Local News Archives

Legislation Aims To Address Substitute Teacher Requirements

Legislation from 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette aims to address a shortage of substitute teachers in Michigan by loosening the requirements someone has to meet in order to be a sub. Paquette tells WSJM News, right now, you need 60 college credits to be a substitute. His bill would drop that requirement for those who have a relative attending the school where they want to sub.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Native A Winner In NASA Challenge

One of the winners of a NASA contest seeking ideas for how to recycle in space is a St. Joseph native. Derek McFall now lives in the Detroit area and works as an engineer at Troy-based SRG Global. He tells WSJM News NASA sent out a crowdsourcing challenge months ago regarding the International Space Station and other microgravity environments.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Selling Pieces Of Turf

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University is selling pieces of Spartan Stadium. The school says the turf is being replaced after the spring football game on April 13. Sections of grass are being sold for $10 on the school’s surplus store website . The sections will be approximately 18 inches by 72 inches. The grass should be available for pickup on April 15 or soon after that date. MSU plans to contact buyers by email. The turf is described as hybrid Kentucky bluegrass. It should be transplanted within five days of removal from the stadium.. ...Read Full Story

Measles Case Confirmed In Northern Indiana; 3 Locations In Sturgis, MI Exposed

Following the measles outbreak in metro Detroit, there is now at least one confirmed case in northern Indiana. It is unrelated to the southeast Michigan cases. The Indiana State Department of Health is consulting with health officials in both Michigan and Texas due the risk of exposure being found in both states. ISDH says they’re working with local health departments and doctors in LaGrange and Steuben counties to identify anyone in Indiana who may have been exposed to the person confirmed to have the illness.. ...Read Full Story

BH Mayor Marcus Muhammad Seeking Second Term

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad is running for reelection. In a Twitter post Friday, he made the official announcement, noting unfinished business in a hashtag. Muhammad was first elected mayor in 2015, defeating incumbent James Hightower by 222 votes. Under him, the city has enacted an income tax aimed at fixing roads and emerged from all state oversight after 6 years. The state had complete or partial control of city government from 2010 to 2016. The oversight included emergency managers appointed by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and Republican Governor Rick Snyder.. ...Read Full Story

Next Drug Take-Back Event Set For April 27

The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is coming up at the end of this month. In Berrien County, the Voice, Change, Hope Alliance is partnering with police and Spectrum Health Lakeland to accept unwanted and unused prescription drugs on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Medication can be dropped off during those four hours near the southeast corner of the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services at 3900 Hollywood Road in St. Joseph and at Lakeland Medical Suites on North St. Joseph Avenue in Niles. The Niles Law Enforcement Complex has a 24-hour drop box as well for anyone who is unable to dispose of their medicines during the National Drug Take-Back event. According to studies, most abused prescriptions are obtained from friends and family, and flushing medicine or throwing it in the trash can pose health and safety hazards. In the fall of 2017, 456 tons of medicines were collected during the event nationwide.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Affirms Support For Broadband

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution in support of broadband internet access for residents. Following Thursday’s vote, Commissioner Ezra Scott told WSJM News he wanted the resolution so the county could pursue a USDA grant for the roll out of high-speed internet.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Marks Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is urging parents to keep an open dialogue with their kids about the dangers of underage alcohol abuse. Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News alcohol is harmful to developing brains, adding the drinking age of 21 is based on science.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Votes To Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

The U.S. House voted on Thursday to approve the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, renewing the landmark 1994 law designed to help protect the survivors of domestic violence and to prevent the crime. Congressman Fred Upton voted in favor of the reauthorization this week, with the overall vote being 263 to 158. Upton tells us the act “plays a critical role in combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other terrible crimes,” adding that since it was first approved, “we’ve seen our nation’s response to these crimes improve and the rates of domestic abuse continue to decline.” The Violence Against Women Act provides support to survivors, including funding for shelters, legal resources, and counselling. Upton voted for the original act, and for every subsequent reauthorization.. ...Read Full Story

