Local News Archives

Pokagons Donate More Than 800 Backpacks Filled With School Supplies

More than 800 backpacks filled with school supplies have been donated to schools around southwest Michigan and northern Indiana by the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi. The Pokagons tell us employees at the Four Winds Casinos contributed to the giveaway with a voluntary payroll deduction, raising more than $6,000. The casinos then chipped in another $5,000. In total, they gave out 816 backpacks, each stuffed with pencils, markers, pens, crayons, notebooks, and scissors. Four Winds Casinos COO Frank Freedman says the employees have always risen to the occasion when it comes to helping the community.. ...Read Full Story

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Holds Meeting On Palisades’ Decommissioning

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township only has about three years remaining to be producing electricity for west Michigan before Entergy shuts it down for good. With the upcoming decommissioning of the plant, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent several officials to Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center Wednesday night to discuss the procedure and get feedback from area residents. The NRC’s Bruce Watson explained to WSJM News that decommissioning is a lengthy process.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks NAFTA Replacement

With Vice President Mike Pence in Michigan this week to address the Economic Club of Detroit, he urged the state’s congressional delegation to support the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, intended to replace NAFTA. We asked Congressman Fred Upton what he thinks of the USMCA. He tells WSJM News he believes it’s a plus.. ...Read Full Story

Healthy Home Fair Coming Up In Hartford

The Van Buren Conservation District is planning the second annual Healthy Home Fair in Hartford for next month. The district’s Erin Fuller tells us last year’s event went well and they’re hoping to do even better this year. The fair will be held at Ely Park On September 12 from 3 to 6 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Library Put Out Survey

A survey has been put online by the St. Joseph Library as it seeks to improve services. Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library Director Stephanie Masin tells WSJM News they want to use the information obtained from the survey to better plan for the future as more varied services are offered.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Planning Variable Speed Signs For Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning to install new signs along I-94 in Van Buren County to warn drivers of conditions that should make them slow down. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the current MDOT five year plan calls for those variable speed signs in 2023. The signs will warn drivers about poor weather conditions, for example.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested After Roughly 20-Mile Wrong-Way Drive On I-94

Drivers heading east on I-94 in Van Buren County had some terrifying moments Tuesday night when an SUV was headed west in their lanes for just over 20 miles. Paw Paw and Mattawan police began chasing 47-year-old Ida King shortly before 10 p.m. after dispatch received several 911 calls of a wrong-way driver going west on the highway, starting at the Mattawan exit. King’s vehicle finally came to a stop after Pokagon Tribal Police put out stop sticks near Hartford, and three of her tires blew out. No other vehicles were hit according to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. King was found to be drunk and had several warrants for her arrest out of mid-Michigan, including one for child neglect in Eaton County. She is locked up in the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Nesbitt Wants To Wipe Out Michigan’s Income Tax

There is a proposal in the works in the state Senate to do away with Michigan’s income tax.  Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton is behind the idea to zero out the 4.25% income tax by reducing it by a tenth of a percent over the course of several decades. Nesbitt tells WSJM News the state functioned just fine without an income tax until it was enacted in the 1960s, and looks at other states such as Texas, Nevada and Florida where the state economies are growing and residents do not have an income tax.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven HS Principal Named Superintendent In Iron Mountain

Another area educator is moving on to a new post. South Haven High School principal Jerry Sardina has been selected as the new superintendent of the Iron Mountain School District in the Upper Peninsula. Sardina was selected Monday night in a unanimous vote by the school board after two interviews. Contract negotiations are underway. South Haven Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Schooley tells WSJM News they wish Sardina well and says he will remain on site for about the next two or three weeks, but acknowledges the timing for the district is “not ideal.” Schooley says assistant principal Ryan Williamson will take over for the time being.. ...Read Full Story

Troy Family Rescued Off Coast Of South Haven

A suburban Detroit family is safely back on land after their rented jetskis capsized in Lake Michigan off the coast of South Haven. A nearby sailboat helped pluck an adult male and a child from the water, and South Haven Area Emergency Services responders rescued another child and an adult woman. The family from Troy was several hundred yards from shore off South Beach when their rented vessels overturned. One child is being treated at Bronson-South Haven Hospital, while the other three had no injuries. The incident happened at 11:30 this morning.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Officials Holding Forum On Palisades Decommissioning Tonight At LMC’s Mendel Center

