Local News Archives

Town Hall To Address Water Issues

A town hall meeting will be held in Benton Harbor this Thursday for residents to hear more about the ongoing effort to eliminate lead in the water. In October, the city announced lead levels exceeding the federal action level had been detected in some homes. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us everyone is welcome to this week’s meeting to find out what’s happened since.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Calls Into Question New Ballot Drive Law

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s new secretary of state is calling into question the constitutionality of a Republican-enacted law that makes it harder to initiate ballot drives. Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, sought a formal opinion Tuesday from Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. Such opinions, while not the same as legal rulings, are considered to bind state agencies unless reversed by a court. The law, which was enacted in December’s lame-duck session, imposes a geographical-based requirement on signature collection. No more than 15 percent of signatures can come from a single congressional district. Benson says she is concerned the law violates people’s constitutional rights by “adding new burdens and restrictions on the process” of circulating initiative, referendum and constitutional amendment petitions. Nessel could limit the law’s effect, though a court fight could be likely.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Michigan Ranks Last In School Funding Growth

Despite claims from some that under former Governor Rick Snyder the state was putting more money than ever into education, a newly-released study finds no other state tightened its education spending more than Michigan did over a 20-year period. Michigan State University said Wednesday that the state ranked dead last in total education revenue growth between 1995 and 2015.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Head-On Cass County Crash

One person is dead and two others are hospitalized in South Bend after a head-on crash County’s Milton Township. According to the sheriff’s department, 52-year-old Joseph Johnson of Niles died at the scene. He was a passenger in a car driven by 31-year-old Ryon Koth of Niles that crossed over into oncoming traffic on US 12 just before 6 pm Tuesday. His car hit two other vehicles. Koth and one of the other drivers, 26-year-old Victoria Mallard of South Bend, were rushed by ambulance to South Bend Memorial Hospital. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but it did happen after freezing rain began causing plenty of problems on the roads throughout southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Chamber Plans Breakfast With Elected Officials

Set for next week is a breakfast intended to acquaint members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce with their representatives in Lansing and Washington. The “Meet Your Elected Officials” breakfast will be Monday at The Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor. On hand will be state Senator Kim LaSata, 79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel, 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette, and Mike Ryan, the district director for Congressman Fred Upton. Cornerstone Chamber’s Chris Heugel tells us the forum is a chance for members to interact with their officials, especially with so many of them being freshman in Lansing this year. He says they may hold more such events moving forward. The breakfast will allow each official a time for an introduction, followed by a Q and A session. It’s nearly all booked up. It will be free for members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce.. ...Read Full Story

City Receives Clean Audit

The city of Benton Harbor has received a clean, unmodified audit for the most recent fiscal year. At Tuesday’s meeting, city commissioners were told the latest audit carries the highest possible rating and that no deficiencies or weaknesses were found. The city’s fund balance has gone up by more than $800,000, largely because of the new income tax. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the strong audit, plus income tax money coming in, could enable even bigger infrastructure projects to come.. ...Read Full Story

Addiction Center Now Open

A new treatment center for people struggling with an addition is open in southwest Michigan. Carol’s Hope is a non-profit operated by the Community Healing Center. It’s a free resource for those in need to get access to treatment. Recovery coach Melinda tells WSJM News the idea is to help overcome confusion and fear that comes with seeking treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Community Action Agency Advisory To Those Receiving Food Aid

As the partial federal government shutdown continues, there’s concern among the 1.2 million Michigan residents who get food assistance about what’s going to happen next month. The state started loading Bridge cards on Saturday for early payments to cover February. Yvonne Vidt of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency warns those who get food aid not to spend their money for February now.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hopes For End To Shutdown

Congressman Fred Upton is back in Washington as the U.S. House tries to organize for its new session. He tells WSJM News the ongoing partial government shutdown negotiations have somewhat thrown a wrench into normal business. However, Upton sees some hope in President Trump’s compromise offer from the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Aviation Program Taking Off

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized Andrews University’s aviation program to reduce the number of training hours required of students seeking an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. The Berrien Springs university tells us it got word late last year its department of aviation it can require 1,000 hours of flight time before awarding the certification, instead of the previous 1,500 hours. Andrews says according to a mandate by Congress, students pursuing a basic airline pilot license must complete 1,500 hours of flight time to be eligible to take the airline pilot exam. At the request of airlines, however, a few exemptions to the mandate were developed, including an exemption stating that students completing a four-year university bachelor’s program would only be required to complete 1,000 flight hours if the university’s aviation program if approved. Andrews says it has now been approved.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Fatal Van Buren County Crash

A Benton Harbor man is facing charges following a two-vehicle head-on crash in Van Buren County on January 12 that killed a 6-year-old girl and a 73-year-old woman. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us the crash happened on Red Arrow Highway in Hartford Township when the vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jose Humberto Canedo crossed the center line. Killed were 73-year-old Mary Ann Fender of Paw Paw and 6-year-old Skylinn Salinas. Fender was the driver of the other vehicle, while Salinas was a passenger in Canedo’s vehicle. Canedo was arrested this week on a warrant for failing to appear in court for a show cause hearing on a original charge of operating while intoxicated. Two other people hurt in the crash are in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

Effort To Make Lake MI Park In Indiana A National PArk

From the Associated Press — A new effort is being made in Congress to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan as a national park. A bill for the designation has been filed by Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun and Rep. Pete Visclosky. The same proposal was approved by the House in 2017 but failed to get through the last Congress. The Senate didn’t take a vote. Visclosky says designating Indiana Dunes as a national park would recognize what he calls the lakeshore’s environmental wonder and enhance the region’s economy. The national lakeshore was established in 1966 and now includes about 15,000 acres at the southern end of Lake Michigan. There’s also an Indiana state park in the area.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Picks New President

