Local News Archives

Upton Calls For End To Some Tariffs

Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Michigan on Wednesday to talk trade as the Trump administration pushes for Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an update to NAFTA. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the administration hasn’t sent that deal to Congress, but before anything can happen, it should end tariffs on Canada and Mexico that affect agriculture and the auto industry.. ...Read Full Story

Armed Robbery Suspects Busted In Van Buren County

Some armed robbery suspects out of Ann Arbor were busted in Van Buren County on Tuesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it got word of a gas station robbery in Ann Arbor earlier in the morning. The suspects were reported to be in a vehicle with Illinois plates. It was also reported one of them had been seen with a gun. Sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle on westbound I-94 in Lawrence Township and pulled it over. They say a search turned up evidence of the robbery, and the two men and one woman in the vehicle were detained. They’ve since been handed off to the Ann Arbor Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Wins Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

The Coloma Comets have once again come out on top in the Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. The tournament was held by state Senator Kim LaSata, continuing a tradition started by her predecessor to find the southwest Michigan school with the most spirit each year. Throughout the March Madness-like tournament, schools were asked to submit photos showing their spirit to LaSata’s Facebook page. Coloma wins for the second year in a row, edging out Howardsville Christian in the final round, which wrapped up on Friday. Coloma now gets the title trophy and a $250 prize from the AT&T Pioneers.. ...Read Full Story

Friends Of Library Holding Rare Book Sale

The Friends of the St. Joseph Library are preparing for a rare book sale this week. Friends of the Library President Rebecca Marsden tells WSJM News the sale will be upstairs at the library Thursday through Saturday, while the regular spring book sale takes place downstairs. Marsden says they’ve got a wide range of old books available.. ...Read Full Story

Change At The Top Of The Van Buren County Road Commission

A change has been made at the helm of the Van Buren County Road Commission. A letter from the commission to area officials confirms Larry Hummel is no longer employed as the agency’s engineer-manager, effective last Thursday. It is not clear if Hummel resigned or was fired. He had been in that capacity with the road commission for more than 17 years, starting in February 2002. According to his LinkedIn page, Hummel also worked as a highway engineer for the Van Buren County Road Commission from 1993 to 1999 and had jobs with the Michigan Department of Transportation and Montcalm County’s road commission before returning to Van Buren. Four staff members will be taking over the duties handled by Hummel on an interim basis.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Busted After Short Chase

A Dowagiac man is facing charges after a brief chase with police on Friday night. The Dowagiac Police Department tells us an officer spotted a vehicle parked suspiciously on East Wayne Street near West Railroad Street just before 11:40 p.m. As he approached it, the vehicle took off. It started going faster, and when it ran a stop sign, the officer turned on his lights to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle fled northbound on West Railroad Street, but the driver lost control and crashed into a utility pole when he tried to make a turn. The officer got the 19-year-old driver into custody, and a search turned up a pipe that tested positive for meth. Police say the driver also had a warrant out for an assault case. He’s now facing charges that include fleeing and eluding, possession of meth, and having no operator’s license. A 22-year-old woman who was also in the car was taken to a hospital for injuries she received in the crash. She isn’t being charged.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Adoption Agency Flips LGBTQ Policy

From the Associated Press — A major faith-based foster care and adoption contractor for the state of Michigan is reversing its policy and will place children with same-sex couples to comply with a legal settlement. Bethany Christian Services and the state confirmed the change Monday. Bethany Christian Services says while it is “disappointed” with how the settlement has been implemented, it will nonetheless reverse its policy so it continues foster care and adoption work for the state. As of February, Bethany Christian Services was responsible for 1,159 – or more than 8% – of cases of children under state supervision. Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s recent settlement prevents faith-based agencies from refusing to put children in LGBT homes for religious reasons. St. Vincent Catholic Charities sued last week to challenge the deal.. ...Read Full Story

A Win For People Who Park Too Long: Tire Chalking Thrown Out

In a ruling which will be felt by local governments in several states, Saginaw’s policy of chalking tires to enforce parking restrictions has been declared unconstitutional. A federal court says chalking tires in that city to keep track of parked cars is an unreasonable search and has no role in maintaining public safety. The decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals created a new legal precedent Monday in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Man Charged In Connection With Threat Against President In Grand Rapids

Posting anything on social media threatening the life of the President is bound to get you in trouble, and it did for a 20-year-old northwest Indiana man. Steffon Gonzalez of Hobart is accused of posting a photo of himself holding a rifle on his Facebook page from outside Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on March 28, writing he had a “bullet chambered to blow his head off.” President Trump was holding a rally at the downtown venue that evening. Gonzalez then tried to delete his Facebook account, thinking that would wipe out any evidence. Doing so has led to an obstruction of justice charge, carrying a potential 20-year sentence in federal prison. He’s also charged with two counts of making threats against the President’s life, which would put him away for five years. Gonzalez was arrested at his home in Hobart on March 30, and the federal grand jury indictment was just recently unsealed.. ...Read Full Story

NWS, DNR Warn Of Wildfire Danger In Lower Peninsula

The state Department of Natural Resources is warning about the danger of wildfires all over the state’s southern lower peninsula. The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has now issued a Red Flag Warning until 8 pm Monday, meaning that critical fire weather conditions are occurring now or will shortly. DNR wildfire prevention specialist Paul Rogers says dry weather has caused the warning to be extended to the entire Lower Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Woman Crashes Truck While Allegedly Trying To Run Over Ex

