Local News Archives

St. Joseph School Board Selects New Superintendent

St. Joseph Public Schools has their new leader. Dr. Thomas Bruce was selected to be the new district superintendent at Monday night’s board of education meeting. Bruce was one of two candidates interviewed during the meeting Monday along with Oakridge Schools Superintendent Thomas Livezy. The vote to hire Bruce was unanimous and details of his contract still have to be negotiated. Bruce has spent the last dozen years as the director of curriculum and instruction at the Arcadia Unified School District in California. He’s originally from Howell Michigan, and has a wife and two daughters. Bruce takes over from Ann Cardon, who will be the new superintendent at Traverse City Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Advises Residents About Power Outage Rebate

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reminding those affected by power outages from the most recent round of storms they may be eligible for a $25 credit if they were without power for more than 16 hours. Nessel’s office says Michigan customers are eligible for a credit under “normal conditions” if the utility fails to restore service within 16 hours after an outage resulting from somthing other than catastrophic conditions. Catastrophic conditions are defined as an event that results in an official state of emergency or an event that results in interruption of 10% or more of the utility’s customers and the utility fails to restore power within 120 hours. Any customer of an electric utility regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission is eligible for the $25 credit. Customers must contact their utility to determine whether they can receive it.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteer Event Coming Up At Grand Mere

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is planning a volunteer stewardship day at Grand Mere State Park near Stevensville. It’s this coming Saturday, the 27th, and those who take part will be pulling out spotted knapweed and Canada thistle from the open areas. The DNR says those two invasive plants prevent native plants from thriving. Volunteers are encouraged to wear long sleeves and long pants as some may be sensitive to the vegetation. They’re also asked to bring gardening gloves, a hat, and plenty of water since everyone will be working in the sun. The volunteers are invited to meet at the end of Willow Road at 10 a.m. From the main park entrance, just continue south on Thornton Drive, and then turn right on Willow. The event will run through 1 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Fires City Manager

Darwin Watson is no longer the city manager of Benton Harbor. At a special meeting Monday night, the Benton Harbor City Commission fired Watson. The vote was five to three, with Commissioner Edward Isom, Mayor Po Tem Duane Seats, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad voting no. Commissioner Sharon Henderson was not present, and the rest of the body voted yes. Prior to the vote, Pro Tem Seats said if any commissioners have an issue with Watson, they should try to correct him rather than firing with no public explanation. He pointed to years in the past when the commission would fire managers and then get sued.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Announces Settlement With Equifax

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced her office has joined 49 other Attorneys General in a multi-state settlement with Equifax as a result its massive 2017 data breach. The settlement includes up to $425 million in consumer restitution and $175 million to the states. Michigan’s share is $4.6 million. The AG’s office says under the settlement, Equifax agrees to provide a single Consumer Restitution Fund of up to $425 million, with $300 million dedicated to consumer redress. If the $300 million is exhausted, the fund can increase by up to an additional $125 million. The company will also offer affected consumers extended credit-monitoring services for a total of ten years, and it’s taken other steps to address the problems caused by its data breach. You can find out more about the Equifax settlement at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Returns From Border Visit

A delegation of 16 members of Congress that traveled to the southern U.S. border last week returned on Saturday, and among those to go was Congressman Fred Upton. He spoke to Michigan’s Big Show on Monday and said the visit to McAllen, Texas took him and other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to a border crossing point, and to a detention facility for migrants. He said the $4.5 billion approved by Congress last month for the border may have been a lot, but…. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Warns About Breakwater Hazards

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is advising everyone to be careful around breakwaters, piers, or jetties in the Great Lakes. It says due to the high Great Lakes water levels, the threat of injury near a breakwater is increased. The Corps strongly advises everyone to obey all posted warning signs and to not swim near or jump off any structure. High water levels create safety hazards like submerged breakwaters, rip currents, and electric shock risks. The Corps says there are also many underwater structures like docks that boaters should watch out for. Due to the high lake levels, those structures can’t be seen right now. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends that everyone check out the website of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force. It’s at RespecthePower.org.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Seeks More MI Wind Parks

From the Associated Press — DTE Energy is planning to buy three new wind parks in Michigan that are expected to help lower carbon emissions from the utility’s operations. The Detroit-based utility says Michigan’s Public Service Commission has granted conditional approval for the proposed purchase. Two of the wind parks are in mid-Michigan’s Isabella County. They are expected to begin commercial operation next year. The third park will be in Delta County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Together, they are expected to increase DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio by nearly 50%. The utility says the projects will offset nearly 890,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. DTE Energy Chief Executive Jerry Norcia says investing in renewable energy is a key part of the utility’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2040.. ...Read Full Story

