Local News Archives

All State Government Offices In Lower Peninsula Close

If you have any business that needs to get done at a Secretary of State branch office, you’re out of luck until tomorrow at the earliest. All state government offices, including those branches, are closed for the day in the Lower Peninsula due to the massive winter storm. Governor Whitmer is also taking the step of telling drivers to stay off the road and not travel. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging people to use the ExpressSOS.com website for anything they need to take care of that doesn’t require photographs or anything specific to be done by a branch office clerk.. ...Read Full Story

Chamber To Meet With Elected Officials

Set for this coming 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.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Ameriwood Industries In Dowagiac

Several fire departments were called to the scene of a fire at Ameriwood Industries in Dowagiac Sunday night. The blaze caused the third and first shifts at the furniture maker to be canceled, according to Moody on the Market. There have so far been no reports of injuries. The cause is not yet known.. ...Read Full Story

Winter Storm Warning Issued For Berrien, Cass Counties

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Berrien and Cass counties on Monday. It is in effect from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. The National Weather Service says total snow accumulations are expected to be between 8 and 12 inches. The service warns travel could be very difficult due to areas of blowing snow that could reduce visibility. These hazardous conditions are expected to affect the morning commute. A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your  vehicle in case of an emergency.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Seeks More PFAS Action

Legislation designed to ensure the clean-up of PFAS is being pushed by Congressman Fred Upton. Upton has introduced the plan to require the EPA to report releases into the environment and clean up tainted PFAS sites with fellow Michigan Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee. He tells us it’s become clear that more action needs to be taken on the chemical since it was discovered in the water supplies of multiple Michigan communities this year.. ...Read Full Story

Photo Submissions Being Taken By SJ Today

As St. Joseph Today prepares to hold the first March Mannequins event downtown, it’s asking residents to submit photos that could be displayed in storefronts that day. St. Joe Today tells us the theme for this year’s March Mannequins will be Awkward Family Photos. If you’ve got any, they can be submitted at the Welcome Center on State Street in downtown St. Joe or emailed to Info@StJoeToday.com. The top three entries will win a $25 St. Joseph Today gift certificate. The deadline is February 1. The March 2 March Mannequins event replaces the old Live Mannequins event that used to be held as part of Light Up the Bluff each winter. It was moved to draw more people downtown during a normally slow month.. ...Read Full Story

BH Water Plant Work Ordered By State

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this past week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is part of a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.. ...Read Full Story

Center Aims To Help Those Struggling With Addiction

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

BH Working On New Income tax

The city of Benton Harbor’s income tax is now being implemented. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us businesses located within the city have been withholding the tax for affected workers, while those who will need to submit forms themselves to pay the tax will have to do so this spring.. ...Read Full Story

State To Install Flashing Signs To Warn Wrong-Way Drivers

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to install a new warning system on highway ramps with the goal of reducing deadly wrong-way crashes. Spokesman Nick Schirripa says flashing lights are being installed at exit ramps on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo and I-194 in Battle Creek. He says the locations were picked because of traffic volume and crash history. Department records show there were 374 wrong-way crashes in the state in 2017, which resulted in 13 deaths. The warning system’s sensors will trigger bright LED lights to alert drivers when their vehicles are approaching the highway in the wrong direction. Schirripa says additional lights could be installed this year around Grand Rapids, and the technology could also be used in the Detroit area.. ...Read Full Story

Warning About Property Scam

Michigan State Police are warning everyone about a rental property scam. Troopers out of the Paw Paw post say they’ve learned of a case where someone found information online about a property supposedly for rent and requested more information. They contacted a real-estate agent and learned the actual homeowners were not renting the place. Meanwhile, the person posing as the property owner provided a tenant application and requested a security deposit. Michigan State Police say everyone must be cautious when reviewing property listings online. They say you should never respond to an offer you don’t thoroughly understand, never give out personal financial information to entities you don’t know, and never respond to letters asking you for financial information. You can get more information at fbi.gov/scams-safety.. ...Read Full Story

