Local News Archives

Upton Talks Border Funding


With protests this week about conditions at detention centers holding migrant families along the southern U.S. border, Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he personally has not been to one of the centers to. However, that could change.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Rejects Employee Raises


The Benton Harbor City Commission has rejected a pay increase for city employees in the AFSCME union. At a Monday meeting, Commissioner Juanita Henry said the 2% pay increase that was negotiated with the union might put a strain on the budget. She wanted to be sure of its effects before taking action.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph’s Jordan Brewer Talks Being Drafted By Astros


It’s been a big year for St. Joseph High School alum Jordan Brewer. He was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in baseball for the Michigan Wolverines and helped lead them to the finals of the College World Series, and in the midst of that, was drafted by the Houston Astros. Brewer joined WSJM Sports’ Morning Sportsbeat to talk about his experience and was asked about when he learned he was going to the Astros system after a playoff game.. ...Read Full Story

Road Funding Town Hall Set For Monday In Niles


There will be a town hall meeting on road funding in the state on Monday. State Representative Brad Paquette is hosting the forum at the Niles District Library on East Main Street from 6 to 7 p.m. He will be joined by Representative Jack O’Malley, who is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee along with Senate Transportation Committee vice chairwoman Kim LaSata.. ...Read Full Story

Ex-Governor Snyder Withdraws From Harvard Fellowship After Backlash


Former Governor Rick Snyder is not headed to Harvard after all. On Twitter, he announced he will turn down the offer from the Harvard Kennedy School for a year-long appointment as senior research fellow. The Ivy League university was hit hard with a social media backlash citing Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis soon after revealing the appointment, which the former governor had been expected to start this week. Snyder said it would have been exciting to share his positive and negative experiences, but “our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Man Charged For Illegal Boat Charters In Chicago


From the Associated Press — A Detroit-area man has been arrested in connection with illegal charter boat operations on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois says 33-year-old Christopher Garbowski is charged with violating an order of the captain of the port. Garbowski of Sterling Heights was arrested Saturday. He appeared before a
judge and was released on bond. Authorities say groups paid for charters aboard a 40-foot powerboat during the 2017 and 2018 boating seasons. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago says the boat had not been inspected or certified by the Coast Guard. The charges also allege the person acting as captain did not have proper Coast Guard credentials. The Associated Press was unable to reach Garbowski Monday for comment.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Reject State Plan


A proposal from the state that would give Benton Harbor Area Schools one year to show progress toward a turnaround or face closure of its high school is being rejected by the local board of education. At a meeting Tuesday night, board Trustee Patricia Rush said the board has had a good relationship with the Michigan Department of Treasury and elected representatives of the Michigan Department of Education, but she panned the governor’s staff.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Pokagon Quadrathon


The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is now taking registrations for the second annual Quadrathon. The event is a 750-meter swim, a 20K bike ride, a 5K run, and a 2000 meter kayak route set to be held July 28 in Dowagiac. Participants can compete as an individual or on a team of two, three, or four people, and the event is open to everyone with a limit of 100 teams. The teams and contestants will be divided into the categories of beginner, competitor, and elders. The event will take place at the Pokagon Band’s Rodgers Lake campus on Sink Road. You can register right here.. ...Read Full Story

17 Entities Supporting Paw Paw River Water Trail


The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is highlighting the growing popularity of the Paw Paw River Water Trail. Senior planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the trail goes from Paw Paw to Benton Harbor for about 60 miles for canoers and kayakers. 17 municipal, civic, and tribal organizations contribute to its maintenance.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Signals Intent To Sell Property


Benton Harbor City Commissioners have signaled their intent to sell the city-owned property at 200 Paw Paw Avenue. At a Monday meeting, they voted to move forward with the possible sale of the parcel to Justice Grown, a medical marijuana operation out of Chicago. City Manager Darwin Watson said the move means details of a sale can now be worked out.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Michigan Energy Supply Ample, Improvements Still Needed