It’s pretty short notice, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a forum tonight regarding the decommissioning of the Palisades nuclear power plant following it’s planned closure in 2022. The public meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Mendel Center on the campus of Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor. Decommissioning the plant involves finding permanent storage for spent nuclear fuel, the safe shutdown of the facility and the removal of major components like the reactor vessel, steam generators, pumps, valves, and large piping systems and will take several years.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Conducting Internal Search For Next President

Southwestern Michigan College needs a new president, and it’s going to start by looking within. At a meeting this week of the SMC Board of Trustees, the vote was six to one to do an internal search for a new president. That’s as Dr. David Mathews plans to retire at the end of this year. Mathews has been SMC president since July of 2001. SMC Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Jerdon tells us he thinks they’ve already got some qualified candidates right there on campus, and the college knows them better than it could get to know anyone from a one hour interview. Also, he says SMC wants to be upwardly mobile. The board directed that the position of president be posted as soon as possible for internal candidates, with the application period closing in time for materials to be available to it by the September meeting. Jerdon also invited the public to come to the September 16 session to offer its input. Jerdon said hiring a firm to do a national search would be a good Plan B if the internal search doesn’t work out.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Backs Water Legislation

A package of legislation intended to make Michigan water supplies safer has been introduced in the state Senate. One bill in the package would require periodic testing of water for lead at child care facilities, colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities. That bill is from state Senator Kim LaSata, who tells us it and the others in the package would “build upon the investment and action that have already been taken to improve and protect the quality of our water.” Other bills in the new plan would create the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission to study environmental threats of lead poisoning, establish a lead and copper analysis report at least one year prior to any change in a water source, reform the emergency manager law into a three-person financial management team, and require lead service line disclosure statements in all rental contracts. The bills are all in response to recent water issues Michigan has seen, from the Flint water crisis to PFAS showing up in Parchment. The bills, which have House companions, are now before various Senate committees.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects Discussion On Gun Legislation Soon

With the most recent mass shootings still on everyone’s mind, Congressman Fred Upton is expecting the U.S. House to talk about legislation to reduce gun violence when it gets back to work next month. He tells us he’s hoping to see the House Judiciary Committee take up the Jake Laird Act. It provides grants to states to encourage them to implement red flag laws, enabling police to take someone’s guns for a specified period when that person is thought to be a danger to themselves or others.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Seeks Community Input On State Proposal

A survey has been put online by Benton Harbor Area Schools asking the community for feedback regarding the state’s latest proposal to improve the district. This is following a presentation last week by the Michigan Department of Treasury to the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Treasury proposed that a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee consisting of various local stakeholders and education leaders be established to assess the school district and then draft a list of recommendations. The committee will have six months to put together its report. The board of education was asked to approve a resolution in support of the idea, perhaps at a meeting in September. In the meantime, the school district has put its survey and an electronic copy of the state proposal up at BHAS.org. The survey asks people for feedback and suggestions for improvement. The district asks everyone to have their input in by August 28.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Updates Rules

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have updated the rules that govern their meetings. At a Monday session, the body updated its rules on the recommendation of the legislative committee. Commissioner Sharon Henderson said the amendments have been in the works for several months. In fact, they were tabled by the commission a few months ago before being brought back Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Second-Degree Murder Charges Filed In Deadly Buchanan Crash

A Buchanan man is facing four charges of second-degree murder for a crash this month that killed four people. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic says in addition to those, 54-year-old Dub Collins is also facing drunk driving charges and a charge of driving on a suspended license. Collins is accused of blowing through a stop sign at a high speed at the intersection of Miller Road and Main Street on Friday, August 2 and plowing into a 2000 Honda Accord driven by 66-year-old Robert Klint of Sawyer. Along with Klint, his three passengers were all pronounced dead at the scene. They were his 60-year-old wife, Melissa, their 22-year-old daughter, Landyn, and Melissa’s 52-year-old brother, Kent Williamson of Virginia.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Expected To Start Work On I-196 BL Road Diet This Fall

