Local News Archives

Court Documents: Mosque Threat Suspect Admitted Making Bomb Threat

Court documents are shining new light on the bomb threat made against the Islamic Association of Southwest Michigan mosque in Benton Township in late April. Malik Mohammed Nisar has been identified as the suspect, and the criminal complaint shows he admitted calling 911 to make the bomb threat on April 26. Nisar had been given a ride to the mosque earlier in the day by a Benton Township police officer, and was arrested just a few blocks away. After being read his Miranda rights, the man said he had called in the threat. Nisar told investigators he did so to get officers on the scene to quote, “lay them all out because they are illegal and here as refugees.” According to the charging documents, the suspect is homeless and has been charged with a felony of making a terrorist threat, false report of a bomb. Nisar is being held in the Berrien County jail and is due in court on May 6.. ...Read Full Story

Farm Accident Claims Life Of Husband Of Berrien County Commissioner

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death of a Baroda man in a farming accident. Baroda-Lake Township Police say 45-year-old Patrick Freehling was found in a barn on his farm by an employee around 7 a.m. Thursday, and his death appears to have been a farming accident. There were no signs of foul play. Freehling was the husband of Berrien County Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling, and his death has prompted tonight’s county board meeting to be canceled. He operated a 200-acre farm and was also a US Navy veteran.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board Meeting Canceled For Thursday Night

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting is canceled for tonight. The board had been scheduled to meet at the St. Joseph/Lincoln Senior Center at 6 p.m. According to a statement from the county, the cancellation is due to “unforeseen circumstances,” and no further information is being released. The next meeting for the Board of Commissioners will be next Thursday at the normal time of 10:30 a.m. at the Berrien County Administration Center in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Meeting Canceled

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. tonight, May 2, 2019 has been canceled. County administration tells us it’s due to unforeseen circumstances. The meeting was going to be held at the St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center. It is unknown at this time whether the meeting will be re-scheduled at that location.. ...Read Full Story

Additional Snow Day Bill Sent To Governor Whitmer

After hitting a snag this week in the state Senate, school districts in Michigan will be able to get four additional snow days forgiven without having to make up the time. Democrats on Tuesday prevented the bill from getting immediate effect after it passed unanimously, meaning it wouldn’t have helped districts until next year. After the House sent the bill back over, enough of them joined with Republicans to have the legislation become law as soon as Governor Whitmer signs it. Schools have six snow days built into their calendars, and can get a waiver for three more. This will bring the total to 13 days that don’t have to be tacked on to the end of the year for the days that were canceled during the state of emergency at the end of January and beginning of February. The issue for the Democrats in the Senate was the removal of a provision that would have guaranteed hourly non-union school employees be paid for the work missed when school was canceled.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs High School Student Arrested For School Threat

An anonymous call to the state’s OK2SAY tip line has resulted in the arrest of a 15-year-old for allegedly making a threat against Berrien Springs High School. Police say several students overheard a classmate asking for help getting a gun to shoot others at school. Authorities were notified shortly before 4:30 Wednesday afternoon of the threat and took the teen into custody. He is facing a felony with a 10-year sentence if convicted. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department says no weapons were found, and the suspect was unable to get his hands on a gun, and add the school’s safety and security plans worked as designed. The school district has been promoting the OK2SAY tip line as a way to report any unsafe activity.. ...Read Full Story

Student Art Contest To Be Part Of South Haven Sesquicentennial

As South Haven celebrates 150 years of existence, the public is invited to view and vote on works of art by students from South Haven Public Schools at the South Haven Center for the Arts. Students were asked to imagine how the town looked in the past, present and future through art. You have a chance to vote on your favorite pieces through Friday from 10 to 4, Thursday until 7. The winning entries will be displayed at the sesquicentennial Kick-Off Picnic on Friday, May 10th and continue at the Art Center through May 18th. Visit the Art Center website at southhavenarts.org for more information.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Gets Grant For Certified Nursing Assistant Apprenticeship Program