From the Associated Press — Regulators say Michigan’s energy supply and delivery systems are adequate to meet demand, but improvements should be made after extreme winter weather led to electric and natural gas emergencies. The state Public Service Commission on Monday submitted an initial 247-page energy assessment to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who requested it after the January 30-31 polar vortex. Regulators say Michigan’s diverse energy-generation resources, including access to natural gas storage, can accommodate extreme weather events. But they recommend rule updates, better emergency-management communications and changes such as prioritizing home heating over electric generation when natural gas usage is curtailed. In January, a Consumers Energy compressor station fire sparked concerns about keeping natural gas flowing to millions of people during a snap of bitterly cold
temperatures and at a time of record demand.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Union Helps Raise Money For Mandarino Foundation


United Federal Credit Union says it was able to help raise $37,000 for the Alex Mandarino Foundation during the 7th Annual Duck Duck Run 1K and 5K for childhood cancer research. The fundraiser was held on June 15 at the Margaret Upton Arboretum in St. Joseph, and more than 850 runners and walkers took part. The Alex Mandarino Foundation was started in honor of Alex Mandarino, who died at the age of 5 after a battle with cancer. It raises money for pediatric cancer research. United Federal hosted a tent at the Duck Duck Run where volunteers handed out duck-themed water bottles to attendees, and coin saver books to children. United Federal Credit Union says it’s humbled and honored to be able to help.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow: Army Corps Plan To Stop Asian Carp “Feasible”


The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois is set to receive several upgrades over the coming years in the battle to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Fred Upton led most of Michigan’s congressional delegation on a tour of the facility this week. WSJM News asked Stabenow if the final plan put forth this year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is feasible and if it will work.. ...Read Full Story

Congressman Upton Tours SW Michigan Farms


Southwest Michigan farmers are taking it on the chin this year with much more rain than normal combined with imported commodities undercutting what they can sell for. Sodus Township farmer Russ Costanza welcomed in Congressman Fred Upton along with state Senator Kim LaSata and state Representative Pauline Wendzel on Tuesday to give them a look at the struggles being faced.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Fourth Of July Celebration This Week


The village of Berrien Springs is gearing up for its first July 4th Community Celebration at Courthouse Square this week. The festivities will kick off on Thursday at 11 a.m. with food vendors, elected officials giving stump speeches from the 1839 courthouse balcony, crafts for the kids at the library, games, and storytelling. They’re planning music on the Jail House Plaza from 12:30 to 2:30, an ice cream social from 1:30 to 3:30, and local actor Scott Bradford will present a speech as Warren G. Harding at 2:30. The history of the Old Rugged Cross hymn will also be presented at 3:30. The day will end with a Fourth of July parade through downtown Berrien Springs at 4 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Approves $1 Million In Street Work


There will soon be plenty of street work going on in Benton Harbor as the city commission on Monday approved about $1 million in projects, all funded through the new city income tax. The road asset management plan the body considered is a way for immediate work to get underway to make the streets safer, said City Manager Darwin Watson. He told commissioners the initial allocation will be spent to ensure roads with a PASER rating of poor would be made safe for travel in 2019. The work is focused 80% on local, neighborhood streets, and 20% on major streets. Mayor Marcus Muhammad called Monday’s vote historic.. ...Read Full Story

PETA To Put Up Billboard Near Site Of Crash Involving Livestock Truck


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is putting up a billboard in honor of about ten pigs killed in a Benton Harbor area cash last week. We reported last Wednesday a livestock truck rolled on to its side on Napier Avenue while turning off the westbound I-94 ramp. PETA’s Sadie Buckles tells WSJM News the billboard going up nearby will read “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the Individual. Go Vegan.”. ...Read Full Story

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Proposal 2 Still In Effect


Despite a blow from the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-gerrymandering groups are pressing on to implement the Michigan voter initiative that gives redistricting power to an independent citizens’ commission. The high court ruled late last week federal judges can’t interfere with electoral maps drawn for partisan gain, which means Michigan’s districts will now remain in effect for the 2020 election. However, Nancy Wang with the group Voters not Politicians says the ruling doesn’t affect Proposal 2 and new, nonpartisan maps will be in place for the 2022 elections.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Light Up The Lakes Fireworks To Proceed As Scheduled


