Local News Archives

Downtown Parking Loop Shuttle To Launch In South Haven June 29

Trying to find a parking space in downtown South Haven on the weekend can be frustrating. The South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Van Buren Public Transit have announced the first ever South Haven Downtown Parking Loop. Scott Reinert is the bureau’s executive director says starting Saturday, June 29, it will be available every Saturday and Sunday for eight weeks and will have four stops.. ...Read Full Story

Covert Man Awaiting Arraignment After Chase On Stolen Motorcycle

A list of charges is pending against a Covert man who was arrested Wednesday night after leading a Van Buren County deputy on a high-speed chase in Geneva Township on what turned out to be a stolen motorcycle. The deputy stopped giving chase due to the speed and the reckless behavior of the 29-year-old suspect, and the man drove the motorcycle into a field at 56th Street and 18th Avenue right after. The deputy chased him on foot and made the arrest, with the suspect admitting he was high on meth and ecstasy. The bike had been reported stolen in Allegan County last year. Along with resisting and obstructing, the man is expected to be charged with fleeing and eluding police, possession of a stolen motorcycle, and operating under the influence of drugs. He also had a traffic warrant out of Kalamazoo County.. ...Read Full Story

First West Nile Virus Activity Confirmed For Year In Michigan

Michigan’s first West Nile virus activity of the year is in three counties. Mosquitoes in Saginaw and Oakland counties have been confirmed to be carrying the virus, along with one Canada goose in Kalamazoo County. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are no human cases as yet. Symptoms of West Nile virus include confusion, a high fever, muscle weakness, and a severe headache, with neurological illnesses like meningitis and encephalitis being more serious possible complications. The state had 104 serious illnesses and nine deaths from West Nile virus. Health officials say the best way to prevent infection is to take precautions like using insect repellent with DEET, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants when possible outdoors, and getting rid of standing water around your home to prevent mosquitoes from having a breeding area.. ...Read Full Story

Family Video Closing In St. Joseph

The end is near for what’s become a relic of the past in St. Joseph. The Family Video store is no longer renting movies and games, as it’s preparing to shut down. Everything is being sold as people started streaming movies online and video game discs started becoming more rare in favor of downloadable content. The owners of Family Video tell Moody On The Market they’re planning to sell the building, and had been making money on real estate much more so than renting and selling movies and games. The last day for the business will be on or before July 6, depending on how long it takes to sell off the inventory.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Site Vice President Retiring

The site vice president at the Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County is retiring. Charlie Arnone [[ are-none ]] has worked in the nuclear industry for nearly 43 years. Prior to becoming site vice president at Palisades, he served the Entergy nuclear fleet as general manager of operations support. He’s also been the director of nuclear safety assurance at Palisades. Now that Arnone stepping down, Darrell Corbin, currently the general manager of plant operations at Palisades, will take on the position of site vice president, effective August 5.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Discussion On Healthcare Tomorrow

The next installment of the OutCenter’s Southwest Michigan VOICES speaker series will be this Thursday at Lake Michigan College. The OutCenter’s Paula Camp tells WSJM News representatives of Spectrum Health will make a presentation about the importance and challenges of accessible local healthcare for the LGBTQ community. Camp says, for example, there can be complications when transgender people seek medical treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Prohibit Sanctuary Cities In Michigan

Legislation that would prohibit Michigan municipalities and counties from enacting sanctuary city policies has been introduced in the state Senate. Sponsor Aric Nesbitt of Lawton tells WSJM News the plan would ban local governments from having policies that prohibit their police, local officials, or employees from communicating with federal officials concerning an individual’s immigration status.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushing For Pipeline Safety Legislation

Pipeline safety legislation is among the things Congressman Fred Upton is working on right now in Washington. The House Subcommittee on Energy discussed the topic on Wednesday. Upton wants to renew legislation set to expire in September, and tells us right now, all the subcommittee has is a draft bill. He tells WSJM News there are a few things he thinks should be put into the legislation.. ...Read Full Story

Report Ranks Michigan 32nd For Well-Being Of Children

Despite progress in child outcomes since 1990, a new report reveals serious racial and ethnic disparities persist in Michigan and other states. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2019 Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 32nd overall in its measure of how kids are faring. Kids Count Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy Alicia Guevara Warren says Michigan’s child poverty rate is 11% worse now than when the report was first published three decades ago.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Beach In Chikaming Township Closed