States, Provinces Discuss Stopping The Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes region are looking for ways to cooperate on preventing Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. Representatives of the states and provinces met last week in Chicago to discuss a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal for installing new technologies at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. The facility is considered a choke point where electric barriers, air bubbles and underwater noisemakers could be used to scare away the invasive fish, which have infested the Illinois River. The region’s governors and premiers have endorsed the $778 million plan and Illinois is the non-federal sponsor. During last week’s meeting, the other states and provinces discussed how they could help. In addition to costs, the agenda included ecological and engineering issues.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce New Great Lakes Cleanup Program

From the Associated Press — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $2 million grant program to clean up the shorelines and waters of the Great Lakes. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during an appearance Friday in Cleveland says the grants will be available to state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities for cleanup programs. Wheeler says removing trash from U.S. waterways is an EPA priority. The program is part of the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It will
fund up to a dozen projects, with the largest amount set at $500,000. The EPA is seeking projects that will address trash on beaches, shorelines, harbors and rivers. It will also fund litter prevention and education programs. Grant applications will be accepted starting in October, with awards announced in February.. ...Read Full Story

Group Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Restaurant

A Michigan group that advocates for Muslims has filed a civil rights complaint against Tim Hortons restaurants, claiming a worker refused to serve a Muslim-American couple and told them to “Go back to your own country.” At a news conference Friday, the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter planned to release video from the incident, which it says took place at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Ypsilanti on June 28. Amy Doukoure, a staff attorney for CAIR, says things went downhill when the couple said their coffee order was wrong and asked for a replacement or a refund.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court Considering Minimum Wage Law

It could be Labor Day before we know if the Michigan Supreme Court will issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the Michigan legislature action gutting the state minimum wage law. The GOP severely weakened the law and stripped out the provision that would have made $12 a minimum state wage for all workers, including tipped ones. The state’s highest court heard oral arguments last week.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Botanical Garden Holding Film Fest

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles is teaming up with Chikaming Open Lands for an environmental film festival this summer. Fernwood tells us they’ll be showing two films with a green message. First up will be “One Big Home,” to be presented July 24 at the Vickers Theatre in Three Oaks. Twelve years in the making, One Big Home follows one carpenter’s journey to understand the trend toward giant houses on the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard. The next film to be screened will be “Landscape Film: Roberto Burle Marx,” to be presented at the Vickers Theatre on August 14. It’s a journey through the art and life of the Brazilian landscape architect and painter Roberto Burle Marx. Those who want to take part in the film fest can call Fernwood Botanical Garden to register.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Library Sale This Week

The fundraising is underway for a new home for the Hartford Public Library. Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News the goal is to break ground in September on a new facility located on East Street, the site of the former Red Arrow Elementary School. They need to raise $300,000 after the acquisition of grants and support from Bonna VanDerlyn.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Swine Flu Risk At Fairs

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is advising everyone how to be safe at fairs this summer. With so many county fairs taking place around the state, spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News swine flu becomes a concern. While swine influenza viruses do not usually infect humans, human infections have been reported.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Promotes Firefighter

South Haven Area Emergency Services has promoted one of its own to be the new deputy chief and fire marshal. Firefighter and paramedic Keith Bierhalter has been moved up to the new rank. Bierhalter has 37 years’ experience with the department, 12 years as a paid-on call firefighter and 25 years as a fulltime firefighter and paramedic. He was also honored as the department’s Firefighter of the Year for 2010 and 2011. Bierhalter follows the footsteps of his late father, Lieutenant Edward Bierhalter, as a second generation firefighter. He’s been serving as the acting deputy chief since the retirement of Tony Marsala on June 30.. ...Read Full Story

County Collecting Pesticides For Recycling

Berrien County is holding a pesticide collection event this month. Farmers, greenhouse operators, golf course staff, and gardeners are welcome to drop off unwanted and outdated pesticides at the Clean Sweep Collection site in Benton Harbor on July 31. They’ll take all the classes of “cides” — fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides. Fertilizers are not accepted as part of Clean Sweep. The program is possible thanks to a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant. Anyone who wants to drop something off should register with the Berrien County environmental property manager. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Announces Scholarship Recipients

The Niles Scream Park has announced its community project scholarship recipients for the year. Secretary Kelly Welch tells WSJM News six young people from Niles, Brandywine, and South Haven High Schools have been picked for $500 scholarships from the non-profit park. Some of them were volunteers for the attraction, but that’s not the only reason they’d be picked.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Investigating Illness In Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is investigating multiple cases of an uncommon gastrointestinal illness reported in Van Buren County. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it’s called cyclosporiasis, and it’s believed to have come from a South Haven restaurant. People can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. The illness typically results in watery diarrhea, and can include the loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. Wheaton says the preliminary investigation has found the cases may have come from Taste restaurant in South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