The show will go on. The city of South Haven has announced it will proceed with Wednesday night’s fireworks for the Independence Day holiday as scheduled after the event was nearly called off last week due to high water levels in Lake Michigan that could have posed a safety risk on the north pier, from where they’re fired off. The display will start around 10:30 p.m. and is set to last around 20 minutes. The Dyckman Avenue drawbridge will operate on its regular schedule until around 11:30 p.m., when it will be closed to traffic and raised to allow boats to pass until the last one has gone through. The “Light Up The Lake” fireworks display on July 3 will be followed on the Fourth of July with the annual Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Endangered Missing Advisory Issued For Eau Claire Man


Michigan State Police are asking for help finding an 80-year-old Eau Claire man. An Endangered Missing Advisory has been issued for Arthur Moore, who police say is mentally unstable and has disappeared twice before. The first time was four years ago, and then again this January when he attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription medication at a public boat launch. Moore is 5’10”, 235 pounds, white, with white hair and blue eyes. His wife told police she believes he went somewhere to try to harm himself again, but does not believe he has any guns or other weapons with him. Moore is driving a beige 2000 GMC Sierra pickup with the Michigan licence plate G89-15A.. ...Read Full Story

Former Governor Snyder Starts New Position At Harvard


Seven months after leaving office as governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder has landed a new gig. He is starting an appointment today as a senior research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University. Snyder served two terms as Michigan governor, coming to the position without having held elected office anywhere prior. Harvard cites his guidance of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which was the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, among his top accomplishments in office. The center was created by a $15 million donation by late Detroit-area philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman in 1988. Taubman came up with the idea for shopping malls and also has buildings named for him at the University of Michigan, where he attended but did not graduate.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Ahead Of July 4th Holiday


AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide have risen about 9¢ from a week ago to about $2.79 per gallon as travelers prepare to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday. The Dearborn-based auto club says despite the increase the average price for regular unleaded is about 21¢ less than a year ago. AAA says the state’s highest average was in the Ann Arbor area at around $2.84. The lowest price was in the Traverse City area at roughly $2.61 per gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Group Pushes For Age-Friendly Cities


A growing movement in Michigan and around the world aims to ensure communities are able to serve the needs of people of all ages. Eight cities and towns in the state are members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, who have committed to creating a place to live that’s inclusive and considerate of residents from all walks of life and of any age. Paula Cunningham with AARP Michigan says safe, accessible living especially is important for older Michiganders. ...Read Full Story

Street Reconstruction Planned In St. Joe For Next Year


Set for next year is a reconstruction project for parts of Kingsley, Orchard, and Morton Streets in St. Joseph. City commissioners approved awarding the engineering contract to Abonmarche this past week for $345,000. Plans are still being drafted, but St. Joe City Engineer Tim Zebell tells WSJM News when all is said and done, people will see the roads totally reconstructed and some other changes.. ...Read Full Story

City Works To Improve Crosswalk Safety


The city of St. Joseph is working with Whirlpool to provide a safer way for employees to cross Upton Drive from a parking lot to their workplace each day. At a meeting this past week, city commissioners moved forward an agreement that will have Whirlpool pay for changes to the crosswalk just north of the CSX railroad tracks. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News some of the workers had safety concerns about the current crosswalk.. ...Read Full Story

Water Rescue In St. Joseph Saturday


Two kayakers are uninjured after they were rescued about a mile southwest of the St. Joseph south pier on Saturday. The Berrien County Marine Unit responded when a 911 call came in shortly after 6:30 p.m. One of the kayaks was taking on water and in danger of sinking. The person in the other kayak had a cell phone and called for help. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the marine unit retrieved the kayakers while the U.S. Coast Guard transported the capsized kayak to the Coast Guard Station in St. Joseph. The two kayakers, who are both from Paw Paw, were taken to the Coast Guard Station and released. They did not need medical treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Seeking Major Rate Increase


A rate hike could be coming to customers of Indiana Michigan Power as it plans a major investment in the Cook nuclear power plant and other work to improve electric transmission reliability. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the company submitted its plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission this week.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Struggling With Excessive Rain


The Michigan Department of Transportation is among the agencies scrambling to cope with issues created by the heavy rain southwest Michigan has been experiencing lately. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the latest problem is the failure of a culvert on M-140 between M-62 and Naomi Road in Pipestone Township. It failed this past week.. ...Read Full Story