Extended Emergency Siren Test This Weekend

The Cook nuclear power plant will be running extended tests of Berrien County’s emergency sirens this weekend. The sirens are sounded for one minute the first Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. and this Saturday’s test will be for three minutes. There are 70 omni-directional sirens as part of Berrien County’s Alert and Notification System within the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone radius of the Cook plant in Bridgman. The Cook plant tells everyone not to be alarmed when they hear the sirens at 1 p.m. on Saturday. If it were a real emergency, the sirens would go off for three to five minutes.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan Making Progress On Helping Foster Kids

Michigan is making an effort to keep foster kids in family settings, with a 9% improvement over a 10 year period, according to a new report. Michigan is home to almost 12,000 foster children, and researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found the percentage being placed with families increased from 80% in 2007 to 89% in 2017. Rob Geen with the Casey Foundation tells us while the overall trend is positive, the numbers are still stubbornly low for teens and children of color.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Apologizes For Vandalizing Grave Of President Ford

The Kent County Prosecutor’s office will decide if charges will be filed against a 19-year-old man for defacing the grave of former President Gerald R. Ford. Chris Johnson tells the “Grand Rapids Press” he took the letter “E” from the word “committed” on the grave because it had come loose. He added he had been skateboarding in the area with a friend and thought the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum were part of a park. Johnson added he did not know the names of President Ford and First Lady Betty Ford and had never heard of them. He had moved from Indiana to Grand Rapids within the past month, and went to police Thursday after seeing news reports and realizing authorities were looking for him.. ...Read Full Story

Police Shoot, Kill Parole Absconder In Kalamazoo

Michigan State Police are handling the investigation into an officer-involved shooting in Kalamazoo. Inspector Dale Hinz tells WSJM News police were trying to arrest a parole absconder around 10 a.m. Thursday on East G Avenue in the city of Kalamazoo, and the man was making threats regarding a weapon. Several officers opened fire, and the man was pronounced dead at Borgess Hospital. His name and criminal history have not been made public, and no officers were hurt. Hinz says officers from the MSP Fifth District Special Investigation Section, US Marshals Service, Michigan Department of Corrections, and Battle Creek police were involved in the incident.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Man Wins $500,000 With Michigan Lottery Instant Game

A Berrien County man is a half-million dollar richer thanks to a Michigan Lottery scratch off game. He won the top prize on the 777 instant game, purchasing the ticket at the Meijer on Pipestone in Benton Harbor. The 62-year-old has chosen to stay anonymous, but told Michigan Lottery officials the win brought him to tears and said “there is such a happiness and joy that comes with winning,” adding he thanks God that he will be debt-free. The man plans to remodel his home and pay off his bills with the winnings. Since 777 launched in March, the Lottery says players have won over $6.5 million through the $5 ticket. Two other tickets are still out there with the top prize of $500,000.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Festival This Month

Set for April 20 is the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan’s third annual Village Charcuterie Festival in Stevensville. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the event is a fundraiser that comes in the form of a party held downtown. It will feature a variety of locally-made brews and other spirits.. ...Read Full Story

State Board Members Attend BHAS Town Hall

It was a packed house at Benton Harbor High School Wednesday night for a town hall regarding the future of Benton Harbor Area Schools. On hand were members of the State Board of Education, and local residents who spoke told them years of state intervention in the district haven’t helped, too many programs have been lost, and the district relies on too many substitute teachers. There was also support for having the state help district out of its $18 million debt. State board President Casandra Ulbrich told WSJM News they will take the information they heard back to Lansing.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Public Library Gets $400,000 Grant

The Hartford Public Library is now ready to move forward with plans for a new home thanks to a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Library Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News the goal is to acquire the old Red Arrow Elementary School on East Street, and then replace it with a new facility to be called the Art and Bonna VanDerlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Beach Cleanup Events This Month

The spring kick-off of this year’s Adopt a Beach cleanup events will be this month. Alliance for the Great Lakes spokesperson Jennifer Caddick tells WSJM News from April 13 to April 29, clean-ups will be held along beaches throughout the Great Lakes states. Thousands of volunteers are expected to pick up trash. They log all of it.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department Mourns K9 Medo

