Local News Archives

St. Joseph Moving Ahead On LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield has made it clear that there will be no action taken by lawmakers under his watch to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include specific protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. To that end, it remains up to local communities to enact ordinances, and the city of St. Joseph is moving toward that.. ...Read Full Story

MI Universities, Health System Training Doctors To Combat Opioid Crisis

From the Associated Press — Three Michigan universities are teaming up with Spectrum Health to tackle the state’s opioid crisis through physician training. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University are working with the Grand Rapids-based health system on training more physicians as addiction medicine specialists. Officials say there aren’t enough specially trained doctors to meet demand – fewer than 200 statewide and only one in the Upper Peninsula – as the number of opioid-related deaths has
reached an all-time high. Program organizers say they will help physicians fulfill the requirements through online courses, clinical experiences and leadership opportunities. The doctors also will receive training to treat other addictions, including methamphetamines and alcohol. The program has received a two-year, $1.5 million grant from federal and state sources.. ...Read Full Story

Plans For Benton Township Arby’s Moving Forward

Plans for an Arby’s restaurant in Benton Township are moving forward. The Benton Township Planning Commission on Monday approved the preliminary site plan for the Arby’s to be located on the southwest corner of M-139 and Napier Avenue. Ken Knuckles with DMG Management group of Nashville, Tennessee tells WSJM News things could be moving soon.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Naming Garden For Late Supporter

The Krasl Art Center has announced it’s naming the East Garden of its new Sculpting Community after a local supporter. The East Garden on the Krasl grounds is to be named for the late Maria “Lupe” Hopp due to her commitment to the community, education, and the arts. Krasl tells us Hopp and her husband Dan served as Honorary Sculpting Community Chairs for the center’s outdoor redevelopment, saying their early feedback ensured elements of universal design were incorporated into the site plan. The East Garden will host alternating sculptures intended to inspire a sense of play, wonder, and reflection, says the Krasl. The first sculpture installation and signs celebrating Hopp’s legacy will arrive this spring. Krasl tells us Hopp passed away after a battle with cancer in 2017, just three days before her 70th birthday. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced For Killing Ex-Wife’s New Boyfriend During Fight

A Van Buren County man will spend 7 to 15 years in prison for shooting and killing his ex-wife’s new boyfriend during a heated argument last year. Troy Taylor pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December after a mistrial had been declared in his trial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. He shot and killed Timothy Henley at the home of his ex near Gobles in June after his daughter caught Henley and her mother having sex in a nearby vehicle. The two men got into an argument, and Taylor opened fire after Henley punched out a window in his BMW. He claimed self defense, but said he did not want to put his children through another trial when he agreed to plead guilty.. ...Read Full Story

Jollay Market Closing; Orchard To Remain Open

If you liked getting your cider and donuts from Jollay Market in Coloma, you need to find somewhere new. The family-owned market is shutting down, with the announcement being made on Facebook Monday morning thanking customers for “a great 9 years.” The post goes on to say the business “must take pause and see what life brings us,” leaving a possible return open-ended. When contacted by WSJM News, the response received was “We are looking forward to a fantastic U Pick season at Jollay Orchards.”. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Michigan Power Says Most Should Have Service By 11 pm

Indiana Michigan Power expects most customers in southwest Michigan to have their electric service restored by 11 pm. The utility says there will likely be a small number in the Buchanan area, however, who will be in the dark a little longer and no estimate has been released as yet for them. I&M says as of 9 a.m. today, power had been restored to almost 80% of the roughly 27,000 who lost service due to Sunday’s wind storm. Around 45-hundred in southwest Michigan are still without the lights at mid-day, along with 11-hundred in Indiana. The utility has over 400 employees and contractors making the repairs.. ...Read Full Story

Three Killed Near Kalamazoo In Amtrack/Car Crash

A violent train-car collision just west of Kalamazoo in Oshtemo Township has killed everyone on board the vehicle. Michigan State Police say there were three people in the car when Amtrak’s Wolverine 355 train slammed into it around 10 p.m. Sunday. The train was already 45 minutes late headed to Chicago at the time. No one on the train was hurt. Police have not released the names of the victims as yet, and there’s no word why the car was on the tracks at the time. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Working On Reauthorizing Domestic Violence Law

When President Trump this month signed a funding package to avoid another partial government shutdown, one thing that was not included was a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Congressman Fred Upton, a longtime supporter of the act, tells WSJM News it was removed last minute from the deal. Now, he expects action on just that issue. He says there is time.. ...Read Full Story

Lineup Released For SJ Blues Fest

St. Joseph Today has announced rhythm, blues, and rock singer JD McPherson will be the headliner for this year’s BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. To be held at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph on May 18, the festival will be a chance for anyone to take in live music with Lake Michigan serving as the backdrop. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News McPherson is a retro rocker.. ...Read Full Story

Work To Prevent Shore Erosion In South Haven

High lake levels and winds along with constant wave action within the Black River Channel in South Haven have caused increased erosion between the channel and the north parking area at South Beach. South Haven Director of Public Works Bill Hunter told WSJM News what is happening and what the city is doing about it.. ...Read Full Story

State Food Benefits To Go Out Early

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will issue March and April food assistance benefits early to reduce the gap between benefits payments that resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. The department tells us food assistance recipients can expect to get next month’s benefits on March 3, 4, or 5. April benefits will be issued between April 3 and 12, and May payments will be issued as normally scheduled. The department made the changes so families don’t have to go more than 45 days without food assistance. The department issued February benefits early beginning in January at the direction of the federal government due to the shutdown that was happening at the time. About 1.2 million Michiganders receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the state health department. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Library Holds March Madness Book Bracket

