Local News Archives

South Haven Area Emergency Services Promotes Firefighter

South Haven Area Emergency Services has promoted one of its own to be the new deputy chief and fire marshal. Firefighter and paramedic Keith Bierhalter has been moved up to the new rank. Bierhalter has 37 years’ experience with the department, 12 years as a paid-on call firefighter and 25 years as a fulltime firefighter and paramedic. He was also honored as the department’s Firefighter of the Year for 2010 and 2011. Bierhalter follows the footsteps of his late father, Lieutenant Edward Bierhalter, as a second generation firefighter. He’s been serving as the acting deputy chief since the retirement of Tony Marsala on June 30.. ...Read Full Story

County Collecting Pesticides For Recycling

Berrien County is holding a pesticide collection event this month. Farmers, greenhouse operators, golf course staff, and gardeners are welcome to drop off unwanted and outdated pesticides at the Clean Sweep Collection site in Benton Harbor on July 31. They’ll take all the classes of “cides” — fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides. Fertilizers are not accepted as part of Clean Sweep. The program is possible thanks to a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant. Anyone who wants to drop something off should register with the Berrien County environmental property manager. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Announces Scholarship Recipients

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

Health Officials Investigating Illness In Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is investigating multiple cases of an uncommon gastrointestinal illness reported in Van Buren County. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it’s called cyclosporiasis, and it’s believed to have come from a South Haven restaurant. People can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. The illness typically results in watery diarrhea, and can include the loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. Wheaton says the preliminary investigation has found the cases may have come from Taste restaurant in South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

State Confirms New Measles Case In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Health officials in Detroit have confirmed a case of measles in a city resident who recently returned from overseas travel. The Detroit Health Department says the person with the highly contagious disease went to the emergency department Tuesday of Children’s Hospital of Michigan as well as a physician’s office in suburban Macomb County. The health department says everyone who may have been exposed at the physician’s office was notified, but those who were at the hospital’s emergency department between 12:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday may have been exposed and should check to see if they need treatment.
The case is at least the 46th in Michigan this year. Most have been in Detroit’s suburbs. One was reported in Traverse City. The number is the highest since 65 in 1991.. ...Read Full Story

Two Sentenced In Break-In, Gun Theft Case

Two suspects who police say broke into an Allegan County hardware store and stole 22 guns are now headed to prison. The U.S. Attorney in Grand Rapids says Matteo Marroquin and Lacy Zimmerman broke into the Graafschap Hardware Store late on December 7 or early on December 8 of last year. They were picked up thanks to an investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’ Department, Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The two pleaded guilty in federal court to the theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Marroquin to ten years in prison. Zimmerman was also sentenced to ten years in prison in May. A third person, Andrew Leenheer, was sentenced to 44 months in prison this month for purchasing two of those firearms after the burglary. The U.S. Attorney’s office says the guns stolen from Graafschap Hardware were recovered through “extraordinary police-work.”. ...Read Full Story

Results Released For Pokagon Tribal Elections

The Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi has announced the results of its latest tribal election. The election was held on July 13, and the results were certified this week at the Pokagon campus in Dowagiac. Elected to staggered, three-year terms by citizens, the 11-member Tribal Council governs the Pokagon Band. Elected as its Tribal Council Vice Chairman is Andrew Bennett, a Pokagon citizen living in Hartford. Also, James Olds of Hartford was elected treasurer, and Anita Morales from Detroit and Mark Parrish from Benton Harbor were elected as tribal council members at large. Matthew Wesaw will remain the tribal chair, as he was not up for re-election.. ...Read Full Story

Water Rescues In South Haven Friday

It’s tempting to go for a swim in Lake Michigan with today’s hot weather, but officials say that isn’t the best idea. The National Weather Service Friday strongly advised against going in the lake all along west Michigan from Ludington south to Saugatuck. There have been reports of waves as high as four to five feet in the Grand Haven area.. ...Read Full Story

Weather Service Warns About Swimming In Lake Michigan

From the Associated Press — The National Weather Service is “strongly advising” people to stay out of Lake Michigan in western Michigan, despite the excessive heat. The Weather Service says dangerous waves and currents are likely from Ludington south to Saugatuck. That stretch includes many state and local parks with access to Lake Michigan. There have been reports of waves as high as 4 to 5 feet in the Grand Haven area. The Weather Service says on Twitter that people who insist on cooling off in the lake should know how to get out of a risky rip current. At Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph, we’re told the red flags were posted early on Friday, but by 2 p.m. had been changed to yellow.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Board Refinances Bonds

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees has taken a step to save money by refinancing some bonds. At a Thursday meeting, the board refinanced the bonds that were taken out to pay for the building of SMC’s second residence hall in 2009. The original issue was for $7.5 million. The proposed refinancing of $6.3 million of bonds will save the college housing fund an estimated $48,000 each year for a total savings of more than $1 million over the next 21 years. The average rate on the debt is expected to decrease from about 7.12% to 5%. The final bond sale will take place on August 13.. ...Read Full Story

