Local News Archives

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

Group Pushes For Age-Friendly Cities

A growing movement in Michigan and around the world aims to ensure communities are able to serve the needs of people of all ages. Eight cities and towns in the state are members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, who have committed to creating a place to live that’s inclusive and considerate of residents from all walks of life and of any age. Paula Cunningham with AARP Michigan says safe, accessible living especially is important for older Michiganders. ...Read Full Story

Street Reconstruction Planned In St. Joe For Next Year

Set for next year is a reconstruction project for parts of Kingsley, Orchard, and Morton Streets in St. Joseph. City commissioners approved awarding the engineering contract to Abonmarche this past week for $345,000. Plans are still being drafted, but St. Joe City Engineer Tim Zebell tells WSJM News when all is said and done, people will see the roads totally reconstructed and some other changes.. ...Read Full Story

City Works To Improve Crosswalk Safety

The city of St. Joseph is working with Whirlpool to provide a safer way for employees to cross Upton Drive from a parking lot to their workplace each day. At a meeting this past week, city commissioners moved forward an agreement that will have Whirlpool pay for changes to the crosswalk just north of the CSX railroad tracks. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News some of the workers had safety concerns about the current crosswalk.. ...Read Full Story

Water Rescue In St. Joseph Saturday

Two kayakers are uninjured after they were rescued about a mile southwest of the St. Joseph south pier on Saturday. The Berrien County Marine Unit responded when a 911 call came in shortly after 6:30 p.m. One of the kayaks was taking on water and in danger of sinking. The person in the other kayak had a cell phone and called for help. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the marine unit retrieved the kayakers while the U.S. Coast Guard transported the capsized kayak to the Coast Guard Station in St. Joseph. The two kayakers, who are both from Paw Paw, were taken to the Coast Guard Station and released. They did not need medical treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Seeking Major Rate Increase

A rate hike could be coming to customers of Indiana Michigan Power as it plans a major investment in the Cook nuclear power plant and other work to improve electric transmission reliability. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the company submitted its plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission this week.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Struggling With Excessive Rain

The Michigan Department of Transportation is among the agencies scrambling to cope with issues created by the heavy rain southwest Michigan has been experiencing lately. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the latest problem is the failure of a culvert on M-140 between M-62 and Naomi Road in Pipestone Township. It failed this past week.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release Fireworks Parking Rules

Everyone who heads to downtown St. Joseph for the fireworks show on Wednesday is advised to have patience as traffic will be heavy and parking will be restricted. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety says there will be temporary no parking signs on some neighborhood streets, and extra rules in place on others. Parking rules will be strictly enforced. Also, police say there will be several traffic restrictions when the fireworks end, including the closure of the Blossomland and Bicentennial Bridges from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. You can find the full parking rules below:. ...Read Full Story

Land Conservancy Offers Hiking Program

A new program intended to get more people out and about in nature is being launched by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. Conservancy associate Miko [[ meeko ]] 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

Upton To Tour Brandon Road Lock And Dam Monday

Heading to Joliet, Illinois on Monday is Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News he’s going to be on a tour of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a chokepoint that’s been keeping the invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Upton and other members of Michigan’s congressional delegation will learn more about the recently-completed Army Corps plan to permanently stop the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Flint To Hear From Prosecutors Who Dropped Water Charges

From the Associated Press — Prosecutors who dropped charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal will talk about the decision in a public forum. Kym Worthy and Fadwa Hammoud will speak to the public Friday night at a Flint union hall, two weeks after dismissing charges against former Michigan health director Nick Lyon and other officials. Hammoud of the attorney general’s office took over the investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in January. Worthy, a Detroit-area prosecutor, also joined the effort. They said they dropped charges because the previous team didn’t properly pursue evidence and overlooked loads of records. They restarted the investigation and said charges could be refiled. Lyon had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to timely warn the public about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak tied to tainted water in 2014-15.. ...Read Full Story

