Local News Archives

Calvin College Changing Name

From the Associated Press — A western Michigan Christian college is becoming a university. Calvin College officials say the Grand Rapids school will officially become Calvin University on Wednesday. The date coincides with the birthday of 16th-century theologian John Calvin, school namesake and key figure in the Protestant Reformation. Calvin officials say the 3,700-student institution founded in 1876 aims to extend its global reach and influence, as well as its commitment to Reformed Christianity. Goals over the next decade include expanding academic and extracurricular offerings, collaborating among disciplines and outside entities and updating its facilities. Officials say the name change better reflects its growth and expansion.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Caution At Summer 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, the department says swine flu becomes a concern. While swine influenza viruses do not usually infect humans, human infections have been reported. The disease can spread from pigs to humans in the same way flu spreads from person to person. The symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses. The state health department recommends washing your hands after being near livestock, not eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings, not touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying away from the pigs if you’re at high risk of serious flu complications. The department notes there is no human vaccine for swine influenza and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against it. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Wins 46th Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Champsionship

The results are in, and Kevin “Boomerang” Bartz of Niles is this year’s winner at the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship in Eau Claire. The contest was held Saturday at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm, and the 53-year-old Bartz captured his second championship win with a spit of more than 53 feet, three inches. Boomerang’s previous championship win was in 2015 with a spit of just under 49 feet. His 18-year-old daughter, Chloe, took home the winning title in the Women’s Division with a spit of more than 45 feet. Also winning glory at Saturday’s event was Eau Claire Village President John Glassman in the Dignitary Division and Joshua Hester in the Youth Division. This was the 46 the annual International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship. It was dedicated to its founder, Herb Teichman, who passed away in January.. ...Read Full Story

J.C. Penney Exits SWMI After 90+ Years

You’ve got to go back to the 1920s to find a time when J.C. Penney did not have a store in this area. The Orchards Mall location closed for good on Friday, despite efforts by the mall’s new owners to convince the retailer to stay. Those efforts included three years rent-free. J.C. Penney moved from downtown Benton Harbor to the mall about 40 years ago after operating in the city for roughly 55 years. The closure of the store is the latest setback for the Orchards Mall, which previously lost Carson’s as an anchor store when parent company Bon-Ton went out of business nationwide. The former Sears anchor store location has been empty for the last decade, save a Halloween store that has temporarily set up shop in that space.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Crash At Allegan-Van Buren County Border

A deadly crash at the border of Allegan and Van Buren counties is under investigation. South Haven Area Emergency Services sent a crew to assist sheriff’s deputies from both counties at 9:40 Sunday night on Baseline Road near 59th Street on the Allegan County side of Casco Township. One person was found dead inside a vehicle that had gone airborne when it hit the side of a bridge, landing upside down several hundred feet away. A passerby found the wreckage in a wooded area and called police. It’s not yet known how much time had passed between the crash and the discovery of the car. The name of the driver, who was the only one in the vehicle, has not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Lots Of Street Work Coming To Benton Harbor

There will soon be plenty of street work going on in Benton Harbor as the city commission this past week approved about $1 million in projects, all funded through the new city income tax. The road asset management plan the body considered is a way for immediate work to get underway to make the streets safer, said City Manager Darwin Watson. He told commissioners at a meeting on Monday the initial allocation will be spent to ensure roads with a PASER rating of poor would be made safe for travel in 2019. The work is focused 80% on local, neighborhood streets, and 20% on major streets. Mayor Marcus Muhammad called the vote to proceed historic.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driving Crackdown Continues

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign continues. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News police all over Michigan have extra patrols out on the roads looking for impaired drivers.. ...Read Full Story

Work On New Legislative Districts To Continue

Despite a blow from the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-gerrymandering groups are pressing on to implement the Michigan voter initiative that gives redistricting power to an independent citizens’ commission. The high court ruled late last week federal judges can’t interfere with electoral maps drawn for partisan gain, which means Michigan’s districts will now remain in effect for the 2020 election. However, Nancy Wang with the group Voters not Politicians says the ruling doesn’t affect Proposal 2 and new, nonpartisan maps will be in place for the 2022 elections.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches Crop Recovery Site

