Local News Archives

Commission Grapples With Grass Cutting Contracts

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have plenty to say about who is hired to do the city’s landscaping. At Monday’s meeting, the commission discussed at length who should be hired to cut grass in the city, and how. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats, who has long had issues with the city’s landscaping bills, said efforts should be made to divvy up the work between multiple contractors.. ...Read Full Story

RES Planning “Read Around The County” Events

Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this month. It tells us 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. The activities are free, and the first 100 children at each location will receive a book. Snacks are also provided. The May 21 event will be at 11:30 a.m. at Niles Riverfront Park, and the May 23 event will be at 11:30 a.m. at the St. Joseph bluff across from the library. Anyone looking for more information can contact Berrien RESA.. ...Read Full Story

Carol’s Hope Expands To 24 Hour Service

A new milestone has been reached by Carol’s Hope, the addiction recovery center that opened late last year in the St. Joseph area. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News they’re now able to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She says Carol’s Hope connects those who are struggling with an addiction to recovery resources in the community. They’ve had a strong response since opening in December.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Director Stepping Down

The executive director of the Pokagon Fund is stepping down. The fund’s board of directors announced Monday that Janet Cocciarelli is leaving the organization, effective June 7, to spend more time with family in the Grand Rapids area. Cocciarelli has lead the Pokagon Fund for four years. Board Chair Rob Gow commended Cocciarelli, saying she “implemented with extraordinary vigor and vitality the board’s strategic vision of the fund as a leader in community development.” Cocciarelli says she “will sorely miss Harbor Country.” The Pokagon Fund, based in New Buffalo, was set up in 2007 as a way for a small portion of Four Winds Casino slot revenues to be distributed to the community. Since then, it has awarded more than $25 million in grants and scholarships in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

DEA Touts Successful Drug Take Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Agency is touting a very successful National Prescription Drug Take Back Day last month. Held on April 27, the DEA says nearly 64-hundred collection sites took in and destroyed nearly 469 tons of medicines. In Michigan, almost 27,000 pounds of unwanted, expired, and unused pills were given back to law enforcement and hospital collection sites. The events have been held since the fall of 2010 to try to cut back on prescription drug abuse, misuse and theft and to prevent medications from being flushed down toilets and getting into the water supply.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Tick Slightly Higher In Michigan; Stable In BH/SJ

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in the state is up 3¢ from a week ago. Triple-A Michigan says the average is $2.91, but notes prices have slipped from a high for the year of $2.93 on Friday. Saginaw has the highest price in the state at $2.95, while the lowest prices are in Traverse City at $2.81-cents a gallon, and the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area is in the middle at $2.90. That price is steady with a week ago. AAA says prices will keep flirting with the $3 per gallon mark through the end of the month.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested After Smoking Meth, Taking Off Clothes

A disorderly conduct charge is being faced by a 36-year-old Dowagiac woman who was arrested late Friday night while naked and high on meth. Police were called to the 200 block of Dewey Street around 11:30 pm on a report of the woman laying in several yards, in the road, and taking off her clothes. She told police upon her arrest that she had recently smoked meth, and it was making her do it. One neighbor told investigators the woman had been walking through gardens and looking into windows in the area as well.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Help In Arson Investigation

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has released two surveillance photos as part of the investigation into a recent fire at the Niles Walmart. The Walmart was evacuated the afternoon of April 27 when a fire broke out in the clothing department. No one was injured and the fire was quickly put out. The sheriff’s department on Monday posted the surveillance photos to its Facebook page, saying it’s trying to “find the identity of the female that may have information reference the Niles Walmart Arson that occurred on 4/27/19.” The sheriff’s department says anyone with information is asked to give it a call at 269-983-1747, extension 7224.. ...Read Full Story

Two Busted For Meth In Cass County

Two people are in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on charges of possession with intent to deliver meth. The county’s drug enforcement team raided a home in the 21-thousand block of Calvin Hill Street in Calvin Township on Saturday after being tipped off to possible drug activity. They seized several bags of meth along with paraphernalia and items used in the sale and distribution of the drug. The suspects are a 37-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, and their names have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Millages, Bonding Requests Before Voters Tuesday