The Van Buren District Library is putting a different spin on March Madness with a bracket competition called March Book Madness. The library’s Kay McAdam tells us they’re putting 64 works of literature up against each other, and the theme is old versus new. For example, the public can vote on things like The Lord of the Rings versus Game of Thrones or Fahrenheit 451 versus The Hunger Games. McAdam says this is the first time they’ve tried such an event.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Providing Grants For Natural Resources Preservation

The Consumers Energy Foundation has announced it’s providing $1.5 million to non-profits around Michigan this year for projects aiming to preserve, restore, and protect natural resources. Consumers spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News the first Planet Awards will go to two or more Michigan non-profits looking to make a positive impact on the state’s land, water, or air.. ...Read Full Story

High Wind Warning Issued For Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday and continue through 1 a.m. Monday. The service says it expects sustained west winds of 35 to 40 miles per hour with frequent gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. They are expected to start early Sunday morning and persist into the evening hours of Sunday. Periods of sustained winds up to 45 miles per hour and wind gusts to 60 miles per hour are also expected, especially during the day on Sunday. This could mean downed tree limbs and small trees blocking roads along with power outages and minor structural damage. The National Weather Service says driving in high profile vehicles, especially on north-south roads, could become hazardous, while unsecured outdoor objects will be blown around. The high wind conditions are expected throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Chase With Police

A Decatur man is in custody following a chase with police in Van Buren County on Friday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a deputy tried to pull over a Pontiac Grand Prix for a traffic violation on Paw Paw Road near M-51 in Paw Paw Township around 1:15 p.m. The Grand Prix took off, but its driver crashed while trying to turn on to 40th Street. The driver then fled on foot, but was caught by the pursuing deputy. A search of the Grand Prix turned up meth-related contraband, and it was also learned the 30-year-old suspect was wanted on two warrants. When the suspect was taken to the Van Buren County Jail, police say they found meth in his sock. He’s now facing several charges, and his name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Manufacturing Enters 2019 Strong

Manufacturing in southwest Michigan remains strong. Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson tells WSJM News the latest state report for the region shows the manufacturing industry grew by 5% in 2018. Gustafson says the industry is southwest Michigan’s economic driver, employing more than 18,000 people.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Establish Funding For Great Lakes Research

Legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Griffin Hails DEQ Compromise With Governor

A dispute between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative Republicans over the reorganization of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was resolved this week with a compromise, something being hailed by state Representative Beth Griffin. The Mattawan Republican tells WSJM News the governor had issued an order to reorganize the DEQ while also eliminating three review commissions set up last year by the Legislature. On Tuesday, Griffin says she introduced a resolution asking the governor to resubmit the plan without dropping the commissions, and that’s just what happened.. ...Read Full Story

Utilities Preparing For High Winds

Power companies around Michigan are taking steps to prepare for high winds on Saturday night and Sunday. Consumers Energy tells us they’re closely watching the weather and mobilizing resources in advance in case of power outages due to winds that are expected to gust up to 50 miles per hour. Indiana Michigan Power says you can stay on top of outages in your area at IndianaMichiganPower.com/Outages. All utilities remind everyone to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines. If you see a line down, report it to the power company or to 911.. ...Read Full Story

Flick Pick – Happy Death Day 2U

Flick Pick is a podcast about movies. In today’s episode, Andrew Green reviews Happy Death Day 2U, which is the sequel to last year’s Happy Death Day. Andrew also reviewed that film, and loved it. Does this crazy sequel live up to the original. Scroll down and click the Play button to find out what our reviewer thinks.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Sky Warn Training

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is now taking registrations for the next Sky Warn training sessions. They’re looking for volunteers who can help keep the community safe by providing reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Anyone can be a severe weather spotter, and the information provided by them has helped the National Weather Service track tornados, floods, and storms. Sky Warn volunteers who go through the training are taught things that include the basics of thunderstorm development, the fundamentals of storm structures, identifying potential severe weather features, how to report, and basic safety. The next Sky Warn training session will be on Saturday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at South Haven High School. Those who attend are encouraged to register by calling the Office of Domestic Preparedness of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Twin Cities To Have The Meats

Following up on a story WSJM News broke earlier this week on our Moody On The Market digital site, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area will soon have an Arby’s restaurant for the first time in years. The Benton Township Planning Commission will consider a site plan application Monday night from Browning Properties II LLC to build the restaurant at the southwest corner of East Napier Avenue and M-139 across from Walgreens. The two lots are currently occupied by a closed dry cleaning and tuxedo rental business. Arby’s had been considering a return to the Twin Cities for at least the past year. The new location will be close to where the area’s last Arby’s was torn down in July 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Pilot Killed In Northern Indiana Small Plane Crash

Authorities say a pilot has died after a small plane hit power lines and crashed in a farm field in northern Indiana. The plane crashed Thursday night about 2 miles east of Goshen Municipal Airport. Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel says the pilot was believed to be the only one aboard. Witnesses reported seeing the plane dive into the field, hitting the power lines on the way down. Emergency crews at the crash site had to use extreme caution because of high-voltage lines on the ground. Siegel says his office was handling the crash as a death investigation and awaited investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a review.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Cools Off In January

2019 is starting off a little quieter than the past few years for sales of existing homes in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says sales fell 8% last month compared to 2018. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says a drop in January numbers is not unusual given the normal push to close by the end of December for both buyers and sellers. Prices are also down, with the average sales price slipping 6% from January 2018 to just over $199,000 and the median price falling 8% compared to last year to $137,500. Jeffries notes the inventory of available homes on the market fell 4% last month year-over-year, and there is just a 4.9 month supply.. ...Read Full Story