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has launched an online portal for farmers to find the help they need after severe weather this year that has damaged their crops or prevented them from planting. Farmers have been pummeled with severe cold and historic rainfall so far in 2019, leading to losses. The state’s online portal will be constantly updated as new information and aid are identified. The portal includes resources from Michigan State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture. Michigan Ag Director Gary McDowell says in many parts of the state, farmers are so many weeks behind schedule that they are nearly out of time and options for this year. He encourages growers to check out the portal. It’s at Michigan.gov/CropDisaster.. ...Read Full Story

PETA Planning Billboard Near Location Of Recent Crash

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is putting up a billboard in honor of about ten pigs killed in a Benton Harbor area crash last month. We reported on June 26 a livestock truck rolled on to its side on Napier Avenue while turning off the westbound I-94 ramp. PETA’s Sadie Buckles tells WSJM News the billboard going up nearby will read “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the Individual. Go Vegan.”. ...Read Full Story

Road Funding Town Hall Monday

State Representative Brad Paquette is planning a town hall for Monday to talk about road funding in Michigan. The event will be held at the Niles District Library in Niles on July 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. Paquette says state lawmakers are working on a plan to generate the money needed to get Michigan’s roads in better shape, and the meeting will be a chance for anyone to express their thoughts. On hand as a guest will be state Representative Jack O’Malley of Lake Ann, the chair of the House Transportation Committee. He’s traveling around the state to discuss road funding directly with residents. You can register online for the town hall to ensure there’s space for you. The registration page is right here.. ...Read Full Story

Program Encourages Hiking At SWM Nature Preserves

A new program intended to get more kids out and about in nature is being launched by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. Conservancy associate Miko Dargitz tells us Hike Our Preserves, or HOP, offers people incentives for going to eleven nature preserves in the region. When you sign up, the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will give you a special walking stick made out of the invasive glossy buckthorn. Each time you go to one of the listed preserves, you can send the conservancy a picture of yourself at that location, and they’ll send you a medallion that can be placed in your stick. HOP will run through next May. It’s $7, and you can pick up your walking stick at several libraries, including locations of the Van Buren District Library. The nature preserves include the Kesling Nature Preserve near New Buffalo, and stretch all the way to eastern Kalamazoo County. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

MI Attorney General Visiting BH On Monday

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is planning a trip to Benton Harbor Monday to talk about elder abuse. AG spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney tells WSJM News Nessel will be in town July 8 as part of a listening tour regarding her Attorney General‘s Elder Abuse Task Force. Rossman-McKinney says Nessel has learned a lot from the tour.. ...Read Full Story

State Shuts Down Auto Dealership

The state has shut down a Cass County auto dealership for failing to provide records for inspections. The Michigan Department of State says Jake’s Enterprises in Dowagiac has received a summary suspension after a department agent went there in February and found the place closed despite the hours on the door stating it was supposed to be open. On March 20, a preliminary conference notice was sent to dealership owner Jake Meachum by certified mail, requesting that he provide the records for inspection. The notice was returned April 25 as “unclaimed.” The summary suspension was issued after the two attempts to obtain dealership records failed. The state says dealer licenses are reinstated when dealers show they’ve complied with the law. Anyone with a complaint against Jake’s Enterprises is encouraged to call the Office of Investigative Services automotive complaint line. We have the number at (517) 335-141
.. ...Read Full Story

MSU To Open Allergen-free Dining Room

From the Associated Press — Students with food allergies will soon have a new place to dine on Michigan State University’s campus.
The Lansing State Journal reports that the school is opening its first allergen-free dining hall, Thrive, on Monday. Gina Keilen is the university’s dietitian for culinary services. She says about one in eight MSU students has some sort of food allergy. Keilen says the new dining hall is intended to make more students feel welcome on campus. Thrive will serve food that doesn’t contain any of the most common allergens, such as milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts and fish. The facility is also gluten free. The dining hall will have three stations offering a variety of foods, from mashed potatoes and roast turkey, to grain bowls and nachos.. ...Read Full Story

State Grants For Broadband Expansion

Grants to help roll out high-speed internet to underserved areas of Michigan are now available through the Connecting Michigan Communities program. The office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued word this week applications are being taken for the program by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Governor Whitmer says “Connecting all Michigan communities with broadband service is about leveling the playing field for every child and small business in the state.” While most parts of Michigan do have broadband access, there are still many rural areas where options are limited. The state is offering $20 million in grants to internet service providers that are willing to expand access in underserved locations. Providers can apply for up to $5 million per grant and can apply for multiple projects. The deadline is August 30. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects Action On Asian Carp Plan

