Local News Archives

Democrats Hit Detroit Ahead Of This Week’s Debates

Twenty of the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination will be on the Fox Theatre stage in Detroit over two nights this week for the second series of debates, broadcast on CNN. Several of them are already making the rounds in the Motor City, with Washington Governor Jay Inslee taking time Monday to unveil his plan to fight climate change at an appearance in southwest Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Residents Reminded To Take Steps To Keep Lead Out Of Water

Residents of the city of Benton Harbor are being reminded about the importance of installing filters in their homes to prevent against lead contamination. The city released information Friday afternoon that the water supply remains under a continuation of the Action Level Exceedance of 15 parts per billion, which took effect in October of last year. The Berrien County Health Department has partnered with the city to get the word out, and spokeswoman Gillian Conrad says the new reminders are being issued out of an abundance of caution.. ...Read Full Story

Dangerous Swimming Conditions On Lake Michigan North Of South Haven

Planning to go to a Lake Michigan beach Monday? The National Weather Service says you should think about another day. Dangerous swimming conditions are expected at beaches north of South Haven. Separately, swimming is discouraged south of South Haven down into Indiana along the shore. Waves could be 3 feet or higher. A 43-year-old man who was struggling in high waves and strong current Saturday drowned in Lake Michigan in Ottawa County. The sheriff’s department says Steven Davis of Holland Township was brought to shore after 4 p.m. in Park Township. A red flag was flying nearby at Holland State Park, a signal that conditions were dangerous at the time. The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says at least 27 people have drowned in Lake Michigan this year, up from 15 at this time last year.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Identify Man Who Died While Kayaking In Paw Paw River

Michigan State Police are identifying the man who died while kayaking with his wife in the Paw Paw River Sunday evening as 42-year-old Chad Whittington of Coloma. The couple had launched their kayak from Hayes Park in Watervliet and took a break to swim, and that’s when she told police he became distressed and struggled in the water. She got him partially to shore and called 9-1-1, but nothing could be done. First responders were unable to revive Whittington, who was pronounced dead at the scene on the banks of the river in the 71-hundred block of Red Arrow Highway. An autopsy is being done today at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo to determine the cause of death.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Weekend Cass County Crash

A Three Rivers man is dead after a crash involving his motorcycle and a car in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says it happened Saturday afternoon in Porter Township when Tyler Hershberger was on US-12 and collided with a car driven by a 16-year-old that was pulling out of a driveway. The impact sent Hershberger off his bike, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing a helmet, and the teen driver was also buckled up. Police are continuing to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies In Kayak Accident On Paw Paw River

There aren’t many details as yet, but Michigan State Police are investigating the death of a man on the Paw Paw River in Berrien County on Sunday. He and his wife were kayaking when something went wrong according to our newsgathering partners at WSBT-22. She survived, but he was pronounced dead after what authorities have called an unsuccessful water rescue in the seven-thousand block of Paw Paw Avenue, which is between Coloma and Watervliet. The two were on a date at the time. Michigan State Police say more information will be released later today.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Awards Scholarships

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

Grants To Mean New Riverfront Developments 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

Broadband Funds Approved For Michigan

The Federal Communications Commission this month announced that it’s 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

Niles Man Shot Multiple Times; Expected To Survive

A 32-year-old Niles-area man is recovering at South Bend Memorial Hospital after being shot multiple times in the legs and buttocks early Sunday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says road patrol officers and Michigan State Police troopers responded to the call of multiple shots being fired in the 900 block of Woods Edge Drive in Niles Township just before 12:30 a.m. The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital and underwent surgery. He’s expected to fully recover and is in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Man Killed In Cass County Shooting

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking for more witnesses as detectives try to piece together the shooting death of an 18-year-old South Bend man. He’s been identified as Dayman Chatman, and was shot while attending a party at a home in the 29-hundred block of Yankee Street in Howard Township. Chatman was shot around 2 a.m. Sunday, and while some witnesses have been interviewed by police, they’re looking to talk to more people who had scattered after the shots were fired. Anyone with tips is asked to call the Cass County Sheriff’s Office at 269-445-1560, the Cass County Tip Line at 800-462-9328, or by texting CRIMES (274637) and then writing CASS with the details you’re sharing.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Township Releases Parks Survey