Tomorrow is an election day, with millage and bonding requests before voters around the state. Locally, Royalton Township voters are being asked to approve a small millage increase for the fire department to raise $35,000 over five years and to renew the township’s millage for fire, ambulance and library services over 7 years at just over $292,000. St. Joseph Public Schools have a $5.8 million millage renewal over five years on the ballot. In Cass County, Edwardsburg and Jefferson Township both have road funding millages before voters, while Edwardsburg Public Schools are seeking a millage renewal to bring in $2.1 million. Two issues are before voters in Van Buren County. In Bangor, the Bangor Historical Society is asking for a millage increase over 5 years for $16,000 and Lawton Community Schools have a bonding request up for approval. That is for a half-mill over 14 years and would raise $4.5 million. For the first time, you can register to vote on election day.. ...Read Full Story

Two SWM Law Enforcement Officers To Be Honored Tomorrow

Two veteran southwest Michigan law enforcement officers will be honored next week. They’ll be in Lansing on Monday for the 26th annual Michigan Peace Officers Memorial Service at the Michigan Capitol. Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Detective Loren Tarner will be representing all Michigan police officers injured in the line of duty, and Michigan State Police Sergeant Jim Campbell will represent all state officers who serve until retirement. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us Deputy Loren Tarner was seriously injured in the line of duty on January 17, 2016 when a semi crashed into the scene of a previous crash that Tarner was working on I-94. After a lengthy recovery period, the sheriff’s department says Tarner returned to service and is now a detective. Meanwhile, Sergeant Campbell retired this year after 31 years with Michigan State Police. He most recently served in Paw Paw. You can find out more about Monday’s memorial service at MICOPS.org.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species Grants Available

From the Associated Press — State funding is available for local efforts to control or get rid of invasive plants in Michigan’s inland lakes.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says a new grant program will reimburse permit fees required for projects that use physical, biological or chemical controls targeting the unwanted species. A total of $100,000 will be awarded this year. Details on eligibility are available online. The department’s Water Quality Division is developing a handbook and application procedures, which will be posted June 1. Applications for grants will be accepted from June 1 through July 1. Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is operated by the departments of Agriculture & Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Natural Resources.. ...Read Full Story

BBQ, Blues, Bluegrass Festival This Month

St. Joseph Today is busy making preparations for the seventh annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. Set for Saturday, May 18, the event will feature headliner JD McPherson performing with his back to Lake Michigan starting at 6:50 p.m. at Whirlpool Centennial Park. St. Joe Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News McPherson isn’t the only performer. There will be a lineup of six beginning at 12:30.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews Getting New Ag Center

Plans have been announced by Andrews University for a new agricultural center on campus. Sustainable Agriculture Department Chair Katherine Koudele tells WSJM  News the former dairy is being converted into three barns that could be used for ag education programs.. ...Read Full Story

Merry Stover, the Executive Director of the Soup Kitchen in Benton Harbor; With Respect 05/05/19

John’s guest this week is Merry Stover, the Executive Director of the Soup Kitchen in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They talk over the origins of Soup Kitchens, the Depression, and its modern day incarnations. Why are so many people in need of the help at this Soup Kitchen and the volunteers who work on and on with those in need of a break and some healthy food? She recounts so many experiences and introduces so many interesting people. . ...Read Full Story

State Officials Warn About PFAS Foam

White, sticky foam that’s fouled quite a few Michigan shorelines is more dangerous than previously believed. That’s why state environmental officials are warning people not to touch it. Prior warnings about toxic PFAS foam advised against swallowing it, but new data shows high concentrations of unsafe chemicals in the foam, so the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is telling people to stay away from it altogether. Deb MacKenzie-Taylor is the toxicology and response section manager with DHHS.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backing Legislation To Prevent College Sex Assaults