The fifth president of Grand Valley State University has been named. The board of trustees unanimously voted for its first female president, Philomena Mantella. She now serves as the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, a private research university in Boston.. ...Read Full Story

Police Urge Caution On Icy Roads

Michigan State Police are warning drivers to use extra caution today. There have been a variety of crashes and slide-offs on the highways around southwest Michigan due to icy conditions. State police say drivers should plan alternate routes home that avoid the highway and give themselves ample time for travel. The Michigan Department of Transportation has been reporting crashes along I-94 in several locations throughout Berrien and Van Buren counties. You can get real-time information on the latest highway crashes at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story

Former South Haven Finance Director To Face Charges

South Haven’s former finance director will be facing criminal and civil charges after a forensic audit turned up a variety of issues. City Manager Brian Dissette says there were at least three years of fraudulent charges on city credit cards belonging to former employees, and says the city council approved the audit report at this week’s meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Police Looking For Shooting, Robbery Suspects

A 21-year-old Hartford man is being treated at South Bend Memorial Hospital for multiple gunshot wounds in a robbery and a shooting in the parking lot of the hotel where he works in Dowagiac last night. Police say the man was approached by one of five men who were following him as he arrived at the Ameriwood around 10 pm, and then the other four suspects got out of the SUV to rob him. The victim was shot several times while trying to run away, and the suspects left with his car. Dowagiac police say they are looking for five black men between 18 and 20 years old, and the shooter was wearing dirty blue jeans and a dark colored hooded sweatshirt. The victim’s injuries are not life threatening.. ...Read Full Story

MI Schools Involved In Teen Safe Driving Program

From the Associated Press — Students at 62 Michigan high schools are participating in a program that’s designed to make teenagers safer drivers. They were selected to participate in the peer-led Strive For a Safer Drive program that seeks to reduce traffic crashes involving teens. The program is a partnership between Ford Driving Skills for Life and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. You can find out more right here. Schools get $1,000 for students to create a traffic safety campaign to educate their classmates about distracted driving, seat belt use, speeding, underage drinking, impaired driving or winter driving. The top five get a cash prize ranging from $500 to $1,500. Schools also can send students to a free driving clinic with professional instructors. Among the schools taking part this year is Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Detroit Water Issues

New research is intensifying calls to stop water shutoffs in Detroit and for the city to adopt a sensible water affordability plan. A 100 page report released by faith leaders and academics suggests the aging water and sewer infrastructure, increasing bills, shutoffs and service interruptions experienced in Detroit could possibly play out in other Michigan communities. Jennifer Fassbender [[ foss-bender ]] with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says it’s immoral for people to live without water.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead, One Critical After Being Found In Stuck Vehicle

A Florida man is dead and another in critical condition after sheriff’s deputies found them in a vehicle stuck in a field in Van Buren County on Monday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies found the vehicle in the 8,000 block of County Road 215 in Grand Junction around 11:30 a.m. The 22 year-old driver was dead, and his 22-year-old passenger was unresponsive but breathing. Both were from Wimauma, Florida. The passenger was taken by Bronson Air Care to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where he was listed in critical condition. Police believe the two men were in the area visiting friends and drove into the field where their vehicle got stuck. There were signs the two had tried to get the vehicle unstuck, but weren’t successful. Deputies say they aren’t sure why the two men didn’t walk for help, but it’s believed alcohol was involved. While police wait for the medical report, they believe the extreme cold played a role in the death of the driver.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter, 100 Women Strong Receive MLK Diversity Award

100 Women Strong and the OutCenter are this year’s recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Award from Lake Michigan College. Each year, LMC gives the Diversity Award to a person or an entity that has made a positive difference in southwest Michigan. Speaking at Monday’s MLK breakfast, 100 Woman Strong’s Lynne Christiano quoted Dr. King.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Weekend Fatal Crash In Chikaming Twp

Police are investigating a fatal crash in Chikaming Township on Saturday. The Chikaming Township Police Department says it happened around 10 p.m. on the south side of of Browntown Road just east of South Hildebrandt Road. A vehicle driven by a 44-year-old man had been eastbound on Browntown when the driver lost control. The vehicle left the road and hit a tree. The driver, who was the only occupant of the vehicle, was unresponsive when police arrived. Lifesaving measures were not successful, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Chikaming Township Police Department is getting help in the investigation from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. The name of the driver has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Contractor Offers Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Subzero and single-digit temperatures can cause big problems inside your house by freezing your pipes. While the forecast is calling for a warm-up over the next few days, frigid overnight lows are still in the forecast for the end of the week. Todd Faxy is the founder of Zolman Restoration in suburban Detroit and suggests keeping the doors of your kitchen cabinet open under the sink to allow warm air in to the pipes.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls For Ouster Of Iowa Congressman Steve King

The country needs to do better on race relations. That’s the message from Congressman Fred Upton on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a speech at Lake Michigan College. He called for the removal of Iowa Congressman Steve King from office over long-standing allegations that he is a white supremacist who questioned when the term became offensive last week.. ...Read Full Story

ATF Offering Reward In Niles Gun Shop Burglary

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation into the smash-and-grab robbery of a Niles gun store. Along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, they have put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the suspects. Police say the suspects crashed their way into The Firing Pin Gun Shop on 5th Street early last Tuesday. Investigators say they used a stolen vehicle and crashed through a wall. Security video shows four people were involved and the got away with more than ten guns. They believe the group may be responsible for other burglaries in the area.. ...Read Full Story