Police Release Fireworks Parking Rules


Everyone who heads to downtown St. Joseph for the fireworks show on Wednesday is advised to have patience as traffic will be heavy and parking will be restricted. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety says there will be temporary no parking signs on some neighborhood streets, and extra rules in place on others. Parking rules will be strictly enforced. Also, police say there will be several traffic restrictions when the fireworks end, including the closure of the Blossomland and Bicentennial Bridges from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. You can find the full parking rules below:. ...Read Full Story

Land Conservancy Offers Hiking Program


A new program intended to get more people out and about in nature is being launched by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. Conservancy associate Miko [[ meeko ]] Dargitz tells us Hike Our Preserves, or HOP, offers people incentives for going to eleven nature preserves in the region. When you sign up, the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will give you a special walking stick made out of the invasive glossy buckthorn. Each time you go to one of the listed preserves, you can send the conservancy a picture of yourself at that location, and they’ll send you a medallion that can be placed in your stick. HOP will run through next May. It’s $7, and you can pick up your walking stick at several libraries, including locations of the Van Buren District Library. The nature preserves include the Kesling Nature Preserve near New Buffalo, and stretch all the way to eastern Kalamazoo County. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton To Tour Brandon Road Lock And Dam Monday


Heading to Joliet, Illinois on Monday is Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News he’s going to be on a tour of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a chokepoint that’s been keeping the invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Upton and other members of Michigan’s congressional delegation will learn more about the recently-completed Army Corps plan to permanently stop the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Flint To Hear From Prosecutors Who Dropped Water Charges


From the Associated Press — Prosecutors who dropped charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal will talk about the decision in a public forum. Kym Worthy and Fadwa Hammoud will speak to the public Friday night at a Flint union hall, two weeks after dismissing charges against former Michigan health director Nick Lyon and other officials. Hammoud of the attorney general’s office took over the investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in January. Worthy, a Detroit-area prosecutor, also joined the effort. They said they dropped charges because the previous team didn’t properly pursue evidence and overlooked loads of records. They restarted the investigation and said charges could be refiled. Lyon had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to timely warn the public about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak tied to tainted water in 2014-15.. ...Read Full Story

International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship Next Weekend


Coming up next Saturday is southwest Michigan’s premier athletic event — the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire. Farm co-owner Monica Teichman tells WSJM News this is the 46th year for the competition. Spitters compete for distance and glory, and they’re grouped into several classes. Everyone who comes out on top in each division will then be pitted against each other in the final round, along with past winners. Teichman says it’s amazing how far some people can spit a pit.. ...Read Full Story

Scientists Recommend Tougher PFAS Standards For Michigan


From the Associated Press — Scientists are urging Michigan to adopt some of the strictest and most far-reaching drinking water standards for “forever chemicals” in the country. A state team responding to contamination from compounds known as PFAS heard
from its science advisory workgroup Thursday. The three scientists recommended health-based values for seven types of PFAS.
The federal government has a nonbinding health threshold of 70 parts per trillion for two phased-out forms of the contaminant in tap water. Environmental advocates and others consider them to be weak. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will use the recommended values while writing rules for PFAS standards by April 2020. The compounds have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they take thousands of years to degrade, and because some accumulate in people’s bodies.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Bust In South Haven


A South Haven man is facing charges after a meth bust in the city on Thursday. 24-year-old John Louis Booker was arrested following a two month investigation into the distribution of crystal meth in South Haven and Paw Paw. The Southwest Enforcement Team says officers went to arrest Booker at the South Haven Walmart, seizing about six ounces of crystal meth. He did try to run from police, but was quickly caught thanks in part to some K9s. Booker is charged with delivery of meth, possession with intent to deliver meth, fleeing and eluding, resisting police, and destruction of evidence.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Home Sales Up In May


Southwest Michigan home sales remain strong with May’s numbers topping May of the previous year and April of this year. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says May home sales were up over April by 22%, and up 10% over May of last year. The average selling price for the month was also up 3% over May of 2018. The association says inventory remains relatively low with a six and a half month supply of homes on the market. It also notes the mortgage rate in May decreased to 4.25% from 4.32% in April. One negative is the number of bank-owned, or foreclosed, homes as a percentage of all transactions for the month. It rose to 6% from 3% in April.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backing Disaster Declaration Request