State Confirms New Measles Case In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Health officials in Detroit have confirmed a case of measles in a city resident who recently returned from overseas travel. The Detroit Health Department says the person with the highly contagious disease went to the emergency department Tuesday of Children’s Hospital of Michigan as well as a physician’s office in suburban Macomb County. The health department says everyone who may have been exposed at the physician’s office was notified, but those who were at the hospital’s emergency department between 12:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday may have been exposed and should check to see if they need treatment.
The case is at least the 46th in Michigan this year. Most have been in Detroit’s suburbs. One was reported in Traverse City. The number is the highest since 65 in 1991.. ...Read Full Story

Two Sentenced In Break-In, Gun Theft Case

Two suspects who police say broke into an Allegan County hardware store and stole 22 guns are now headed to prison. The U.S. Attorney in Grand Rapids says Matteo Marroquin and Lacy Zimmerman broke into the Graafschap Hardware Store late on December 7 or early on December 8 of last year. They were picked up thanks to an investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’ Department, Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The two pleaded guilty in federal court to the theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Marroquin to ten years in prison. Zimmerman was also sentenced to ten years in prison in May. A third person, Andrew Leenheer, was sentenced to 44 months in prison this month for purchasing two of those firearms after the burglary. The U.S. Attorney’s office says the guns stolen from Graafschap Hardware were recovered through “extraordinary police-work.”. ...Read Full Story

Results Released For Pokagon Tribal Elections

The Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi has announced the results of its latest tribal election. The election was held on July 13, and the results were certified this week at the Pokagon campus in Dowagiac. Elected to staggered, three-year terms by citizens, the 11-member Tribal Council governs the Pokagon Band. Elected as its Tribal Council Vice Chairman is Andrew Bennett, a Pokagon citizen living in Hartford. Also, James Olds of Hartford was elected treasurer, and Anita Morales from Detroit and Mark Parrish from Benton Harbor were elected as tribal council members at large. Matthew Wesaw will remain the tribal chair, as he was not up for re-election.. ...Read Full Story

Water Rescues In South Haven Friday

It’s tempting to go for a swim in Lake Michigan with today’s hot weather, but officials say that isn’t the best idea. The National Weather Service Friday strongly advised against going in the lake all along west Michigan from Ludington south to Saugatuck. There have been reports of waves as high as four to five feet in the Grand Haven area.. ...Read Full Story

Weather Service Warns About Swimming In Lake Michigan

From the Associated Press — The National Weather Service is “strongly advising” people to stay out of Lake Michigan in western Michigan, despite the excessive heat. The Weather Service says dangerous waves and currents are likely from Ludington south to Saugatuck. That stretch includes many state and local parks with access to Lake Michigan. There have been reports of waves as high as 4 to 5 feet in the Grand Haven area. The Weather Service says on Twitter that people who insist on cooling off in the lake should know how to get out of a risky rip current. At Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph, we’re told the red flags were posted early on Friday, but by 2 p.m. had been changed to yellow.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Board Refinances Bonds

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees has taken a step to save money by refinancing some bonds. At a Thursday meeting, the board refinanced the bonds that were taken out to pay for the building of SMC’s second residence hall in 2009. The original issue was for $7.5 million. The proposed refinancing of $6.3 million of bonds will save the college housing fund an estimated $48,000 each year for a total savings of more than $1 million over the next 21 years. The average rate on the debt is expected to decrease from about 7.12% to 5%. The final bond sale will take place on August 13.. ...Read Full Story

Mike Yore Car Show Tonight

Downtown St. Joseph is the place to be this Friday evening as the annual Mike Yore Memorial Car Show will take place along the bluff from 4 to 9 p.m. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News there will be more than 200 cars, all more than 25 years old, on display.. ...Read Full Story

Grant To Allow For Water Taxis In SJ-BH

Berrien County has been approved for a more than $100,000 state grant that’s expected to allow for water taxis between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. Cornerstone Alliance VP of External Affairs Christina Frank tells WSJM News Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance applied for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant in April to make way for the water tax idea.. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Talk Auto Insurance, Roads At Thursday Town Hall

The recently-approved auto insurance reform plan will take effect in July of next year, and at a Thursday town hall in Benton Harbor, southwest Michigan lawmakers explained how it will work. State Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton, the plan’s sponsor, said drivers will be allowed to pick different levels of personal injury protection, or PIP, rather than having to carry unlimited PIP coverage. Nesbitt told WSJM News which level you pick, and some other factors, will determine how much you save.. ...Read Full Story

MI Seat Belt Use Increasing

More Michiganders are wearing their seat belts when in a vehicle than last year. Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News a study by Michigan State University finds this year’s seat belt usage rate is 94.4%, compared to 93% last year. He says campaigns to increase use may be working.. ...Read Full Story

