Local News Archives

Secretary Of State Looks To Enhance Election Security

The new Michigan Election Security Commission created by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is expected to release a set of recommendations to improve the integrity of Michigan’s elections by the end of the year. Benson tells WSJM News she set up the body to get the input of elections and computer experts from around the country. We asked if she has any predictions for what the body will recommend.. ...Read Full Story

Body Washes Ashore Near Warren Dunes State Park

An autopsy will be done Monday on the body of a woman found washed ashore north of Warren Dunes State Park in Lake Township. Baroda/Lake Township police say a person walking on the Lake Michigan shore found the body shortly before 1 pm Sunday. Police say they have not been able to identify the remains, and the discovery remains under investigation. Several agencies are assisting with the investigation, including Department of Natural Resources park rangers from Warren Dunes, Lake Township Fire Department, Bridgman Police, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau.. ...Read Full Story

Transportation Forum Coming Up

The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan is planning a transportation forum for next month. Program Director Lewis Whalen tells WSJM News the event will be a chance for anyone to ask questions and express concerns to representatives of Berrien County transportation agencies.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Twp Police Department Getting K9

A new officer is about to start at the Lincoln Township Police Department. Echo is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois recruited to be the department’s K9, and she just arrived in the United States from Poland this month. Lincoln Township Police Chief Gary Soper tells WSJM News the department collected $30,000 from the public to get the K9. That support came in from businesses and individuals.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health First Aid Training To Be Offered

The Healthy Berrien Consortium in partnership with Riverwood Center is offering free mental health first aid training next month. The eight hour course will be on Thursday, April 18. Riverwood Center Mental Health First Aid Instructor Kimberly Sparkmon tells WSJM News the program has been in the community for several years, and as many as 1,000 people in Berrien County have received the training. She calls it “first aid for the brain.”. ...Read Full Story

Redistricting Website Launches

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced a new website that will track progress on the redistricting process in the state. She tells WSJM News her office is preparing to put out applications to serve on the new 13 member redistricting commission created by a ballot proposal last year. This commission will replace the old system of having state legislators set up voting districts. Benson says anyone interested can check RedistrictingMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Flight Student Essay Contest

A student essay contest has been launched by Talons Out Honor Flight. The organization takes veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to their memorials in Washington, D.C. for free, and the two winners of the essay contest will get to go along on the June 1 trip. Talons Out Honor Flight President Bobbie Bradley tells WSJM News the essays should be about the experiences of a World War II or Korean War vet from the student’s community. We asked her about some previous entries.. ...Read Full Story

Stretch Of State Highway Named For Slain Trooper

From the Associated Press — A stretch of mid-Michigan highway has been designated to honor a state trooper who was fatally shot during a 1982 traffic stop. The bill to name a portion of U.S. highway 127 between Leslie and the Jackson County line for 28-year-old Trooper Craig A. Scott was signed in December by then-Governor Rick Snyder, with the law taking effect Friday. The father of three was shot Feb. 9, 1982 along the highway. Jessica Misch, who was 8 when he died, tells the Lansing State Journal her father “sacrificed everything for the state.”
Two men were convicted in his death. Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who sponsored the bill, says: “The most important thing we can do is remember those who served us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Hails New PFAS Commission

State Representative Beth Griffin is praising Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s creation of a PFAS commission. The governor has set up the panel to develop drinking water standards for the chemicals. Griffin tells us Whitmer “took an important step to continue our state’s progress toward better protecting the health of all Michigan families.” She notes ever since elevated levels of PFAS were found in Parchment, the state has used the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limit as its cleanup standard. Griffin adds Michigan is “a national leader in protecting the health and safety of its residents from this contaminant. We’ve set the standard for action, and by creating this science advisory workgroup we can set a science-based standard for PFAS drinking water safety that Michigan families can trust.” Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to create the panel to set the new PFAS standards.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Mark International Education Week

This coming week will be all about developing a global perspective at Lake Michigan College. LMC Internationalization Committee member Amy Scrima tells WSJM News it’s International Education Week, a series of events featuring food and discussion. Tuesday brings a talk about food with a Mexico City-based chef, and then Wednesday will feature an international cuisine potluck at the Hawk’s Nest.. ...Read Full Story

Search Continues For Missing Man

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department continues to search for a man missing out of Dowagiac, and it has an update. 78-year-old Larry Waldschmidt has Alzheimer’s and needs insulin. He was reported missing Wednesday evening by family. Police say it appears he took off in the family vehicle, a white 2002 Ford Escape. When police initially reported the case, they said the Escape had a handicap plate, but they now say the family had applied for the handicap plate, but hadn’t yet received it. Police now say the Michigan Registration affixed to the vehicle is the old plate, ARW421. In addition, the sheriff’s department says it has received several tips from the Silver Alert sent out, and has followed up on every one of them with negative results. It asks anyone who sees Waldschmidt to contact authorities.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Advocacy Center Offers Free Abuse Awareness Training