Cherry Beach in Chikaming Township is closed until further notice. The Berrien County Health Department closed the beach due to high bacteria levels Tuesday afternoon. The township’s parks department has posted on Facebook that it is unsafe to swim off of Cherry Beach, and the water will be tested again today. The health department has not released what bacteria has caused the closure.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel: Civil Rights Panel Not Bound By Former AG’s LGBT Opinion

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the state Civil Rights Commission is not bound by her predecessor’s determination that LGBT people are not protected by an anti-discrimination law. The Democrat’s office provided the informal guidance to the commission Tuesday. Nessel declined to issue a formal opinion because of pending litigation. Former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion last year saying the commission overstepped when it said the state’s civil rights law
covered sexual orientation and gender identity. Nessel’s office says the U.S. Supreme Court in April decided to review a case involving a Michigan funeral home’s firing of a transgender woman. It’s among three cases that look at whether federal civil rights law bans job
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Prescriptions Going Down

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in Michigan is going down. LARA says the rate was down 15% in 2018 from 2017. It credits the drop with the recently-overhauled Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, which tracks controlled substance prescriptions. LARA Director Orlene Hawks says in a promotional video for MAPS that it’s useful to prescribers and pharmacists.. ...Read Full Story

Overdose Prevention Training Planned At Niles-Buchanan YMCA

Anyone who would like to learn how they could help someone experiencing a drug overdose will have a chance to do so next week in Niles. Denise Peters with the Niles-Buchanan branch of the YMCA of Southwest Michigan tells WSJM News they’re hosting a training session next Wednesday. She says the session will demonstrate how to administer anti-overdose drug Naloxone, and also go over the overall opioid epidemic and related topics.. ...Read Full Story

Granholm To Speak In South Haven In September

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will be the next guest of the South Haven Speaker Series. She’s set to present “Top Trends Affecting Michigan” at South Haven High School’s Listiak Auditorium on September 19. Granholm resumes the speaker series season after it took a break for the summer. Tickets to attend are $10. Coming up next after Granholm will be Hope College psychology professor David Myers on October 17 with “Smart Thinking in the Post-Truth Age.” You can find out more at SouthHavenSpeakerSeries.org.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Reviewing School Board’s Plan For Benton Harbor Schools

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she and her team are reviewing the plan put together by the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education for turning the school district around. Last Friday, the school board turned down the governor’s proposal to close Benton Harbor High School so the district could receive substantial debt relief. In a letter dated Tuesday, Whitmer writes she looks forward to “working in partnership toward a solution that includes clear benchmarks, accountability, and more serious measures if these benchmarks are not satisfied” when addressing the district’s problems. The governor adds she and her team are carefully reviewing documents submitted by the school board. She adds her office will contact the school board by the end of the week to schedule another meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Double Murder-Suicide Under Investigation In Kalamazoo

A double murder-suicide is under investigation in Kalamazoo. Authorities say a 44-year-old woman intentionally drove a vehicle carrying her twin 9-year-old daughters into the Kalamazoo River Monday night, and searchers have found all three. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says officers late Monday found two upset girls at a drug store who had been let out of the car before the woman drove into the water. Police found the submerged vehicle along with the bodies of the woman and one child. The other child’s body was found in the river. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Start Work On US-12 Bridge Over St. Joseph River In Niles Monday

Expect a few delays in the Niles area for the next few months on US-12. The Michigan Department of Transportation will start repairing the US-12 bridge over the St. Joseph River between Bond Street and West River Road on Monday. The work is expected to last until the start of November. The $3.8 million project will include patches to the bridge deck, replacing joints, making repairs to the steel, and painting. MDOT will keep a lane open in each direction through the duration of the work, but there will be an 11-foot width restriction on vehicles going over the bridge during the construction.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Forms Task Force To Support Women, Girls In Sports

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has created a task force to support and promote opportunities for girls and women in sports. The group formed Monday by an executive order must make initial findings and recommendations before March 2021. The 15-member task force will be chaired by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who formerly led a nonprofit dedicated to advancing equality through sports. Whitmer says girls and women deserve the same opportunities as male athletes. She says even with the enactment of Title IX nearly 50 years ago, sports opportunities for girls and women remain limited, and more work remains to even the playing field. Whitmer says just one Division 1 collegiate athletic program in Michigan is led by a woman. Benson says Michigan has a chance to become a “national model.”. ...Read Full Story