International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship Next Weekend

Coming up next Saturday is southwest Michigan’s premier athletic event — the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire. Farm co-owner Monica Teichman tells WSJM News this is the 46th year for the competition. Spitters compete for distance and glory, and they’re grouped into several classes. Everyone who comes out on top in each division will then be pitted against each other in the final round, along with past winners. Teichman says it’s amazing how far some people can spit a pit.. ...Read Full Story

Scientists Recommend Tougher PFAS Standards For Michigan

From the Associated Press — Scientists are urging Michigan to adopt some of the strictest and most far-reaching drinking water standards for “forever chemicals” in the country. A state team responding to contamination from compounds known as PFAS heard
from its science advisory workgroup Thursday. The three scientists recommended health-based values for seven types of PFAS.
The federal government has a nonbinding health threshold of 70 parts per trillion for two phased-out forms of the contaminant in tap water. Environmental advocates and others consider them to be weak. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will use the recommended values while writing rules for PFAS standards by April 2020. The compounds have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they take thousands of years to degrade, and because some accumulate in people’s bodies.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In South Haven

A South Haven man is facing charges after a meth bust in the city on Thursday. 24-year-old John Louis Booker was arrested following a two month investigation into the distribution of crystal meth in South Haven and Paw Paw. The Southwest Enforcement Team says officers went to arrest Booker at the South Haven Walmart, seizing about six ounces of crystal meth. He did try to run from police, but was quickly caught thanks in part to some K9s. Booker is charged with delivery of meth, possession with intent to deliver meth, fleeing and eluding, resisting police, and destruction of evidence.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Home Sales Up In May

Southwest Michigan home sales remain strong with May’s numbers topping May of the previous year and April of this year. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says May home sales were up over April by 22%, and up 10% over May of last year. The average selling price for the month was also up 3% over May of 2018. The association says inventory remains relatively low with a six and a half month supply of homes on the market. It also notes the mortgage rate in May decreased to 4.25% from 4.32% in April. One negative is the number of bank-owned, or foreclosed, homes as a percentage of all transactions for the month. It rose to 6% from 3% in April.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backing Disaster Declaration Request

As Michigan farmers struggle with weather that has caused them losses this year, Congressman Fred Upton and colleagues from the state have sent a letter to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for a disaster declaration. Upton tells WSJM News arctic cold in the winter damaged peaches, and spring and summer rains have preventing planting.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Ruling Means No New Michigan Maps For 2020

From the Associated press — Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature will not be forced to redraw legislative and congressional districts for the 2020 election following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that federal courts have no role to play in deciding claims of partisan gerrymandering. Pending its 5-4 decision, the high court had put on hold an April ruling from a federal court panel that ordered lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to enact new maps by August 1. The lawsuit suit pertains only to 2020. Michigan voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle the once-a-decade redistricting process after the 2020 census, which will affect the 2022 election and beyond.. ...Read Full Story

Paquette To Hold Town Hall On Roads

State Representative Brad Paquette is planning a town hall for next month to talk about road funding in Michigan. The event will be held at the Niles District Library in Niles on Monday, 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

State Launches Crop Recovery Portal

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

Attorney General Sues To Shut Down Oil Pipeline

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general is suing to shut down dual oil pipelines in the Great Lakes. Democrat Dana Nessel filed suit Thursday. It was the same day she also sought to dismiss pipeline operator Enbridge’s request for a ruling on the legality of a deal it struck last year with former Republican Governor Rick Snyder to put replacement pipes in a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Nessel says the Line 5 pipes pose an “unacceptable risk” to the Great Lakes and she moved after it became clear talks between Enbridge and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer stalled. The pipelines are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which carries 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff’s Department K9 Dies

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of one of its K9s. The department says Nero passed away unexpectedly Thursday morning. It tells us Nero was a devoted and loyal partner to Deputy Brandon Crosby for the last five years. It adds its thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Crosby and his family.. ...Read Full Story