As Michigan farmers struggle with weather that has caused them losses this year, Congressman Fred Upton and colleagues from the state have sent a letter to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for a disaster declaration. Upton tells WSJM News arctic cold in the winter damaged peaches, and spring and summer rains have preventing planting.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Ruling Means No New Michigan Maps For 2020


From the Associated press — Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature will not be forced to redraw legislative and congressional districts for the 2020 election following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that federal courts have no role to play in deciding claims of partisan gerrymandering. Pending its 5-4 decision, the high court had put on hold an April ruling from a federal court panel that ordered lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to enact new maps by August 1. The lawsuit suit pertains only to 2020. Michigan voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle the once-a-decade redistricting process after the 2020 census, which will affect the 2022 election and beyond.. ...Read Full Story

Paquette To Hold Town Hall On Roads


State Representative Brad Paquette is planning a town hall for next month to talk about road funding in Michigan. The event will be held at the Niles District Library in Niles on Monday, July 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. Paquette says state lawmakers are working on a plan to generate the money needed to get Michigan’s roads in better shape, and the meeting will be a chance for anyone to express their thoughts. On hand as a guest will be state Representative Jack O’Malley of Lake Ann, the chair of the House Transportation Committee. He’s traveling around the state to discuss road funding directly with residents. You can register online for the town hall to ensure there’s space for you. The registration page is right here.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches Crop Recovery Portal


The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has launched an online portal for farmers to find the help they need after severe weather this year that has damaged their crops or prevented them from planting. Farmers have been pummeled with severe cold and historic rainfall so far in 2019, leading to losses. The state’s online portal will be constantly updated as new information and aid are identified. The portal includes resources from Michigan State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture. Michigan Ag Director Gary McDowell says in many parts of the state, farmers are so many weeks behind schedule that they are nearly out of time and options for this year. He encourages growers to check out the portal. It’s at Michigan.gov/CropDisaster.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Sues To Shut Down Oil Pipeline


From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general is suing to shut down dual oil pipelines in the Great Lakes. Democrat Dana Nessel filed suit Thursday. It was the same day she also sought to dismiss pipeline operator Enbridge’s request for a ruling on the legality of a deal it struck last year with former Republican Governor Rick Snyder to put replacement pipes in a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Nessel says the Line 5 pipes pose an “unacceptable risk” to the Great Lakes and she moved after it became clear talks between Enbridge and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer stalled. The pipelines are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which carries 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff’s Department K9 Dies


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of one of its K9s. The department says Nero passed away unexpectedly Thursday morning. It tells us Nero was a devoted and loyal partner to Deputy Brandon Crosby for the last five years. It adds its thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Crosby and his family.. ...Read Full Story

West MI School District Bans Cellphones


From the Associated Press — A school district in western Michigan is banning cellphones during school hours. The Forest Hills district near Grand Rapids says students won’t be allowed to use their phones but can keep them in their lockers. The district says it’s
“clear that excessive exposure to cellphones has a negative effect” on kids. If students need to reach a parent, they can use a school phone. Forest Hills says its schools have plenty of technology to allow students to go online when necessary for classroom work.
Superintendent Dan Behm noticed the problem when having lunch with students. They told him how social media posts caused anxiety. Assistant Superintendent Christine Annese tells WOOD-TV that a parent advisory committee approved the plan. Forest Hills has more than 15 schools, including three high schools.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Discusses Proposed Sanctuary Cities Ban


Legislation introduced by State Senator Aric Nesbitt would impose state power over local government decisions on whether or not to allow local cooperation with federal immigration reform. The local sheriffs and police have duties to enforce local and state law but right now they are not forced to become arms of the feds when it comes to immigration status.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Coming To Benton Harbor To Talk Elder Abuse


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is planning a trip to Benton Harbor next month to talk about elder abuse. AG spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney tells WSJM News Nessel will be in town on Monday, July 8 as part of a listening tour regarding her Attorney General‘s Elder Abuse Task Force. Rossman-McKinney says Nessel has learned a lot from the tour.. ...Read Full Story

New Course Catalog Being Created For BHHS Students


The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has approved a new course catalog for students at the high school. At this week’s school board meeting, trustees heard from instructional facilitator Lauren Bernat about the book. She said it was designed to be useful for students from year to year so they can keep track of the classes they have taken when planning for the coming year.. ...Read Full Story