The I-196 Business Loop in South Haven, also known as Broadway and LaGrange avenues, has been the topic of a proposed road diet by city officials for about two years. The road is owned and maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which means the city can’t do anything with it until getting the state’s approval. South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says they’re about to get the green light.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Group Officials Praise State’s Going Pro Job Training Program

You may have seen billboards featuring the phrase “Going Pro” and wondered what it is. It’s the rebranding by the Whitmer administration of the job training program launched by the state under former Governor Rick Snyder seeking to help companies hire and train new workers. It’s worked very well under both administrations according to officials with Kinexus in Benton Harbor. Kinexus Group vice president of public relations and government affairs Al Pscholka says last year, almost four dozen companies in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties received $2.1 million in awards from the program.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Council Approves Plan To Address Dunkley Ave Flooding

Those living along Dunkley Avenue or who have to drive along it in South Haven will be getting some relief fairly soon. The City Council this week was given four options to deal with the flooding issue due to high water levels in Lake Michigan and the Black River, the most expensive costing more than $400,000. The City Council will go with a $20,000 remedy according to City Manager Brian Dissette.. ...Read Full Story

After Amash Dumped Trump, His District May Do Same To Him

From the Associated Press — Justin Amash has left the Republican Party over his opposition to President Donald Trump, and Democrats are celebrating. The Michigan congressman’s departure means a three-way race in his politically shifting Grand Rapids-area district, giving Democrats fresh hope for picking up his a seat. Amash is also flirting with another way to wound Trump – by running for president as a Libertarian. More than 200,000 Michigan voters supported a third-party candidate in 2016, when Trump won the state by just over 10,000 votes Amash was the first Republican on Capitol Hill to say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Amash’s is another cautionary tale for GOP lawmakers who consider opposing Trump. Those who do quickly find it’s a lonely place to be, and may mean the end of a political career.. ...Read Full Story

City Gives Final Approval To Street Repairs

The Benton Harbor City Commission has given final approval to nearly $1 million in street repairs for this year. At a Monday meeting, a bid of $990,000 was approved for Kalin Construction to do the 2019 street resurfacing project. The work is possible thanks to the city’s new income tax. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this is why the voters approved the tax.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Launches Marijuana Campaign

A new campaign to educate the public about marijuana has been launched by the Berrien County Health Department. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News The Dirt on Weed features a new website, billboards, radio ads, social media activity, and presentations regarding how marijuana affects different groups. She says the campaign is possible thanks to a $45,000 state grant that became available when marijuana was legalized for adults in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Names Former Homeland Security Official To Lead Michigan On Immigration

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed a former U.S. homeland security official to oversee the state’s efforts related to immigration. Fayrouz Saad worked at the Department of Homeland Security during Barack Obama’s presidency and later served as the city of Detroit’s first immigrant affairs director. Whitmer this past week named her as executive director of the Office of Global Michigan, which advises the governor on matters related to new Americans, immigration policy and immigration enforcement. Saad says she looks forward to “building a home of opportunity for everyone.” Saad unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University
of Michigan and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Of Southwestern Michigan To Hold Mortgage Paper Burning Ceremony In September

Thirteen months is all it took for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan to pay off its mortgage loan on the new Yeager Family Pet Shelter. The organization says on June 9, 2018, the debt was over $740,000, and it’s all been paid off due to extensive fundraising efforts and donors. The state-of-the-art, no-kill shelter opened on that date last summer after several years of work that started with the forming of a building committee in 2012 and the purchase of the land at 5400 Niles Road in June 2013. Pearson Construction was hired in December of that year, with ground being broken in June 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Only State With Gas Price Rise In Past Week

Gas prices are up over last week in just one state: Michigan. Triple-A says the statewide average rose 6¢ a gallon over the past week to $2.70, with Ann Arbor’s $2.79 being the highest and Traverse City’s $2.56 being the lowest. The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph average of $2.59 is the second-lowest in the state. GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan says prices nationwide have fallen for a “surprising” fifth straight week to $2.60 per gallon, the lowest level in almost five months. He noted as of Sunday afternoon, 49 of the 50 states had lower prices than a week before. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s average price is $2.49, but that market isn’t included in Triple-A’s survey. There is also a gas price war ongoing in Kalamazoo today, with prices down to $2.17 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Missing Grand Junction Man With Dementia