City Commissioners S/how Support For High School

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have stated their unanimous support for keeping Benton Harbor High School open and for forgiving the school district’s debt. At a Monday meeting, the commission approved the Fresh Start Resolution, which has been promoted by Elnora Gavin, a former member of the local school board. She told the commission it’s state policies that have failed Benton Harbor Area Schools, and it should be given relief.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Approves Property Tax Freezes For UFCU, Fiskars

After a week delay, Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificates are now in place for two developments in the city of St. Joseph. The city commission tabled the requests by United Federal Credit Union for its future headquarters at 150 Hilltop and to allow Fiskars to renovate one of its office buildings in the Edgewater district last week to allow commissioners more time to go through the details. Fiskars president Erik Fiskars said the renovations are needed because the property was designed to the specifications of TransAmerica in the 1990s and is now outdated.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Urges Congress To Open Banks To Marijuana Industry

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is among 18 governors to sign a letter urging Congress to open the U.S. banking system to the legal marijuana industry. In the letter written Friday and released Monday, the governors say the cash-only environment is a threat to public safety and a burden for governments that tax and regulate marijuana businesses. Whitmer, a Democrat, says in a written statement that states are seeking a “real solution to a real problem.” Most banks will not do business with the industry because the federal government still considers marijuana illegal. Michigan voters legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes last fall, a decade after approving medical marijuana. Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel was among 33 attorneys
general to sign a similar letter to Congress last month.. ...Read Full Story

Upgrades To Start In July At Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

The next phase of construction at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area in South Haven Township will get underway at the start of July. Abonmarche will be paving the existing gravel parking lot and putting in two new pit toilets, new walkways and benches, building a new rain garden, and putting in a kayak rack for the Lake Michigan Water Trail, which runs adjacent to Pilgrim Haven. It’s expected the work will be done in the first week of August.. ...Read Full Story

Police Dive Teams Recover Sunken Boat In Van Buren County

A 16-foot Duffy Cat pontoon boat that sank in Lake Brownwood in Van Buren County in May is now back on land. The owner of the boat was out on the water with friends when it began to sink on May 25 and went down in about 36 feet of water. The Van Buren County and Allegan County dive teams pulled the boat up last week using lift bags during a training dive. After floating it to the surface and towing it to shore, it was turned back over to the owner. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says the pontoon floats had leaks which had been filling with water before it was taken out and sank over Memorial Day weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Bicyclist Busted For Meth Possession In Dowagiac

Meth possession busts have become so common in recent years that they almost don’t warrant news coverage, but a weekend arrest in Dowagiac was a bit on the unusual side. An officer spotted a man on a bicycle in the middle/left turn lane of M-51 without any lights or reflective clothing just after midnight Saturday morning, and stopped him in the parking lot of the Family Fare grocery store. The officer recognized the man as someone he’d previously dealt with, and found he had four bench warrants for his arrest. His K9 Officer Tole alerted the officer to narcotics in the man’s backpack, and meth, meth smoking pipes, and other drug items were found. The 31-year-old is in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on the drug charges along with the outstanding warrants.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department: Avoid Ticks This Summer

The Berrien County Health Department wants everyone to be aware of the dangers of ticks, and how to avoid them this summer. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News ticks spread Lyme disease, which typically appears with a tell-tale “bull’s eye rash.” She says if you’re outdoors this summer, you should check yourself for ticks when you get home. Know where ticks are likely to grab on to you.. ...Read Full Story

Planners Seek Input On Proposed Road Projects

Public input is being sought on a multi-year transportation plan for the Niles, Buchanan, and Edwardsburg areas. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission associate planner Brandon Kovnat tells WSJM News the Niles-Buchanan-Cass Area Transportation Study, or NATS,  put together the plan laying out how federal road dollars will be spent.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County To Collect Pesticides This Month

This month will bring a chance for anyone in Berrien County to rid themselves of unneeded pesticides. Berrien County Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells WSJM News a Clean Sweep pesticide collection day will be Wednesday, June 26. You have to register at least two weeks in advance. She says it’s a free way for anyone to get rid of old pesticides so they don’t wind up in the environment. Last year’s two summer events collected more than 27,000 pounds of pesticides.. ...Read Full Story