Kinexus is announcing more than $224,000 in grants secured to train 100 Certified Nursing Assistants by creating an apprenticeship program. The money is part of $1.3 million recently awarded by the federal government to the state’s Talent Investment Agency’s Workforce Development Agency. Kinexus Sector Strategy Coordinator Erin Sunlin tells WSJM News there will be a projected 19-hundred job openings in the Berrien-Cass-Van Buren county region between now and 2028.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Orders Study Of Insurers’ Use Of Non-Driving Factors

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer is ordering a review of how Michigan auto insurers use non-driving factors to set rates and how they price policies in which medical coverage is coordinated with drivers’ health insurance. The Democratic governor made her directive to the Department of Insurance and Financial Services Wednesday. The move comes as Republican lawmakers prepare legislation designed to lower auto premiums that are the highest in the country.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Commencement Sunday To Feature Jenna Dolezan As Student Speaker

Lake Michigan College will bestow 505 degrees and certificates on 485 students at Sunday’s commencement at the Mendel Center Mainstage. The student speaker for the 72nd annual exercise will be Jenna Dolezan, a 2017 St. Joseph High School graduate and native of Benton Harbor who is receiving an Associate in Business Administration. She chose to go to LMC after her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer during her senior year of high school, saying she wanted to stay home for college. Dolezan is a first-generation college student and got involved immediately by joining the Student Senate in the second week of her freshman year. She will attend Grand Valley State University in the fall, seeking a bachelor’s degree in marketing with the goal of having a career in sports marketing management.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Busted For Stealing Motorcycle From Shed To Pay For Meth

A 42-year-old Dowagiac man is in the Cass County Jail after being arrested for allegedly breaking into a shed and stealing a motorcycle. Police say James File admitted he stole the bike and other items with the intent of selling them to fund his “severe” meth addiction. The incident happened overnight between March 26 and March 27, with the homeowner noticing the break-in just before 7 a.m. Everything that was taken has been recovered. Police spent the next month investigating, and arrested File Tuesday morning on North Lowe Street in Dowagiac. He’s being held on a $30,000 bond and is also facing charges for not appearing to be sentenced on a pair of larceny from vehicles charges from last fall.. ...Read Full Story

2019-2020 Speaker Series Lineup Announced For Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan

The lineup is set for the next season of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series. The season kicks off October 16 with retired US Air Force Colonel Nicole Malachowski, who was the first female Thunderbird pilot and also was a combat veteran, fighter squadron commander, and a White House Fellow and advisor. She will be followed on November 2 by Emmy Award-winning journalist Ann Coury. On December 2nd, Detroit Free Press columnist, author, and Detroit radio host Mitch Albom will come to Benton Harbor. After a few months off, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will address the Econ Club on March 18, followed by National Geographic Live underwater photographer Brian Skerry, and the season wraps up on May 19 with the Fonz, actor Henry Winkler. The Young Professionals special presentation speaker will be Nic Sheff, the author of “Beautiful Boy,” who is also a recovering addict. All keynote presentations next season will be in the Mendel Center Mainstage, a change from past years when the address was given in the Grand Upton Hall.. ...Read Full Story

AMBER Alert Issued For Kalamazoo County Teen

Michigan State Police are looking for a 16-year-old Kalamazoo County girl missing since early Tuesday afternoon. They issued an AMBER Alert for Calista Kay Rose early this morning, saying she might be with 45-year-old Samuel Chrispens. Both are white, and he is believed to be driving a gray 2011 Chrysler four-door sedan with the Michigan licence plate 1MC-W51. Police have not said what the relationship is between the teen and the man. She was last seen in a black T-shirt and a pink winter coat. Anyone who spots her is urged to call 911.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Today Preparing For BBQ, Blues, and Bluegrass Festival

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

Upton, Colleagues Announce 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 Tuesday press conference, 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

Governor Signs Bill Delaying Teacher Evaluation Changes

From the Associated Press — Michigan will delay a key change in its evaluation system for teachers and schools administrators under legislation signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The laws enacted Tuesday will halt, at least for a year, a requirement that student growth and assessment data be given greater weight in educators’ year-end performance evaluations. Such information now accounts for 25% of an
evaluation but was scheduled to rise to 40% this academic year under a 2015 law. The change will now be delayed until the 2019-20 school year. The Democratic governor says test scores are “only one piece of the puzzle and not the whole story.” The legislation is supported by teachers unions, school districts and groups representing administrators. Legislators say Michigan’s main standardized test, the M-STEP, does not adequately measure students’ learning over time.. ...Read Full Story