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

United Way To “Pop The Collar” At August Fundraiser

Set for Thursday, August 8 is the fourth United Way of Southwest Michigan Pop Up Giving event. It’s to take place at the LakeHouse Restaurant and Bar in St. Joseph from 5 to 7 p.m. The theme is “Pop the Collar” in honor of WSJM’s own Pat Moody, who has been known to wear his collars popped up. The United Way’s Jennifer Tomshack says Pop Up Giving is a way for the public to vote on a project pitched by one of three area non-profits.. ...Read Full Story

Bernie Sanders Calls For Shutdown Of Michigan Pipeline

From the Associated Press — Bernie Sanders has become the second Democratic presidential hopeful to call for shutting down an oil pipeline that crosses a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. The Vermont senator said in a tweet Thursday that Enbridge’s Line 5 should be decommissioned and new fossil fuel infrastructure banned. Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. It runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. It traverses large sections of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Sanders announced his position on the ninth anniversary of a rupture of another Enbridge pipeline that spilled 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. Washington state Governor Jay Inslee also has endorsed a Line 5 shutdown ahead of Democratic presidential debates in Detroit next week.. ...Read Full Story

Harbor Country Mission Aims To Help Working Poor, Homeless

It’s been about a year since Harbor Country Mission opened up its warehouse on Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman, and the place has taken off. The mission’s David Heyn tells WSJM News he was a pastor when he and his wife started collecting items for those in need. They just kept things like coffeemakers and clothing in a closet, but soon realized a lot of people needed help.. ...Read Full Story

Two Men Arrested In Cass County Meth Bust

Two southwest Michigan men are locked up in the Cass County Jail after a drug bust. The sheriff’s department says a 47-year-old Porter Township man and a 36-year-old Three Rivers man were arrested Thursday at the older suspect’s home on Hazel Street. Officers seized around 25 grams of meth along with drug paraphernalia inside the home. The two will be charged with possession with intent to deliver meth, and the homeowner is also facing a charge of maintaining a drug house. The investigation is ongoing.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Schools Finalize Contract With New Superintendent

It’s official. The new superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools is Dr. Thomas Bruce, as he and the school board have reached a contract. Outgoing superintendent Ann Cardon sent an email to parents last night confirming that move and to also release the calendar for the upcoming academic year, which was also approved Thursday evening at a special meeting of the school board. Cardon is headed north to become the superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools next week. Dr. Bruce is coming to St. Joseph from Arcadia, California, where he had been Arcadia Unified School District’s director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. He’s a native of Howell, located between Lansing and Detroit, and began his education career in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Court Throws Out DUI Evidence; Cop Had Wrong Speed Limit

From the Associated Press — A man convicted of drunk driving in western Michigan has won an appeal after it turned out that he was under the speed limit when stopped by police, not over it. Anthony Owen was told he was going 43 mph in a 25 mph zone in Saranac in Ionia County. But attorney Ed Sternisha argued that the speed limit actually was 55 mph by default because there was no sign on southbound Parsonage Road. The Michigan appeals court agreed, saying the traffic stop by a sheriff’s deputy in 2015 was illegal. As a result, the court threw out evidence of drunken driving that stemmed from the stop. The court says a “reasonably competent” officer should have known that he couldn’t stop Owen for speeding.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Appoints Interim Manager

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have appointed former City Manager Ellis Mitchell to serve as the new interim city manager. That’s after Darwin Watson was fired from the city manager position Monday. At a Thursday special meeting, the commission approved Mitchell to serve while a search is done for the next manager. Mitchell told us he served as city manager in Benton Harbor from 1983 to 1987. He also said he most recently worked as mobility manager at Dial a Ride. During Thursday’s session but after the vote, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the drama of the past week has created chaos.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Accepts Waterways Grant

