Sunday. He and his wife were kayaking when something went wrong according to our newsgathering partners at WSBT-22. She survived, but he was pronounced dead after what authorities have called an unsuccessful water rescue in the seven-thousand block of Paw Paw Avenue, which is between Coloma and Watervliet. The two were on a date at the time. Michigan State Police say more information will be released later today.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Awards Scholarships

The Niles Scream Park has announced its community project scholarship recipients for the year. Secretary Kelly Welch tells WSJM News six young people from Niles, Brandywine, and South Haven High Schools have been picked for $500 scholarships from the non-profit park. Some of them were volunteers for the attraction, but that’s not the only reason they’d be picked.. ...Read Full Story

Grants To Mean New Riverfront Developments In SJ, BH

Berrien County has been approved for a more than $100,000 state grant that’s expected to allow for water taxis between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. Cornerstone Alliance VP of External Affairs Christina Frank tells WSJM News Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance applied for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant in April to make way for the water tax idea.. ...Read Full Story

Broadband Funds Approved For Michigan

The Federal Communications Commission this month announced that it’s authorized nearly $33 million in funding to expand broadband internet around Michigan. Southwest Michigan will receive $2.6 million over ten years as part of the allocation announced this week. It’s expected to expand high-speed internet to nearly 2,400 homes and businesses in the region. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he’s pleased.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Shot Multiple Times; Expected To Survive

A 32-year-old Niles-area man is recovering at South Bend Memorial Hospital after being shot multiple times in the legs and buttocks early Sunday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says road patrol officers and Michigan State Police troopers responded to the call of multiple shots being fired in the 900 block of Woods Edge Drive in Niles Township just before 12:30 a.m. The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital and underwent surgery. He’s expected to fully recover and is in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Man Killed In Cass County Shooting

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking for more witnesses as detectives try to piece together the shooting death of an 18-year-old South Bend man. He’s been identified as Dayman Chatman, and was shot while attending a party at a home in the 29-hundred block of Yankee Street in Howard Township. Chatman was shot around 2 a.m. Sunday, and while some witnesses have been interviewed by police, they’re looking to talk to more people who had scattered after the shots were fired. Anyone with tips is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Office at 269-445-1560, the Cass County Tip Line at 800-462-9328, or by texting CRIMES (274637) and then writing CASS with the details you’re sharing.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Township Releases Parks Survey

Those who use the trails, parks, and nature preserves of Chikaming Township are being asked to fill out a survey on their parks needs as the Chikaming Township Parks Board puts together its next master plan. Board President Debra Hall Kaylor tells WSJM News they want to hear ideas and opinions from anyone who appreciates the parks of Chikaming Township.. ...Read Full Story

United Way To “Pop The Collar” At August Fundraiser

Set for Thursday, August 8 is the fourth United Way of Southwest Michigan Pop Up Giving event. It’s to take place at the LakeHouse Restaurant and Bar in St. Joseph from 5 to 7 p.m. The theme is “Pop the Collar” in honor of WSJM’s own Pat Moody, who has been known to wear his collars popped up. The United Way’s Jennifer Tomshack says Pop Up Giving is a way for the public to vote on a project pitched by one of three area non-profits.. ...Read Full Story

Bernie Sanders Calls For Shutdown Of Michigan Pipeline

From the Associated Press — Bernie Sanders has become the second Democratic presidential hopeful to call for shutting down an oil pipeline that crosses a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. The Vermont senator said in a tweet Thursday that Enbridge’s Line 5 should be decommissioned and new fossil fuel infrastructure banned. Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. It runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. It traverses large sections of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Sanders announced his position on the ninth anniversary of a rupture of another Enbridge pipeline that spilled 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. Washington state Governor Jay Inslee also has endorsed a Line 5 shutdown ahead of Democratic presidential debates in Detroit next week.. ...Read Full Story

Harbor Country Mission Aims To Help Working Poor, Homeless

It’s been about a year since Harbor Country Mission opened up its warehouse on Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman, and the place has taken off. The mission’s David Heyn tells WSJM News he was a pastor when he and his wife started collecting items for those in need. They just kept things like coffeemakers and clothing in a closet, but soon realized a lot of people needed help.. ...Read Full Story