A 35-year-old Dowagiac woman is in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on a charges of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly trying to run over her ex-boyfriend with her pickup truck. He was walking along Main Street near Pennsylvania Avenue when he told police he saw the woman coming toward him, and he got behind a light pole. She crashed into and broke that, while the 39-year-old ex wasn’t hurt. The woman was treated and released into police custody from Ascension/Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital after complaining of wrist pain from the wreck. The man said the couple had just broken up on Saturday. The crash happened shortly after noon on Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Fall For First Time In Over Two Months

There is some easing of the pain at the pump to start the week, but Triple-A Michigan is cautioning that it could be short-lived due to supply and demand pressures as we get closer to Memorial Day next month. Average gas prices in Michigan are down a dime a gallon to $2.82, marking the first time that prices have fallen to start the week in more than two months. The average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is down 9¢, but still the third-most expensive average in Michigan at $2.85. The lowest prices are to our north in the Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon area along with Flint, where they’re down to an average of $2.75. The highest prices are in the U.P. in Marquette, where they’re paying $2.90 a gallon. GasBuddy says South Haven prices, which aren’t part of AAA’s survey, are as low as $2.67 as of Monday morning.. ...Read Full Story

Napier Shell Robbed In Benton Township

Benton Township police are looking for a man accused of robbing the Napier Shell gas station on Napier at I-94 early Monday morning. A search by a Michigan State Police K-9 was unable to track the man after he ran off from the station. The robbery happened around 3 a.m. when a six-foot-tall black man wearing all gray with a hoodie and a mask over his face entered the convenience store, pulled a gun, and demanded money. The clerk complied, no one was hurt, and the suspect made off with an undetermined amount of cash. Anyone with information is asked to call Benton Township Police or Crime Stoppers.. ...Read Full Story

Restoration Of Historic Building Completed

Work to renovate a historic building in downtown Lawton is finished, and the new owners plan to rent the place out for events. Rene Rodriguez is a representative for Jessica and Jeff Michael, who bought Red Brick Hall on Main Street and fixed it up. Rodriguez tells WSJM News the building was constructed in 1880 and played a role in local affairs.. ...Read Full Story

Talks Underway Regarding Fire Department Consolidation

Talks are underway regarding a possible consolidation of the fire departments in Baroda Township, Lake Township, and Bridgman. Baroda Township Supervisor Jim Brow tells WSJM News the idea came up a few months ago, and one meeting between local firefighters has been held so far. He says sharing resources, especially for taking calls, could have benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Marshal Steps Up Prevention Efforts

Michigan State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer has announced a statewide campaign to put more smoke detectors into homes. A FEMA grant of $525,000 is helping to fund MI Prevention, the statewide campaign to promote the alarms and fire safety awareness. Sehlmeyer spoke with WSJM News about the effort.. ...Read Full Story

School Board To Hear Updated Graduation Projections

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera says an update on the high school graduation numbers for this year will be given to the board of education next month. At this past week’s CEO Meeting, Herrera said board members will get a presentation on what’s been done since last month when he announced only 38 high school seniors out of 138 were on track to graduate this year.. ...Read Full Story

School Safety Grants For Van Buren County

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is applauding news that Michigan State Police school safety grants are going to the Van Buren Intermediate School District and Mattawan Consolidated Schools. She tells us Michigan State Police recently announced $25 million in safety grants for schools around the state. The Van Buren ISD is receiving $380,000, and Mattawan Consolidated Schools will receive $43,000.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Pushing For Branch Updates

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says you should be able to do more things with her department’s website and also with the self-service kiosks in its branch offices. Benson this week released a list of recommendations for how services at branch offices could be improved. She tells WSJM News she thinks the kiosks should be revamped so they break down less often, and she wants more of them.. ...Read Full Story

Empty The Shelters Pet Adoption Event Coming Up

Another Empty the Shelters pet adoption event is coming up, thanks to the Bissell Pet Foundation. It tells us on Saturday, May 4, you can adopt an animal at a participating shelter for just $25. Bissell will pay the rest. All adoptable pets available during Empty the Shelters will be microchipped and spayed or neutered. Shelters taking part in the Empty the Shelters event include Berrien County Animal Control, Van Buren County Animal Control, and the Al-Van Humane Society. Anyone who wants to provide a forever home to a critter as part of the Empty the Shelters Day is advised to contact their shelter in advance as many shelters require that someone go through an application process. You can find out more about the big event right here.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Announce Major Green Initiative

A new green initiative has been announced by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Tribal leaders say they’ve eliminated Styrofoam and single-use plastics like straws, cups, and cutlery at Pokagon offices, and are stepping up conservation efforts at all Four Winds Casinos. They will replace all plastic straws with biodegradable straws at the casinos starting on May 1, and the kitchens are also implementing recycling programs. Additionally, Pokagon-owned hotels are now using a recycling program for used amenities like soaps, shampoos, body washes, and plastic packaging.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Spreads Awareness About Addiction Recovery Services

The Berrien County Health Department wants everyone to know there are resources available in the community for those who may be struggling with a drug addiction. News came last week from the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office that overdose deaths have gone up recently, possibly because of fentanyl mixed into heroin. Berrien County Health Department Communications Manager Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News fentanyl is an extremely potent painkiller.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Project Getting $750,000 Grant

A development project in South Haven is getting a $750,000 state grant. The office of state Representative Beth Griffin tells us South Haven Center, LLC is getting the Michigan Community Revitalization Program grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund for a mixed-use development planned downtown. The plan includes 18 residential units, retail or commercial space, and parking. It’s expected to generate total investment of $4.5 million. The goal is to add density and promote walkability in the downtown area of South Haven while increasing the tax base. Griffin says she appreciates “the Michigan Strategic Fund recognizing South Haven as a place worth investing.”. ...Read Full Story