West MI School District Bans Cellphones

From the Associated Press — A school district in western Michigan is banning cellphones during school hours. The Forest Hills district near Grand Rapids says students won’t be allowed to use their phones but can keep them in their lockers. The district says it’s
“clear that excessive exposure to cellphones has a negative effect” on kids. If students need to reach a parent, they can use a school phone. Forest Hills says its schools have plenty of technology to allow students to go online when necessary for classroom work.
Superintendent Dan Behm noticed the problem when having lunch with students. They told him how social media posts caused anxiety. Assistant Superintendent Christine Annese tells WOOD-TV that a parent advisory committee approved the plan. Forest Hills has more than 15 schools, including three high schools.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Discusses Proposed Sanctuary Cities Ban

Legislation introduced by State Senator Aric Nesbitt would impose state power over local government decisions on whether or not to allow local cooperation with federal immigration reform. The local sheriffs and police have duties to enforce local and state law but right now they are not forced to become arms of the feds when it comes to immigration status.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Coming To Benton Harbor To Talk Elder Abuse

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is planning a trip to Benton Harbor next month to talk about elder abuse. AG spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney tells WSJM News Nessel will be in town on Monday, 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

New Course Catalog Being Created For BHHS Students

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has approved a new course catalog for students at the high school. At this week’s school board meeting, trustees heard from instructional facilitator Lauren Bernat about the book. She said it was designed to be useful for students from year to year so they can keep track of the classes they have taken when planning for the coming year.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushing For Border Funding By Week’s End

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping a bipartisan border funding bill can be approved by the end of the week. That’s as the House and Senate this week each approved their own bills. Upton tells WSJM News money must be set aside to pay for operations along the southern border one way or another as a humanitarian crisis mounts there.. ...Read Full Story

Event Raises $165,000 For Great Lakes Alliance

More than $165,000 has been raised for the Great Lakes with an event held last week in Chicago. Alliance for the Great Lakes spokesperson Jennifer Caddick tells WSJM News the 17th annual Great Blue Benefit was held along the shore of Lake Michigan Thursday. The donations were made by individuals, non-profits, and businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Wrong-Way Driver Busted On I-94

A Chicago man is facing a variety of charges after he was busted driving the wrong way on I-94 early Wednesday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says it got a complaint around 3 a.m. of a vehicle going the wrong way on I-94 in the westbound lanes in Chikaming Township. The vehicle was also speeding. Police tried to pull it over near Lakeside Road , but it didn’t stop and crossed the median, now going east in the eastbound lanes. As police gave chase, the driver tried to cross again into the westbound lanes, but his vehicle was hit by a semi. The driver, 25-year-old Diego Flores-Valero of Chicago, struggled with police as they arrested him, but he was brought into custody. He was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for observation. I-94 in the area was closed while the scene was cleaned up.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Beach Under E-Coli Advisory

Just as the E-coli advisories for three beaches in Berrien County were lifted Tuesday, there’s now an E-coli advisory in place for South Haven’s South Beach. The city says samples taken there on Wednesday showed elevated levels of E-coli, meaning the water is not safe for swimming. The Van Buren County Environmental Health Division will collect samples again on Thursday and the results will be available by about noon. In the meantime, South Beach is closed to swimming. City officials note North Beach has been tested and found to have acceptable E-coli levels. It remains open. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Three-Year-Old Drowns In Van Buren County

A three-year-old girl is dead after drowning in Van Buren County on Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were sent to a home in the 39,000 block of Paw Paw Road in Paw Paw Township on a report of a possible pool drowning just before 12:40 p.m. They arrived to find the three-year-old girl unresponsive. Deputies tried life-saving measures, but they were not successful, and the girl was pronounced dead at Bronson Lakeview Hospital. Police say foul play is not suspected, and the investigation continues.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Accepts Donations