Police Find Body In Niles Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says it believes it has found the body of a Niles area man who was reported missing this month. Police say they started looking for 47-year-old Garen Patrick Collins on June 9 when he was reported missing from the Riverfront Park Campground along the Dowagiac River in Niles Township. On Saturday, a team of first responders were searching a wooded area along the Dowagiac River when they found a body they believe to be Collins. It was found about 100 yards from the river with no obvious signs of foul play. The body has been taken to Western Michigan University for an autopsy on Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Promoting Beach Smoking Ban

The city of South Haven is stepping up publicity for its smoking ban at parks and beaches. Public Works Director Bill Hunter tells WSJM News the city council approved the ban last July, and it took effect ten days later. This year, the city is increasing efforts to make sure people know there’s no smoking allowed on it beaches and in parks.. ...Read Full Story

Toll Road Study Possible In Michigan

There are just 15 states in the U.S. without toll roads, with Michigan being one of them. It was considered in the 1950s for the routes that became I-94 and I-75, but the idea was shelved because any highways that are federally-funded are not eligible to be toll roads. Now, there’s a state representative from Brighton who is proposing a study to see if money raised in that form would be more than the federal dollars, with the goal of putting that money into road repairs.. ...Read Full Story

State Sees Progress On Employment For Those Receiving Mental Health Services

The employment rate is going up in Michigan for those suffering from a major mental illness and getting one form of state help. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin says the latest report shows in 2018 there was 30% employment among those who received Individual Placement and Support services, compared to an employment rate of 10% in 2016. Sutfin says Individual Placement and Support services, or IPS, is a state program that helps people living with behavioral health conditions find jobs.. ...Read Full Story

West Michigan Inmate’s Death Under Investigation

From the Associated Press — A sheriff’s office in western Michigan has reopened its investigation into the death of a jail inmate following a television station’s reports about the circumstances of the death. WOOD-TV ‘s review of surveillance video from the Muskegon County jail revealed a guard watched 39-year-old Paul Bulthouse suffer one of 17 seizures, then walked away. Sheriff Michael Poulin said Thursday his department’s internal investigation hadn’t uncovered that detail. The department had earlier closed its investigation into Bulthouse’s April 4 death, finding no wrongdoing. The TV station’s investigation was based on video from the inside and outside of Bulthouse’s cell that was the obtained from the jail through a public records request. Bulthouse’s doctor has said the jail cut off Bulthouse’s prescription of a medicine that’s used to manage panic attacks and seizures.. ...Read Full Story

Mountain Bikes Donated To Love Creek County Park

The Berrien County Parks Department has received a donation of eight adult and six child-sized mountain bikes for use at Love Creek County Park. The bikes come courtesy of Whirlpool Corporation and the Bike Michiana Coalition. They’ll be used on the mountain biking trails at Love Creek County Park, and the public will be able to rent the adult ones for the cost of $10 an hour. The children’s bikes will be complimentary with the rental of an adult bike. Love Creek County Park naturalist Derek Pelc says the donations create another recreational opportunity at the Berrien Center park, adding someone who is thinking about buying a mountain bike can now just rent one to check them out. Park staff remind everyone to ride safely, wear a helmet, and respect nature.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies After Falling Into Cass County Lake

An Illinois man has died after he was pulled out of Donnell Lake in Cass County this month. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says 50-year-old Parish Swanson was out on a dock in the 17,000 block of Donnell Lake Street the afternoon of June 8 when he was pushed into the water by his sons as they were playing around with him. After a short time underwater, Swanson was brought back to shore by his sons and CPR was given. Swanson was taken to Elkhart General Hospital and listed in critical condition. The sheriff’s department says he has died as a result of the injuries he sustained. It adds no foul play or suspicious intent are suspected, and the investigation has been closed out as an accidental death.. ...Read Full Story

AG Nessel: New Charges Will Be Filed From Flint Water Crisis

Millions of new documents never reviewed related to the Flint water crisis are now being scoured by the new prosecution team looking into what happened. Attorney General Dana Nessel says they have about 20-times more information that was was previously given to prosecutors under former AG Bill Schuette. The state dismissed all charges against eight people on Thursday, including former Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon, who had been accused of not informing people fast enough regarding a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed more than a dozen people.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Hopes To Continue Working With State, Administration Responds