Police are asking for help trying to find a missing 84-year-old Grand Junction man with dementia. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says Chuck Hazard was last seen in the Hastings area between Kalamazoo and Lansing around 4:20 a.m. Saturday. Hazard admitted he was lost and was trying to find his way back home at the time. He is driving a red Ford Fusion with the Michigan plate ECQ-4591, and the car has American flags on both front windows. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says he most often visits the South Haven area. Hazard is about six-feet tall, 190 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes and was last seen in a red shirt and a black baseball cap. Police add he is in need of medication, and a neighbor is currently caring for his four pets until he returns.. ...Read Full Story

No Charges In Deadly 2018 Cosmo Extended Stay Fire

There will be no charges filed in the July 28, 2018 fire at the Cosmo Extended Stay motel in Benton Township that killed a woman and five of her children between the ages of 2 and 10. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic says the fire was caused by the careless use of a hotplate by a resident in room 135, which he says does not reach the level of gross negligence to result in criminal charges. Additionally, he says the investigation found some long-term residents of the motel had disabled their smoke detectors, which is not something the owner of the building, Sodus Hospitality, could be charged for. Sepic adds smoke was not a factor in room 212 where the six members of the Curtis family were killed, and the lack of an alarm in the room did not delay their attempts to get out. Because of when the motel was built, it was not required to have smoke alarms connected in series, which had it been a newer building with that requirement, the prosecutor says it might have resulted in the Curtis family trying to get out sooner than they did. A May 2016 inspection by the Michigan State Police Fire Marshall Division found several fire and life safety components had been fixed by the building owner.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Child Support System

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is bringing attention to the state’s child support system now that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared this to be Child Support Month. Department spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells us nearly $1.2 billion in child support went out to Michigan families in 2018. 71.4% of those payments were made on time, usually via paycheck withholdings.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Reopening This Week For Chapin Mansion

A grand reopening of the historic Chapin Mansion in Niles will be held this coming week now that a rehabilitation project for the landmark is complete. Niles History Center Director Christina Arseneau tells WSJM News improvements have been planned at the site for about three years, and now they’re ready to reopen it to everyone.. ...Read Full Story

Three Arrested For Cass County Assault

Three people are in the Cass County Jail thanks to a sheriff’s department K-9. Faust tracked a 19-year-old man from Edwardsburg, a 30-year-old Niles woman, and a third suspect about four-and-a-half miles from a home in the 19-thousand block of Hoffman Road in Penn Township. Police had been called there around 5 p.m. Saturday on a report of an aggravated assault, during which the suspects got into the home, got into a fight with a home owner, and one of them pepper sprayed the home owners. The third suspect was arrested on outstanding warrants, and no information is available on that person. The other two are facing charges that include resisting and obstructing police and aggravated assault.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Supporting Kids Reading Program

The Pokagon Fund has awarded a $5,000 grant to the United Way of Southwest Michigan to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Harbor Country. The United Way says this means more kids under the age of five living in Harbert, Lakeside, New Buffalo, Sawyer, Three Oaks, and Union Pier will get a jump start on school-readiness with books mailed each month to their homes. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails books to the homes of enrolled young people from birth until they turn five years old. The United Way of Southwest Michigan offers Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to preschool children in Berrien and Cass counties for free. There are currently 195 children enrolled in the program in the Pokagon Fund service area.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driving Crackdown Underway

Michigan State Police have begun Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign for Labor Day. It started Wednesday, and now extra police patrols are out on the roads watching out for drunk drivers. The three week Labor Day enforcement period will run through September 2. While the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Kari Arend told WSJM News this summer the state has a zero-tolerance drugged driving law.. ...Read Full Story

Wednesday Meeting On Parks Plan

The Berrien County Parks Department is planning its next meeting to hear from the public on its five year parks plan. The department says the plan covers the developments planned at all county parks from 2020 through 2024. The included parks are Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River, as well as the Red Arrow Linear Trail. The plan is needed for the county to qualify for state recreation grants. An open house will be held prior to the Berrien County Parks Commission Meeting at the New Buffalo Township Hall on August 21. The open house will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Everyone is also invited to submit comments directly to the Berrien County Parks Department. You can send an email to Parks@BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