A state grant to allow for new access points to be installed along the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph has been accepted by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. At this week’s meeting, the board accepted the $132,000 unanimously and without comment. Cornerstone Alliance and the Berrien County Community Development Department sought the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant in order to put in four access points, two in St. Joe and two in Benton Harbor. The goal is to have water taxis running between the points during the summer. Planners want to have the taxis working in time for the next Senior PGA Championship. Cornerstone Alliance has contributed $147,000 to the effort.. ...Read Full Story

County Looking At Parks Costs

Berrien County Commissioners are looking at the possibility of a small increase in the parks millage. At this week’s board of commissioners meeting, Commissioner Bill Chickering said there are big parks expenses on the way, and more money will be needed. He told WSJM News a committee heard from Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey that he’s been crunching some numbers.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Urges State To Make Power Outage Credit Automatic

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sent a letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission asking it to require utility companies with smart meters to automatically credit consumers’ bills for prolonged power outages. Nessel this week reminded utility customers in the state there is a law allowing them a $25 outage credit when they experience a power outage that lasts longer than 16 hours. The credit is available as long as there isn’t a general emergency taking place. Nessel’s office says customers can also receive the credit when there’s been a failure to restore electric service within 120 hours after an interruption that occurred during catastrophic conditions, or when there are repetitive interruptions of the same circuit more than seven times in a 12 month period. In her letter to the MPSC, Nessel noted electric service interruption rules were written years before the implementation of smart meters. She says the new tech should make the credit automatic. You can see Nessel’s letter to the MPSC right here.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Looks To Stabilize Enrollment

As leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools work to arrange a turnaround plan with the state, they’re also hoping to undo the damage done by recent talk of the high school closing. At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson noted enrollment has dropped since the governor proposed closing Benton Harbor High School. She says her team has been reaching out to parents to let them know the school district is a safe place for their kids.. ...Read Full Story

Suburban Detroit Mom Arrested With .306 BAC, Kids In Car

A suburban Detroit mother is facing some stiff penalties following her drunk driving arrest last month. Milford police have released the dash cam video of her arrest after crashing her car into a ditch at Fort Dearborn with her two young sons in the backseat of the car, and not properly restrained. While the sobriety test of the woman couldn’t be seen in the video due to an ambulance being in front of the police car, the audio was crystal clear with an arresting officer telling her to blow as hard as she could into the Breathalyzer. After the reading, the officer was amazed.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Honors Volunteer Of The Year

The 2018-19 Volunteer of the Year for the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is Camille Sandel of Stevensville. She was recently recognized with the award at the Mendel Center’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner and reception this month. Sandel is among nearly 100 active volunteers, and has been involved for 24 years, normally helping with 25 or more shows a year. Those include Mainstage performances, Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Events, and LMC Performing Arts Department productions. Mendel Center Mainstage director Grace Kelmer called her “part of the backbone of the Mendel Center Volunteer Corps.”. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. Indiana Michigan Power brought it back online just before 1 a.m. today after a brief forced outage which began around 8:30 Sunday morning. The reactor was taken offline after operators noted a gradual decline in performance of both of the unit’s two non-essential service water pumps. That water is used to maintain cooling for the main turbine’s lube oil system and other non-nuclear and non-safety-related systems. A system inspection determined the problem was the pump strainers had become clogged by debris from Lake Michigan. Those parts were cleaned, inspected again, and put back into service. Officials say the decision to take the unit offline was “conservative” in order to ensure a safe and controlled shutdown. Unit 1 stayed at full power.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Opposes Dropping Wolf Protections

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is opposing a federal plan to drop gray wolves from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf has recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection. More than 5,000 live in the contiguous U.S., including roughly 660 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The service wants to turn management of the species over to the states. In comments submitted recently, Nessel says the Fish and Wildlife Service has tried repeatedly to remove wolves from the protected list without providing adequate justification. She says eliminating the federal shield would lead to renewed hunting and could imperil the species. Wolves in the Lower 48 were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction before legal protection was granted in the 1970s.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Dedicates Learning Center To Former Trustee