The city of St. Joseph has been the recipient of a lot of generosity lately. At Monday’s city commission meeting, three donations were accepted by the body. First up was an offer from the Indian Hills Garden Club of some markers for trees in Milton Park to identify them. A club representative said the signs will be on expandable chains around the trees. They come as the club marks its 90th anniversary.. ...Read Full Story

Crash Of Livestock Truck Snarls Traffic

A crash involving a livestock truck closed down the Napier Avenue ramp to westbound I-94 Wednesday morning. The crash happened after 9 a.m. and the scene was cleared shortly before 1 p.m. The truck was turning off Napier Avenue and on to westbound I-94 when it tipped over on to its side. It was hauling about 120 pigs, some of which were hurt in the crash. The Benton Township Police Department worked the scene, and Berrien County Animal Control was brought in to pick up some of the pigs. We’ll have more information on the crash as it’s released by Benton Township police.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-ICE Graffiti Again Painted On MI GOP Headquarters

From the Associated Press — Anti-government graffiti has been found painted a second time on the Michigan Republican Party headquarters amid debate over a possible nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living the country illegally. The state party says the graffiti found Tuesday was apparently painted Monday night. It comes after an expletive and the acronym “ICE” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement was found on the front of the Lansing building Saturday evening. The state party says the vandalism is an attack on Chairwoman Laura Cox, who served a portion of her career as an ICE agent. The latest graffiti included an
expletive and her last name, and a symbol representing anarchy. Cox says “these criminals seek to bully those they disagree with, rather than engage in a civil discussion.” Lansing police are investigating.. ...Read Full Story

E-Coli Advisory On Berrien Beaches Lifted

The three Berrien County beaches that were closed to swimmers on Tuesday due to elevated e-coli levels in the water are now back open. The Berrien County Health Department tells us samples taken on Tuesday have come back with acceptable E-coli levels following the Monday sampling that closed the beaches. It is now OK to swim again at Weko Beach, Cherry Beach, and Warren Dunes State Park. The health department says you should still not drink the water, but the beaches are back open. You can follow the state’s BeachGuard site to stay on top of E-coli advisories for beaches.. ...Read Full Story

GM Planning Upgrades At Factories

From the Associated Press — General Motors Co. has announced it’s investing more than $4.2 billion in assembly plants in Indiana, Michigan and Texas to prepare for the launch of its next generation of pickups and SUVs. The company said Tuesday that it’s increasing capacity, improving operating efficiencies and making other upgrades at plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; and Arlington, Texas. GM says new investments also are occurring at plants in Ohio ahead of the release of 2021 models of pickups and SUVs. The Texas site manufactures popular SUV brands, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Officials say $1.4 billion will be spent on the Arlington plant and upgrades are scheduled to be completed next year. GM says it has invested more than $23 billion in its U.S. manufacturing base since 2009.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Cottage Walk This Saturday

SHOUT for South Haven will hold its 25th annual Cottage Walk this Saturday. The organization says the day is all about giving everyone a chance to check out the kinds of homes available in the community. Those who take part will tour six cottages, some of which are year-round homes and some of which are summer retreats. Everyone can also check out specialty shops and outdoor dining around South Haven. Tickets to the South Haven Cottage Walk are available at the South Haven Visitor’s Bureau or at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Anyone who wants to find out more can contact SHOUT for South haven.. ...Read Full Story

Paquette Proposes Update To Emergency Manager Law

An update to Michigan’s emergency manager law has been introduced by state Representative Brad Paquette of Niles. He says his bill is intended to help protect the water quality of communities taken over by the state by replacing the current single-person emergency management structure with a three-person committee made up of one local government operations expert, one local ombudsman, and one financial expert. Paquette says that would increase transparency and allow residents of the affected communities more of a voice. His bill is part of a 30 bill package announced this week that aims to prevent water contamination around Michigan. Also included in the package is state Representative Beth Griffin’s bill making the state’s PFAS action response team a permanent agency.. ...Read Full Story