New legislation in the U.S. House and Senate is intended to help prevent a repeat of the Larry Nassar debacle at Michigan State University. At a press conference this past week, Congressman Fred Upton joined colleagues to announce the ALERT Act. The act would require university leaders to certify they have reviewed any reports of sexual abuses perpetrated by university employees each year. Upton said he’s found backing for the idea among local education leaders.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale Coming Up

Coming up on May 18 will be the next Whirlpool Appliance Sale to benefit the United Way of Southwest Michigan. Whirlpool Senior Manager of Global Operations Gokul Nair tells WSJM News they will sell new, discontinued, refurbished, and obsolete products that had been sitting in warehouses as part of the event.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Street Closure Next Week

Drivers are being notified of a street closure planned in South Haven next week. The city tells us Broadway Street from Church Street to Conger Street will be shut down Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. while a contractor removes the asphalt and concrete for the installation of a new water line. The street in the same area will be closed again on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. while the work is finished up. Anyone with questions can contact the South Haven Public Works Department.. ...Read Full Story

Pure Michigan Trail Announcements Next Week In South Haven

Representatives of the Pure Michigan campaign will announce this year’s picks for the Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation program on Tuesday. Although they haven’t yet said which communities will be awarded those distinctions, it’s probably a good sign for South Haven that the announcement is being made there. South Haven Visitors Bureau Director Scott Reinert tells WSJM Nwws the community does have a robust trail system.. ...Read Full Story

Program Offers Hearing Aids To Low Income Seniors

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

Two Face Charges In Relation To Vandalism At Gerald Ford Gravesite

From the Associated Press — Authorities say two people suspected of defacing the gravesite of former President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford have been charged with misdemeanors. Prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have charged Christian Johnson with malicious destruction of tombs and memorials and Alexis Binkert with receiving and concealing stolen property. Police had released a photo that appears to show Johnson marking or digging into panels that say, “Lives Committed to God, Country and Love.” They had been skateboarding in the area and stopped. Police say they turned themselves in after the March 27 incident and returned a missing letter. Johnson has told The Grand Rapids Press he was sorry and didn’t know what the gravesite was. Both await arraignment. The Fords are buried outside a museum dedicated to Gerald Ford’s presidency.. ...Read Full Story

Senior And Veterans Expo Monday

The annual Mattawan Senior and Veterans Expo will be next week. State Senator Aric Nesbitt tells us it’s set for Monday at the Antwerp Township Activity Center in Mattawan from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. He says the event is held as a way for Van Buren County area state lawmakers to talk with seniors and veterans about their concerns, and also to inform them of the services available.. ...Read Full Story

Open House For Palisades Next Week

An open house regarding the Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County is planned for next week. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Viktoria Mitlyng tells WSJM News the agency’s own inspectors, including those who work full-time on site at Palisades, will be there to talk about the plant’s safety record in 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade Saturday

This year’s Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade is tomorrow in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The two-and-a-half mile parade starts at 1 p.m. at Main and Pearl streets in St. Joe and ends at Main and 5th streets in Benton Harbor. This year’s theme is “America, the Places You’ll Go.” The Youth Parade at St. Joseph High School was canceled yesterday due to the weather, and won’t be rescheduled. You’re also being reminded that you can’t put out anything to mark your spot along the parade route before 6 a.m. In St. Joseph, Lake Boulevard will be closed along with the drawbridge over the river, Niles Avenue from 1st Avenue to Main Street, and Main Street will also be closed from 1st Avenue to where it merges with Niles. This is the 113th year for the event.. ...Read Full Story

Area Shelters Taking Part In Bissell’s Empty The Shelters Adoption Event

The Bissell Pet Foundation is doing another Empty the Shelters event across the country this weekend. Among the 52 shelters in Michigan taking part will be Berrien County Animal Control, Cass County Animal Control, Van Buren County Animal Control, and the Al-Van Humane Society on Saturday. Cats and dogs can be adopted at the shelters for just $25, with the Grand Rapids-based foundation covering the rest of the costs.. ...Read Full Story