Southwestern Michigan College has dedicated a portion of its Fred L. Mathews Library to a former trustee who passed away in 2017. The Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center was officially dedicated on Tuesday. SMC says the center is located in the Mathews Library, one of SMC’s three original buildings. Carole Tate served on the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees for 18 years, and was the only trustee from the Van Buren County portion of SMC’s district. She died on October 7, 2017 in Arizona. SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Jerdon says “Carole was an exceptional trustee” who he had the privilege of serving with. Throughout her career, Tate worked as the Van Buren District Library children’s librarian and as a media specialist for Lakeshore, Marcellus, and Decatur public schools.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Land Auction Tuesday

Coming up Tuesday will be the next Berrien County Land Auction. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the land bank will auction off properties that were seized in foreclosure, and this year there is one that has attracted a huge amount of interest. It’s a house at 317 North Veronica Court in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

State: No Unusual Cancer Stats Near Medical Manufacturer

From the Associated Press — The Michigan health department says it didn’t find a significant increase in cancer among people near a medical-device manufacturer in Grand Rapids. The only exception over a 15-year period was a blood cancer, but the department says it was based on 25 cases and wasn’t significantly higher than the overall state rate. Viant Medical has been under scrutiny over its use of ethylene oxide, a colorless gas linked to cancer. In March, the company said it would stop sterilizing equipment at the facility by the end of the year. State regulators have issued at least four pollution violations over the past two years. The health department says there are a few caveats to its work. It’s possible that people have left the area. The department also says the state cancer registry doesn’t have information to make a link to environmental contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Gets Perfect Score On Disability Equality Index

Make it a perfect 100% for the third straight year for Whirlpool Corporation on the 2019 Disability Equality Index. The Benton Harbor-based appliance maker is ranked once again as one of the best places to work for people with disabilities. The DEI is regarded as the most comprehensive annual benchmarking tool for American companies to self-report their disability practices and procedures. In a statement, Whirlpool senior vice president and chief human resources officer Carey Martin says the company has “always taken great pride in creating an inclusive environment where all employees are empowered to succeed personally and professionally.” The DEI is a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities.. ...Read Full Story

Officials To Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors: Don’t Go Down Dune

First responders are warning visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan to not attempt walking down a 450-foot-tall dune to Lake Michigan. In recent years, it has become one of the most notorious rescue spots in the National Park system. Glen Lake Fire Chief Bryan Ferguson says visitors to the park’s Number 9 Overlook often underestimate the challenge of traversing the dune.. ...Read Full Story

Area Home Sales Flat In June, Prices Up

The number of existing home sales in southwest Michigan is leveling off, but the prices keep going up. The latest report from the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors shows 367 homes were sold in the region in June, the exact same number as last year following year-over-year increases of 20% in both April and May. Association executive Alan Jeffries says the average sales price last month jumped 14% from 2018 to $263,124 from $231,009. Existing home sales year-to-date are up 5% from last year. June’s median selling price was up 8% to $186,001 from $172,000 last year. The report covers Berrien and Cass counties along with the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren County.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested Following Long Heroin Trafficking Investigation

A long investigation into heroin trafficking in southwest Michigan has landed a 25-year-old Benton Harbor resident behind bars. Detectives from the multi-agency Southwest Enforcement Team arrested Mayquon Morrison on Tuesday at a home in the one-thousand block of Superior Street after executing a search warrant. Officers found a handgun reported stolen out of St. Joseph Township in late June along with an undisclosed amount of heroin. Morrison faces five charges, including four weapons counts along with possession with intent to deliver heroin.. ...Read Full Story