Two Men Arrested In Cass County Meth Bust

Two southwest Michigan men are locked up in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust. The sheriff’s department says a 47-year-old Porter Township man and a 36-year-old Three Rivers man were arrested Thursday at the older suspect’s home on Hazel Street. Officers seized around 25 grams of meth along with drug paraphernalia inside the home. The two will be charged with possession with intent to deliver meth, and the homeowner is also facing a charge of maintaining a drug house. The investigation is ongoing.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Schools Finalize Contract With New Superintendent

It’s official. The new superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools is Dr. Thomas Bruce, as he and the school board have reached a contract. Outgoing superintendent Ann Cardon sent an email to parents last night confirming that move and to also release the calendar for the upcoming academic year, which was also approved Thursday evening at a special meeting of the school board. Cardon is headed north to become the superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools next week. Dr. Bruce is coming to St. Joseph from Arcadia, California, where he had been Arcadia Unified School District’s director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. He’s a native of Howell, located between Lansing and Detroit, and began his education career in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Court Throws Out DUI Evidence; Cop Had Wrong Speed Limit

From the Associated Press — A man convicted of drunk driving in western Michigan has won an appeal after it turned out that he was under the speed limit when stopped by police, not over it. Anthony Owen was told he was going 43 mph in a 25 mph zone in Saranac in Ionia County. But attorney Ed Sternisha argued that the speed limit actually was 55 mph by default because there was no sign on southbound Parsonage Road. The Michigan appeals court agreed, saying the traffic stop by a sheriff’s deputy in 2015 was illegal. As a result, the court threw out evidence of drunken driving that stemmed from the stop. The court says a “reasonably competent” officer should have known that he couldn’t stop Owen for speeding.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Appoints Interim Manager

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have appointed former City Manager Ellis Mitchell to serve as the new interim city manager. That’s after Darwin Watson was fired from the city manager position Monday. At a Thursday special meeting, the commission approved Mitchell to serve while a search is done for the next manager. Mitchell told us he served as city manager in Benton Harbor from 1983 to 1987. He also said he most recently worked as mobility manager at Dial a Ride. During Thursday’s session but after the vote, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the drama of the past week has created chaos.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Accepts Waterways Grant

A state grant to allow for new access points to be installed along the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph has been accepted by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. At this week’s meeting, the board accepted the $132,000 unanimously and without comment. Cornerstone Alliance and the Berrien County Community Development Department sought the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant in order to put in four access points, two in St. Joe and two in Benton Harbor. The goal is to have water taxis running between the points during the summer. Planners want to have the taxis working in time for the next Senior PGA Championship. Cornerstone Alliance has contributed $147,000 to the effort.. ...Read Full Story

County Looking At Parks Costs

Berrien County Commissioners are looking at the possibility of a small increase in the parks millage. At this week’s board of commissioners meeting, Commissioner Bill Chickering said there are big parks expenses on the way, and more money will be needed. He told WSJM News a committee heard from Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey that he’s been crunching some numbers.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Urges State To Make Power Outage Credit Automatic

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sent a letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission asking it to require utility companies with smart meters to automatically credit consumers’ bills for prolonged power outages. Nessel this week reminded utility customers in the state there is a law allowing them a $25 outage credit when they experience a power outage that lasts longer than 16 hours. The credit is available as long as there isn’t a general emergency taking place. Nessel’s office says customers can also receive the credit when there’s been a failure to restore electric service within 120 hours after an interruption that occurred during catastrophic conditions, or when there are repetitive interruptions of the same circuit more than seven times in a 12 month period. In her letter to the MPSC, Nessel noted electric service interruption rules were written years before the implementation of smart meters. She says the new tech should make the credit automatic. You can see Nessel’s letter to the MPSC right here.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Looks To Stabilize Enrollment

As leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools work to arrange a turnaround plan with the state, they’re also hoping to undo the damage done by recent talk of the high school closing. At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson noted enrollment has dropped since the governor proposed closing Benton Harbor High School. She says her team has been reaching out to parents to let them know the school district is a safe place for their kids.. ...Read Full Story

Suburban Detroit Mom Arrested With .306 BAC, Kids In Car

A suburban Detroit mother is facing some stiff penalties following her drunk driving arrest last month. Milford police have released the dash cam video of her arrest after crashing her car into a ditch at Fort Dearborn with her two young sons in the backseat of the car, and not properly restrained. While the sobriety test of the woman couldn’t be seen in the video due to an ambulance being in front of the police car, the audio was crystal clear with an arresting officer telling her to blow as hard as she could into the Breathalyzer. After the reading, the officer was amazed.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Honors Volunteer Of The Year

The 2018-19 Volunteer of the Year for the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is Camille Sandel of Stevensville. She was recently recognized with the award at the Mendel Center’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner and reception this month. Sandel is among nearly 100 active volunteers, and has been involved for 24 years, normally helping with 25 or more shows a year. Those include Mainstage performances, Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Events, and LMC Performing Arts Department productions. Mendel Center Mainstage director Grace Kelmer called her “part of the backbone of the Mendel Center Volunteer Corps.”. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. Indiana Michigan Power brought it back online just before 1 a.m. today after a brief forced outage which began around 8:30 Sunday morning. The reactor was taken offline after operators noted a gradual decline in performance of both of the unit’s two non-essential service water pumps. That water is used to maintain cooling for the main turbine’s lube oil system and other non-nuclear and non-safety-related systems. A system inspection determined the problem was the pump strainers had become clogged by debris from Lake Michigan. Those parts were cleaned, inspected again, and put back into service. Officials say the decision to take the unit offline was “conservative” in order to ensure a safe and controlled shutdown. Unit 1 stayed at full power.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Opposes Dropping Wolf Protections

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is opposing a federal plan to drop gray wolves from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf has recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection. More than 5,000 live in the contiguous U.S., including roughly 660 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The service wants to turn management of the species over to the states. In comments submitted recently, Nessel says the Fish and Wildlife Service has tried repeatedly to remove wolves from the protected list without providing adequate justification. She says eliminating the federal shield would lead to renewed hunting and could imperil the species. Wolves in the Lower 48 were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction before legal protection was granted in the 1970s.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Dedicates Learning Center To Former Trustee

Southwestern Michigan College has dedicated a portion of its Fred L. Mathews Library to a former trustee who passed away in 2017. The Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center was officially dedicated on Tuesday. SMC says the center is located in the Mathews Library, one of SMC’s three original buildings. Carole Tate served on the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees for 18 years, and was the only trustee from the Van Buren County portion of SMC’s district. She died on October 7, 2017 in Arizona. SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Jerdon says “Carole was an exceptional trustee” who he had the privilege of serving with. Throughout her career, Tate worked as the Van Buren District Library children’s librarian and as a media specialist for Lakeshore, Marcellus, and Decatur public schools.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Land Auction Tuesday

Coming up Tuesday will be the next Berrien County Land Auction. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the land bank will auction off properties that were seized in foreclosure, and this year there is one that has attracted a huge amount of interest. It’s a house at 317 North Veronica Court in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

State: No Unusual Cancer Stats Near Medical Manufacturer

From the Associated Press — The Michigan health department says it didn’t find a significant increase in cancer among people near a medical-device manufacturer in Grand Rapids. The only exception over a 15-year period was a blood cancer, but the department says it was based on 25 cases and wasn’t significantly higher than the overall state rate. Viant Medical has been under scrutiny over its use of ethylene oxide, a colorless gas linked to cancer. In March, the company said it would stop sterilizing equipment at the facility by the end of the year. State regulators have issued at least four pollution violations over the past two years. The health department says there are a few caveats to its work. It’s possible that people have left the area. The department also says the state cancer registry doesn’t have information to make a link to environmental contamination.. ...Read Full Story