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education wants to continue working with the state on finding a solution to the school district’s problems. At a meeting today, the board turned down a May 24 proposal from the governor’s office to suspend operations at the high school in order to resolve a large part of the district’s debt. Reading a motion, board Vice President Joseph Taylor said the board would prefer not to issue a response out of concern of dividing the community, but its attorney advised a response was needed.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Public Safety Launches Anonymous Tip App

Letting police in Benton Harbor know of crimes is now easier for smartphone users. The city has released its Tip411 mobile app called Benton Harbor DPS, which can be found in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It is a free download that lets people send in tips and photos anonymously. Deputy Public Safety Director Mike Clark talked to WSJM News in April when the city approved the app about the privacy of it.. ...Read Full Story

No Deal – Benton Harbor School Board Rejects State Plan To Suspend High School, Eliminate Debt

No deal. The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has voted to reject the proposal from the state to temporarily close Benton Harbor High School in exchange for wiping out $12 million of its $18 million in debt. The board vote came shortly before 1 this afternoon at a special meeting. Board members will send more detailed information about their proposal, given to the governor’s office along with the state departments of Treasury and Education on Wednesday. They are hopeful the state will be willing to negotiate an agreement that can help the district financially and academically while still keeping Benton Harbor High School open.. ...Read Full Story

New Poll Shows Former VP Biden Up 11% Over President Trump In Michigan

For what it’s worth, there’s a new poll of Michigan voters showing former Vice President Joe Biden with a wide lead over President Trump in the state. EPIC-MRA finds a double-digit lead for the Democrat at the top of the national polls for his party’s 2020 nomination. The survey gives Biden a 52-to-41-percent lead over the incumbent Republican, who in 2016 became the first in his party to win in Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988. For those who outright support either candidate, Biden leads 49% to 37%. In the head-to-head hypothetical matchup, Democrats support the former VP by a 92-to-2 percent margin, while 83-percent of Republicans favor re-electing President Trump. However, 12% of Michigan Republicans say they’d vote for Biden if the election were between the two right now.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Calls Special Meeting June 17

The St. Joseph City Commission won’t be putting off action on a pair of Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificates which were tabled earlier this week. They’ve called a special meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. to hold the public hearings for the requests by Untied Federal Credit Union to revamp the former Whirlpool building at 150 Hilltop and for Fiskars in the Edgewater district for an overhaul of its property at 500 Momany. Construction on the latter had been slated to start this past Tuesday, but the city commission voted to table both to allow commissioners more time to review the requests this past Monday night.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In Crack Cocaine Bust

Two 37-year-old men are in the Berrien County Jail on drug charges after the Southwest Enforcement Team carried out a narcotics raid in Benton Harbor this morning. Troy McClinton is facing a charge of possession with intent to deliver crack, while Ricky Coates was arrested for a second offense of possession of crack cocaine and possession of ammunition by a felon. Their arrests followed a three-month investigation into distribution of illegal narcotics. Detectives found crack cocaine, packaging material, scales, ammo, and other drug-related items during the raid.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Announces New Solar Facility

Indiana Michigan Power has announced its next solar farm, and this one will be its biggest. I&M spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News the facility in South Bend will be near the Indiana Toll Road and about 10 miles northeast of the University of Notre Dame.. ...Read Full Story

Juneteenth Celebration This Weekend In Benton Harbor

Set for Saturday is a Juneteenth celebration in Benton Harbor. Juneteenth is an annual event to mark the end of slavery in the United States. It started in 1865 on June 19. The local event will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a parade from Broadway Park to the Arts and Cultural Center at 275 Pipestone Road. Once the parade is finished, there will be music, youth groups, vendors, and action tables at the Arts and Cultural Center. Democratic candidate for Congress Jon Hoadley will also be present. All are welcome to take part in the festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit College Closing

From the Associated Press — A Catholic graduate college that has operated in Detroit for 92 years will close in December at the end of its upcoming fall semester. Marygrove College announced Wednesday it had informed staff and its 305 students of the decision due to financial reasons. It closed its undergraduate programs two years ago. Founded by the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Marygrove opened in 1905 as St. Mary’s College in Monroe and relocated to Detroit in 1927. Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns says the college has accumulated much debt. She said it has reached an agreement with Oakland University to accommodate students who are within a year of finishing their degrees and will make similar arrangements with other schools as needed.. ...Read Full Story