Mike Yore Car Show Tonight

Downtown St. Joseph is the place to be this Friday evening as the annual Mike Yore Memorial Car Show will take place along the bluff from 4 to 9 p.m. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News there will be more than 200 cars, all more than 25 years old, on display.. ...Read Full Story

Grant To Allow For Water Taxis 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

State Lawmakers Talk Auto Insurance, Roads At Thursday Town Hall

The recently-approved auto insurance reform plan will take effect in July of next year, and at a Thursday town hall in Benton Harbor, southwest Michigan lawmakers explained how it will work. State Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton, the plan’s sponsor, said drivers will be allowed to pick different levels of personal injury protection, or PIP, rather than having to carry unlimited PIP coverage. Nesbitt told WSJM News which level you pick, and some other factors, will determine how much you save.. ...Read Full Story

MI Seat Belt Use Increasing

More Michiganders are wearing their seat belts when in a vehicle than last year. Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News a study by Michigan State University finds this year’s seat belt usage rate is 94.4%, compared to 93% last year. He says campaigns to increase use may be working.. ...Read Full Story

Two Candidates Left In Running To Be St. Joseph Schools Superintendent

There are now two candidates in the running to be named the next superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools. The board of education says both will be in town on Monday for an open house with the public and to do their second interviews. The two candidates are Oakridge Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Livezey, and Dr. Thomas Bruce, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Arcadia Unified School District in California. The open house on Monday, and will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the North Lincoln Administration Building on Lincoln Avenue in St. Joseph. Livezey will be interviewed at 4 p.m. and Bruce at 5:30 p.m. and the interviews will be open to the public. St. Joseph Public Schools needs a new superintendent as Ann Cardon has taken that position in Traverse City.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Auctioning Off Great Lakes Lighthouses

From the Associated Press — Three historic Great Lakes lighthouses owned by the federal government are going on the auction block.
They include Lake Huron’s Poe Reef lighthouse. That lighthouse 6 miles east of Cheboygan, Michigan, guides ships through a hazardous channel. The Ontonagon Breakwater lighthouse will also be auctioned. It’s the westernmost lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, perched at the entrance of the channel leading to the Ontonagon River from Lake Superior. The Superior Entry lighthouse is also being sold. It sits on a sandbar between Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota. The U.S. General Services Administration is offering the lighthouses through an online auction. Their lighting mechanisms will continue aiding navigation and will remain the U.S. Coast Guard’s property. Proceeds from public lighthouse sales help pay to preserve and maintain those that remain active.. ...Read Full Story

Congress Looks To Fight Robocalls

Those annoying robocalls that drive people crazy are the targets of a bill before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today. The “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act” would require the FCC to adopt consumer protection rules, forcing telecom companies to install technology that would identify and block more of the calls. Maureen Mahoney with Consumer Reports says many come from scammers who manipulate caller ID displays.. ...Read Full Story

FCC Announces Millions In Broadband Funding For Michigan

The Federal Communications Commission has 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

Bank Donates To SWM Run

Fifth Third Bank has donated $7,000 to Steve’s Run, which is set for July 27 at the Dowagiac campus of Southwestern Michigan College. The 10K run, 5K walk and run, and fun run will benefit the Steven Briegel Scholarship Fund and the Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Research Fund. SMC says the 45th Original Trail Race starts at 8:30 a.m. on the 27th in front of the David C. Briegel Building. Also, breast cancer survivor Emmy Rickert from Pinckney, who has been profiled twice in People magazine, will speak at the awards ceremony around 10 a.m. in Alumni Plaza. Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews accepted Fifth Third Bank’s donation this month. You can find more information on Steve’s Run right here.. ...Read Full Story

Heroin Bust At Niles Walmart

Two men are facing charges after the Southwest Enforcement Team made a heroin bust at the Niles Walmart Tuesday. It says 27-year-old George Harris of Niles was arrested following a month-long investigation into the distribution of heroin in Niles Township and in South Bend. Police say when they went to make the arrest, the suspect tried to drive off but hit a detective’s vehicle. He was taken into custody, and police say a search of his vehicle turned up 54 grams of heroin, several digital scales, and handgun. A passenger in the vehicle, 25-year-old Robert Williams, was also arrested. Both Harris and Williams were taken to the Berrien County Jail on a variety of charges.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Township Seeks Parks Input From Public

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

Hundreds Turn Out For Veteran’s Funeral

Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday for the funeral service of a Niles veteran who passed away with no family. Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Services put out a public call for people to attend the funeral of Wayne Wilson at Silverbrook Cemetery, and word must have really gotten around. The cemetery was packed with people who wanted to pay their respects. Morgan Friend knew Wayne Wilson and spoke with WSBT about him.. ...Read Full Story

Cooling Station Opens In South Haven

The Cooling Station is open at the Bronson Wellness Center in South Haven. Heat related illnesses are possible for the rest of the week, and anyone living or visiting the area can come into the club free of charge and get cooled off with air conditioning and cold water. Director Bryan Heisler tells WSJM News it’s a way to stay safe during the hot weather.. ...Read Full Story

