Local News Archives

Van Buren Library Holds March Madness Book Bracket

The Van Buren District Library is putting a different spin on March Madness with a bracket competition called March Book Madness. The library’s Kay McAdam tells us they’re putting 64 works of literature up against each other, and the theme is old versus new. For example, the public can vote on things like The Lord of the Rings versus Game of Thrones or Fahrenheit 451 versus The Hunger Games. McAdam says this is the first time they’ve tried such an event.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Providing Grants For Natural Resources Preservation

The Consumers Energy Foundation has announced it’s providing $1.5 million to non-profits around Michigan this year for projects aiming to preserve, restore, and protect natural resources. Consumers spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News the first Planet Awards will go to two or more Michigan non-profits looking to make a positive impact on the state’s land, water, or air.. ...Read Full Story

High Wind Warning Issued For Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday and continue through 1 a.m. Monday. The service says it expects sustained west winds of 35 to 40 miles per hour with frequent gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. They are expected to start early Sunday morning and persist into the evening hours of Sunday. Periods of sustained winds up to 45 miles per hour and wind gusts to 60 miles per hour are also expected, especially during the day on Sunday. This could mean downed tree limbs and small trees blocking roads along with power outages and minor structural damage. The National Weather Service says driving in high profile vehicles, especially on north-south roads, could become hazardous, while unsecured outdoor objects will be blown around. The high wind conditions are expected throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Chase With Police

A Decatur man is in custody following a chase with police in Van Buren County on Friday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a deputy tried to pull over a Pontiac Grand Prix for a traffic violation on Paw Paw Road near M-51 in Paw Paw Township around 1:15 p.m. The Grand Prix took off, but its driver crashed while trying to turn on to 40th Street. The driver then fled on foot, but was caught by the pursuing deputy. A search of the Grand Prix turned up meth-related contraband, and it was also learned the 30-year-old suspect was wanted on two warrants. When the suspect was taken to the Van Buren County Jail, police say they found meth in his sock. He’s now facing several charges, and his name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Manufacturing Enters 2019 Strong

Manufacturing in southwest Michigan remains strong. Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson tells WSJM News the latest state report for the region shows the manufacturing industry grew by 5% in 2018. Gustafson says the industry is southwest Michigan’s economic driver, employing more than 18,000 people.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Establish Funding For Great Lakes Research

Legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Griffin Hails DEQ Compromise With Governor

A dispute between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative Republicans over the reorganization of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was resolved this week with a compromise, something being hailed by state Representative Beth Griffin. The Mattawan Republican tells WSJM News the governor had issued an order to reorganize the DEQ while also eliminating three review commissions set up last year by the Legislature. On Tuesday, Griffin says she introduced a resolution asking the governor to resubmit the plan without dropping the commissions, and that’s just what happened.. ...Read Full Story

Utilities Preparing For High Winds

Power companies around Michigan are taking steps to prepare for high winds on Saturday night and Sunday. Consumers Energy tells us they’re closely watching the weather and mobilizing resources in advance in case of power outages due to winds that are expected to gust up to 50 miles per hour. Indiana Michigan Power says you can stay on top of outages in your area at IndianaMichiganPower.com/Outages. All utilities remind everyone to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines. If you see a line down, report it to the power company or to 911.. ...Read Full Story

Flick Pick – Happy Death Day 2U

Flick Pick is a podcast about movies. In today’s episode, Andrew Green reviews Happy Death Day 2U, which is the sequel to last year’s Happy Death Day. Andrew also reviewed that film, and loved it. Does this crazy sequel live up to the original. Scroll down and click the Play button to find out what our reviewer thinks.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Sky Warn Training

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is now taking registrations for the next Sky Warn training sessions. They’re looking for volunteers who can help keep the community safe by providing reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Anyone can be a severe weather spotter, and the information provided by them has helped the National Weather Service track tornados, floods, and storms. Sky Warn volunteers who go through the training are taught things that include the basics of thunderstorm development, the fundamentals of storm structures, identifying potential severe weather features, how to report, and basic safety. The next Sky Warn training session will be on Saturday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at South Haven High School. Those who attend are encouraged to register by calling the Office of Domestic Preparedness of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Twin Cities To Have The Meats

Following up on a story WSJM News broke earlier this week on our Moody On The Market digital site, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area will soon have an Arby’s restaurant for the first time in years. The Benton Township Planning Commission will consider a site plan application Monday night from Browning Properties II LLC to build the restaurant at the southwest corner of East Napier Avenue and M-139 across from Walgreens. The two lots are currently occupied by a closed dry cleaning and tuxedo rental business. Arby’s had been considering a return to the Twin Cities for at least the past year. The new location will be close to where the area’s last Arby’s was torn down in July 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Pilot Killed In Northern Indiana Small Plane Crash

Authorities say a pilot has died after a small plane hit power lines and crashed in a farm field in northern Indiana. The plane crashed Thursday night about 2 miles east of Goshen Municipal Airport. Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel says the pilot was believed to be the only one aboard. Witnesses reported seeing the plane dive into the field, hitting the power lines on the way down. Emergency crews at the crash site had to use extreme caution because of high-voltage lines on the ground. Siegel says his office was handling the crash as a death investigation and awaited investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a review.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Cools Off In January

2019 is starting off a little quieter than the past few years for sales of existing homes in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says sales fell 8% last month compared to 2018. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says a drop in January numbers is not unusual given the normal push to close by the end of December for both buyers and sellers. Prices are also down, with the average sales price slipping 6% from January 2018 to just over $199,000 and the median price falling 8% compared to last year to $137,500. Jeffries notes the inventory of available homes on the market fell 4% last month year-over-year, and there is just a 4.9 month supply.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Investigating Whether Gas Mileage Was Overstated