Environmentalists Want Candidates To Focus On Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Environmental groups in the Great Lakes region want the 2020 presidential candidates to talk more about clean water. Groups led by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition released a five-part platform Tuesday that they’ll ask the candidates to support. It seeks $475 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which deals with chronic problems such as toxic pollution and wetlands loss. Other proposals include upgrading drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, keeping invasive species such as Asian carp out of the lakes, reducing harmful algae blooms and upholding clean-water laws. Coalition executive director Laura Rubin said each candidate should offer plans for providing clean drinking water, calling it the campaign’s biggest issue. The groups released their proposals ahead of Democratic presidential debates scheduled for July 30-31 in Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Police National Night Out August 6

Preparations are underway for the next National Night Out, the event where police agencies all over the country mingle with the public and offer demonstrations in order to foster better relationships with the people they serve. In St. Joseph, the Night Out will be August 6 at Maiden Lane Community Park in the township. The gathering will include several local police and fire departments, a Jaws of Life demonstration, fire trucks and police cars, stations where parents can get the fingerprints of their kids taken, hot dogs, soda, chips, and ice cream, this year from Culver’s. The National Night Out will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 on the 6th and everyone’s invited.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County K-9 Nellie Finds Missing Woman

A 46-year-old woman is recovering thanks to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department Bloodhound K9 officer Nellie. The woman was reported missing at 9 Tuesday night in Howard Township by family members after she took a walk in the woods near her home around Pine Lake Street and M-60 and hadn’t returned. The woman rarely leaves home because of medical issues, and police were called after family and friends were unable to find her. Concerned over her medical condition, how long she’d been gone and cooling temperatures, they called 9-1-1. K9 Nellie led deputies to her location about a mile from home in a thickly wooded area. She was cold and disorientated, but alive and was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital Niles for treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Fruit Market Reopening After 20 Years

Opening Friday will be a new way for the public to buy fresh produce from local growers. The Benton Harbor Fruit Market at 1891 Territorial Road will reopen its retail area for the first time in about 20 years. Director Matt McManus tells WSJM News he started operating the place in June, and it’s been doing business with commercial buyers who come for local produce.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Approves Its Own Turnaround Proposal

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has a proposal of its own for turning around the district. At a Tuesday meeting, the board unanimously approved what it says is a comprehensive plan that would continue the cooperative agreement that was ended when the state School Reform Office went away at the start of July. The district’s attorney said the state ending the cooperative agreement was tantamount to ending a contract early. Therefore, the board seeks a commitment to keep the high school open for at least four years while several performance benchmarks are met. Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson spoke with us about the board’s proposal after the meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Relieved To Hear About Budget Deal

Congressman Fred Upton is relieved to learn House and Senate leadership have reached a deal with President Trump on the federal budget. Last week, Upton was one of more than 30 House members who signed a letter calling for leadership to prioritize budgeting. He says on Monday, the president announced a spending deal.. ...Read Full Story

“Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale” Set For Next Month

Set for August 9 through August 11 is Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale all along US-12 from New Buffalo to Detroit. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Kris Martin tells WSJM News the event is a chance for people and businesses along the historic road to clean out their attics and stake out their front yards. You can find items for sale all along US-12’s 180 miles in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Summer STEM Camps All Sold Out

Southwestern Michigan College’s summer STEM camps have been proving popular this year. In fact, they’re so popular, they’re full. SMC says the camps for fourth graders are all about teaching science, technology, engineering, and math in a way that will be fun for kids. Last summer, participants rotated from the William P.D. O’Leary Building chemistry lab — where they concocted colorful slime from baking soda, glue, contact solution, glitter, and food coloring — to the Barbara Wood Building computer lab to learn about 3D printing and drones. This summer’s camps have 80 students per day, with 24 on a waitlist. Each camp is just one day, set for August 6, 7, and 8.. ...Read Full Story

Watson Returning To Work For Benton Harbor

Former Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson is returning to work for the city, this time as the director of public works and chief of staff. Less than a day after the Benton Harbor City Commission fired Watson, Mayor Marcus Muhammad held a press conference Tuesday to announce he’s using his new powers to bring Watson back on board. When the city commission fired Watson, it handed city manager duties temporarily to the mayor because there was no assistant city manager.. ...Read Full Story