Two Candidates Left In Running To Be St. Joseph Schools Superintendent

There are now two candidates in the running to be named the next superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools. The board of education says both will be in town on Monday for an open house with the public and to do their second interviews. The two candidates are Oakridge Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Livezey, and Dr. Thomas Bruce, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Arcadia Unified School District in California. The open house on Monday, and will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the North Lincoln Administration Building on Lincoln Avenue in St. Joseph. Livezey will be interviewed at 4 p.m. and Bruce at 5:30 p.m. and the interviews will be open to the public. St. Joseph Public Schools needs a new superintendent as Ann Cardon has taken that position in Traverse City.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Auctioning Off Great Lakes Lighthouses

From the Associated Press — Three historic Great Lakes lighthouses owned by the federal government are going on the auction block.
They include Lake Huron’s Poe Reef lighthouse. That lighthouse 6 miles east of Cheboygan, Michigan, guides ships through a hazardous channel. The Ontonagon Breakwater lighthouse will also be auctioned. It’s the westernmost lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, perched at the entrance of the channel leading to the Ontonagon River from Lake Superior. The Superior Entry lighthouse is also being sold. It sits on a sandbar between Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota. The U.S. General Services Administration is offering the lighthouses through an online auction. Their lighting mechanisms will continue aiding navigation and will remain the U.S. Coast Guard’s property. Proceeds from public lighthouse sales help pay to preserve and maintain those that remain active.. ...Read Full Story

Congress Looks To Fight Robocalls

Those annoying robocalls that drive people crazy are the targets of a bill before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today. The “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act” would require the FCC to adopt consumer protection rules, forcing telecom companies to install technology that would identify and block more of the calls. Maureen Mahoney with Consumer Reports says many come from scammers who manipulate caller ID displays.. ...Read Full Story

FCC Announces Millions In Broadband Funding For Michigan

The Federal Communications Commission has authorized nearly $33 million in funding to expand broadband internet around Michigan. Southwest Michigan will receive $2.6 million over ten years as part of the allocation announced this week. It’s expected to expand high-speed internet to nearly 2,400 homes and businesses in the region. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he’s pleased.. ...Read Full Story

Bank Donates To SWM Run

Fifth Third Bank has donated $7,000 to Steve’s Run, which is set for July 27 at the Dowagiac campus of Southwestern Michigan College. The 10K run, 5K walk and run, and fun run will benefit the Steven Briegel Scholarship Fund and the Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Research Fund. SMC says the 45th Original Trail Race starts at 8:30 a.m. on the 27th in front of the David C. Briegel Building. Also, breast cancer survivor Emmy Rickert from Pinckney, who has been profiled twice in People magazine, will speak at the awards ceremony around 10 a.m. in Alumni Plaza. Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews accepted Fifth Third Bank’s donation this month. You can find more information on Steve’s Run right here.. ...Read Full Story

Heroin Bust At Niles Walmart

Two men are facing charges after the Southwest Enforcement Team made a heroin bust at the Niles Walmart Tuesday. It says 27-year-old George Harris of Niles was arrested following a month-long investigation into the distribution of heroin in Niles Township and in South Bend. Police say when they went to make the arrest, the suspect tried to drive off but hit a detective’s vehicle. He was taken into custody, and police say a search of his vehicle turned up 54 grams of heroin, several digital scales, and handgun. A passenger in the vehicle, 25-year-old Robert Williams, was also arrested. Both Harris and Williams were taken to the Berrien County Jail on a variety of charges.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Township Seeks Parks Input From Public

Those who use the trails, parks, and nature preserves of Chikaming Township are being asked to fill out a survey on their parks needs as the Chikaming Township Parks Board puts together its next master plan. Board President Debra Hall Kaylor tells WSJM News they want to hear ideas and opinions from anyone who appreciates the parks of Chikaming Township.. ...Read Full Story

Hundreds Turn Out For Veteran’s Funeral

Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday for the funeral service of a Niles veteran who passed away with no family. Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Services put out a public call for people to attend the funeral of Wayne Wilson at Silverbrook Cemetery, and word must have really gotten around. The cemetery was packed with people who wanted to pay their respects. Morgan Friend knew Wayne Wilson and spoke with WSBT about him.. ...Read Full Story

Cooling Station Opens In South Haven

The Cooling Station is open at the Bronson Wellness Center in South Haven. Heat related illnesses are possible for the rest of the week, and anyone living or visiting the area can come into the club free of charge and get cooled off with air conditioning and cold water. Director Bryan Heisler tells WSJM News it’s a way to stay safe during the hot weather.. ...Read Full Story