“Veggie Van” Coming To St. Joseph This Week

Rolling into St. Joseph this coming week will be the YMCA’s Veggie Van, courtesy of Spectrum Health Lakeland. Spectrum’s Kelsey Haynes tells WSJM News the Veggie Van is a mobile farmer’s market loaded up with fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers. The green machine will be at the YMCA of Southwest Michigan office on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21. Haynes says the van is based out of Grand Rapids, and is intended to help bring fresh produce to areas where it may be difficult to get. Benton Harbor qualifies as one of those locations. To find out more about the Veggie Van, click this link.. ...Read Full Story

State Proposes Advisory Committee To Make Recommendations For Benton Harbor Schools

State officials are proposing the creation of a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee to be tasked with assessing problems at Benton Harbor Area Schools and then coming up with recommendations to fix them. At a Friday meeting of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education, State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks laid out a plan designed to maintain “a viable K-12 education system for Benton Harbor families.” She said the committee would consist of the school board, district staff, Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker, residents, and businesses. Parker told us the goal is to get community input and be transparent as an assessment of the district’s problems is done.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Gives $3.7 Million To Protect Endangered Lake Superior Reef

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is spending $3.7 million to remove copper mining waste rock from a Lake Superior harbor where it threatens an important fish spawning area. Waste known as stamp sands was dumped along the lakefront during the early 20th century. It covers 1,400 acres of shoreline and lake bottom and is drifting toward Buffalo Reef, where trout and whitefish reproduce. A dredging operation is expected to continue through this year. About 157,000 cubic yards of rock will be removed from Grand Traverse Harbor and a trough will be dug to create a sediment trap near the reef. The EPA funding was awarded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that focuses on longstanding environmental problems in the region. The state of Michigan is contributing $3 million.. ...Read Full Story

Immigration Groups Concerned About Rule Changes

Local experts say the latest changes to federal immigration laws would have damaging ripple effects on Michigan’s immigrant families. Under the new rule, legal immigrants who are applying for green card status would be denied if they’ve used federal assistance programs, like Medicaid or SNAP. At the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, attorney Tania Morris Diaz says it’s important for families to understand what the changes could mean, and seek counseling or legal help if needed.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Deputy Receives Award

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Laesch has received an award for her work on behalf of the community as the sheriff’s department crime prevention coordinator. The department says Laesch got the Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award at the Elder Law of Michigan Award Ceremony in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. The awards are given to those who advocate for, educate, and assist individuals in need, with a focus on older adults and those with disabilities. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says he’s proud to support Deputy Laesch, adding she continues to advocate for those who are the most vulnerable and works to share information with the public.. ...Read Full Story

State Waives Off-Road Vehicle Fees This Weekend

From the Associated Press — Off-road vehicle enthusiasts can explore Michigan’s 3,700 miles of trails and five “scramble” areas that are open to them for no charge this weekend. All rules pertaining to ORVs still apply. But riders on designated routes and trails will not need an ORV license or trail permit Saturday and Sunday. Ron Olson of the Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division says it’s the perfect opportunity to get a look at Michigan’s off-road riding areas. A Recreation Passport is required where applicable, such as the scramble areas. They include the St. Helen’s Motorsport Area in Roscommon County; the Black
Lake Scramble Area in Cheboygan County; Silver Lake State Park in Oceana County; Bull Gap in Oscoda County and The Mounds in Genesee County.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested For Bangor Arson, South Haven Assault, Pointing Weapon At Police

Police have an arson and assault suspect locked up in the Van Buren County Jail. South Haven police and county sheriff’s deputies were called to a car fire on Center Street in Bangor early Friday morning, and determined it had been intentionally set. Later in the morning, a call came in about the arson suspect pointing a gun at someone at the Shell gas station on Broadway Street in South Haven. The man led both South Haven and county deputies on a chase, pointing a gun at them several times and twice evading stop sticks until officers were able to use a pit maneuver to stop the fleeing car. He was arrested without incident, and officers found a pellet gun and arson evidence in the car. The suspect’s name has not been released pending his arraignment on multiple felony charges.. ...Read Full Story