From the Associated Press — Ford says it has launched an investigation into whether a flawed mathematical model caused it to overstate gas mileage and understate pollution from a wide range of vehicles. The company says a group of employees reported possible problems with the model in September. It has hired an outside firm to test the 2019 Ford Ranger. If problems are found, then Ford will start looking at models going back to 2017. Ford says it has no evidence yet that mileage or pollution numbers are wrong, but the investigation has just started. The company says it’s too early to tell how many and which models might be involved. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators have been informed about the situation, according to the automaker.. ...Read Full Story

No-Reason Absentee Voting Now Allowed

From the Associated Press — Michigan voters can start casting an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Thursday is the first day residents can request to vote by mail in the May election. It is the first election since voters last fall approved no-reason absentee voting as part of a ballot initiative. Previously, absentee voters had to be at least 60 years old, be out of town when the polls are open or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration. Requests for an absent voter ballot can be submitted in writing to the local city or township clerk. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk are holding a news conference Thursday to welcome the new era of no-reason absentee voting.. ...Read Full Story

County To Seek Waterway Grant For St. Joseph River

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has agreed to pursue a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Grant to develop four public access points along the St. Joseph River in St. Joe and Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the idea is to spend about $350,000 on new infrastructure so the river can be used for travel by anyone.. ...Read Full Story

Cassopolis Residents Charged In Death Of Girl

Two Cassopolis residents are facing charges in the meth-related death of a 10-year-old girl in northern Indiana. Prosecutors say the girl and her 9-year-old sibling were taken to an Elkhart home last June by 34-year-old Brandon Hobbs and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Erica Reschke. Hobbs is the father of the children. The 10-year-old girl died at the home as a result of methamphetamine ingestion. Toxicology tests revealed high levels of the drug in her body. Hobbs and Reschke are now charged with neglect of a dependent, and Reschke is also charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Their trial is scheduled to start May 6 in Goshen.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General: Church Sex Abuse Investigation Could Take Years

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says an investigation into possible sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Michigan may last two years, and she has asked the state’s seven dioceses to suspend their own internal review processes until the probe is complete. She said Thursday there ultimately could be more than 1,000 victims, and there are hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to review. Nessel’s predecessor last year opened an investigation after a Pennsylvania grand jury report said more than 1,000 children had been molested there since the 1940s. The Archdiocese of Detroit says Nessel has not asked it to stop its internal review process, which it says is used to restrict or remove from ministry anyone who has committed sex abuse.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Waives Old Property Fees

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have opted to give a break to some property owners, along with the city’s own assessment department. At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission narrowly approved a request from City Manager Darwin Watson to waive some old fees faced by property owners who did not file paperwork with the assessor in a timely fashion when their property changed hands. Watson said there are a large number of fees going back years in those cases.. ...Read Full Story

Trial Date Set In Murder Of Army Sgt In St. Joseph Township

The murder trial for the widow of US Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III and her lover will start April 30 in St. Joseph. Kemia Hassel is accused of using Snapchat to plan her husband’s murder and sending boyfriend Jeremy Cuellar to St. Joseph Township while they were all on leave over the New Year’s holiday to carry out the killing. Army Specialist Jaquan Hamilton testified yesterday that Cuellar admitted to the crime.. ...Read Full Story

Vail Rubber Works Announces Royalton Township Expansion

Vail Rubber Works is set for an expansion in Royalton Township. The St. Joseph manufacturing firm is planning to build a 58,000 square foot production facility on 30-acres it owns at the southwest corner of Hollywood Road and Glenlord Avenue near Rogers Foodland. Pearson Construction will handle the build, and Vail is partnering with Abonmarche for the development. Construction will start this spring and is expected to be complete early next year. The expansion will create about 10 new jobs, and Vail will continue to operate its facility on Langley Avenue near downtown St. Joseph along with another near Mobile, Alabama. The family-owned company was founded in 1892.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Group Put Upton On Retirement List

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed Congressman Fred Upton on its retirement watch list for 2020. The committee, which bills itself as “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives,” said Tuesday many House Republicans “are slowly coming to the realization that life in the minority, with no end in sight, just isn’t worth the hassle.” It says it won’t be surprised if Upton winds up among them. WSJM News asked Congressman Upton if he had a comment.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Announces Facade Grants

A new grant program at Cornerstone Alliance aims to help St. Joseph and Benton Harbor area businesses save energy and spruce up their facades. The Small Business Facade Grant program will provide funds for the repair, maintenance, or rehabilitation of exterior faces on commercial buildings. Additionally, Cornerstone tells us combining facade enhancements with I&M’s energy efficiency upgrades will ensure a “universal approach to business improvement.” By implementing energy saving proposals, businesses can then become eligible for up to $100,000 in rebates through I&M’s Prescriptive and Custom programs. The facade grants are targeted at downtown Benton Harbor, the Arts District, Niles Road between Napier Avenue and Hilltop Road in St. Joe, and the M-139 Corridor in Benton Township. Grant applications can be found on the website of Cornerstone Alliance.. ...Read Full Story

Petition Deadlines For BH Elections Announced

Anyone interested in running for elected office in the city of Benton Harbor can now submit nominating petitions to the city clerk’s office. The clerk says primaries for five positions will be held on August 6. The offices to appear on the ballot will be mayor, two commissioner at-large seats, and the seats for city commission in Wards 1 and 2. All of the positions have four-year terms. The clerk says those who submit petitions need at least 25 valid signatures from residents within the relevant jurisdiction. The deadline to turn in petitions is 4 p.m. on April 23.. ...Read Full Story