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, and there will be several activities at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan. Prevention and Outreach Specialist Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News they’re planting a pinwheel garden outside the office on M-139 south of St. Joseph, and holding free training sessions throughout the month. She says each session includes a group discussion, a workbook to take home, an informational video, and a certificate of participation.. ...Read Full Story

Insurance Group Comments On Fee Hike

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered an audit of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association after the non-profit raised the annual fee included in auto insurance premiums by $28, bringing the total to $220 per vehicle. Insurance Alliance for Michigan Executive Director Tricia Kinley told Michigan News Network the $20 billion being held by the MCCA is for lifetime medical care.. ...Read Full Story

SBA Loans Available For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

Some businesses in Allegan and Van Buren counties will be able to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration due to heavy rains that soaked parts of the state between August 26 and September 6 of last year. The SBA says the loans are being made available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in aquaculture along with private nonprofit organizations. The program is for eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the disaster. Loan amounts are for up to $2 million with 2.5% interest for private nonprofits and 3.675% for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.. ...Read Full Story

Weight Restrictions Being Lifted Monday

In a sign of spring, the Berrien County Road Department is preparing to lift the annual frost rules. It says the seasonal weight restrictions went into effect on March 11. They’re implemented each year to help prevent damage to roads. When the ice under the road melts, the road bed becomes unstable, and it’s easy to damage the surface. The weight restrictions will be lifted on April 1 at 6 a.m. That’s no joke.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Department Truck Ceremony Interrupted By Fire Call

The Covert Township Fire Department held a ceremony this week to welcome its new fire engine, and wouldn’t you know it, the ceremony was interrupted by a fire. Firefighters were holding a “push-in” ceremony for new Engine 1921 when the call came in about a fire at a barbershop on 72nd Street near County Road 378. The ceremony had to be dropped while the firefighters rushed to the scene. They were able to protect a nearby home from the blaze, but found a shed engulfed when they arrived. The barbershop also suffered some damage. An hour later, firefighters returned to their station and conducted the “push-in” ceremony. It’s a tradition at many departments going back to the days when firefighters would push their fire wagons into the garage after unhooking them from horses. They still do push-ins on new trucks for good luck.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Hopes To Increase Broadband Access

Berrien County Commissioners are hoping to help spur the roll out of broadband internet in rural areas. Commissioner Teri Freehling tells WSJM News the Finance Committee will present a resolution of support next week for broadband development. She says she and other commissioners have been in talks about the need for reliable and fast internet.. ...Read Full Story

Public Defender Announced For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

A public defender has been named for Van Buren and Allegan counties. Chad Catalino of Grand Haven will lead the newly-created Allegan and Van Buren Counties Public Defender’s Office. It’s being set up as a joint venture of the two counties in response to a mandate from the state. Catlino brings 16 years of public defense experience to the new post having previously served as division director for the Muskegon County Public Defender’s Office. Funding for the Public Defender’s Office is shared by the state and the two counties. For this year, the state is paying $2.2 million, and the counties are paying $529,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Opposes Proposed National Institutes Of Health Cuts

Included in President Trump’s budget proposal for next year is a cut of $4.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health, something Congressman Fred Upton doesn’t support. He tells WSJM News this interferes with the intent of his 21st Century Cures legislation, which was signed into law by former President Obama and included a major funding increase for the NIH.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance Planning Spec Building

Cornerstone Alliance is planning to build a spec building that could be ready for a new employer to move into if it chooses to locate in Berrien County. Cornerstone tells us it’s put out a request for proposals, seeking bids for the 30,000 to 40,000 square foot facility. Cornerstone Alliance is looking at several possible locations, including the Cornerstone Industrial Park and other sites with interstate access. The organization says the building at minimum would allow for ten new jobs and $5 million in investment. It will be expandable and could be doubled in size, allowing for long-term growth. Building construction should start in the fall of 2019 and be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2020.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Seek $2 Million To Livestream Dashcams

From the Associated Press — Michigan State Police want to invest more than $2 million dollars in technology to livestream patrol car dashboard cameras. The Detroit Free Press reports that the agency believes the technology upgrade would allow supervisors to monitor pursuits in real time and help them make better decisions. The proposal comes almost two years after a white state trooper, Mark Bessner,
used a Taser on a black 15-year-old from the passenger seat of a moving patrol car. The teen, Damon Grimes, then crashed the all-terrain vehicle he was riding and died. State police didn’t specifically reference Grimes’ death in its budget request for the livestream technology.
Bessner was charged with second-degree murder in Grimes’ death, but the case ended in a mistrial last year. He’ll be retried on April 1.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested In Indiana After High-Speed Chase In Berrien County

Police in LaPorte County, Indiana have a man jailed following a high-speed chase overnight which began in Berrien County. The suspect has outstanding warrants out of Tennessee according to Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit. He crashed after leaving Michigan and was arrested while trying to walk away. According to police scanner chatter, the chase reached speeds of more than 105 miles an hour along Red Arrow Highway south of Bridgman and along I-94, and up to 80 on Niles and Washington in St. Joseph. The suspect’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story