Local News Archives

Upton Speaks At Global Leadership Conference

Congressman Fred Upton was the keynote speaker at a gathering of 125 Kalamazoo area leaders on Thursday. They were there to discuss the global leadership role of the United States, and Upton talked about why it’s important to national security and Michigan’s economy. Panelists were concerned about the Trump administration’s plan to slash funding for international affairs by 24%.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Warns About Phone Scam

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is sounding the alarm about a new phone scam. It says this latest one involves a caller who claims to be a sheriff’s deputy. The caller will tell you there is a warrant out for your arrest, but you can avoid jail by posting bond with the use of a pre-paid debit card. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says there is no such program. The caller will claim it’s new, but it simply doesn’t exist. Don’t fall for such calls, and report them to your local police department. The sheriff’s department says it’s gotten reports of this phone scam over the past few days.. ...Read Full Story

Improvements Being Made At Warren Dunes State Park

Visitors to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer may see occasional closures throughout the spring and summer as two renovation projects get underway at the area. Crews have already started a more than $1 million project to renovate Red Arrow Highway, which serves as the main entrance to the sand dunes and lakeshore beaches. The Michigan Department of Transportation is overseeing the road repairs, and a lane addition to reduce traffic buildup. The efforts should be completed by May 20. A more than $2 million project will also begin this month to replace toilets and bathhouse buildings in the park’s day-use area. Plans call for making more room for additional food truck vendors. The upgrades should be finished by November.. ...Read Full Story

LGBTQ Advocates Supporting New Legislation

LGBTQ advocates are speaking out in favor of three bills just introduced in the Michigan Legislature that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual orientation by state-funded adoption and foster-care agencies. They would reverse laws passed in 2015 that allowed such practices in the name of religious freedom. Erin Knott, with the group Equality Michigan, supports the bills.. ...Read Full Story

Local Celebrities To Be Dunked For Alex Mandarino Foundation

A fundraiser for the Alex Mandarino Foundation will be held this Saturday at North Pier Brewing Company in Benton Harbor, and on hand to be dunked will be state Representative Pauline Wendzel. She tells us North Pier sells a brew named for Alex Mandarino, who died at the age of 5 after a battle with cancer. The beer is called 415AM, and the brewery will donate $1 from each pint of the white IPA sold to the foundation.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Testimony Taken In Lansing

Testimony on the value of the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program was taken this week by a Michigan Senate subcommittee. As lawmakers put together the next budget, it’s hoped that funding for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates can be restored. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington was there for the hearing, and tells WSJM News Tamia Clay, a Benton Harbor High School senior active in FIRST Robotics, spoke about the difference Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates has made for her.. ...Read Full Story

911 Dispatcher Of The Year Award Announced

Berrien County’s 911 Dispatcher of the Year is Nikki Metz of the Niles Police Department. At Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Metz received the award for her role in helping to identify a counterfeiting suspect this past winter. She told us dispatchers often work by the side of police.. ...Read Full Story

Firm Awards Check To BH Marching Band

$500 has been awarded to the Benton Harbor High School Marching Band by Sudexo, the school district’s food service provider. At Tuesday’s Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO meeting, a Sudexo rep presented the ceremonial check to the band director. The award was for Benton Harbor High School’s participation in the Healthy High School Challenge. It encouraged students to understand the importance of healthy eating and to eat healthy snacks. The money will be used for the needs of students in the marching band.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools CEO To Interview Two For School Board Vacancy

Interviews will be held late Friday afternoon by Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent and CEO Robert Herrera of two candidates for a vacancy on the school board. The opening was created with the recent resignation of Angelika McGowan, though she is still listed as being a board member and the board treasurer on the district’s website. Herrera will interview Marian Tripplett and Michelle Crowder in a special meeting at 4 p.m., and will choose between the two at the end of the meeting. The interviews and the meeting are open to the public and will be held at Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board Not Looking Into LaSata Campaign Email Allegations

There continue to be plenty of rumors circulating regarding potential campaign law violations connected to state Senator Kim LaSata, but at this point WSJM News has learned there is no active investigation underway by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners or state elections officials. Following up on a tip that the commissioners may have been given emails similar to those which Lansing’s MIRS News has obtained that allegedly show Judge Charles LaSata using his county email account for his wife’s campaign, we are told those have not been provided to the county board. The judge’s email records are protected by law from being released through the Freedom of Information Act, as is anything sent or received by the legislative email account of Senator LaSata. One county commissioner told WSJM News regarding a decision on a county probe, “that’s above my pay grade.”. ...Read Full Story