Congressman Fred Upton wants to get to work soon on securing federal funds to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fully implement its recently-completed plan to stop the Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan. Upton visited the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois this week to check out the key choke point for stopping the invasive fish. He tells WSJM News the delegation that went now has to take action.. ...Read Full Story

Motocross Returns To RedBud

Motocross racing is back in southwest Michigan this weekend. RedBud in Buchanan is hosting the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, featuring both amateur and professional dirt bike racers. Among them is Kyleigh Hayes, who’s been racing for five years and says she’s out to prove something.. ...Read Full Story

Pet Group: July 5 A Big Day At Animal Shelters

The Bissell Pet Foundation is reminding all pet owners to be mindful of their critter’s concerns for today’s Fourth of July celebrations. Bissell’s Bri Olson tells WSJM News dogs and cats often do not enjoy the sound of fireworks going off all night. She suggests allowing a safe space for the dog this evening.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Fourth Of July Celebration Today

The village of Berrien Springs is gearing up for its first July 4th Community Celebration at Courthouse Square today. The festivities will kick off at 11 a.m. with food vendors, elected officials giving stump speeches from the 1839 courthouse balcony, crafts for the kids at the library, games, and storytelling. They’re planning music on the Jail House Plaza from 12:30 to 2:30, an ice cream social from 1:30 to 3:30, and local actor Scott Bradford will present a speech as Warren G. Harding at 2:30. The history of the Old Rugged Cross hymn will also be presented at 3:30. The day will end with a Fourth of July parade through downtown Berrien Springs at 4 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

New Website Looks At Creek Contamination, Relation To Beaches

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has launched a new website to draw attention to the issue of contamination in creeks throughout the southern half of Berrien County. Senior planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News BetterBeachesSWMI.org is intended to raise awareness of how residents pollute creeks that go into Lake Michigan. Hamilton says a study of creeks from Stevensville to the state line found problems.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Pot Agency Issues Rules On Sales, Growing

From the Associated Press — Requirements for businesses that plan to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older are expected to be clearer under emergency rules released by the agency that regulates the selling and growing of pot in Michigan. Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency plans to start taking business applications November 1. The rules will remain in effect for six months and can be
extended for another six months. Under the rules issued Wednesday there are no capitalization requirements and license holders can apply for temporary marijuana event licenses. Some licensed growers also will be allowed to exceed their plant count. Businesses with
licenses under common ownership will be allowed to operate at the same location. Michigan Cannabis Industry Association spokesman Josh Hovey says “at first glance” the organization believes the “rules are well thought out and forward-thinking.”. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Area Educational Service Agency Teachers Win Settlement

Two Allegan Area Educational Service Agency teachers are in line to share $450,000 from the AAESA to settle their federal lawsuit over being sexually harassed and physically assaulted on the job by former Hillside Learning and Behavior Center principal Jonathan Garcia. He was sentenced to at least four years in prison in 2016, and the teachers filed a complaint last year against the district in federal court in Grand Rapids. The settlement still needs to be approved by the U.S. District Court and was announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. In a statement, he said the resolution shows that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated in the Western District of Michgian and employers “must make serious and meaningful efforts to prevent and address it.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Border Funding

With protests this week about conditions at detention centers holding migrant families along the southern U.S. border, Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he personally has not been to one of the centers to. However, that could change.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Rejects Employee Raises

The Benton Harbor City Commission has rejected a pay increase for city employees in the AFSCME union. At a Monday meeting, Commissioner Juanita Henry said the 2% pay increase that was negotiated with the union might put a strain on the budget. She wanted to be sure of its effects before taking action.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph’s Jordan Brewer Talks Being Drafted By Astros

It’s been a big year for St. Joseph High School alum Jordan Brewer. He was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in baseball for the Michigan Wolverines and helped lead them to the finals of the College World Series, and in the midst of that, was drafted by the Houston Astros. Brewer joined WSJM Sports’ Morning Sportsbeat to talk about his experience and was asked about when he learned he was going to the Astros system after a playoff game.. ...Read Full Story

Road Funding Town Hall Set For Monday In Niles

There will be a town hall meeting on road funding in the state on Monday. State Representative Brad Paquette is hosting the forum at the Niles District Library on East Main Street from 6 to 7 p.m. He will be joined by Representative Jack O’Malley, who is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee along with Senate Transportation Committee vice chairwoman Kim LaSata.. ...Read Full Story