State AG Threatens To Shut Down Pipeline If Talks Fail

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general says she’ll move to shut down an oil pipeline in the Great Lakes if the governor can’t find a “swift and straightforward” resolution. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is open to allowing construction of tunnel beneath the lakebed to house a new segment of Line 5 in the channel where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. But she has concerns her predecessor’s plan would keep the existing pipeline in the water too long. During her campaign, Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel pledged to sue to close the pipeline – saying operator Enbridge has violated a state easement. Nessel released a statement Monday saying if Whitmer’s ongoing talks to resolve the contentious issue fail, she’ll use “every resource available to our office” to shut the pipeline to protect the lakes.. ...Read Full Story

Ferris State Student Rescinds Sexual Assault Allegation Against SB Mayor Buttigieg

A Ferris State University student says he was coerced by a right-wing Washington lobbyist and podcaster and another conservative social media personality into making up false claims he was sexually assaulted by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Twenty-one-year-old Hunter Kelly put out a statement Tuesday denouncing his earlier claim, saying he has never met the Democratic presidential candidate. “The Detroit News” reports the student added that the accusation against the mayor on the Medium blog site was the work of lobbyist Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Burkman is standing by the allegations, posting on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that he believes the original story and says the mainstream media bullied Kelly and his family “into submission.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Waives Makeup Requirement For 4 Snow Days

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan lawmakers may be closer to forgiving schools from potentially having to make up four snow days that occurred during a state-declared emergency. Legislation approved unanimously by the Senate Tuesday would exclude the period from Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 from counting as snow days. That’s when an arctic deep freeze shut down many normal activities, including school.. ...Read Full Story

Former School Employee Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement

A former employee of the Village Adventist Elementary School in Berrien Springs is admitting stealing thousands of dollars. Our partners at WSBT 22 report 50-year-old Sarah Kurtz pleaded guilty today to embezzling up to $100,000 from the school. She will have to pay $272,000 in restitution, but the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office is not recommending a sentence any longer than a year. If the judge agrees, that would keep Kurtz out of prison, but she could still be sentenced to up to a year in the Berrien County Jail. Kurtz will be sentenced in June.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Sentenced For Daughter’s Death

The father of a three-year-old Almena Township girl will spend at least the next 22 and a half years locked up for her murder. A Van Buren County judge has sentenced Corey Kucsera to 22.5 to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Sophia. The little girl’s stepmother, Kate George, also pleaded guilty to child abuse and second-degree murder and was sent away for 31 to 50 years. The little girl was found unresponsive in their home last September, bound to a car seat with a sock taped into her mouth for 24 hours. Authorities removed two other children from the home, and say Sophia had been abused for some time before her death.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Card Fraud Ringleader Sentenced To Federal Prison

The leader of a multi-state fraud ring that stole credit cards from the mail and used them at retailers throughout Michigan last year is headed to prison for nearly five years. 29-year-old Travis Rolle of Miami, Florida was sentenced in federal court in Grand Rapids and ordered to pay over $311,000 in restitution to the three financial institutions that suffered losses. His crime ring hit Berrien County along with Calhoun, Eaton, Kalamazoo and Kent according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rolle and six others were charged by a federal grand jury in a 18-count indictment last September, with the crimes happening between March and mid-July of 2018. All but one have so far pleaded guilty and have been sentenced, with the seventh to be back in court to be sentenced in July. All seven worked together to steal and use credit cards and gift cards.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Approves Water, Sewer System Applications

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved applications to the Michigan Drinking Water Revolving Fund and the State Revolving Loan Fund for loans to pay for water system and sewer work. After an April 15 public hearing where they learned about the affected areas, which are all over the city, the body met Monday to approve the applications. Commissioner Sharon Henderson noted a failure in the past to maintain infrastructure leaves current leaders with the need to take action.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Beach Project Trying Again

Organizers of the Cherry Beach Project are hoping the second time will be the charm. After last year’s failed effort to raise enough money to qualify for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to buy four acres of beachfront property in Chikaming Township, the project is giving it another go. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells WSJM News the land directly next to the public Cherry Beach is up for grabs.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Looking To Fill Some Board Vacancies