New Measles Cases Reported, Exposure Sites In Grand Rapids

New numbers regarding the measles outbreak in Michigan have been released, and this time, there are a couple of Grand Rapids locations listed as possible exposure sites. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells us a person infected with measles traveled to the area and was at the Baymont by Wyndham Grand Rapids Airport hotel early in the morning of April 12. They then went to the Urgent Care Med Express office on Plainfield Avenue that night.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Pleased With PFAS Work So Far

State Representative Beth Griffin has been pleased with progress on addressing the PFAS problem in the water systems of two Kalamazoo County communities. PFAS, a group of harmful chemicals, were found in the water in Parchment and Cooper Township last year. Griffin tells WSJM News Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set up a PFAS Commission tasked with setting standards for PFAS levels.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Baroda Crash

A 31-year-old Berrien Springs man is dead as the result of a crash between his motorcycle and a delivery truck in Baroda. The crash happened at the intersection of Stevensville-Baroda Road and Linco Road just a few minutes before 6 a.m. today. Baroda-Lake Township police say the driver of the truck was a 27-year-old from North Liberty, Indiana and was not hurt. He told police he had stopped at a stop sign and then continued west on Linco Road, but never saw the motorcycle before it was too late. The bike did not have a stop sign at the intersection. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

United Federal Credit Union To Buy Former Whirlpool Bldg For New HQ

The former Whirlpool Corporation office building at 150 Hilltop Road in St. Joseph is changing hands. United Federal Credit Union is purchasing the roughly 80,000 square foot facility and will transform it into its new headquarters. The sales price is not being disclosed. The renovations are expected start in June or July and take about a year once the sale has been finalized. The credit union has no plans to shut down either the Niles corporate office which opened in March 2015 or the current corporate building on South State Street in St. Joseph, which was also remodeled about four years ago. Whirlpool and UFCU worked with Cornerstone Alliance to get a special Commercial Rehabilitation District established for the property through the city of St. Joseph and the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. No new jobs are expected immediately as a result of the purchase of the building, but a UFCU spokesman says it will give them room for future growth.. ...Read Full Story

Former Stamp Farms Owner Pleads Guilty To Fraud

The former owner of a large Decatur farm is facing prison time for fraud. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge says 46-year-old Mike Stamp of Decatur pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit crop insurance fraud. His 38-year-old wife, Melissa, earlier pled guilty to a felony charge in the case. Mike Stamp admitted he fraudulently landed a $68 million operating loan from Wells Fargo Bank in December 2011 by lying about how much land he farmed and the value of the farm’s assets. Stamp also copped to defrauding the federal crop insurance program by filing false claims, falsifying harvested crop records, and getting crop insurance in the names of other people. His wife admitted she knew what he was doing, helped hide money from Wells Fargo, and didn’t tell police what was going on. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not say when sentencing will be, or outline the possible penalties.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Pledges To Not Prosecute Abortions If Roe Is Reversed

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says if the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is overturned, she won’t enforce state laws on the books that ban abortion. The Democrat told a Planned Parenthood conference Tuesday that it’s “likely”
the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion will be reversed. But she says “we can and we will fight back.” She pledges to never prosecute a woman or her doctor for terminating a pregnancy. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer also spoke at the meeting in Lansing. She pointed to a new Ohio law that would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Similar legislation has passed in Georgia. Whitmer says if Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature moves similarly, abortion rights activists have “a powerful backstop in a veto from my office.”. ...Read Full Story

School CEO Holds Regular Meeting

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera says an update on the high school graduation numbers for this year will be given to the board of education next month. At this week’s CEO Meeting, Herrera said board members will get a presentation on what’s been done since last month when he announced only 38 high school seniors out of 138 were on track to graduate this year.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hopes To Renew Older Americans Act

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to help approve a renewal of the Older Americans Act sometime this year. He spoke to the Area Agency on Aging’s Legislative Forum last week, and tells WSJM News that’s one of the things he mentioned as a priority. Upton says the Older Americans Act provides funding for a wide variety of programs for seniors.. ...Read Full Story

Three Berrien County Fire Departments Could Consolidate

Talks are underway regarding a possible consolidation of the fire departments in Baroda Township, Lake Township, and Bridgman. Baroda Township Supervisor Jim Brow tells WSJM News the idea came up a few months ago, and one meeting between local firefighters has been held so far. He says sharing resources, especially for taking calls, could have benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Documents Show Sheriff Used County Email In Connection With LaSata Campaign

“A mistake” is how Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey characterizes his use of his county email in an exchange with a staffer for the Senate campaign of Kim LaSata last fall. Bailey made that comment to MIRS News after WSJM News obtained over 1,100 of his emails from October 2018 through a Freedom of Information Act request. The FOIA request was made in search of emails MIRS has obtained that were sent from the county email account of Judge Charlie LaSata, allegedly campaigning for his wife.. ...Read Full Story