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of K9 Medo. The dog had been with the department since 2011, and lived with the family of Deputy Ben Haas. The department says it received Medo as a gift from the Gun Lake Tribe and Casino. It tells us in their career, Deputy Haas and Medo were active in hundreds of cases that included catching suspects, finding missing persons, drug detection, and school programs. Haas says the most memorable search was in May of 2015, when he and Medo found a 2-year-old who had gone missing from his home. The sheriff says the 8-year-old Medo will be missed.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Planning Plenty Of I-196, I-94 Work

The Michigan Department of Transportation has projects underway along Interstate 196 in Berrien and Van Buren counties to remove trees and create a larger vehicle safety area when cars and trucks unexpectedly leave the highway. MDOT’s Nick Schirripa says they will be repaving a seven and half mile stretch between I-94 and the Hagar Shore Road exit on I-196 this year, as it’s become badly marred by potholes.. ...Read Full Story

House Bills Would Increase Illegal Dumping Penalties

Illegal dumping has become a serious concern across the state, as we’ve seen in Benton Harbor with a renewed effort to crack down on the problem. State Representative Cynthia Johnson of Detroit has submitted two bills to increase penalties on those who dump, especially those who don’t live in the neighborhoods. The current punishment is a fine of up to $500 and 90 days in jail for a first offense. Johnson’s bills would raise the fine to $2,500 for the first offense and extend the sentence to up to one year.. ...Read Full Story

Suspects Sought For Vandalizing Graves Of President Ford, First Lady Betty Ford

An investigation is underway into vandalism on the graves of President Gerald R. Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Grand Rapids police have released surveillance images of two people seen defacing the graves on the property of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum on March 27. One is a heavyset white man with short brown hair, sideburns, and scruffy facial hair who was wearing a black hoodie, grey pants and yellow Nike shoes. The other appears to be a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair who wore a red and black shirt or jacket, black jeans and black Converse Chuck Taylor shoes. GRPD says the two are wanted for larceny of U.S. Government Property. President Ford died on December 26, 2006 and Betty Ford died July 8, 2011. He is the only President from Michigan and the only one to serve having never been elected President or Vice President.. ...Read Full Story

Man Who Died After Driving Into Cedar Lake In Marcellus Identified

The death of a 59-year-old Lawton man who drove his Hyundai into Cedar Lake in Marcellus is under investigation. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has identified him as John Catalino, who was found shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday inside his car, about 20 yards offshore. A witness saw Catalino drive into the lake backwards, and then called 911 after watching the car sink. A wrecker driver and Lawton fire fighters used a nearby boat to pull the man out of the vehicle before the county’s dive team arrived to help remove the car from the lake.. ...Read Full Story

UWSM, Kinexus Land On List Of Nation’s Best Nonprofits To Work For

Two area nonprofits are being recognized for being among the best such organizations to work for in the country. Kinexus Group is 29th on the list put out by “The NonProfit Times,” and the United Way of Southwest Michigan is 14th. This is the third straight year Kinexus has been on the list of the top 50 nonprofits for which to work. The list is dominated by small organizations with between 15 and 49 employees and medium-sized outfits employing between 50 and 249 people. The United Way notes 18 small organizations like theirs are in the top 50. UWSM is the highest-ranking Michigan organization, while NOWCC Incorporated of Arlington, Virginia is at the top. A Lansing nonprofit is the only other from Michigan included, with Cinnaire ranked 31st.. ...Read Full Story

High Prices, Interest Rates Push Auto Sales Down

From the Associated Press — Automobile sales in the U.S. fell 2% in the first quarter, another sign the nation’s economy is starting to slow.
Automakers sold just over 4 million vehicles from January through March. Industry analysts blame the drop on rising vehicle prices, competition from late-model used vehicles, and relatively high interest rates. Weak sales of cars, harsh winter weather and the partial government shutdown also had an impact. Edmunds.com analyst Jeremy Acevedo says new vehicle sales are past their peak. He says that with prices on the rise, interest rates at post-recession peaks and leases growing in cost, the U.S. auto market is under pressure. Most analysts are predicting sales of around 16.9 million this year, still strong but down from last year’s 17.27 million. Sales peaked in 2016 at 17.55 million.. ...Read Full Story