Berrien County is looking to fill some board vacancies. Administration says there are vacancies on the Community Corrections Advisory Board, the Public Works Board, the -1-1 Advisory Board, and the Land Bank Authority. Anyone interested in serving on any of those boards cab contact the Berrien County Administration office for an application, or you can find the applications at BerrienCounty.org. You can also find descriptions of each board. The deadline to apply is May 10.. ...Read Full Story

Forum On Civil Discourse Set For May 15

Coming up in May in Berrien Springs will be a forum on civil public discourse. Put together by the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties, the OutCenter, and the Three Oaks Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the event will feature a panel of local leaders and candidates, and a moderator from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. League of Women Voters President Marilyn Klawiter tells WSJM News many people these days seem to have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable.. ...Read Full Story

Illinois Governor OKs First Steps To Block Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — The governor of Illinois is authorizing steps toward the installation of technologies in a Chicago-area waterway to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. Democrat J.B. Pritzker told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers he’s willing to move ahead with preconstruction, engineering and design work for the project at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois. The location is considered a crucial choke point where the invasive carp could be prevented from migrating upstream toward the lake. Illinois officials previously have agreed to work with the Army Corps and other Great Lakes states on the project while raising concerns about its cost and potential harm to commercial shipping. Pritzker said in a letter to the Corps Friday that he wants discussions about reducing the project’s price tag, estimated at $778 million.. ...Read Full Story

Runaway Teen With Autism Found Safe In Van Buren County

A 14-year-old boy is safe and back with his family after running away for a bit Sunday night. The boy has autism and was reported missing from a home in the 28-thousand block of County Road 388 in Pine Grove Township just after 7 p.m. Police learned the last sighting of the teen was about 40 minutes prior to him being reported missing when he was outside the home. The boy was found walking along southbound M-40 near 26th Avenue by a passerby, who called police. The search involved the Van Buren County Sheriff’s office and K-9 teams from both that department and South Haven Police, and Michigan State Police troopers also worked to try to find the teen.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor-St. Joseph Area Tied With Marquette For Highest Gas Prices

The highest average gas prices in the state are right here in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area. According to Triple-A Michigan, the average price in the Twin Cities to start the week is $2.93, up 8¢ from last Monday and tied with Marquette in the Upper Peninsula for the highest average. The state’s lowest prices are in Flint and Traverse City, where drivers are paying $2.85 a gallon. Statewide, the average is $2.88, up 3¢ from where we started last week, but let’s not forget the jump last Monday afternoon to $2.99 a gallon. Triple-A says prices will continue to fluctuate as they’ve been doing for the next month, as Memorial Day is typically the peak for prices every year.. ...Read Full Story

Arizona Woman Rolls Truck In Cass County Crash

An Arizona woman is recovering at Elkhart General Hospital after crashing her car in Cass County’s Mason Township. 45-year-old Kristi Shuler was headed east on US 12 when she fell asleep, went over the center line and off the north side of the road, where her truck rolled over near the intersection of Starbrick Road. No other vehicles were involved, and Shuler was wearing a seat belt. The crash happened just after 4 a.m. Monday, and police say alcohol does not appear to have been a factor. The extent of Shuler’s injuries has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

State Taking Applications, Donations For Foster Kids Scholarship Program

The Michigan Department of Treasury is accepting applications for its Fostering Futures Scholarship program. Michigan Education Trust Director Robin Lott tells WSJM News program was set up as a way to help young people who have been in the foster care system get a college education. She says only 10% of the kids who went through foster care after their 13th birthday makes it to college even though most want to go. Fostering Futures is one way to help them.. ...Read Full Story

Major Grant Awarded To South Haven Development

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

Energy Upgrades At LMC Mendel Center

Lake Michigan College is about to start a major upgrade project for the Mendel Center and Grand Upton Hall. At a meeting of the LMC Board of Trustees this past week, bids were awarded for the $3.2 million plan. LMC Vice President of Administration Anne Erdman tells WSJM News the goal is to improve energy efficiency and comfort.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Promotes Organ Donor Registry