Power Outage Planned In St. Joseph

Indiana Michigan Power has announced a planned power outage on Saturday for about 200 customers in St. Joseph. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells us the affected customers have been notified. The six-hour planned outage is needed so I&M crews can address a tree that is threatening service to the area. Garrett says without the work, that tree could cause an even larger outage for a longer period of time. The power for the 200 affected customers will go out around 8 a.m. and they hope to be finished around 2 p.m. I&M says its crews will work as quickly as they can given the frigid weather.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Receives Committee Assignments

79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel has received her House committee assignments, and they’re relevant to southwest Michigan. She tells us she’s been picked to serve as vice chair of the House Commerce and Tourism Committee, along with the House Energy Committee.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Train Hits Box Truck In Three Oaks

Amtrak passengers on the Wolverine line had to be taken by bus after the 350 train hit a box truck that was stuck on the tracks in Three Oaks. No passengers were hurt, but Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells us their engineer was injured by debris that same in through the front window of the train. The crash happened on North Elm Street, just north of US 12 this morning. Magliari tells WSJM News he’s not sure how severe the train engineer’s injuries are. The train is the Wolverine line that runs from Chicago to Pontiac.. ...Read Full Story

New AG Wants To Settle Lawsuit Over Same-Sex Adoption

From the Associated Press — Under new leadership, the Michigan attorney general’s office is in talks to settle a lawsuit by same-sex couples who say their rights have been violated by faith-based adoption agencies that don’t want to work with gays and lesbians. A federal judge granted a 30-day timeout Thursday for negotiations between the American Civil Liberties Union and Attorney General Dana Nessel. During the fall campaign, Nessel told The Associated Press there’s “no viable defense” to a 2015 law signed by then-Governor Rick Snyder. The law says faith-based groups can refuse to provide certain services if they conflict with their beliefs and still get tax dollars. Nessel, who is a lesbian, said the only purpose is discrimination. Groups such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services are paid by the state to place children from troubled families with new families.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall Updates Public On Lead Issue In Benton Harbor

The city of Benton Harbor is working with Berrien County and the state of Michigan to address elevated lead levels found in some homes around the community last year. The city detected the problem in October, and since then about 320 residents have brought in samples for testing. About 50 of those had elevated lead levels. At a town hall Thursday, the Berrien County Health Department’s Nicki Britten said anyone who is concerned should flush their water for five minutes whenever it has not been running for six hours or more. Additionally, the county is providing filters to the homes known to have elevated lead levels starting next week, and it will provide the filters to anyone who wants them starting the week of February 4.. ...Read Full Story

Big Expansion Could Be Coming To Park

Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet could be getting a substantial expansion. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved the purchase of 63 acres of property adjacent to the park. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the parcel owned by the Enders family is across the river from the island that makes up a large part of the current park. He’s been working with the Enders family to acquire it.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In Cass County Burglaries

Two people are facing charges after police say they were found to be in possession of a large amount of stolen property in Cass County. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us an investigation into several burglaries took deputies to a home on Brownsville Road in Calvin Township last Wednesday. They searched the place and say it was full of stolen property from burglaries and larcenies throughout Southwest Michigan and Elkhart County, Indiana. They say they also found meth. It took police two and a half days to process all of the evidence. Arrested were 32-year-old Sunny Fogg and 35-year-old Amber Biggs, both from Cassopolis. They’re charged with burglary, possession of stolen property, and criminal enterprise. Fogg is being held on $70,000 bond and Biggs is being held on $60,000 bond. Police ask anyone who knows of additional burglaries in the area to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

State Mandates BH Water Plant Work

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is part of a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Mandate Kindergarten For 5-Year-Olds

Right now, kids are not required to attend school in Michigan until they turn six. State Representative Bill Sowerby says that should change. He has proposed legislation which would require 5-year-olds to go to Kindergarten as long as their birthday is before September 1st. He’s confident he’ll get the support he needs in Lansing this time.. ...Read Full Story