Disability Network To Honor Whirlpool With Award

The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan will hold its annual celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act this month, and as part of the festivities, Whirlpool will be honored. The Disability Network’s Kristen Potts tells WSJM News the organization giving out its first ever Community Inclusion Award to the company. The board felt Whirlpool was a natural pick for it.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching For Student Aid Program

The deadline to apply for student aid through the state’s Tuition Incentive Program, or TIP, is approaching. Michigan Office of Post-Secondary Financial Planning Director Anne Wohlfert tells WSJM News TIP provides tuition to students who qualified for Medicaid for at least 24 months in a 36 month window since age nine.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Discusses Appointments

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are talking about how appointments to local boards are made. At this week’s commission meeting, an appointment to the Library Board hit a snag when Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats asked how openings on local boards are publicized. He wondered if the same people are allowed to serve on multiple boards too many times.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven City Manager Talks Lifeguards

There’s a petition effort underway to convince the city of South Haven to add lifeguards at its public beaches. The change.org petition as of Tuesday afternoon had more than 600 signatures following the weekend drowning of a 13-year-old boy in Lake Michigan. South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News city leadership opted to no longer have lifeguards about 15 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Votes To Condemn Trump Tweets

Congressman Fred Upton is among the four Republican members of the U.S. House to vote with Democrats to condemn controversial tweets made this past weekend by President Trump. The House vote on Tuesday was on a resolution which “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” The weekend tweets were about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The president tweeted, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The Democrat-controlled House approved the resolution against Trump’s words with support from only four Republicans. In addition to Congressman Upton, Republicans Will Hurd of Texas, Susan Brooks of Indiana, and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania voted with Democrats. Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, who recently resigned from the Republican Party, also voted yes. Upton issued a statement Monday saying he was appalled by Trump’s words.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Hires Dean Of Student Affairs

Now on the job at Lake Michigan College is Nygil Likely, LMC’s new dean of student affairs. LMC says Likely has been brought in to help enhance the student experience by giving students someone to go to when they need help. Likely told WSJM News about some of the challenges many college students face.. ...Read Full Story

Huge Net Used To Pull Asian Carp Out Of Illinois Dam

From the Associated Press — Fishermen with a net are removing thousands of Asian carp from Lake Decatur dam in central Illinois.
The Herald and Review reports that the effort began Monday, days after the state was told that many fish were gathering there. The invasive species will be trucked to a company in Bushnell, Illinois, which will process them for fish meal and fish oil. Kevin Irons of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says some fish appear to be 20 to 30 pounds. The net is 30 feet deep. The Sangamon River is impounded to form Lake Decatur in Decatur. A barrier prevents Asian carp from jumping into the lake. In May, The Army Corps of Engineers approved a $778 million plan to block the carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The fish can cause serious damage by dominating native fish for food and space.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Offers Tips To Reduce Summer Energy Usage

Consumers Energy is issuing tips to its customers on how to reduce their electric bills now that summer is here and many are turning on their air conditioning. Spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News forecasters are predicting this month to be one of the hottest in six years. With that in mind, he says there are very small sacrifices you can make to save.. ...Read Full Story

Man Busted For Bogus Bomb Threat

An arrest has been made in a bogus bomb threat that was made to the Cass County Courthouse last month. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us the threat was phoned into 911 the morning of June 21 and caused the place to be evacuated while it was searched. Since then, deputies and detectives from the Cass County Sheriff’s Department have been following up on leads from calls from the public and other sources. They’ve now announced the arrest of Patrick Kyle McMeeken in the case. He’s charged with making a false threat of terrorism, using a computer to commit a crime, and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. He’s also being charged as a habitual offender. If convicted, McMeeken faces up to a life sentence. The sheriff’s department asks anyone with more information on the threat to call them.. ...Read Full Story

Perrigo Announces Big Arts Donation

The Perrigo Company Charitable Foundation has announced a donation of $50,000 to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts to support an entire year of arts education programming in Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa counties. A check presentation was held Monday. The Saugatuck Center for the Arts says the drug maker’s contribution will help support programs that include the Children’s Film Festival, Artists in Residence, Growing Young Artists, and Project Based Learning. Each program aims to make an impact on the lives of kids. Since 2007, Perrigo has provided nearly $300,000 to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Perrigo CEO Murray Kessler says improving the well-being of its communities is a key component of Perrigo’s corporate vision.. ...Read Full Story

Peters Slams Trump Tweets

President Donald Trump entered  into a rift with a group of liberal Democratic congresswomen, including Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, over the weekend. In tweets Sunday, Trump portrays the lawmakers as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to their home countries. U.S. Senator Gary Peters calls the tweets terrible.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend International Airport Celebrating New Inspection Station Today

The South Bend International Airport will celebrate the opening of a new federal inspection station on Tuesday. Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and from St. Joseph County, Indiana are slated to be on hand for the grand opening. The celebration will also include a special announcement and the first arriving aircraft. The South Bend International Airport is keeping its lips sealed on what the opening of the new inspections station will mean for the facility until after federal officials come to town. We’ll know more this afternoon.. ...Read Full Story