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is highlighting progress that’s been made recently with getting more Michiganders signed up for the state’s organ donor registry. Employees at Secretary of State branch offices ask customers if they would like to sign up, and now there are more than 5.2 million people on the Michigan registry. Benson spoke at a press conference Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway At Warren Dunes State Park

Visitors to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer may see occasional closures throughout the spring and summer as two renovation projects get underway at the area. Crews have already started a more than $1 million project to renovate Red Arrow Highway, which serves as the main entrance to the sand dunes and lakeshore beaches. The Michigan Department of Transportation is overseeing the road repairs, and a lane addition to reduce traffic buildup. The efforts should be completed by May 20. A more than $2 million project will also begin this month to replace toilets and bathhouse buildings in the park’s day-use area. Plans call for making more room for additional food truck vendors. The upgrades should be finished by November.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Fire At Niles Walmart

Police are investigating a fire at the Niles Walmart on Friday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the Niles Township Fire Department was dispatched to the store on South 11th Street around 3:30 p.m. They found a fire had started in the clothing department, and employees were putting it out when firefighters arrived. The store was quickly evacuated and no one was injured. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Promote Addiction Recovery Resources

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 this month 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

Youth Leaders Hope To Restore Funding For Training Program

Testimony on the value of the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program was taken this month by a Michigan Senate subcommittee. As lawmakers put together the next budget, it’s hoped that funding for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates can be restored. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington was there for the hearing last week, and told WSJM News Tamia Clay, a Benton Harbor High School senior active in FIRST Robotics, spoke about the difference Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates has made for her.. ...Read Full Story

Rotarians Plant Tree For Arbor Day

South Haven Rotarians celebrated National Arbor Day on Friday by planting a tree in a city park. In 2018, at the urging of Rotary International, the South Haven Rotarians also planted a tree, and the club decided to make it an annual Arbor Day tradition. Working with the city arborist, the Rotarians selected a hornbeam to go in the Black River Park.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Works To Boost Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund

Legislation to set aside more money for Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund has been approved by the state Senate. The plan also requires the Michigan Attorney General to report quarterly to the Legislature on the fund. State Representative Steven Johnson, who sponsored the legislation in the state House, says the fund lacked the money needed to compensate those who have been wrongly imprisoned by the justice system.. ...Read Full Story

State Lifts Seasonal Weight Restrictions

The Michigan Department of Transportation has lifted seasonal weight restrictions on state roads across the Lower Peninsula. The restrictions were lifted at 6 a.m. Friday. MDOT spokesperson Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the state and local road agencies will order that loads over a certain weight cannot be taken on some roads during the spring when melting ice underneath the road surfaces leaves them vulnerable.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale Next Month

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

Legislature Approves “Raise The Age” Legislation

The Michigan House on Thursday approved “raise the age” legislation. The plan would end the policy requiring all 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in Michigan’s criminal justice system. Speaking on the House floor, state Representative Roger Hauck of Isabella County said it is not fair to subject a high school student to the same treatment as an adult.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Man Arrested For Bomb Threat Against Benton Township Mosque

A New Buffalo man is in the Berrien County Jail awaiting arraignment on terrorism charges. Benton Township police say the 38-year-old is accused of making a bomb threat against the Islamic Association of SouthWest Michigan Mosque in the 13-hundred block of East Napier. Officers were notified of the threat shortly before 2 p.m. Friday and evacuated the mosque. No bomb was found, and the building was declared safe. Worshipers were unaware of the threat when police arrived, but a leader told police of a potential suspect who had recently visited. He was found in the Fairplain Plaza, and admitted calling Berrien County Central Dispatch 9-1-1 to make the false bomb threat. His phone number also matched with dispatch records.. ...Read Full Story

UFCU Makes Coloring Contest Donation To Logan Center

United Federal Credit Union’s “You Color, U Donate” contest has raised $730 for the Logan Center in Benton Harbor. United donated $1 for every page entered to the local autism center, and also awarded a $500 Youth Savings Deposit to one of the children who submitted a coloring sheet. The sheets were turned in by credit union employees, members, and the St. Joseph community. The donation is in addition to the capital donation pledged by UFCU in October 2017 of $30,000 over three years to help Logan Center’s self-sustaining operations at its Benton Harbor facility. Logan supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they, and their families, may achieve their desired quality of life. Their services allow children to transition from special needs classrooms to mainstream general education classrooms. This month is also Autism Awareness Month.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers Talking Child Care Affordability