State Officials, Benton Harbor School Board Meeting This Evening

Several state officials, including new state Superintendent Michael Rice, will be in Benton Harbor today for a meeting with the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Rice is on record opposing the Whitmer administration’s proposal to suspend operations of Benton Harbor High School until the district’s finances and academics improve, giving board members hope that they’ll be able to avoid a shutdown. The state is also sending representatives from the Treasury and Education departments along with the governor’s office. The meeting to discuss the way forward for the district begins at 5 p.m. at Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan OKs $1.3M Compensation For Man Exonerated Of Murder

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general has approved $1.3 million in compensation for a 61-year-old man who spent nearly three decades in prison before being exonerated in the arson-related deaths of his wife and two young daughters. Dana Nessel’s office says the award was approved Thursday following a review of David Gavitt’s claim under the state’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act. Compensation is calculated based on $50,000 for each year a person is in prison. Gavitt, of Ionia, was sentenced in 1986 to life without parole and spent 26 years in prison before an Ionia County prosecutor agreed the arson evidence behind his conviction no longer was credible. The case helped inspire the compensation act. 32 states and the District of Columbia provide money to people rebuilding their lives after being wrongly convicted.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Sets Objectives

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved its operational objectives for 2019 and 2020. The document was approved unanimously at a Thursday meeting. It comes out of strategic planning sessions held in the early part of this year. They involved commissioner visits to county facilities, meetings with department heads, and discussions on the issues faced by Berrien County. Among the objectives listed for the coming year and a half or so are maintaining a safe and resilient county for employees and the public and the use of asset management planning. Also, focusing on the support of county infrastructure, improving the private sector job market and tax base, and making Berrien County the “employer of choice” by improving personnel policies, salaries, and benefits. Additionally, the county commission makes it a goal to establish Berrien County’s fiscal position in the top 25% of Michigan counties through budgeting, oversight, and long-range planning. Finally, the county aims to increase efficiency and use social media to keep the public informed.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Authorizes Equipment Purchases

Some big purchases have been authorized by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education as it prepares the district for a new school year. At a meeting on Tuesday, the board approved more than $900,000 of equipment purchases. It authorized spending $75,000 on new computer servers for the district, as the COO noted the current ones crash every day. The money will come from the sinking fund. Up next was the purchase of a new fire alarm system for Fairplain East at a cost of $385,000. The money will come from a grant and the sinking fund. Finally, the board approved upgrades to the food service area of the high school. It was noted the district had a fund set up to cover those kitchen improvements as all food prep is now being done at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

BBB Issues Advisory About Wine Event

The Better Business Bureau in west Michigan is warning everyone about buying tickets for an upcoming R&B wine tasting event being advertised for August 23 in Paw Paw. The BBB says the event is one of many organized by a group that was the subject of a recent warning from the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, Missouri. It says the event listing claims proceeds will go to charity, but BBB investigators in St. Louis couldn’t find any evidence the alleged charity, Screaming Hearts Foundation, is recognized as a charity by the IRS. The event listing by a company called Erotic Wine Tastings says tickets cost $25, all sales are final, and the location of the event will not be revealed until five days before the scheduled date. However, the BBB says one of those events recently scheduled in Indianapolis was cancelled at the last minute and customers had trouble getting refunds. The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan suggests all donors do their research before giving to a charity, and use caution when considering paying for tickets to an event that provides limited information.. ...Read Full Story

Police Asking For Help Finding Missing Niles Woman

Police are asking for help finding a 49-year-old Niles woman who hasn’t been seen since late May. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says Rebecca Percy is white, about five-feet tall, 140 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. She has been known to stay in both the Benton Harbor and Niles areas, but the last contact she had with family was around May 20. The last known sighting of her was that same day in Niles. Police are asking if anyone knows where she is, to call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Detective Bureau at 269-983-7141 extension 7224.. ...Read Full Story

Opening Of Benton Township Arby’s Set For August 26

If you’re among those in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph area really missing Arby’s, mark Monday, August 26 on your calendar. That’s the opening day for the fast food chain’s return to the Twin Cities after more than 10 years. Construction on the new restaurant is getting close to wrapping up at Napier and M-139, almost directly across the street on Napier from the last Arby’s that was torn down a few years ago after sitting vacant and rotting for at least a decade. The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber of Commerce says a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. on the 26th, with the restaurant opening to the public an hour later. The location will employ 30 people and be open 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.. ...Read Full Story