Ex-Governor Snyder Withdraws From Harvard Fellowship After Backlash

Former Governor Rick Snyder is not headed to Harvard after all. On Twitter, he announced he will turn down the offer from the Harvard Kennedy School for a year-long appointment as senior research fellow. The Ivy League university was hit hard with a social media backlash citing Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis soon after revealing the appointment, which the former governor had been expected to start this week. Snyder said it would have been exciting to share his positive and negative experiences, but “our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Man Charged For Illegal Boat Charters In Chicago

From the Associated Press — A Detroit-area man has been arrested in connection with illegal charter boat operations on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois says 33-year-old Christopher Garbowski is charged with violating an order of the captain of the port. Garbowski of Sterling Heights was arrested Saturday. He appeared before a
judge and was released on bond. Authorities say groups paid for charters aboard a 40-foot powerboat during the 2017 and 2018 boating seasons. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago says the boat had not been inspected or certified by the Coast Guard. The charges also allege the person acting as captain did not have proper Coast Guard credentials. The Associated Press was unable to reach Garbowski Monday for comment.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Reject State Plan

A proposal from the state that would give Benton Harbor Area Schools one year to show progress toward a turnaround or face closure of its high school is being rejected by the local board of education. At a meeting Tuesday night, board Trustee Patricia Rush said the board has had a good relationship with the Michigan Department of Treasury and elected representatives of the Michigan Department of Education, but she panned the governor’s staff.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Pokagon Quadrathon

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is now taking registrations for the second annual Quadrathon. The event is a 750-meter swim, a 20K bike ride, a 5K run, and a 2000 meter kayak route set to be held July 28 in Dowagiac. Participants can compete as an individual or on a team of two, three, or four people, and the event is open to everyone with a limit of 100 teams. The teams and contestants will be divided into the categories of beginner, competitor, and elders. The event will take place at the Pokagon Band’s Rodgers Lake campus on Sink Road. You can register right here.. ...Read Full Story

17 Entities Supporting Paw Paw River Water Trail

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is highlighting the growing popularity of the Paw Paw River Water Trail. Senior planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the trail goes from Paw Paw to Benton Harbor for about 60 miles for canoers and kayakers. 17 municipal, civic, and tribal organizations contribute to its maintenance.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Signals Intent To Sell Property

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have signaled their intent to sell the city-owned property at 200 Paw Paw Avenue. At a Monday meeting, they voted to move forward with the possible sale of the parcel to Justice Grown, a medical marijuana operation out of Chicago. City Manager Darwin Watson said the move means details of a sale can now be worked out.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan Energy Supply Ample, Improvements Still Needed

From the Associated Press — Regulators say Michigan’s energy supply and delivery systems are adequate to meet demand, but improvements should be made after extreme winter weather led to electric and natural gas emergencies. The state Public Service Commission on Monday submitted an initial 247-page energy assessment to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who requested it after the January 30-31 polar vortex. Regulators say Michigan’s diverse energy-generation resources, including access to natural gas storage, can accommodate extreme weather events. But they recommend rule updates, better emergency-management communications and changes such as prioritizing home heating over electric generation when natural gas usage is curtailed. In January, a Consumers Energy compressor station fire sparked concerns about keeping natural gas flowing to millions of people during a snap of bitterly cold
temperatures and at a time of record demand.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Union Helps Raise Money For Mandarino Foundation

United Federal Credit Union says it was able to help raise $37,000 for the Alex Mandarino Foundation during the 7th Annual Duck Duck Run 1K and 5K for childhood cancer research. The fundraiser was held on June 15 at the Margaret Upton Arboretum in St. Joseph, and more than 850 runners and walkers took part. The Alex Mandarino Foundation was started in honor of Alex Mandarino, who died at the age of 5 after a battle with cancer. It raises money for pediatric cancer research. United Federal hosted a tent at the Duck Duck Run where volunteers handed out duck-themed water bottles to attendees, and coin saver books to children. United Federal Credit Union says it’s humbled and honored to be able to help.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow: Army Corps Plan To Stop Asian Carp “Feasible”

The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois is set to receive several upgrades over the coming years in the battle to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Fred Upton led most of Michigan’s congressional delegation on a tour of the facility this week. WSJM News asked Stabenow if the final plan put forth this year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is feasible and if it will work.. ...Read Full Story

Congressman Upton Tours SW Michigan Farms

Southwest Michigan farmers are taking it on the chin this year with much more rain than normal combined with imported commodities undercutting what they can sell for. Sodus Township farmer Russ Costanza welcomed in Congressman Fred Upton along with state Senator Kim LaSata and state Representative Pauline Wendzel on Tuesday to give them a look at the struggles being faced.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Fourth Of July Celebration This Week