Affordable child care helps parents stay in the workforce and earn money to provide for their families, but for some Michigan parents, it’s a difficult balance to achieve. When Hannah Gilliam of Grand Rapids had her first child at a young age, she couldn’t afford the higher standard of child care she wanted. She’s now a mother of five, and says her family makes sacrifices to ensure her three youngest are getting decent care.. ...Read Full Story

Child Abuse Prevention Rally Held In Lansing

A rally was held in Lansing Thursday to mark Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Children’s Trust Fun Director Suzanne Greenberg tells WSJM News hundreds gathered and planted blue and silver pinwheels near the Michigan Capitol. Greenberg says there are a lot of children around Michigan who need protection.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Hosting Food Summit

The Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit is being hosted in Dowagiac this week by the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi. The event runs through Sunday, and features a wide range of activities and presentations, many focused on traditional tribal food. 60 Native American chefs are on hand, and presentations are being given on everything from foraging to basket making to trapping. The Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit is held each year in different locations around the MidWest states, and this is the first time it’s been hosted by the Pokagon Band. It’s going on at the Pokagon Rodgers Lake headquarters on Sink Road, and the public is welcome to attend. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In South Haven Drug Bust

A South Haven man is facing a variety of charges following a cocaine bust on Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies with the narcotics unit arranged an undercover drug buy from the 50-year-old suspect. They say he sold them cocaine from a vehicle parked in the area of Huron Street near Broadway Street. Right after the drug buy, police moved in and arrested the man, who did try to escape. Upon the suspect’s arrest, officers say he was found to be in possession of 11.1 grams of suspected cocaine, divided up into 19 separate packages. He’s facing several drug-related charges, and police say he already had a couple of felony warrants out. He’s now at the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Local Blood Drives Scheduled Throughout May

The American Red Cross has scheduled some blood drives around southwest Michigan in the coming weeks. May is Trauma Awareness Month, and the Red Cross tells us one car crash victim could need as many as 100 units of blood. The organization is urging everyone to make an appointment to donate either by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, by going to their website, or using the Red Cross app. Throughout May, there are blood drives planned in St. Joseph, Coloma, Buchanan, Decatur, Bangor, and South Haven. You can see the full list below.. ...Read Full Story

MI Child Poverty Rate Drops, But 20% Still Live In Poverty

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s child poverty rate dropped over five years, but hundreds of thousands of kids – or one in five – are still living in poverty. The annual Kids Count Profile released Tuesday by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation reports about 416,000 of Michigan’s children lived in poverty in 2017. That was down from roughly 549,000 in 2012. The study also finds a spike in child abuse and neglect, with confirmed cases up nearly 30 percent. Michigan’s bottom-ranked counties for child well-being are Lake, Luce, Alcona, Schoolcraft and Muskegon. The top five are Livingston, Clinton, Ottawa, Oakland and Washtenaw. Kids Count in Michigan project director Alicia Guevara Warren says the “alarming increase” in child abuse and neglect cases “underscores the urgency of the issues facing our kids.”. ...Read Full Story

Judges Order Michigan To Redraw Legislative District Maps

From the Associated Press — A three-judge panel has ruled that Michigan’s congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, ordering the state Legislature to redraw at least 34 districts for the 2020 election. The decision issued Thursday also requires special state Senate elections to be held in 2020, instead of 2022 as scheduled. The judges say the maps drawn by Republicans in 2011 violate Democratic voters’ constitutional rights, including by diluting the weight of their votes. They are giving the GOP-led Legislature until Aug. 1 to submit new maps. The new maps would need the signature of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.. ...Read Full Story

14 Michigan Communities Get State Funds For Stream Cleanups

Fourteen communities around Michigan are getting state grants to host river, stream and creek cleanup activities. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy timed the awards totaling more than $29,000 to coincide with Earth Day. Local governments often work with nonprofit organizations or other volunteers for the cleanups, which include removal of trash and other debris from streams and stream banks.. ...Read Full Story