The village of Berrien Springs is gearing up for its first July 4th Community Celebration at Courthouse Square this week. The festivities will kick off on Thursday at 11 a.m. with food vendors, elected officials giving stump speeches from the 1839 courthouse balcony, crafts for the kids at the library, games, and storytelling. They’re planning music on the Jail House Plaza from 12:30 to 2:30, an ice cream social from 1:30 to 3:30, and local actor Scott Bradford will present a speech as Warren G. Harding at 2:30. The history of the Old Rugged Cross hymn will also be presented at 3:30. The day will end with a Fourth of July parade through downtown Berrien Springs at 4 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Approves $1 Million In Street Work

There will soon be plenty of street work going on in Benton Harbor as the city commission on Monday approved about $1 million in projects, all funded through the new city income tax. The road asset management plan the body considered is a way for immediate work to get underway to make the streets safer, said City Manager Darwin Watson. He told commissioners the initial allocation will be spent to ensure roads with a PASER rating of poor would be made safe for travel in 2019. The work is focused 80% on local, neighborhood streets, and 20% on major streets. Mayor Marcus Muhammad called Monday’s vote historic.. ...Read Full Story

PETA To Put Up Billboard Near Site Of Crash Involving Livestock Truck

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is putting up a billboard in honor of about ten pigs killed in a Benton Harbor area cash last week. We reported last Wednesday a livestock truck rolled on to its side on Napier Avenue while turning off the westbound I-94 ramp. PETA’s Sadie Buckles tells WSJM News the billboard going up nearby will read “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the Individual. Go Vegan.”. ...Read Full Story

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Proposal 2 Still In Effect

Despite a blow from the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-gerrymandering groups are pressing on to implement the Michigan voter initiative that gives redistricting power to an independent citizens’ commission. The high court ruled late last week federal judges can’t interfere with electoral maps drawn for partisan gain, which means Michigan’s districts will now remain in effect for the 2020 election. However, Nancy Wang with the group Voters not Politicians says the ruling doesn’t affect Proposal 2 and new, nonpartisan maps will be in place for the 2022 elections.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Light Up The Lakes Fireworks To Proceed As Scheduled

The show will go on. The city of South Haven has announced it will proceed with Wednesday night’s fireworks for the Independence Day holiday as scheduled after the event was nearly called off last week due to high water levels in Lake Michigan that could have posed a safety risk on the north pier, from where they’re fired off. The display will start around 10:30 p.m. and is set to last around 20 minutes. The Dyckman Avenue drawbridge will operate on its regular schedule until around 11:30 p.m., when it will be closed to traffic and raised to allow boats to pass until the last one has gone through. The “Light Up The Lake” fireworks display on July 3 will be followed on the Fourth of July with the annual Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Endangered Missing Advisory Issued For Eau Claire Man

Michigan State Police are asking for help finding an 80-year-old Eau Claire man. An Endangered Missing Advisory has been issued for Arthur Moore, who police say is mentally unstable and has disappeared twice before. The first time was four years ago, and then again this January when he attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription medication at a public boat launch. Moore is 5’10”, 235 pounds, white, with white hair and blue eyes. His wife told police she believes he went somewhere to try to harm himself again, but does not believe he has any guns or other weapons with him. Moore is driving a beige 2000 GMC Sierra pickup with the Michigan licence plate G89-15A.. ...Read Full Story

Former Governor Snyder Starts New Position At Harvard

Seven months after leaving office as governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder has landed a new gig. He is starting an appointment today as a senior research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University. Snyder served two terms as Michigan governor, coming to the position without having held elected office anywhere prior. Harvard cites his guidance of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which was the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, among his top accomplishments in office. The center was created by a $15 million donation by late Detroit-area philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman in 1988. Taubman came up with the idea for shopping malls and also has buildings named for him at the University of Michigan, where he attended but did not graduate.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Ahead Of July 4th Holiday

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide have risen about 9¢ from a week ago to about $2.79 per gallon as travelers prepare to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday. The Dearborn-based auto club says despite the increase the average price for regular unleaded is about 21¢ less than a year ago. AAA says the state’s highest average was in the Ann Arbor area at around $2.84. The lowest price was in the Traverse City area at roughly $2.61 per gallon.. ...Read Full Story